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Recording Audio In A Car
Old 29th May 2010
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Recording Audio In A Car

Hello Gearslutz,
What is the best way to record dialog in a car/bus (for film)?

My location gear incl mics is listed in my sig, but I also have some studio mics (NT1-A, NT5 matched pair).

Thanks
416

Edit My sig doesn't seem to be up and running yet so here's the list
Sound Devices 552, Sennheiser MKH416, 2 x SENNHEISER EW 112-P G3 with ME 2 caps, Rode Mini Boompole, Rycote Full Windshield 4 Kit, rode NTG-2, Sony MDR 7509 HD
Old 30th May 2010
  #2
That Depends...

Quote:
Originally Posted by mkh416 View Post
Hello Gearslutz,
What is the best way to record dialog in a car/bus (for film)?

My location gear incl mics is listed in my sig, but I also have some studio mics (NT1-A, NT5 matched pair).

Thanks
416

Edit My sig doesn't seem to be up and running yet so here's the list
Sound Devices 552, Sennheiser MKH416, 2 x SENNHEISER EW 112-P G3 with ME 2 caps, Rode Mini Boompole, Rycote Full Windshield 4 Kit, rode NTG-2, Sony MDR 7509 HD
Well, a vehicle interior is a unique beast; parts of it are lossy (absorptive) such as the headliner and carpet and the seats (if cloth), and parts are very freflective (the glass, which forms a sort of 'reflective belt' around the top 1/2 or so of the vehicle.

Mics close to the glass (such as driver or passenger outboard ear) will have higher SPL and more high frequency energy than the in-board mic. The delta will be greater in those cars having cloth seats - with leather, there will be less of a disparity because the leather is far more reflective than cloth (or put anotehr way, cloth is much more absorptive).

The way we do this in the automotive industry is with a binaural mannequin head, which may not be practical for your application or sonic vision. If you want an accurate rendering though, it's the way to go.

Alternately, if you are trying to create a sort of stereo effect, you can place two omni's roughly spaced as far apart as a nominal ear-to-ear dimension (about 6 inches or so) and point them forward or upward (their orientation won't be super-critical).

On the other hand, if you want to maximize the S/N of the dialogue (around lots of background noise) then I would probably opt for either cardiods trained on the actors, or hidden lavalier mics to try and get the cleanest dialogue.

Sorry for the somewhat unfocused answer, but I am not sure how much accuracy versus sonic landscape you want in this.

Also, one thing you might want to do is to (as a post process) high-pass filter (and possibly throw a HF shelf to trim back the very high freq stuff that doesn't contribute to articulation of speech) on the vocal mics, and take a third mic as the environmental noise. In that way, during the mix, you can control the relative S/N of the background to spoken word elements, and thus, help draw the viewer's focus based on the auditory cues.
Old 30th May 2010
  #3
Gear Nut
 
Lazerface's Avatar
Depending on where the actors are in the car, the ME2's would probably work the best, one on each sunvisor. If there are 4 people in the car, one between the sunvisors up front and one between the back seats taped to the roof should work well. It all depends on camera angles and where you're shooting.

In the past I've been in the back seat shooting, and had a camera shotgun plus a wireless lav taped to the map lights and it came out great, even while driving.

Hope this helps!
Old 30th May 2010
  #4
Lives for gear
 
tourtelot's Avatar
Please. Are you kidding me? A forum tutorial on how to record dialog in a car? Intern for a soundman and in five or six years, he may let you set up a picture car for sound all by yourself.

Sorry, pet peeve. You can't learn it here.

D.
Old 30th May 2010
  #5
Lives for gear
 
taturana's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot View Post
Please. Are you kidding me? A forum tutorial on how to record dialog in a car? Intern for a soundman and in five or six years, he may let you set up a picture car for sound all by yourself.

Sorry, pet peeve. You can't learn it here.

D.
c'mon it's not THAT hard really... nice attitude though...
Old 30th May 2010
  #6
Gear Addict
 
Marlan's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot View Post
Please. Are you kidding me? A forum tutorial on how to record dialog in a car? Intern for a soundman and in five or six years, he may let you set up a picture car for sound all by yourself.

Sorry, pet peeve. You can't learn it here.

