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camcorder mics

by cgulls66 / December 6, 2012 5:26 AM PST

I'm thinking of getting a separate mic for my camcorder. Just for fun home use, using iMovie to make 10-minute movies of kids' basketball team, vacations, etc.

For sure, any unwanted noise reduction will be a good thing.

Sony HDR-PJ760V camcorder I'm about to buy has embedded surround sound microphone. External mic (at least those in my price range) do not.

Is it worth losing the surround sound to get better overall sound quality? Any other thoughts are welcome. thank you.

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All Answers

Best Answer chosen by cgulls66

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by boya84 / December 6, 2012 6:48 AM PST
In reply to: camcorder mics

"unwanted noise reduction will be a good thing" but you *want* to use a "surround sound" mic that records 360 degrees.

How does the mic know which audio is not wanted?

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Video Rimshot.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 6, 2012 6:59 AM PST
In reply to: Confusing.
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fair question
by cgulls66 / December 6, 2012 8:19 AM PST
In reply to: Confusing.

fair question, boya84. I'm a naive consumer. The external mics claim to reduce "noise" such as wind. As far as I know, the ability to record moving objects and the sounds they make, and then to be able to reproduce images of those moving objects on shiny round discs to display on my 53 inch rectangle box is all magic.

I have no idea how ANY of this technology works. I'm just trying to understand what parts I might need to make it work best for my needs.

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My wind noise reducer is the deadcat.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 6, 2012 8:58 AM PST
In reply to: fair question
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so far so good
by cgulls66 / December 6, 2012 9:19 AM PST

Thanks for the info on the wind noise reducer. So, that fits over an external microphone; one I'd buy to fit onto my camcorder. The separate microphone presumably is stereo, not surround sound?

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The cat doesn't care.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 6, 2012 9:59 AM PST
In reply to: so far so good

And you can try making your own. It's pretty easy to see what it does.

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Bob's provided the
by boya84 / December 6, 2012 10:21 PM PST
In reply to: so far so good

preferred method. There's also a "low cut" switch on *some* mics and *some* camcorders' audio menu option that "rejects" the low rumble of wind passing over the mic element. with a dead cat, "fuzzy" or zeppelin, the goal is to get a dead-air space between the mic element and the blowing wind.

*Generally* and assuming the audio is at a "normal" level (not real loud, not real soft), the best audio capture will happen when the mic element is close (within a couple of feet) of the audio source.. This is not always possible, so we have (directional) "shotgun mics" and clip on mics (many time wireless and clip on a shirt or lapel). This is why clip-on mics work well - and why newscasters in the field using a handheld mic hold the mic so close to their mouth when speaking (not yelling).

When a mic is built-in to the camera or camera mounted, there can be some challenges to balancing the characteristics of the mic with what the camcorder can see. Given the use you have stated, this is likely not that big of a deal for you.

The camcorder's built-in surround sound is a fun concept - when the camcorder is in the middle of the action so the front and rear speakers are fed various audio. If one is in the stands watching/recording a basketball game, all the audio behind and in front of the surround mics will be recorded. If the stereo (only) mic is used, then the bulk of the audio in front of the camcorder will be recorded (and loud portions of the audio behind the camera that makes it in front of the camera. (Point of reference: generally, movies in a theater or home with audio coming from the surround speakers had that audio manufactured and added during editing - not recorded during the scene shoot).

Personally, I do not think surround sound has that much value (unless picking up audio from behind the camcorder is important). In my opinion, surround sound is about as useful (for home/hobby video) as digital zoom is (which should be disabled when you get the camcorder).

Knowing which Macintosh, (RAM, CPU, version OSX, all available under the Apple in "About this Macintosh and available hard drive space usually available at the bottom of a finder window when looking at hard drive contents) can help us help you through the capture/import or convert/edit/export process.

Headsup: Video uses lots of hard drive space and is very computer resource intensive. Investing in a large capacity external drive to store the video editing project files is recommended. Use of a tripod or other steadying device during video capture is also strongly recommended.

