Alternative ways to capture audio in an amateur documentary

cadu

Standard Member
Hello,

I intend to produce an amateur documentary and the only camcorder I have available is a “simple” JVC GZ-HM30 (JVC Everio GZ-HM30SEK Camcorder review - Trusted Reviews).

So, I am looking for alternative ways to capture audio with quality, once this cam doesn’t have input to external microphone. I indented to record audio in three different situations: (a) indoor interviews; (b) outdoor interviews; (c) general audio from external environment.

I was wondering if it is possible to capture audio through an IC recorder and to make synchronization with video through edit software (Vegas Movie Studio Platinum 11). I have an Panasonic RR-US551 (Panasonic RR-US551 - US551 IC Recorder - 1 GB Storage - Overview) which has input to external microphone. The questions are:

a) Which could be the type/model of external microphone to use together this IC recorder (considering the different situations mentioned before)? It would be a reasonable solution to my capture audio with quality? Is there other one?

b) Through audio software (as Sound Forge – not professional version), is it possible to improve the audio quality (even the audio recorded from the ” JVC GZ-HM30 camcorder)?

Thanks indeed in advance,
Cadu
 

grahamlthompson

Distinguished Member
You can sychronise a seperate audio recording using your software.

Do what the pros do, make yourself a clapper board, film it at the start of each shot being snapped shut.

Clapperboard - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The loud click is is easily identified on the audio waveform. Drag the audio click location to the point where the clapperboard moving bit contacts the fixed bit.

The camcorder recorded click and the external recording should now match. Ungroup the camcorder audio from the video and delete the audio.

Group the new audio and video and chop off the unwanted bits.
 
Last edited:

12harry

Distinguished Member
Good advice as ever, get that clapperboard in yr Xmas stocking?

Do I understand this is an Audio-only recording . . . got confused - if the camera is being used but you dislike the audio (is that it?) then it's worth trying to get the camera audio as good as possible, and use that for background (etc) as you can sync the external recorder to this. So I wouldn't "delete audio" as suggested, although this is a "clean technique" there are times when having that reference is usful . . . . it can remain even if Vol=0 so you can still see the camera waveform.

You've chosen the recording device - how will this be held?


There are techniques to "improve" recordings, but IMHO the best way is to get it right at the Recording stage - most external recorders have headphone o/p as this will make sure yr target audio (interviewee) is as clear as possible. It's possible to change levels between interviewee and interviewer, using "vol" in Vegas Studio (works in v10) -

However, I suggest you try the camera-mic and try to improve the interview location (away from traffic, wind, etc.). as this will be the easiest to Edit. Why make things difficult? - use the Audio-recorder only as a back-up . . . . and the clapperboard will make you look like a pro.

Good luck.
 

DocJackal

Well-known Member
So I wouldn't "delete audio" as suggested, although this is a "clean technique" there are times when having that reference is usful . . . . it can remain even if Vol=0 so you can still see the camera waveform.

I think he meant to delete it from the timeline, not the original video file.
 

Chelters

Active Member
I'd do as Harry says, don't delete the on board audio from the editors time line, just turn the vol down to zero or maybe 10% to retain "some" background noise or the interview may become to sterile - personal preference and depends what the background noise is of course.

The actual recorder you link to seems to be a Dictaphone, does it give a good quality recording?
I ask because my experience of these devices (very limited I must admit) is that they record well but are very tinny.

As for what type of mic to plug into your recorder, a lavier will always win if you have time to put one on your talent (and interviewer) otherwise a shot gun type mic held close but out of frame will be your best bet.

I think using just the onboard camera mic will cheapen the sound quality as it's mic is designed to pick up sound all around itself and no amount of audio "cleaning" will do a good job with a poor start. So think golden rule, get the mic in close (lav or shotgun) and cut out the chances of ruining your sound track.

