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Sound
Inputs
Sound levels
Hints and tips
Types of microphones

SONY DSR500 CAMERAPART 8: SOUND LEVELS

by Christina Fox

It is quite easy to concentrate so hard on getting the pictures right that you end up forgetting about the sound. Remember, no matter how exciting the pictures are if there is no accompanying sound the impact will be lost.

The DSR 500 gives you the ability to record either:

  1. The built in (unidirectional) Front mic to channel 1 and/or 2
  2. An external microphone to channel 1 and/or 2
  3. A line level feed to channel 1 and/or 2

INPUTS

There are a vast array of microphones available. Obviously I don't know what microphones you have but here are a few general hints and tip.

  • Two sound sources can be recorded on the two separate sound tracks simultaneously. They are plugged into the microphone sockets below the camera battery
  • It is good practice to keep your "good sound" on channel one and leave the front microphone set to record on channel two. Label your tapes so that editors know what sound you have recorded on which channel. Otherwise they may use your back up track rather than your good stuff.
  • Some microphones require phantom powering (usually a AA battery) the camera can also phantom power microphones. If you are not sure if a mic does take phantom powering. Plug it in without power - if there is no output - then select MIC +48 V to see it that solves the problem.
  • At the back of the camera it is possible to connect your own sound source. This will usually be a microphone. But, it could be the output from a PA system or something similar. Beware - NON microphone sources are usually fed to the camera at high level (i.e. line level - see below).

Once your sound source is connected there are three options to choose from...

  • LINE an input that is not a microphone, but some other source (set at +4dB)
  • MIC an input that is a microphone (set at minus 60dB)
  • MIC +48 V some microphones require phantom powering. This selection provides 48 Volts
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SOUND LEVELS

To adjust the recording levels use the CH 1 and CH 2 audio level controls.

The audio levels should be monitored:

  • By using the headphones whose volume level can be adjusted using the audio Monitor level control
  • In the Display window Peak levels should not exceed minus 3dB voice levels should be between minus 20 dB and minus 12dB
  • Through the viewfinder voice levels should show on the viewfinder indicator at around minus 20dB which is about 4 squares in the viewfinder
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HINTS AND TIPS

  • Buy a set of headphones for your kit - and use them. It is the only way of really knowing if the sound is being recorded at the right level/any level!.
  • Get the microphone as close as possible to the sound source - this may mean the microphone will be in shot.
  • If you have time, record 30 seconds of 'atmos' i.e. the natural background sounds at the location.
  • If you must record in a noisy area (e.g. beside a busy road or in a factory) make sure you have a shot of the source of the noise. Viewers will put up loud background noise if they know where the sound is coming from.
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TYPES OF MICROPHONES

I WILL BE ADDING TO THIS SECTION LATER - YOU'LL FIND INFO ON...

  • OMNIDIRECTIONAL MICS
  • CARDIOID MICS
  • HYPERCARDIOID MICS
  • FIGURE OF EIGHT MICS

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Move on to ...
Part 9: LIGHTING
...or go back to
Part 7: TIME CODE
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Christina Fox