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exactly what I was looking for
by cgulls66 / December 7, 2012 3:09 AM PST
In reply to: Bob's provided the

boya84, this is exactly the kind of help I was hoping for. Thank you for that.

I've made some home videos before on my older Sony Camcorder. It broke (LCD stopped "D"ing) and I haven't made one in a couple years. I do have a couple back up drives for my iMac. A 1TB and a 250GB (I think). Will report back with more details as I move along in the process.

Moderator of frequent travelers of this forum: should I continue on with this thread or start a new one as the topic evolves? Thank you all.

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by cgulls66 / December 7, 2012 5:12 AM PST

should read "Moderator OR frequent travelers on this forum" not "of".

Thanks also for the suggestion on turning off digital zoom. Will heed that advice.

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another question about which mic
by cgulls66 / December 12, 2012 10:54 PM PST
In reply to: Bob's provided the

As I've started recording for my youth basketball video, I've figured out that I'm probably going to use very little (or no) audio from the games and practices. I'll be adding music when I edit. So the surround sound idea (game in front / crowd in back) idea is cool but probably won't come into play, so to speak.

However, I will be doing to player and coach interviews. These may have to be in the gym during their practice so the background noise will include loud kids and bouncing basketballs.

is it safe to say this calls for a shotgun mic? Or can another style mic work as well or better? Sony's ECM-HST1 looks like a general purpose mic. Their ECM-CG50 is shotgun style but costs about $150 more.

I'd like to consider versatility and future use as opposed to having a different tool for every possible shoot or project. I'm an amateur by any measure but I would like the best outcome possible.

Can anybody recommend either a type of mic or even a specific model to work with my Sony PJ760V?
Thank you.

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Mimic what you see on TV
by boya84 / December 13, 2012 3:19 AM PST

Specifically, when the on-court sportscaster interviews a coach during the game on the court, you don't normally see a camera-mounted or shotgun mic being used. You see a handheld, dynamic, mic being used. Their common mics are BeyerDynamic (like the M58), Electrovoice (like the 635) and Sennheiser (like the MD46) among a few others and they shove the mic in the coach's face. This gets the mic element *close* to the audio source. The mic body is long so the person holding the mic gets a bit of a "boom" capability and the "mic flag" ( ) fits and there's still a handle to hold the mic.

Whether the mic is wired or wireless will depend on your budget and your definition of "audio quality" and potential impacts.

The above mics use an XLR connection. Your HDR-PJ760V has a 1/8" (3.5mm) stereo audio input and Sony-proprietary AIS. To *properly* connect a XLR mic to a camcorder with 3.5mm audio input, use of a XLR adapter is needed. I use juicedLink CX237 or a (no longer made) BeachTek DXA6. If only one mic is used, there is a "M"ono/"S"tereo switch that in "M" mode has the single mic's audio recording to both left and right channels. Also, the XLR adapter has audio-gain knobs to control the recorded audio level (that is buried in the touch screen of the camcorder - a bit of a challenge to use).

There are other "robust" less expensive, good, XLR dynamic mics like the Shure SM58 (and others from Audio Technica, Sennheiser, AKG and others) but these mics are short making use of a mic flag while holding the mic is a bit challenging.

Another option is to use a dynamic mic that uses a 3.5mm connector. The small 3.5mm connector *could* break in the camcorder's audio-in jack. They are usually a mono only so only one side of the audio in the camcorder will record - this can be dealt with during editing. These are generally consumer-grade. I don't use them, so I can't speak to their build quality or audio quality.

Again, check what we see on TV. A person holding the camera aims the camera at the interviewer and coach. The interviewer directs the mic to their mouth or the coach's mouth depending on who is speaking (no shotgun mic). I presume you won't have a camera person, so use a tripod (your camera person) and you stand in front of the camera holding/directing the mic - and do the interview like you see on TV. If you need to see what the camera is capturing (see both of you in the frame - a "medium" shot" should suffice), flip the camcorder's LCD so you can monitor from the front of the camcorder.

