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Ambient sound with a gimbal


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Hi there, 

Can anyone help me with a question about microphones? 

I want to record ambient sounds to accompany DSLR video footage. I'll mainly be moving around with a gimbal. For example, this might be natural sounds in a landscape, the hum of a room full of people, or the sounds inside a car mechanic's workshop. I won't be recording any interviews or dialogue at all. 

I can't easily use a dedicated sound person or sound designer. I also need to be mobile and able to respond fairly quickly to things happening in these locations.

I've been looking at stereo mics. One option might be to use something like the Rode Stereo VideoMic Pro, either attached to my DLSR shoe or to my gimbal. But it looks like a mic on the DSLR would impede gimbal movements quite a lot - I couldn't get into flashlight/horizontal mode for example.  I'm also concerned that a stereo mic could pick up the sounds of handling, gimbal motors or controls if attached to either the DSLR or gimbal. 

I'm also wondering about setting up a stereo mic in the corner of the room I'm working in, perhaps on a field recorder. But then I'll have no easy reference for syncing sound later. It may also feel too detached from the footage if it's too far from the scene I'm filming.

Does anyone have any ideas or experiences along these lines? I'm totally stuck and I'd be really grateful for any thoughts!

Thanks, Thom 

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Thanks - that's interesting. I've been looking at stereo mics rather than directional shotgun mics, because I want to record the general sounds of the location rather than dialogue etc. A couple of questions:

- Am I right in thinking a stereo mic (e.g. Rode Stereo VideoMic Pro) would be better for this sort of ambient recording? 

- Would either type of mic (shotgun or stereo) pick up any sounds from the gimbal motors, handling or button pressing? Or do you think it would be isolated enough attached lower down on the gimbal?

Thanks so much for the advice, really appreciate it.

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A few thoughts:

  • You're choosing between directional mics and omni-directional mics.  If you're after a general ambience then you want omni mics.
  • if you're going for omni mics then test out the quality of your cameras internal mics - they might be good enough for your purposes, and they may not.

I decided I wanted both directional audio (so I can hear what i'm seeing and not hear the people behind me bitching about whatever - true story) so I use a Rode VMP+ for that, and when I remember to do it, I just pull out the Rode and record using the in-built mics.  I was looking at expensive stereo mics and did a test of my cameras mics and compared it to recordings from the expensive mics and decided that for my purposes (where I'll likely have music mixed with ambience) the in-built ones are good enough.  

Of course, my challenge is that I just forget to record ambience, so I tend to just use the directional audio clips from the Rode and if those aren't ideal then I just pinch other bits of audio from other clips that didn't make the edit.

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Usually camera mics are terrible quality, posotioned completely wrong.

Omnis are the equivalent of 360 degrees of video, so not a great solution because there is no 360 degrees lenses.

One of the best cheap solutions is the Sennheiser MKE-440, directional stereo.

Zoom H3 VR is an interesting device.

I do not like very much stereo solutions with no directionality (e.g most stereo mics by Rode and others).

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Thanks everyone - this is all really helpful.

I understand the point about directional stereo mics making more sense. At the moment I’m thinking to attach a mic to my gimbal handle. Would a directional mic in this sort of setup just end up recording my feet / the floor a lot, of i’m tilting / doing horizontal moves? I can’t put s directional mic on the camera shoe because it impedes gimbal movements too much. So is the best compromise an omni stereo mic, attached to the gimbal handle, and then I just have to be careful not to make too much noise myself and try to keep a quiet set except for the ambient noise I want to record? 

At the moment i’m thinking to go for a Rode Stereo VideoMic Pro, attached to the gimbal handle and connected to the camera directly. In some situations I could put the mic on a stand and into a field recorder, if that ever made more sense.

What do you think - would anyone disagree with that compromise strongly? 

Thanks again - really appreciate everyone’s comments!




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