I've seen so many "reviews" on youtube where just the cam mic is used and either they sound like they are in a bucket or are drowned out by other things happening around. That really want's to make me turn off! Sound is at least 60% of a video IMHO.
 

grahamlthompson

Distinguished Member
I think he meant to delete it from the timeline, not the original video file.

Indeed all editing using a NLE is non destructive. The original clips aren't affected in any way. You can easily re-import the audio if required.
 

grahamlthompson

Distinguished Member
I'd do as Harry says, don't delete the on board audio from the editors time line, just turn the vol down to zero or maybe 10% to retain "some" background noise or the interview may become to sterile - personal preference and depends what the background noise is of course.

.

As presumably the seperate recording and the audio recorded in camera will be the same though possibly of lesser quality there is zero point in retaining a useless audio track. All it does it take up space on your timeline window. And uncessesary resources in the editor audio mixer. The new audio will require synch locking to the video the useless track will just complicate this.
 

DocJackal

Well-known Member
grahamlthompson said:
Indeed all editing using a NLE is non destructive. The original clips aren't affected in any way. You can easily re-import the audio if required.

yep I know, and fully agree with you on the above. My timeline gets very busy very fast, Theres no way I would leave lower quality, unnecessary sound to clutter it up even more. When you have a 30min (or more) edit these things get important!
 

DocJackal

Well-known Member
Chelters said:
just turn the vol down to zero or maybe 10% to retain "some" background noise or the interview may become to sterile

this is why you should record atmos on your good mic
 

rogs

Well-known Member
The actual recorder you link to seems to be a Dictaphone, does it give a good quality recording?

The spec for the highest quality mode (XP) seems to be pretty good. 44KHz sampling, and 15KHz bandwidth.
I used an earlier Olympus version of the same kind of recorder for while, and was surprised at the sound quality. Not at all like a 'Dictaphone' - especially when used with an external mic.

Biggest problem is likely to be sync. Using a 'clapperboard' reference point, as already described, will certainly help, but these cheaper external recorders use compressed formats like WMA or, in this case MP3, as a recording format, and the system 'clocks' are not as accurate as the pricier PCM recorders.
You may need to use a procedure like this : http://www.avforums.com/forums/13261925-post2.html to make it easier to 'sync' the external audio with the internal audio (and thus the video).
Not difficult, but you need to be aware of the extra time that might be needed....
 

12harry

Distinguished Member
This is getting confused, IMHO. The original point was to retain the camera audio, so it might be used for foley and the interviewer, so the "best quality" is reserved for the interviewee. That was why I suggested retaining the camera Audio...it's only one track so I don't accept it makes much of a space-saving. However, it does retain sync very eaily and that is worth something.

However, now we learn these recorders are a bit "tinny" - I guess that helps with speech recognition, but not so good for a video. I don't think these types of recorders will benefit fr a high-quality external mic - since the recording chain won't have the bandwidth.. Something like a "Zoom" would be better, but these are £80, not £25.
Personally I suspect for any serious work the better quality kit is "probably" worth it, esp. if OP retains the Camera.
I bought a PalmTrack which is music-CD quality up to 24-bit; although the int. Mic is an Electret, which many will poo-poo. However, it's pretty good and I'd not even consider calling it "tinny". Cheaper dictaphone-style must cut corners..... and there is no cure for poor Audio, is there?
((Audio was OP's original complaint, as I recall.))

By retaining some camera audio for the interviewer, the "sync" issue is much reduced, once set correctly there won't be enough time for it to slip.


Let's hear from OP, see what they make of all this . . . . . .
 

grahamlthompson

Distinguished Member
This is getting confused, IMHO. The original point was to retain the camera audio, so it might be used for foley and the interviewer, so the "best quality" is reserved for the interviewee. That was why I suggested retaining the camera Audio...it's only one track so I don't accept it makes much of a space-saving. However, it does retain sync very eaily and that is worth something.

