Documentary Location Sound

Each documentary group will be issued a standard sound package for use on location, which includes a boom mic and a wireless radio lavaliere mic. On the documentary projects, the Panasonic EVA1 camera is used for recording all sound; the use of any other sound recording devices must be approved in advance by the Head of Post Production.

Documentary sound package inventory

  • Sennheiser ME-66 Short shotgun mic with shock-mount/windscreen
  • Two 20’ XLR cables
  • Two 6’ XLR cables
  • Duplex extension cable
  • Sony MDR 7506 headset w/adaptor for Duplex cable
  • 100cc K-Tek boom pole in travel case
  • Lectrosonics L Series wireless transmitter/receiver set with:
    • Sankin COS-11 lav mic, windscreen and tie clasp
    • Mini XLR to XLR cable
    • Camera mount shoe  

Panasonic EVA1 audio set-up overview

The camera should be (pre-)configured to accept a phantom-powered boom mic plugged to Input 1 and a wireless receiver plugged to Input 2.

Both input gain controls should be set to MAN and adjusted so there is a meter deflection averaging midway on the audio meter in the LCD display with PEAK deflections to around -10dB.

Menu settings:

Menu-Audio Settings-Audio CH Settings:

  • CH 1 In Select INPUT 1
  • CH 2 In Select INPUT 2
  • CH 1 MIC Lowcut ON
  • CH 2 MIC Lowcut OFF
  • CH 1 LIMITER ON
  • CH 2 LIMITER ON

Menu-Audio Settings-Audio INPUT Settings:

  • INPUT 1-MIC/Line MIC
  • INPUT 2-MIC/Line LINE
  • INPUT 1-MIC Power ON
  • INPUT 2-MIC Power OFF
  • INPUT 1-Mic Level -60dB
  • INPUT 2-Mic Level -60dB
  • INPUT 1-LINE Level 4dB
  • INPUT 2-LINE Level 0dB

Menu-Audio Settings-Audio Output Settings:

  • MONITOR: Stereo
  • DELAY: Live
  • MONITOR VOL: 70
  • REC. Beep Sound: OFF
  • ALARM:
    • Battery End: MED
    • Media End: MED

Boom mic setup

The boom mic should always be used at least as a backup if something should happen to the lav mic. It can also serve as an interviewer mic with the lav on the subject. The boom can also be used for ambience, particularly if you are at unique or interesting sounding location.

Attach the mic, shock-mount, windscreen to the pole, plug the pole to the mic and using the appropriate cabling, plug the pole to the camera. Confirm levels on meters in the LCD display.

Radio mic setup

Here are the manufacturer’s operating manuals:

First, put fresh AA batteries in both the transmitter and receiver. These units are pretty hungry so the use of lithium batteries is highly recommended; although more expensive per battery, you will yield considerably more runtime and need a lot less of them!

NOTE: Lithium batteries MUST be recycled. They are an environmental hazard and must be disposed of responsibly. There is a container bin in the ER.

Next, mount the receiver and “shoe” to the rear accessory mount on camera handle. Use the Mini XLR to XLR cable to connect from the audio output on the receiver to Input 2 on the camera.

Next, power ON only the RECEIVER to see if you are tuned to a clear frequency or to one in use by another system. You want to see no “RF signal strength” at this point, since your transmitter is not yet turned on.

If you do see any signal strength while the transmitter is still off, it means that another system in the area is already using that frequency. Find a clear operating frequency using one of two methods (use one or the other). You can select a different block or change the carrier frequency.

  1. Using “Smart Tune”
  2. Manually

Next, power ON the TRANSMITTER, use the RED switch on top. The unit should wake up in full-transmit RF mode. If not, or if you powered the transmitter with the front panel button, enter Menu, scroll to “RF On?” and select RF On.

The transmitter should be set to match the carrier frequency and block of the Receiver either manually or with the IR Sync feature in the receivers:

  1. Enter Menu
  2. Select “IR Sync”
  3. Aim the top of receiver at top front of transmitter at a right angle until transmitter reads “OK”

Next, set/check the initial gain structure of transmitter input gain. Initial suggested settings:

  • Transmitter Input Gain at 20
  • Receiver Audio Level at +5

This sets unity gain throughout the system. From the transmitter output, through the receiver and into the camera, levels are now dependent on the input gain setting of the transmitter. Meter readings on the camera should closely match that on the transmitters; readjust the input gain settings on the transmitter as necessary (not the recorder or receiver output settings). You may use the recorder input gain settings for quick gain up, but never to correct a high gain or overloaded condition.

Securing mic to subject

The mic wants to be located towards the center axis of the torso and on the outer edge of the outer layer of clothing. Try to avoid placement where one layer of clothing would rub on another. Listen carefully for any distractions or clothing noise and re-adjust placement as needed.

Have your subject give you a “read at speed” to set the input gain on the transmitter and then the input gain on the camera input.

You are attempting to see a meter deflection of -10dB for the peak information and an average at midscale. This will allow a little bit of headroom should someone suddenly get louder.

If the gain control on the camera winds up being set towards minimum, then you should decrease the transmitter input gain and visa-versa. Ideally the gain control on the camera should wind up being set at between 12:00 and 3:00.

Finally, dress the cable in most inconspicuous manner and mount the transmitter somewhere on your subject out of frame.