Requesting Advice – Audio for Soccer Matches

Discussion in 'Camcorders, Action Cams & Video Making Forum' started by Video Dad, Sep 4, 2018.

  1. Video Dad

    Video Dad
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    Requesting Advice – Audio for Soccer Matches

    I’ve been filming my childens’ sporting events for a few years with a basic Canon VIXIA camcorder. I’ve gotten reasonably good at ensuring that enough of the field / court is in frame, zooming gradually, panning smoothly, etc. And I’ve solved for insufficient battery life by splicing together a spare charger with a charging cable and plugging it into a Power Bank. What I have NOT gotten good at is keeping my mouth shut. (I’m an enthusiastic fan.)

    I would really like to find an audio solution that brings in the sound of the game and not the sound of the stands (or more precisely, the sound of the cameraman.)

    To that end, I recently purchased an external omnidirectional lavalier microphone with a 20’ cable which I plug into my video camera. That works fine for loud basketball games because the gyms are typically noisy and my voice is just one of many in the crowd (if I’m heard at all.) But it does not work as I had hoped for soccer matches.

    This is the one I purchased: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00UXNZ1BM/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    I really like the idea of getting the sound on the field. In a perfect world I might use 3 shotgun mics, placing one behind each goal and one close to the field near the center line (while I film from a perch maybe 20 years away.) But the only way I can think of that could make this work is if I bring all 3 sound sources back to the camera via some sort of UHF transmitter / receiver system. (I would be ~ 100 yards from the farthest mics and maybe 30 yards from the nearest mic.)

    I don’t have the time to do much post production work, so I’d need the audio synched directly into the video real time. (I considered purchasing a UHF wireless lavalier microphone system, but have heard some pretty poor reviews and some have opined that the omnidirectional nature of the microphone would not give me the results I’m after.)

    This is the system I was considering: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01L84HZOK/ref=nav_timeline_asin?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

    I’d appreciate any thoughts anyone might have and any products you’d recommend to solve for my challenge. -- Keeping cost reasonable would be good.

    Thanks very much,
     
  2. dosdan

    dosdan
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    If you are going to use 1 or more remote mics, I'd caution against setting the mix balance at the time of the recording. I'd suggest recording them to separate tracks and syncing afterwards.

    I'm quite interested in soccer sound. I've videoed junior soccer matches for the last 3yrs. (Prior to that, I shots stills of them for 7yrs.) I capture a really nice "thunk" sound with the Rode VideoMic (VM), a short shotgun mono mic, when the ball is kicked.

    [​IMG]


    Look at the timing delays involved. I shoot from the sideline in the middle. In the diagram below, the main cam with VM is at "A", and a Tascam DR-2d stereo audio recorder is at "B".

    [​IMG]


    The Tascam has a DeadKitten muff, (originally used with a Rode Stereo VM), over it. This is on a table-top tripod, placed on the far side, facing back at the Main cam. This mic is usually between the two teams' boxes and often picks up the instructions yelled out by either of the coaches, as well as ball sound near it.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Here's a link to the spreadsheet:
    https://dl.dropbox.com/s/o6by9e4bma8c47o/Soccer field timing delays.xlsx

    In the example above, only "A" is calculated. I usually have "B" the same distance back from the sideline so, for me, its levels and delays are mirrors of "A". If you were to have "A" a much larger distance away from the sideline than "B" is, you'd need to add in some extra columns to calculate it separately.

    The field size here was 105m x 68m, measured off Google Maps from a satellite image.

    The labels in the 2nd column indicates the distance. So, for example, "A-1" is the distance between "A" (the main cam) and the near mid-sideline.

    Sound drops off at 6.02dB for every doubling of distance:
    Sound level distance damping decibel dB damping calculation calculator change distance versus sound level apps reduction drop dissipation SPL sound transmission loss free field loss sound and distance - decrease drop fall sound over distance versus dB sound different distances attenuation microphone calculator distance level drop ratio dampening - sengpielaudio Sengpiel Berlin

    My calculator uses different reference points for timing delays and levels:
    • Delays are referenced against the VM on main cam at "A"
    • Levels are referenced against the level which would have been picked up if the sound was coming from centre of the field.
    So, if the ref blows his/her whistle from the Centre ("2"), the sound will arrive at "A" & "B" 129ms later, the sound pressure levels (SPL) will be similar and here are considered to be 0dB.

    Say, the ref blows the whistle at "1". The sound will arrive at "A" 29ms later, with a relative level of +12.9dB. But for the pickup at "B", the distance ("B-1") will be similar to "A-3", so the delay will be 229ms and the level will be -5dB. The timing delay difference between "A-1" and "A-3" of 200ms, (229ms - 29ms), is a significant delay which causes a very noticeable echo, but the difference in SPL of 17.9dB, (+12.9dB - (-5dB)), usually masks it.