However, now we learn these recorders are a bit "tinny" - I guess that helps with speech recognition, but not so good for a video. I don't think these types of recorders will benefit fr a high-quality external mic - since the recording chain won't have the bandwidth.. Something like a "Zoom" would be better, but these are £80, not £25.
Personally I suspect for any serious work the better quality kit is "probably" worth it, esp. if OP retains the Camera.
I bought a PalmTrack which is music-CD quality up to 24-bit; although the int. Mic is an Electret, which many will poo-poo. However, it's pretty good and I'd not even consider calling it "tinny". Cheaper dictaphone-style must cut corners..... and there is no cure for poor Audio, is there?
((Audio was OP's original complaint, as I recall.))

By retaining some camera audio for the interviewer, the "sync" issue is much reduced, once set correctly there won't be enough time for it to slip.


Let's hear from OP, see what they make of all this . . . . . .

Read the OP again. The camcorder does not have an external microphone input so he wants to use a quality microphone to record to an external recorder while he films. This is a common practice for professional film making. If he can get hold a Sony Minidisc digital recorder then he should get reasonable audio. There is no point whatsoever in using the original recording from the camera as it will have the same audio as the recording made with the quality microphone (how would you arrange for the camcorder microphone not to pick up the speech ? If the camcorder audio is used all it can add is a second copy of the same audio. Tiny synch errors will show up as a slight echo in the speech. This is entirely different to mixing an original soundtrack with other content like background music and/or sound effects.
 

grahamlthompson

Distinguished Member
This is getting confused, IMHO. The original point was to retain the camera audio, so it might be used for foley and the interviewer, so the "best quality" is reserved for the interviewee. That was why I suggested retaining the camera Audio...it's only one track so I don't accept it makes much of a space-saving. However, it does retain sync very eaily and that is worth something.

However, now we learn these recorders are a bit "tinny" - I guess that helps with speech recognition, but not so good for a video. I don't think these types of recorders will benefit fr a high-quality external mic - since the recording chain won't have the bandwidth.. Something like a "Zoom" would be better, but these are £80, not £25.
Personally I suspect for any serious work the better quality kit is "probably" worth it, esp. if OP retains the Camera.
I bought a PalmTrack which is music-CD quality up to 24-bit; although the int. Mic is an Electret, which many will poo-poo. However, it's pretty good and I'd not even consider calling it "tinny". Cheaper dictaphone-style must cut corners..... and there is no cure for poor Audio, is there?
((Audio was OP's original complaint, as I recall.))

By retaining some camera audio for the interviewer, the "sync" issue is much reduced, once set correctly there won't be enough time for it to slip.


Let's hear from OP, see what they make of all this . . . . . .

Read the OP again. The camcorder does not have an external microphone input so he wants to use a quality microphone to record to an external recorder while he films, this will produce much better speech recording but will also record the bacground ambience. This is a common practice for professional film making. If he can get hold a Sony Minidisc digital recorder then he should get reasonable audio. There is no point whatsoever in using the original recording from the camera as it will have the same audio as the recording made with the quality microphone. If the camcorder audio is used all it can add is a second copy of the same audio. Tiny synch errors will show up as a slight echo in the speech. This is entirely different to mixing an original soundtrack with other content like background music and/or sound effects.
 

rogs

Well-known Member
However, now we learn these recorders are a bit "tinny" - I guess that helps with speech recognition, but not so good for a video. I don't think these types of recorders will benefit fr a high-quality external mic - since the recording chain won't have the bandwidth..

They're better than you think, and do benefit from using good quality external mics. Bandwirth for these 'cheapie' recorders is typically 100Hz - 15KHz.
Not good for bass in music recording, I'll grant you.
They're fine for speech......
 

