Yesterday I was recording the rain with the Sennheiser 416 Shotgun microphone. My position was in the dining room with the window cracked a little. A guy on a bicycle came into our parking area. I could hear the squeaking of the bicycle as he pulled in. This was at a distance of about 60 feet. Then he also said something that was picked up also. Another person walks by near the window with an umbrella and I could hear the distinct sound of the rain hitting his umbrella. All in all it was a wonderful sensory space to be in. Love the rain… made a 30 minute recording which captured the thunder and also some city traffic.
I plan to listen more. Trying to know the nature of the Mic by experience. One things for sure… it has great focus at distance. I did use a pretty strong high pass filter at the maximum 240 hertz to remove much of the low end rumbling. Fortunately I also had the advanced limiter on… which I could see hit the peak a few times when the thunder rolled in. Took off the wind screen also and immediately noticed the difference with a higher climb in the decibels… probably around a 10db gain.
Delving into sound I think is making me a better cinematographer. Our main sensory realms emotionally are often based on sound. The sounds that make a baby fall to sleep for example. This is often from an emotional point of view an auditory realm rather than visual. So an emotional auditory space is important to be conscious of. I know I sure felt a sense of peace listening to the rain amplified. A little cozy space. Which brings back many memories of childhood.
So the moral of the story is to remember that sound is at least half the picture… and from an emotional point of view way more than half. Respect the sounds… cinematography shouldn’t be about the greatest cameras, lenses and motion control… with no or little regards to sound.
So the Zoom F8n Sound mixer has a pretty precise internal clock even when powered off and all batteries and external power are removed. The internal clock battery will keep the clock precise. If you are shooting in exact 24ND (Non Drop frames). The moment you switch to 23.976 or 29.976… all accuracy goes out the window though.
It really is important to test the equipment that you will be using… perhaps even become a member of online user groups. I wasn’t even aware that it had an internal small battery to keep the clock accurate. This comes in handy when you have to power down the mixer to save energy, switch batteries or whatever. Because the time will still be accurate (in exact frame rate modes like 24/25/30) you won’t have to rejam everything on powerup.
I’m wondering why it becomes inaccurate in 23.976 modes though… the clock will start veering off by many seconds and you can bet audio and camera(s) won’t be synced anymore. Since we mostly shoot at 23.976 for on air broadcast… would still have to rejam the device on powerup. I’m now researching any benefits of shooting exact 24 fps instead of 23.976 FPS.
Below is a picture of the timecode drifting when powered down and then powered back up after about a minute. The longer it’s powered down the more of a drift happens.
Unfortunately in the manual for the Zoom it doesn’t go into all this geeky stuff. I’ve seen on the JW Sound Group that some sound recordist were unaware of this issue. They would power down the mixer and expect it to still keep accurate time. Finally by the time the project is finished and sent to editors… the audio and video are way out of sync… ouch… this can be an expensive problem for post. Also as a sound recordist it can make you lose clients. Yes this little frame issue difference is actually a big deal.
I think it’s good to have practices like the AC and Sound Recordist verbally out loud calling out the timecode every now and then to double check that everything is still in sync between audio and video. I usually take a picture with my phone to see if there is any unacceptable drift happening. There should not be drifting beyond a few frames. I like to see exact frame matches but display latency between say a LCD and LED usually make this not practical. For example my Denecke TS-C slate is LED but my Zoom F8n display is LCD… LCD’s are slower than LED’s. So if you snap a picture you’ll notice usually a 1-3 frame lag in the display times. Not a big deal don’t think the real time code is being affected.
So we just ordered the Denecke TS-C Compact Time Code Slate, Comtek FPM-216 Field Program Monitoring Kit and the Tentacle Sync E timecode Generator with Bluetooth. These new additions will be a great addition to our existing workflows. Our Zoom F8n 8 track sound mixer supports Time Code out/in and we want to utilize it with the Tentacle Sync and Denecke Slate.
The Tentacle sync can be used even on camera systems that don’t have a Time Code sync port… this can be done over the audio channel. So this workflow will be great on our Canon 5D Mark IV as well as RED EPIC Dragon 6K. We also shoot with the Arri Alexa Mini and plan on ordering the time code sync cable for it also.
The Comtek is mainly for producers and directors to hear the audio from the Zoom F8n sound mixer. The system we ordered supports upto 7 receivers from one transmitter. So on shoots we’ll just bring some extra headsets and hand it to the clients. Previously we were running extra sennheiser wireless packs back into the camera and then the camera operator could monitor also. This will just free it up from the camera operator to anyone that needs to have a listen.
Our focus for many years was just visual quality. Now we are taking a look at the full film production workflow. Audio is 50% of the picture and this long neglected area is very necessary for a successful project. With audio being recorded on separate device and sometimes multiple camera shoots. Synchronizing over time code is becoming necessity for efficiency. We don’t want an editor stuck with all those files and having to manually sync… which can take forever.