    The "A-1" delay of 29ms in this example means that, for main cam, the sound of an event will always lag the video of it by a least a half a frame. Normally in a video editor the video and audio from a camera are grouped (linked). But it is possible to ungroup them, slide the camera's audio track 29ms to the left (earlier on the timeline) and then regroup them again. This temporal offset provides a little extra latitude in helping the captured sound appear to be in sync with the video.

    I usually shoot from the fence near the half-way line. When I've been able to shoot from up back in the stands, I've found the pickup of the crowd was far too loud, even with the extra directivity of a short shotgun mic. I got around this large "A-1" by placing the "B" mics down at the fence near "1" so "B-1" was much closer than "A-1". Even with the lower directivity of the crossed (X-Y) cardioid mics in the Tascam, the result was better than relying on the mic on "A" as the main sound pickup.

    The VM is mono and quite directional. Since it's mounted on the main camera, it follows panning. This improves the discrimination-against-noise-background at a distance but, by itself, the mono sound reduces the liveliness of the soundscape. So I add in the broader stereo pickup of the Tascam at "B". As already mentioned, this also enable me to more clearly capture the comments of the coaches, which I believe is useful for the players to re-hear afterwards when reviewing the match. Since this stereo pickup is facing "A", the stereo channels are reversed in the mix to avoid confusion.

    The combo of main mono mic following the action with the fixed stereo mic adding some spread and ambience to the soundscape seems to work OK. Normally, though, I use 2 more remote recorders. Both are on the fence approx half-way along the side of the penalty box (i.e. about 8m in from each end-line i.e a bit along the side-line from "5").

    One is the mics on a static side-on goal cam, fixed in position, zoom (usually 2x), and focus point. I was using its internal stereo mics with an extra home-made wind-muff:

    [​IMG]


    Stereo pickup is only useful in a goal mic to broaden the area from which I can get the sound of a kick from. So I usually either combine both channels or, if the traffic noise or pickup from a game on an adjoining field is excessive, only use the L-channel if it's on the nearside near the R-end of the field. The side of the field on which the goal cam is situated depends on sun position and crowd position. In this example, the sound from the goalcam would be panned hard R in the mix.

    I've just got a 2nd VM so I'll be using it on the goal cam in a low-mount position. I'm hoping that the 2x zoom I normally set this camera to, to frame the penalty box area, will be sufficient to keep the DeadCat windmuff out of the top of the frame:

    [​IMG]




    While I only have one side-on goal cam, I use another sound recorder at the same position at the other end of the field. This is a Zoom H4 with home-made wind-muff. Again, the side of the field and whether or not I use just one of its stereo channels, or combine both, varies. In this example, its output would be panned hard L in the mix.

    So with remote vs camera int. mics (or ext. mics on cameras) I think you really need to capture them separately and determine their levels in the mix. I often have to reduce or even temporarily mute the output from one of the extra mics due to unwanted crowd chatter, passing of a large truck or the banging of a sign on the fence in the wind. Often this can be done without being noticeable as the output from the other mics will hide its absence.

    Also sometimes I need to temporarily increase/decrease the level in the mix of a mic, say to highlight/conceal a particular comment/abuse from either team's coach or from a player. If the sound sources were mixed down at the time of recording this would reduce the flexibility of this highlighting/concealing.

    Unfortunately, if using either int. or ext. mics on the camera, you have to work at developing the self-discipline not to verbally respond. Even sub-audible groans or chuckles are usually picked up well. You can temporarily lower the level of the main mic to conceal this, particularly if you're using multiple extra sound sources. Other issues are the ringing of your mobile phone, or people trying to talk to you during a match or ask you a question. I usually use sign language when this happens, but it's hard not to appear rude.

    Dan.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2018
  3. Video Dad

    Video Dad
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    Dan, WOW… Thank you so much for your reply. I actually tried to contact you 24 hours ago after watching one of your YouTube videos. (I found a link in another AVForums post.) I posted a comment on YouTube, but I suppose reaching you through this forum would have been a better idea.

    You’ve given me a lot of information and much to consider. Very many of your points rang true with me.

    While I would LOVE to replicate your setup, I know my limitations… And having a shotgun mic on the camera is something I just can’t do. (I’ve been videoing my kids’ games for years, and while I’ve gotten better, I’ve found it beyond my control to remain quiet for an entire game. And to your point, sometimes the phone rings or a friend starts chatting.) -- And with 4 young children a wife and a job, I barely have enough time to offload the video and upload it to YouTube / Hudl. That’s why I’d like the audio synched real time with the video.

    My priorities, in order are:

    1. Eliminate all sound from near the camera
    2. Record audio from close to field
    3. Minimal post production work
    4. Keep cost reasonable
    5. Maximize sound quality​

    While sound quality is at the bottom of this priority list, it is still a priority. (I’d love to have awesome quality, but would sacrifice quality for any or all of the other priorities.)