12harry

Distinguished Member
I'm aware of the "pro" approach, but I've read OP and he ALREADY has a voice-recorder (Panasonic RR-US551), which as others have pointed out records speech, but (my words) may lack quality. I don't think a good mic will improve the voice-recorder for the reasons I gave (#11.).
Whether OP retains the camera audio or not is their choice - but losing one Audio track is no big deal when OP is dealing with at-most 3 tracks (+maybe a music into.)..... Still only 4, which is hardly likely to wreck the Timeline space, er, IMHO.
/
Whereas deleting the camera Audio may be detrimental . . .. but whatdoIknow?
 

grahamlthompson

Distinguished Member
I'm aware of the "pro" approach, but I've read OP and he ALREADY has a voice-recorder (Panasonic RR-US551), which as others have pointed out records speech, but (my words) may lack quality. I don't think a good mic will improve the voice-recorder for the reasons I gave (#11.).
Whether OP retains the camera audio or not is their choice - but losing one Audio track is no big deal when OP is dealing with at-most 3 tracks (+maybe a music into.)..... Still only 4, which is hardly likely to wreck the Timeline space, er, IMHO.
/
Whereas deleting the camera Audio may be detrimental . . .. but whatdoIknow?

He doesn't have to lose an audio track, the point is that he can replace the useless audio on the existing track with the audio he really needs.

Something like this will be capable of excellent recording quality.

Sony MZ-R501 Silver Recordable MiniDisc Walkman: Amazon.co.uk: Electronics
 

12harry

Distinguished Member
That minidisc recorder is shown as £95 - I must be mad, but why would anyone spend on an old technology, mechanical recorder with difficulty finding discs and batteries . . . when for the same money you can but a Zoom-basic?
+ My PalmTrack was featured in Sound on Sound, this Month (list £119)- recently I paid £64..... solid state, SDHC memory, AA batteries....AGC or manual, 24-bit recording thro' mp3 - surely solid-state is preferable? - and easy to drop into the PC.

But OP said he already had a speech-recorder (#1). . . . surely spending money replacing this isn't the best use of resources when the camera audio might not be all that bad. Often it is the surroundings that wreck interviews, so some effort there, may be beneficial whichever Audio route he chooses.
That's all.
I think OP needs to give things a try (ie what he has now), and let us know the good/bad - then between us, we may hit on a better solution....
 

grahamlthompson

Distinguished Member
That minidisc recorder is shown as £95 - I must be mad, but why would anyone spend on an old technology, mechanical recorder with difficulty finding discs and batteries . . . when for the same money you can but a Zoom-basic?
+ My PalmTrack was featured in Sound on Sound, this Month (list £119)- recently I paid £64..... solid state, SDHC memory, AA batteries....AGC or manual, 24-bit recording thro' mp3 - surely solid-state is preferable? - and easy to drop into the PC.

But OP said he already had a speech-recorder (#1). . . . surely spending money replacing this isn't the best use of resources when the camera audio might not be all that bad. Often it is the surroundings that wreck interviews, so some effort there, may be beneficial whichever Audio route he chooses.
That's all.
I think OP needs to give things a try (ie what he has now), and let us know the good/bad - then between us, we may hit on a better solution....

It's not old technology. Since when has digital sound recording been old technology. The answer to your question is quality. MP3 is a lossy and poor quality recording system throwing away much of the signal to get small file sizes. . Modern digital compression systems offer much better sound. WAV files have the least compression but ac3 and dts will knock spots of MP3.

In the OP's case the problem is down to the fact that the camcorder most likely has a decent audio recording capability (Mine records 5.1 ac3) but is crippled by the fact that he can't connect a quality microphone.
 

grahamlthompson

Distinguished Member
How about using a laptop to record the soundtrack. With a decent microphone should be able to uncompressed .wav (Full CD quality).
 

rogs

Well-known Member
How about using a laptop to record the soundtrack. With a decent microphone should be able to uncompressed .wav (Full CD quality).

You'd need to add a mic preamp as well. No point in using the internal mic preamp of a laptop with a decent microphone.
Line input would be fine, but the onboard mic preamps are only really for 'skype' type comms....usually pretty noisy....