D.

That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. Sure, maybe if you want to work on unionized big budget TV and Film work since you have to pay your dues play the game of inter-office politics, but for anyone with good ears and a basic knowledge of the proper gear and a willingness to learn,
I'm pretty confident would be able to pick it up and do nicely after a few attempts to hone their skills.

Your statement just comes across as an insecure location sound recordist protecting his turf.

By your rational it would take you approximately 25 years to learn how to record a symphony orchestra (that's if you had the ears and intrinsically know what an orchestra is supposed to sound like.)

Somehow how I think you could pick it up quicker than that right? You seem intelligent, you've been around the block a few times. This isn't rocket science.

As engineers, we all know what the human voice sounds like in person and on tape. A good engineer will be able to learn this skill quickly.

I won't open up and conversation on recording music.
Old 30th May 2010
  #7
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot View Post
Please. Are you kidding me? A forum tutorial on how to record dialog in a car? Intern for a soundman and in five or six years, he may let you set up a picture car for sound all by yourself.

Sorry, pet peeve. You can't learn it here.

D.
That's one crappy attitude to have around here. Transfer of knowledge is pretty much the reason this forum exists.


For the OP, I would start out with trying the NT5s tucked in the sun visors. Like someone else said, you're going to have to do a lot of wrestling with reflection and absorption in a car.
Old 31st May 2010
  #8
Here for the gear
 

Many thanks for all the informative replies.
I'm looking forward to trying these suggestions out.

Also thanks to all for speaking up on Tourtelot, I'm glad I didn't have to get into that on my 2nd ever post on these boards

416
Old 31st May 2010
  #9
Lives for gear
 
tourtelot's Avatar
Okay, sorry guys! All I know is it took me a long time to learn the trade. But you are right; anyone here is free to do anything they like, and good luck to you.

D.
Old 31st May 2010
  #10
Gear Maniac
 

And when you're feeling rich get some Cubs - awesome for car stuff.
Old 31st May 2010
  #11
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pkautzsch's Avatar
 

A lot depends on what picture wants. Best bet for me has often been a 416 in the middle, near the shift lever. You need to watch out for actors' knees, though. Lavs on sunvisors can be nice too, but remember they're omnis, and intended for on-body use. I've usually gotten the drier and more balanced sound with the 416.
And yes, often sitting in the back.
Old 31st May 2010
  #12
Gear Maniac
 
zoom's Avatar
For the first time when I had to record a dialogue in a car I've made some experiments before. I needed to record a conversation of the driver and co-driver, the car was driving through the streets in real, not on a trailer.
Three solutions:

1) In the middle on the co-driver's side a shotgun pointing to the driver, MK41 supercardioid pointing to the co-driver. result: dialogue was ok but the mics picked up too much low frequency motor noise, at least 160Hz lowcut necessary (maybe this depends on the car). I was happy that I did not choose this, because during the shot the co-driver was requested to hold a styro on his knees (for the light) so the use of this setup was impossible anyway.

2.) I own two little AKG wired lavalier mics (omni, AKG Blue Line: CK 97-O) which were mounted below the car's sunvisors. Very often I can use these nice little mics as a problem solver if I need to hide mics. The dialogue was also ok, but the sound was a bit thin in that case. Unfortunately the canopy top needed to be open (because of the light) and the mics needed some wind protection.

3.) Standard solution and it worked best: lavalier radiomics (omni with a little boost in the high frequencies, hidden under the clothes of the actors. If their front isnt seen by the camera, the mics can be mounted on top of the clothes. This was the most statisfying solution.



I had 4 tracks on a SD744T so I have done 2.) together with 3.): The radiomics weared by the actors record their voices very present. mixed in the post together with mic-setup 2.) to add some more car ambience.

It was necessary to lay down in the luggage space of this car, otherwise - if this is not possible - you will make a 'blind flight'

...you see, there are a lot of possibilities, but every car and every shot is different. I would recommend lavs on the actors, if some more noise from the car is required - do this in the post.

cheers
Stefan
Old 31st May 2010
  #13
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tourtelot's Avatar
And even after my sincere apology for my misbehavior the other day, I am certain to really be labeled a bitter old fogey for this but here goes. . .