If you decide later, it is possible to turn an XLR wired mic into a wireless mic. Not so easy with the low-end mics, but kind-of-sort-of possible with certain low-end manufacturers.

A shotgun mic would be more useful for an interview without the court/background noise.

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won't be standing next to interviewee
by cgulls66 / December 13, 2012 11:49 PM PST

boya84, thanks for the detailed advice.

I'm going to do this movie documentary style. I won't be on camera and don't want to hear my voice. I'll ask the coach and players questions and I'll have them repeat my question. e.g., "When the players look back on this season, what do you hope they will remember?" He'll need to answer, "I'm hoping when the players look back on the season, they'll remember . . ."

Looking at the last sentence in your post above, "A shotgun mic would be more useful . . ." I think you're saying that sort of mic will be better if I can conduct the interview in a quieter location. Is that what you're saying?

could a wired or wireless clip-on mic work? sony ecm-hw2?

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Good to know the environment...
by boya84 / December 14, 2012 2:46 AM PST

A shotgun mic will be better in a quiet location - but you initially indicated the court, players, bouncing balls would be around, hence my suggestion of the handheld.

Again, mimic what you see on TV.

During an interview with a talking head and there is not a lot of background noise, a lavaliere can be used. Note the location of where it is clipped on. About 4 inches away from the audio source. (Review: The hand-held dynamic mic was "in their face".)

Good UHF multi-channel wireless lavs can be expensive. A thin wire connects the clipped-on mic element to a battery powered body-pack transmitter. The audio signal is transmitted wirelessly to a base station. The base station plugs into the XLR adapter or the camcorder. Some base stations are large and require AC power. Some base stations are small (camera-mountable) and are battery powered. I like/own/use the Sennheiser G3 systems with portable base station. I got the add-on module for wired mic conversion (the wired mic can be wireless).

When are shotgun mics used? When used properly, in a studio when it is *very* quiet or during a film shoot when seeing a clip-on mic on the talent is out of place or during an impromptu interview when there was no time to set up dynamic mics at a podium AND there is not much background noise OR, there is no other choice. Shotgun mics do have a directional pick-up pattern, but only the most expensive ones include "side mics" that are used to reject audio from the sides (or behind the front-facing mic.) The affordable shotgun mics generally rely on a relatively quiet background with just the mic's pick-up pattern (get what's in front of the mic). Good shotgun mics can very effectively focus their audio pick up, but all will pick up background noise. ("QUIET ON THE SET!").

Again, mimic what we see on TV... a shotgun mic at the end of a boom pole held by an audio person (separate from the camera person). The long shielded cable connects with XLR connectors connects the mic to the camcorder - or, a portable audio mixer or, preferably, an external audio recording device (Fostex, Zoom H4 - lots of others) and the audio is synch'd with the video during editing. And the shotgun mic is wearing a "fuzzy" or "dead cat" or zeppelin to eliminate wind noise.

There is occasional use of a camera mounted shotgun mic if the mic is no more than about 4 feet away from the audio source. Some folks think a shotgun mic at the back of a room will pick up just the audio in front of the mic (and fail to take into account that the space/noise between the mic and the audio source at the front of the room will be ignored and that's just impossible. I know this is not your case, but just making the point that a shotgun mic cannot magically eliminate ambient audio). The closer the mic element is to the person speaking (the audio source), for interviews, the better the audio will be.

I have not used the Sony ECM-HW2. Should it work? Sure. BlueTooth is a fine technology. The ECM-HW2 can be used *only* by Sony products with a Sony-proprietary AIS (Advanced or Active Interface Shoe). The ECM-AW3 can be used with any 3.5mm audio input. I have not used this, either. There are wired lavs, too. They, like other mics, are all over the map regarding connectivity, pricing and quality...

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by cgulls66 / December 14, 2012 5:51 AM PST

I really appreciate the detailed answer. Thank you.

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