What’s basic but decent?

The question I am asked the most is something like “I have $2,000 and I need a sound kit.  What can I get?” The answer is of course, nothing.  But for just under $6,000 you could get a barely adequate package

  1. a shotgun mic
  2. an interior mic
  3. a boom
  4. a mixer
  5. a recorder
  6. a wireless kit

Microphones:

You can’t compromise very much on mics.  No matter how expensive your mixer or recorder is or how well you know how to use it, if your mic sucks, your audio sucks.  Period.  Also, you MUST have two mics, one shotgun for almost everything and one hyper or super cardiod for the spaces that a shotgun will not work.  Basically the rule of thumb is shotguns for exteriors and a small diaphragm condenser with a hyper cardiod polar pattern for interiors.  Really, do not compromise here because you will regret it.  Microphones for audio recording systems are analogous to lenses for cameras.  They will last forever, never lose their values and are the pointy end of the spear.  They have to be good.

What I own and totally recommend:

a. Shotgun: a Sennheiser 416 (about $1,000).  THE Hollywood classic that everything is compared to.  Better yet,  Sennheiser MKH-60 (about $1,500)
b. Small diaphragm condenser:  Schoeps CMC641 with a CUT1 (about $2,500)

Lower end:

a. Shotgun: Rode NTG 3 ($700)
b. Small diaphragm condenser: AT 4053b ($600)

If you are serious about audio, please do not compromise here.  Buy the good stuff.  This is not where you want to save money because it effects everything in the audio chain. Continue reading “What’s basic but decent?”

Nat Geo’s Doomsday Preppers

Shooting an episode of National Geographic’s Doomsday Preppers with Brett Wylie, DP and Katie Meade, Assistant Camera at a remote bunker near Bozeman, MT.  Photo by Nick Weissman, Field Producer.  The episode is scheduled to air in November, 2012.

MFA

Three years ago, I started grad school at The University of Montana.  On Saturday, May 12th, I received my MFA in digital film making from the school of Media Arts, College of Visual and Performing Arts.   Although production audio is my main love and specialty, my experiences writing, directing, producing and just making movies really help my understanding of the “big picture” of film making.

What Did He Say?

I worked an interview/doc type shoot today and when I got home, my wife asked me who was interviewed.  I told her and she asked my if he was interesting.  I told her I really didn’t know.  I didn’t know because I was listening with my sound man ears, not my director or producer ears.

If I actually listened to what was being said I might be distracted by an interesting statement and  not notice things I should be listening for such as background noise, conversations, cars, air handlers, airplanes, trains, etc.  I wouldn’t be doing my job.

One of the most basic things a sound mixer has to do, obviously, is listen but it is very important to know HOW to listen and what to listen for.  A huge part of listening correctly means NOT listening to what someone is actually saying.  That’s someone else’s job.