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Gunshots bad for mics?


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#1 Lance Boyle

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Posted 01 May 2006 - 08:38 PM

I have an Azden SGM-2X shotgun mic that I will be using to shoot a WWII battle scene, and later, an indoor scene in which the lead character fires a .45 in relatively close proximity to the mic.

Are gunshots bad for these mics, or are they built to handle the sound?
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#2 Mark Allen

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Posted 01 May 2006 - 08:53 PM

Don't have an answer on the mic, but two things.

Do a LOT of research about how to do this safely - even blanks can kill.

Make sure everyone on the set is wearing serious ear protection.

Also there is a production sound forum here you might ask this in.
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#3 Lance Boyle

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Posted 02 May 2006 - 01:18 PM

Don't have an answer on the mic, but two things.

Do a LOT of research about how to do this safely - even blanks can kill.

Make sure everyone on the set is wearing serious ear protection.

Also there is a production sound forum here you might ask this in.


I've got the gun situation handled. I'm very proficient with firearms, and have plenty of hearing protection for everyone. We're even designing some earplugs that look like natural skin for the lead actor's closeups.

The WWII scene will be shot with reenactors, so they know their stuff too.

Good to mention, though. Lots of people are very complacent when it comes to weapons handling on set.
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#4 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 02 May 2006 - 02:12 PM

Just a reminder of how on-set tragedies occur with weapons:

http://en.wikipedia....iki/Brandon_Lee

On March 31, 1993, the 52nd day of a 60 day shooting schedule for The Crow, the scene being filmed was when Lee's character Eric Draven was to walk into his apartment and see his girlfriend being raped by thugs. This would subsequently lead to Eric being shot and killed along with his fiance. Actor Michael Masse who played Funboy, one of the villains in the movie was supposed to shoot at Lee as he walked into his apartment.

Because The Crow's second unit team were running behind schedule, it was decided that dummy cartridges ? bullets that outwardly appear to be functional, but contain no gunpowder and hence pose no threat to those on the set of a movie ? would be made from real cartridges that had been brought to the set earlier in production. Bruce Merlin, an effects technician, dismantled the live cartridges by removing the bullets, emptying out the gunpowder, detonating the primer and reinserting the bullets. This rendered the cartridges inoperative, but real looking in appearance. Merlin and his propmaster Daniel Kuttner took initiative to create some blanks. To create these, Merlin and Kuttner removed the bullets from live cartridges and replaced the gunpowder with firework powder. The bullets were not reinserted.

Later, a cartridge with only a primer and a bullet (but no gunpowder) was fired in a pistol. This caused the bullet to lodge in the forcing cone of the revolver.

When the first unit used this gun to shoot the death scene, the chamber was loaded with blanks which had no bullets. However, there was still the bullet in the barrel, which was propelled out by the blank cartridge's explosion. Consequently, Lee was shot as cameras rolled at the EUE Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington, North Carolina. Seconds later the director Alex Proyas shouted 'CUT' but Brandon remained on the floor. Stuntman and Lee's friend Jeff Imada ran over to Brandon with a paramedic to see if he'd hit his head on the door when he fell and knocked himself out. They discovered a thin slit an inch below to the right of his navel, but this didn't hold any clues as to what happened. They removed Brandon's jacket and spotted a hole in his T-shirt. By this time Brandon had slipped into unconciousness. An ambulance was called and Brandon was rushed to a hospital. He underwent 5 hours of surgery upon which they discovered a bullet had been the cause of the damage.

At 1:04pm Brandon died. His funeral was held days later -- over 400 people attended, including David Carradine, David Hasselhoff and Kiefer Sutherland. Both Brandon's closest friends and Fight choreographers Jeff Imada and Jeff Cadiente were so shocked they couldn't speak, Linda reminded everyone "Brandon would want this to be a happy occasion, we are here to celebrate his life". The footage of his death was soon destroyed without ever being developed. After his tragic death, he was buried next to his father in Lake View Cemetery, Capitol Hill, Seattle, Washington.

The shooting was ruled an accident, though many fans suspected foul play. (Bruce Lee's own death in 1973 at age 32, apparently from a reaction to painkillers, was also considered suspicious.) Oddly, Bruce Lee's character in Game of Death is shot in a similar fashion. Bruce's character, like Brandon's in The Crow, returns ("from the dead," although the character did not actually die) to get revenge on his adversaries. After his death, his mother Linda, and fiancee Eliza Hutton supported Alex Proyas's (the director) decision to complete the movie. At the time of Brandon's death only eight days were left before completion of the movie. A majority of the film had already been completed and only a few scenes had to be done.


