AUDIO TIPS FOR VIDEO

Shooting in Cambodia at Angkor Wat, Siem Reap - Photographer: Dustin Holliday. This pic links to my other blog with a few of my Cambodia videos.

A couple years ago I jumped on the Canon  5D band wagon. Prior to that I was shooting with a Sony A1U.

Most of the video production I do takes me to countries like India, Cambodia, China, Jordan and Egypt. I work with and through organizations like: Life Mission International, Entermission, Mission India, The Rhema Project, The Bible League and AWANA who are engaged in church planting and holistic community development among other humanitarian activities in these countries.

One of the most important things I need to be concerned about is getting good audio in the field. Re-takes are hard to do when they are 9 thousand miles away. My background in media for the last 30 years has been mostly focused on music for production ( custom and library ), commercial production, recording services, live concert mixing and audio post. Expanding my tool set into video production was a somewhat natural progression for me having been on many shoots as ” the audio guy” and audio production mixer for live and taped broadcast television.

Immediately as I began shooting video myself I realized just how deficient the on-camera audio was. I really was shocked. Main stream camera companies who have pro audio devisions seemed to ignore what I thought were the basic audio tools needed to get predicable good audio. Enough ( rant ) about that..

Even before I  purchased the 5D I was aware of the audio related deficiencies. A little research led me to a great company with a specialized product line. Beachtek.  I like the way they think. They look for very current problems and create innovative solutions !

The product that made the 5D a workable videocamera option for me was the  DXA 5D which would let me connect my high end mics via xlr.  They included a nifty AGC ( automatic gain control )  disabling feature to eliminate the “pumping” associated  with the on camera audio limiter system. Super helpful. It was obvious to me by the omission of any kind of headphone jack on the camera for monitoring the audio that Canon did not have any idea how popular this camera would be for video production. The only way for me to have any confidence in the audio I was recording was to pop out the SD card, stick it in a reader, connect it to my lap top, drag a test file into final cut and play it ! That’s insane ! But the rest of the time.. you work half blind. You can only monitor the input signal via headphones on the DXA 5D. Not any playback !

Well I am happy to report that Beachtek created a new product addressing that issue among others.

The DXA SLR. This device has the ability to switch between input sources. You can choose between two sets of input signal paths. RCA and XLR.  XLR’s for the mic path and RCA which can be connect to the camera’s AV outputs and routed back into the DXA SLR and Viola’ you can monitor the audio off camera ! I’m a happy audio guy..

So in a few words.. I am thrilled with the DXA SLR. There were two other changes that meant a lot to me. One, the metering.  There are now two little LED lights indicating the input levels.. they obey the international color code:   green is good..  red is bad. Not being the trusting sort of guy when it comes to levels, I needed to see for myself. Canon added this view in a firmware update which lets you choose input levels and actually see them..  how novel..  The DXA SLR also has very nice mic pre’s that lets me use a broader selection mics in my arsenal. They sound great and the lights don’t lie.

By the way, this device is not limited in it’s use to just Canon 5D’s.

You can get one through B&H.

Photographer: Gene Ort with his trusty iPhone