It is really, really dangerous to ride in the trunk of an actor driven picture car. You health, and perhaps your life is at risk by doing so. The young ones amoung us think that they are immortal but if you hit something at 45mph and you are bouncing around in a trunk without a seatbelt, amongst a lot of metal objects (recorders, mixers, tire jacks etc), you WILL get hurt. If that same car flips over on the freeway at 60mph, the chance of you getting killed is high.

Get your levels before the car rolls, turn them down a little 'cause the actors will be talking louder to overcome the car's motor noise, turn on the recorder, close the truck and send them on their way. CF card space is cheap!

Really, REALLY dangerous to ride in the trunk. Don't let your AD calling you a wuss make you do it!

Insert cars were invented for a reason, but along with the rest of the budget these days, they have, for the most part, been eliminated from the shooting plans.

See? I DO have some helpful ideas<g>.

D.
Old 31st May 2010
  #14
Lives for gear
 

A lot of shots in cars can be done with the mic hand held, for some of the
best results.
Old 31st May 2010
  #15
Here for the gear
 

More great suggestion - thanks all.
A few practice runs before hand, albeit on a different car definitely seems like the way to go.

And Tourtelot, you are absolutely right, there is no way I'd get in that trunk.

416
Old 29th November 2010
  #16
Here for the gear
 

short shoot-jeep with window down



Im in an engineering school program and have agreed to do a short film that is entirely in a car. I have a three day shoot coming up!

I found this thread pretty helpful, so thanks everyone who has posted on it so far.
I was hoping to keep it going a little more!
The director is hoping to do alot of these shots moving, with the window open. Theyre installing a lighting rig in the car, god knows if ill have room to fit myself in it but it seems like since at least one window will be open that my best bet might be lavs on the two actors (with some time spent on good placement) and then maybe a handheld mic while hiding in the car?

I have a feeling Im gonna have to scare this director just so he understands how daunting capturing audio in the car will be.
Old 29th November 2010
  #17
Lives for gear
 

Try explaining to the director that the sound of the interior of the
car is different with the window open, and that the audio should
be given equal consideration to camera unless he is planning on
redoing it in ADR.

High quality lavs are a good idea. Small strategically placed super
cardioids taped to the car can be an improvement. Hand held
could be even better.
Old 29th November 2010
  #18
Lives for gear
 

Look into renting a couple of Sanken CUB-1 boundary layer mics. You'll be glad you did.

phil p
Old 30th November 2010
  #19
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pkautzsch's Avatar
 

With open windows you can easily get BAD wind problems even on well-hidden lavs.
The safest place wind-wise is where the car stereo is. Depending on the shot one can place a compact cardioid there or a little lower. This is actually a very good place for natural sounding speech anyway (it's the place where most TV news moderators' mics are!)
The lower you place it, the less presence you'll get. In a convertible, you can go lower because the soft roof reflects less. You might need to hide it creatively. Ashtray or cigarette lighter can be good places for a mic right in the middle of frame. Props department is your friend in the ashtray version!
Old 30th November 2010
  #20
Here for the gear
 

I once clamped a pair of cardioid condensers to the gearshift in an SUV. Not terribly helpful for your situation, as the vehicle wasn't running. It did provide good, natural sound, however. Keeping them out of the shot wasn't an issue, as the shot was mostly head-level from outside the windows.

I second trying to scare the director into closing the windows, and hiding a couple of lavs in the center of the vehicle. Wind noise in a moving vehicle with the windows open would definitely be a problem.

How loud is the engine? That will be another issue to deal with. Bigger budget productions usually mount the car on a trailer, but there are insurance issues that could kill a small production.
Old 6th May 2013
  #21
Here for the gear
 

lolz!

Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot View Post
Please. Are you kidding me? A forum tutorial on how to record dialog in a car? Intern for a soundman and in five or six years, he may let you set up a picture car for sound all by yourself.

Sorry, pet peeve. You can't learn it here.

D.
Look at my profile picture, than listen

Teknow Music Music, Lyrics, Songs, and Videos

Than youll know what it is..lolz

P.S. ....really?...

Last edited by Teknowmusic; 6th May 2013 at 08:32 AM.. Reason: punctiation
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