    So, for that reason I will not
    a. Use a shotgun on the camera (fails priority 1)
    b. Save audio on an external recorder to sync at a later time (fails priority 3)​

    Based on this set of priorities I think I’ll do the following…

    Purchase the Saramonic UwMic9 UHF Wireless Lavalier Microphone System w/ Two Transmitters and One Receiver (https://www.amazon.com/Saramonic-96...d=1536158185&sr=1-3&keywords=saramonic+uwmic9) At USD $400 this probably breaks my 4th priority, but that’s a lower priority than the other 3, which all get satisfied with this product.

    I would then place the two receivers about 5 meters from the sideline, probably near the top of each penalty box. By placing them a bit closer together than originally considered, I’d hope to reduce the difference in sound capture timing between the two devices and minimize or eliminate any echo effect.

    The sacrifices with this solution, I think are:
    • The omnidirectional microphone may bring in crowd noise equal in proportion to field noise. (I wonder if I might be able to mitigate this with some physical solution, like putting the lavalier mic in a homemade parabolic mic dish.)
    • Static interference with UHF signal. (The product I’m thinking of has 96 channels, so as long as I get to the field early enough, I should be able to find one that will work well.)
    • Cost ($400 is a bit steep. But, if this solution works I will likely use it to tape as many as 100 games over the next few years, so the cost may be justifiable.)

    Again, thank you so much for your advice. As I said, I checked out a few of your YouTube videos and enjoyed the total experience. (It was good soccer and the sound brought me into the match.)

    You reply made me consider things I had not previously and helped crystalize my decision making.

    Feel free to point out if and where you think my decision-making is flawed.

    And thanks again… I appreciate your time.
     
  4. mikes48

    mikes48
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    "No animals were injured in the making of this post"

    Sorry Dan, couldn't resist :laugh::smashin:
     
  5. dosdan

    dosdan
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    Please make sure you'll have no problem returning the equipment if it doesn't perform as advertised.

    I bought a couple of Saramonic Vmics (with integrated audio recorders) on a half-price special. The link below shows the mics from another supplier and was not the price I paid.

    https://www.amazon.com/Saramonic-Recorder-Super-Cardioid-Microphone-Cameras/dp/B01B1QO12Y

    One had a very low level. The 2nd was OK, but will lockup if you change the volume too quickly requiring shutdown & powerup. It also is relatively noisy compared to other shotgun mics. Might be OK if you are using it close to a source and trying to reduce competing sounds, but I want to use it to pick up distant, weaker sounds. And there's a low-level rhythmic "beep" that might become noticeable if the environment is quiet enough.

    These cheap electronic designs from China often suffer from poor engineering, debugging and firmware development. The UHF transmitter/receiver may be better, but you need to ensure that, if it's not, you're not saddled with a dud.

    An omnidirectional mic is much less troubled by wind noise that either a cardioid or a super cardioid. But the lack of discrimination may well be a big problem: the crowd is a lot louder than the ball-hit and player yelling. So having the ability to return the equipment if it's unsuitable for what you want to do will be important.

    Dan.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2018
  6. Terfyn

    Terfyn
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    Two points:-
    (1) I use a BOYA radio mic. BOYA BY-WM5 works well.
    (2) Check on the legitimacy of the transmitting frequencies for the two channel mics. I was told the BY-WM8 two channel wireless mics operated on frequencies that are not licensed in the UK. These look very similar to the ones you propose to buy. (badge engineering?) The WM5 works within the approved band.
     
  7. 12harry

    12harry
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    Good point Terfyn, in the UK mics now use UHF - the downside being the extra power needed for a given range. With football match + overtime that could be an issue.
    VideoDad.... are you "in" with the football club, such that you could attach a small item high on goalposts? You might like to look at GoPro "look-alikes" (at about £50 each.)... whilst their sound is not good, you would also video the goal-action, and the audio will be far better than a quality shotgun mic at a considerable distance.
    The greatest issue will be safety, so place it well out of harm's way and pref with a safety-cord to prevent it falling, if it's struck by the ball. You may like to design a quick-attach bracket so the whole can be dismounted for Memory + Battery-changes at half-time. The ones with a waterproof cover have almost zero audio - but you might be able to retain the waterproofing ( against rain ) along with the protection against impact, while achieving some good audio ( with the help of a drilled-hole and some "fluffy" material against wind-noise ). You might like to buy a model that sells the "housing" separately, to experiment as it were.

    The above should improve your film-making with an investment about £100 plus some effort in adaption . . . Having goal-shots and their audio could be pretty amazing IMHO. BTW...You'll just have to tone-down your excitement for your mid-field camcorder.
    Incidentally, the only time I filmed football, from the stands, I had great difficulty judging where the ball would land . . . obviously the players can guess and eyes adjust to sky-brightness better that when peering at the LCD screen.... how do you find/fix this aspect?

    Cheers
     

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