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There is not a large difference in video quality between a good 3 ccd consumer mini DV camcorder and a professional video camera when proper lighting is used. If the video is for the internet, there would be no difference apparent to the viewer. If the video is burned to a DVD, most viewers will not notice the difference without them being shown side by side. The primary difference is the quality of the sound system. Thus, to increase the sound quality we use professional microphones connected to a Pro XLR adapter. We also use a sound meter mounted on the camera to keep close track of volume. By using very good quality professional microphones, our system gives excellent sound quality. We also often use different microphones for each stereo track. For instance, one channel will be done using a wireless microphone and the other channel will be done using a directional microphone in a sound boom.
The recorder is often used for wild sound, collecting sounds for Foley use to construct sound effects, and recording ambient noise and room tone. In the production of a video with dialogue it is sometimes not possible to get the dialogue recorded as well as you would like. This can happen for any number of reasons such as background noise, an airplane flying over, and things like that. In special effects shots there is often equipment running in the background and it is impossible to mike the actors in this situation. Sound is still recorded for sync purposes. This is where ADR comes in. Automatic Dialogue Recording is a process to replace the dialogue with dialogue that is recorded in the studio. The normal ambient sound or room tone from the Fostex or another recorder is used in the background. The room tone is especially important when an actor flubs a line or short section. The background sound in the re-recorded section has to match the rest of the scene.
We are also able to provide dual system sound. This is a relatively new technique with DV cameras. To get even better quality sound and stereo separation, we can also record the audio in stereo to our Fostex digital recorder. This also helps to assure that good sound is always recorded. We use this system in the courtroom productions we are doing. We are videotaping certain criminal trials and the camera is behind the last row in the spectator section. The camera is using a boom microphone and recording sound, but we can not be sure how good it is going to be. To be certain that we have good sound to work with, we connect the Fostex recorder to the courtroom's sound system and record from that. We can not run cables across the courtroom to the camera, so this is a simple way to get great sound.
This would usually be called wild sound because it is not in sync with the video. Hollywood movies often have used dual systems, with sound recorded on a Nagra tape recorder. The camera film did not have sound on it. When work prints and release prints were made, the sound is then added to the film in an optical sound track. This is one of the reasons a clap board was used, to provide a starting point for the sound syncronization and also to identify the scene and take. The GLINN Studio includes a modern lucite clapboard as well as a smaller video slate.
In a dual system, a syncronization signal is generated and recorded on the video/film and audio tape recorder so everything stays in sync. Today however, camcorders and digital recorders are controlled by internal crystal clocks and although the separate devices are not syncronized by a common signal, they keep very good time and there is little drift between the devices. Most scenes are so short anyway, that drift is seldom an issue. In any case, today we edit video on a computer and we can look at the audio waveforms and line the wild sound up perfectly.
Dual sound is more complicated and a bit more expensive, but it is possible to create productions that are virtually indistinguishable from broadcast quality shoots costing many thousands of dollars more.
Dan is also available to assist with your Key West production as a second unit cameraman, soundman, gaffer or grip.
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