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Sound for the OMB
  • They say that film is inherently a collaborative endeavor - one person can't do it. Robert Rodriguez proved that wrong with El Mariachi. But Rodriguez did not record synch sound. For a one-person production, these are possible solutions:

    • Lavaliere
    • A lowboy stand out of the shot with the mike pointed upward
    • A three-axis gimbal with a short boom on top
    • A stand off to one side with the mike pointed sideways and up

    Pointing the mike down seems unfeasible because it requires a stand too big for one person to transport and handle. The lavaliere suggestion is workable in a quiet environment, but if there is a lot of noise, it won't work because the mike is omni-directional. Even in a quiet environment, the lav's sound is not as realistic as that of a hypercardioid's or shotgun's. I have not included a camera-mounted mike, because the sound is poor unless the talent is up close. Any other solutions?

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  • Any other solutions?

    Find good friend?

  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev - working on that

  • One of the huge plus of video is that it is much harder to make alone compared to photos.

  • The italians were doing studio dubbed dialogue tracks since open city . Fellini perfected the art as well as Wertmuller. So much for Rodriquez as a harbinger of anything new or inventive. If you want live narrative quality dialogue, take V's advice. A cheap boom with pluraleyes is the obvious budget solution. Now you get even mount 2 or 3 small tascams on the pole to be secure, even if your friend is no sound man. Gone are the nagradays.

  • Rodriguez shot MOS and had the actors repeat their lines after each take, recording them on a cheap Radio Shack cassette recorder. He later painstakingly synched up on 3/4" tape. This is a whole 'nother thing than ADR as practiced by Fellini and Truffaut. The idea of a long shotgun mounted on top of a 3-axis gimbal is intriguing, but it would be difficult to implement even if it is technically possible.

  • @4CardsMan If you're shooting a feature and are able to get actors to participate, it shouldn't be too hard to get a dedicated sound man to hold a boom mic. If you're truly in need of doing a One Man Band, then you could do wireless lavs that transmit to a receiver which you are monitoring with headphones. To do this while camera operating would be difficult, but some people do it. Best of luck with the film.

  • As a soundie i will never quite understand when people in the modern would even emulate Rodriguez's approach. Sure he saved money on set but then spent it on post for non sync sound.

    The best approach is it depends. IMO, lavs would be a preferable alternative. I did a scene in a supermarket OMB status with a lav on actor, transmitter straight to camera. GH3 has great audio. Simple yet effective. A tascam dr70d and a couple of lavs is better to me than a off axis mic that is too far.

    In the end you're fighting the inverse square law. Even a venerable 416 begins to fall off rapidly past two feet or so.

    Again this all depends on what you're doing. There is no one size fits all approach to sound.

  • Does anyone have any suggestions regarding wireless lavs? I have giant squid lavs but I want to purchase a few wireless ones as well.

  • Does anyone have any suggestions regarding wireless lavs?

    You mean complete set?

    If answer is yes - I suggest

  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev Wow that's actually not a bad price I was expecting higher.

  • @matt_gh2 - it's a narrative short. @ laserdanger - Rodriguez' book was called Rebel Without a Crew, because he worked without one. He did it because he had no money, but he stumbled on to the solution to the absolute fakeness of almost everything we see. We're so used to it that we take it for granted, but El Mariachi does not have it. It looks fresh because Rodriguez' vision came through unimpeded by a crew, especially a professional crew that can only do things one way. It reminds me of the French New Wave films. They have that freshness, too.

    I am willing to spend a fair amount on sound gear. For close shots, I would like to try something like a Ronin with a small flexible mount, like a goose-neck lamp with a good professional microphone. In the Super 8 days, sound cameras came with a microphone mounted on an adjustable pole. It looked kind of stupid, but it worked fairly well, even with the sound of the camera grinding away in the background. That's kind of what I had in mind, but with really good gear.

    For long shot, it looks as if dialog replacement is the way to go. I intend to try it out, and see how difficult it actually is. I suspect very difficult.

  • I love Rodriguez, but just ask somebody to boom - even if its another actor (I have done this..). It will be better for it (even if they have no skill).

    The actress was booming in the bathroom for this:

  • On a recent short I did, I used only a Sennheiser G3 ME2 setup (Mid-range cost, but great). While the ME2 doesn't pick up as much tonality as a well placed boom with a quality cardiod/shotgun condenser, what it does give you, is really convenient signal to noise as the mic is always close to source.

    I place the wireless receiver on my rig, wired into a JuicedLink pre-amp (BMC388) and then direct into camera. I monitor the signal out of the camera using a pair of Sennheiser over ears. I use the VU on both the JuicedLink and the BMCC screen (calibrated with a little twisty screw). I then do a levels check with the talent, set and ride appropriately. The juiced link does a nice thing where it record a -16db pad to the other channel, so there's rescuable audio if you've totally blown the peak.

    I also use a cardioid mic (ISK CM-20C) mounted to a magic arm on my rig sometimes. Works quite will when shooting at 4-6 feet indoor. I find shotguns can sound a bit weird indoor anyway, and especially on camera. Still, given a choice, I'll wire a lav every time.

    One man, or micro-crew? Lavalier for me every time, direct to camera.

  • @4CardsMan I think your idea of testing is what will give you feeling of confidence. I watched El Mariachi and read Rebel Without A Crew, loved em both. I think his dialogue replacement technique was easier than most because, if I remember I correctly, the dialogue was often just a few words. I'd try to come up with workflow that allows you to get usable dialogue on the days that you shoot. Best of luck with film. ( I like your idea of freshness with small crew, I've experienced that feel on set with the same result. )

  • Rodriguez's film was mad in 92. A lot has changed since then. Cameras are relatively inexpensive now. Sound equipment is much more affordable. There were no affordable wireless lavs in his era. Or multi track recorders, etc. There is essentially an entire market for the hobbyist filmmaker now.

    The version most of us have watched is the mastered version that had many more thousands of dollars thrown at it. His initial $7000 budget is equivalent to $11000 accounted for inflation. With modern means the 23 year old Rodriguez could do some real damage. As a lot was spent on processing film stock.

    The film is an interesting case study of someone who chose to opt out of the traditional model. I respect what he accomplished. He also had the foresight to shoot a film with minimal dialogue in Mexico where he could get away with a lot.

    Go for it. If you have a strong vision it will carry though.

  • @Sage - very impressive sound. @itimjim - I'm looking in to a lav setup. For noisy environments, this might work. A bit expensive, though. @laserdanger - Opt out of the traditional model is exactly where I want to go. After thinking about this, I'm considering a 2PB, consisting of me and a collaborator with non-threatening demeanor. I will need some help with makeup, hair, and wardrobe. This person could also interchangeably run boom and camera.