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#5 Dan Goulder

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Posted 02 May 2006 - 02:54 PM

I've got the gun situation handled.

Famous last words.

Is using live ammo within the proximity of the lead actor really necessary? If it's all about getting the correct sound, and you absolutely insist on not using a pre-recorded sample, then you should at least record the sound of the gunshot separately...on a cleared set.

Edited by dgoulder, 02 May 2006 - 02:58 PM.

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#6 Lance Boyle

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Posted 02 May 2006 - 03:52 PM

Famous last words.

Is using live ammo within the proximity of the lead actor really necessary? If it's all about getting the correct sound, and you absolutely insist on not using a pre-recorded sample, then you should at least record the sound of the gunshot separately...on a cleared set.


Ok, first of all I DO have the gun situation handled. I am VERY cautious around firearms and don't let anyone but me handle the blank guns. I have a lot of experience around guns, and am very professional. Experience with weapons is not an issue here.

The lead character is firing the gun in an enclosed space. The gun cannot fire live rounds, and the ammo is a blank load, NOT live ammo (i.e. firing a projectile) My question is, will it hurt the mic or not?

And I am very familiar with the tragedy on the set of "The Crow", and mistakes like that make us all very aware of the dangers of complacency.
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#7 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 02 May 2006 - 11:45 PM

Does this mean the scene I had planned were the hero's brother shoots a grape off his head with a double barreled shotgun loaded with live buckshot is dangerous?!! :rolleyes: Damn and it had such great production value.

Didn't anyone notice the primer pop went they pulled the trigger that lodged the bullet in the barrel or that one of the cartages was missing the bullet that was suppose to be in it after that and wonder were it went? I can understand why people find this suspicious. If the primer pressure was strong enough to lodge the bullet into the barrel did it eject the cartrage and if so didn't who ever pulled the trigger wonder why the "live" round wasn't louder and why they hadn't shot someone or something when it fired. The propman for the Crow is responsible for Brandon Lee's death.Everyone of those primers should have been removed without fail prior to being used no matter HOW tight the schedual was. There is NO excuse for such neglegence. Those primers should have been checked and rechecked before putting that gun in the actor's hand. He should be in prison right now and have been sued for wrongful death for everything he owned. It all seems a little flakey to me.

And of course there was also that one actor on that adventure series, I can remmeber his name or the name of the series, who put a blank filled gun to his head as a joke and pulled the trigger, the force so the concussion killed him. He was probably the most surprised looking dead man you ever saw.

Guns on set are not toys and have to be treated as though they were loaded at all times as a matter of habit. They should be returned to the propmaster immediately after the scene is finished and there should be stiff fines for anyone caught breaking these rules. We have a saying here in Texas, The gun that kills you is the one that's "unloaded" . Never take firearms for granted, even if the people using them are expirenced. Those people are the ones that will appreciate the rules the most.
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#8 Dan Goulder

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Posted 02 May 2006 - 11:59 PM

Does this mean the scene I had planned were the hero's brother shoots a grape off his head with a double barreled shotgun loaded with live buckshot is dangerous?!!

Other than for the guy with the grape on his head, it shouldn't be dangerous at all.

Now for the (hopefully) serious answer: You should be able to use any mic that would be used on a snare drum. This would be most dynamics, and some condensers. Any mic that can handle 140 db should be usable. You'll probably get an even bigger sound if you back the mic away, thus picking up some room echo. Having a gun on the set might also help in getting the crew to pick up the pace without giving you any backtalk.
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#9 David Sweetman

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Posted 03 May 2006 - 03:40 AM

If it's all about getting the correct sound, and you absolutely insist on not using a pre-recorded sample, then you should at least record the sound of the gunshot separately...on a cleared set.


It doesn't sound like he's necissarily planning on using the actual audio of the gunshot, it sounds more like he's worried about the adverse effect to his recording equipment. Am I correct? or will you be using the audio you take?
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#10 Lance Boyle

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Posted 03 May 2006 - 10:56 AM

It doesn't sound like he's necissarily planning on using the actual audio of the gunshot, it sounds more like he's worried about the adverse effect to his recording equipment. Am I correct? or will you be using the audio you take?


I was going to record the gunshot, and if it was usable, fine. If not, I'd have to get it from another source.
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