Have to agree with 12harry about the minidisc being 'old technology' though... although the later ones did record as linear PCM wav, rather than the highly compressed Atrac format of the earlier models, the mechanics of the disc format is now a bit old hat.
Any new purchase should really be solid state,IMHO, ...unless it's very cheap :)
 

rogs

Well-known Member
I think OP needs to give things a try (ie what he has now), and let us know the good/bad - then between us, we may hit on a better solution....

Not sure we shall hear from the OP again on this. As with his (her) other thread, he (she) has posted the same questions on Digital Director forums.
In the other thread he (she) chose to follow their responses, rather than ours. Maybe he (she) will do the same again with this thread....
 

cadu

Standard Member
Hello,

I am “he” and many thanks for plenty of useful information about this thread!!!

I am very new on this subject and follow below an overall first impression (After I learn some stuffs and make some tests yet I will add new comments to this thread):

- The “clapper board” was something I hadn't thought and it was added to my project design thankfully. In the same way, the 'sync' process to handling the external audio with the internal audio will be very useful (http://www.avforums.com/forums/13261925-post2.html).

- I will do tests with cam audio to apprehend better its accuracy. Anyway, I think it could be useful maintain the original audio in some way. There is the “Vocal Eraser plug-in” in “Sound Forge Audio Studio”. Maybe I could try to remove the vocal marks and to use just the environmental sounds if it be the case. The inverse process is possible (take just voice). I think the plugin could be applied (to external audio record as well). Anyway, I have not used the plugin yet. I am just mentioning the feature I have read. Have anyone used this plugin?

- Considering the amateur camcorder level (it does not have an external microphone input too), I am not confident with audio cam capture. So, it was because of that I asked for ways to use external audio recorder. It seems that PalmTrack or Zoom recorders could provide better quality sound, but here (in Brazil) the price is amazing high to my current budged (around 250 american dollars). Sony Recordable MiniDisc (used) is a little bit cheaper. Anyway, before the possibility to acquire these devices, I will do some detailed tests with Panasonic RR-US551 (once I already have it), but it seems that using an external microphone plugged in the recorder could provide better sound. And to my project design it seems that “lavalier microphone” fits great. I took some specifications of Panasonic RR-US551 best audio mode (codec MPEG-1 Layer 3 / 44100Hz, 128 kb/s tot, Stereo; I used the program GSpot to took it).

- It seems that using a laptop to record the soundtrack could be a great alternative! I would ask for additional HELP on this subject. Besides the “lavalier microphone” to make interviews, I think I will need other microphone type to record background narration/locution (using my voice). In this case, what should be the best microphone to plug in the laptop?

Ps.: My laptop has an audio chipset Realtek (Realtek). Main information: The ALC269 also supports stereo digital microphone channels (microphone array) with Acoustic Echo Cancellation (AEC), Beam Forming (BF), and Noise Suppression (NS) technology simultaneously, significantly improving voice quality for PC VoIP applications / Software selectable 2.5V/3.2V/4.2V VREFOUT as bias voltage for analog microphone input / Programmable +10/+20/+30dB boost gain for analog microphone input / Supports stereo digital microphone input / - Programmable boost gain and volume control for digital microphone input.

And thanks for all again,

Cadu
------------------------------------------------
Wishes of amazing ideas in 2012!!!!!!!!!
 

grahamlthompson

Distinguished Member
Look for a microphone mixer with line level outputs and a headphone socket (ideally with metering for the individual inputs). You can then combine multiple microphone inputs and balance the narrative with the other inputs. You could use this either with a laptop or any other audio recorder.

Tandy used to sell a reasonable one in the UK. No idea as to prices and what's available in your part of the world.
 

cadu

Standard Member
Thanks for information. Could you just give me any real model/type of the mentioned microphone mixer? It will be useful for me to find similar one in stores from here. Best, Cadu
 

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