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Mini Disc recorder for low budget film making?


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#1 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 05 June 2010 - 10:56 AM

I have very little money but want equipment to record reasonably good quality, clean audio for my short films. Would a Mini Disc recorder fit the bill? Ive also read that people recommend MiniDv video cameras for recording audio. I do own a MiniDv camcorder but I certainly wouldn't use mine for sound recording. It produces this annoying sound sort of similar to that humming sound a lot of tape recorders produce. I am after cleaner sound and hope that a Mini Disc recorder will fulfill that task nicely. Would the Sharp brand be as good as Sony?
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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 05 June 2010 - 02:30 PM

Minidisc is a very serviceable format, although it does use a significant amount of compression and your DV camcorder is, at the tape level, capable of recording much better audio.

However, given this, I'm more interested in what's producing this humming sound. You aren't trying to use the onboard mic on the DV camcorder, are you? Does your camcorder have microphone inputs? You can buy relatively inexpensive adaptors to connect even the very best mics to most camcorders, and that's where I'd start.

What are you shooting the image on?
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#3 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 05 June 2010 - 09:17 PM

Phil Rhodes: "However, given this, I'm more interested in what's producing this humming sound." Me too! I really have no idea. Here is a sample of this sound in a video I shot with the camera. "You aren't trying to use the onboard mic on the DV camcorder, are you?" Indeed, I have, as I don't have much in the way of audio equipment myself. "Does your camcorder have microphone inputs?" I can only see the typical usb, firewire, av sockets etc. Though even if it did have mic inputs, I would assume that I would still get that same 'humming sound' though I could be wrong. Yea, I'm not sure if 'humming' is the best way to describe it. Though one of the things that attracts me to the MiniDisc recorder is that you can manually adjust the levels. The camcorder i'm using is a JVC GR-D650AA and i don't think there's any way that I can adjust the levels on that.
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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 05 June 2010 - 09:54 PM

I'd go for one of those Zoom recorder things and some good mics. Then you'd have a nice stand alone recorder, with a built in mic which isn't too bad, recording to handy cards, which'll save you time later on, and the option to run in some XLRs later on. It's an investment, of course, but without even listening to your audio I can tell you using an onboard mic is a bad idea. As for minidisc, they're nice, I used one with a bolex (doing wild), but with external mics but I had a huge problem finding damned mini discs.
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#5 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 05 June 2010 - 09:59 PM

"What are you shooting the image on?" Most of the visuals are a mix of Super 8 film and MiniDv tape. Also a little bit of 16mm.
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#6 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 05 June 2010 - 10:19 PM

Adrian Sierkowski: "I'd go for one of those Zoom recorder things and some good mics." I admit that I know next to nothing about audio - I'll have to look into what those zoom recorders are. Yea, even I realised that using the onboard mic wasn't the best idea. Going back temporarily to the idea of using my existing MiniDv camera for audio recording.....if I purchase an external microphone and found a way to connect it to the cam (via adapter or otherwise) would there be a fair chance that I could get rid of that 'humming' sound which is evident on that linked video? Ive been looking online and Ive noticed some usb microphones though I see that they are intended to be plugged into computers. Just wondering if they would generally use the same size usb connection as found on cameras these days. There's also a single socket on this camera for an AV cable. With the seperate red and white cables on the other end, is there some kind of adapter that would allow those to be connected with a mic?
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#7 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 05 June 2010 - 10:32 PM

Can't really do a USB mic they'll need drivers installed which your camera won't have. If you had an adapter like a Beachtek box and a good mic you'd have a fair chance as the camera/minidisc/zoom are all doing basically the same thing: taking pulsating electrical signals from the mic and digitizing them. Some will do it better than others, but that's the just of it, an analog to digital conversion. Good mic placement and running the levels is perhaps more important than what you're recording onto.What the video sounds like is the mic being gained up a bit in camera trying to record audio and then getting the sound of the tape heads on the camera as they record. It also could theoretically be filtered out a bit in a sound program such as sound track which, if memory serves, has a hum reduction filter. something else to look into.
As for going into the audio outputs, won't work, generally those are output only. Most cameras have some kind of jack on them, often a 1/8" jack which'll look the same as a headphones jack, but one where, of course, audio doesn't come out.
I also can't find a good image on google of your model camera to look it over and see if it has any inputs. It might not, depends on what market JVC made it for. Here's one of the Zooms I spoke of though:

http://www.amazon.co...r/dp/B001QWBM62

I have one of these 'round the office and while I've never used it professionally, I did tool 'round with it and it seemed to work well enough. I was given to me in lieu of a paycheck from a fly by night production, and even just it's built in mics it got pretty good audio.
Another thing to look out for in terms of buzzing/humming is floros, for any situations you get in on an interior.
In any case, good luck with it all. But remember, if you're down to a choice between a good recorder and a good mic, I'd always err towards the better mic. For a shoot such as the on you're on I'd look into a shotgun mic, something like the ME66 which I used a lot back when i had to be a one man band (thank god those days are mostly over!)
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#8 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 05 June 2010 - 11:10 PM

Thanks for the info, Adrian. Gee, that zoom recorder looks high tech! That sounds like a good substitute for a paycheck. Yea, I can't find any sort of jack on this camera surprisingly. Though even if I did find a way of attaching a mic to it, I don't think that there's any way that I can manually adjust the levels. So essentially would a Mini Disc recorder with manual levels adjustment (or zoom recorder) provide better quality sound than a MiniDv camcorder that has no manual control of levels (even with an external microphone)? I had my suspicions that there was software that might reduce the humming sound but in doing so, that may have a detrimental effect on the audio that I want to keep? Sort of like when using software to reduce grain or noise in a digitised image but unfortunately affecting the fine detail as well. The audio that I want to record for a current project is the ambient sound in the Austraian bush - ie native birds calling from various directions and distances. Would a shot gun mic be fine for that? Or would a regular omnidirectional mic suffice? Unless a combination of the two exists?
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#9 Patrick Cooper

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 12:07 AM

Oops! sorry about the 'combination' of the two mic types...wasn't thinking quite right. I'm assuming that the onboard microphones of most video cameras are omnidirectional? The audio of bird calls I recorded with my JVC camera's onboard mic in the Aussie bush was actually quite good...except for the 'humming' sound of course. So i guess omnidirectional would be my preference when looking for an external microphone.
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#10 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 06:53 AM

Yeah for stuff in the bush I'd probably want to go Omni but also have a super cardiod mic with me as well to capture distant sounds. But yes, anything with a good mic and control over audio levels would be better than the alternative ;)
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