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Since its release, we have been blown away by the amount of awesome content people have created about the Wireless GO, but one video that caught our eye was a particularly awesome one by TL;DR Filmmaker, aka Jason Wang.
A seasoned filmmaker in his own right, Jason showed off a bunch of ingenious ways he'd been using the Wireless GO. We love seeing people use our mics in interesting and creative ways, so we reached out to Jason and asked him to tell us more about unique ways Wireless GO can be used for capturing audio. Enjoy!
Sound is extremely important when it comes to making films, even for instructional TV shows like cooking channels. The one sound that often gets overlooked is Foley. These are sounds that are not dialogue-based – they are the everyday sounds around us; think doors slamming, footsteps, a switch being turned off, or bacon sizzling in a pan. If these sounds are missing in your film (where relevant), it will end up feeling quite empty.
The traditional way to bring these missing sounds back into your film is to either record it yourself (after the fact) or comb through an existing sound library to find the sound you need, and ultimately adding them back into the final cut of your film. The latter can be a very time consuming process (depending on your project).
The Wireless GO is great for recording Foley sounds, live, per scene, per take! Simply hide the transmitter away from the camera's view, but close enough to the sound source, and you’ll be on your way to recording live action Foley tracks that you can later pair up with the video. If the transmitter can't be hidden from the frame, plug a lavalier mic into the onboard microphone and use this instead. Look for places to run the wire like under tables, ledges, corners, objects etc.
Because the transmitter is wireless, you are free to place it nearly anywhere out of the frame then just find the best way to hide the cable. If the wire can’t be hidden, you could opt to use a shotgun-style mic (such as the VideoMic Pro) on a boom pole. Attach the transmitter close to the mic and plug it in, effectively turning the once cabled-runned shotgun mic into a wireless one.
You are able to use up to 8 Wireless GO units in a given area, making it easy to capture all the Foley you could want or need in one scene. Knowing you can take these audio tracks and line them up, as you would with dialogue, will save you a lot of time in post-production. If a sound is not to your liking, it’s much easier to replace one sound than multiple sounds in a scene.
One take scenes
Budget is everything when it comes to making films. How you organise and distribute your budget is extremely important for ensuring that aspects of production go as smoothly as possible. One of the overlooked areas of indie on-set production days is, again, sound.
This time I'm talking about dialogue. Either you don’t have someone to operate a shotgun mic and monitor levels, there’s no space for the operator in the scene, it’s a long dialogue scene and the operator gets lost, or you know you can’t bring the actors back for an ADR session later. Whatever the case may be, traditionally wireless lavs are a great solution to ensure that you get the clearest dialogue possible from your actors without sound ops getting in the way…but what if you don’t have enough wireless sets to go around?
The Wireless GO is capable of handling this situation, did you know that you can wire up to three lavalier mics into one system? Simply attach a headphone duplicator (they come in anywhere from 2-5 ports) and plug it into the transmitter's microphone input. From there you can plug up to three lavalier microphones (this depends on the lav mics you choose, some use more power than others limiting you down to two, I personally have been able to get three to work).
In this situation (and because you’re on a budget), you need to make sure you write your scene to cater to this setup. This setup is best suited for a “sit and talk” scene where the actors don’t leave a given area and have a conversation with each other (for example, a diner scene, car scene, park bench scenes). If you write your scenes this way and frame your shots to allow for the Wireless GO to be hidden under a table with the lavalier mics wired to the actors, you’ll not only be able to mic up multiple actors, you will now effectively be able to capture their dialogues with only one wireless system.
One thing to note about this setup. All the actors' voices are captured into one audio file, not two (or three), which means you cannot mix each individual voice in post. Try to see if you can have the actors match each other's volume so that their voices are level.
I’ve talked about sounds for movies, what about live stage performances? These too require additional Foley sounds to make the performance feel more real at home; music, voice, and dancing are not enough. Have you ever noticed that you can hear all the pyrotechnics that happen during a live stage broadcast of your favorite pop artists, can you imagine if that was suddenly missing? Of course, those productions are on a different scale, so let’s bring this down to local performing stages in your community.
When it comes to dance recitals, the Foley sound that is often missing from every tap dancer's archival video is, unfortunately, their tap shoes. Simply put, the music blasting over the stage is much louder than their shoes. Well-funded stages may have something called a stage mic that captures all the Foley sounds that happen on stage for the audience and can be added to a video of the performance afterward. With the Wireless GO, you can actually create your own.
Dancers are generally not allowed to go past a certain point towards the audience (downstage) because the lights will completely miss them. This is your setup spot. Like the following tips above, you will make use of a headphone duplicator and attach 2-3 lavalier mics to the stage using some tape or BluTack. Place one mic at center stage with the other two at halfway to the center (known as quarter) on the left and right side of the stage. This will ensure that you are able to pick up the shoe sounds no matter where the dancers are.
This setup is also extremely useful for traditional theatre performances. Think about in Romeo and Juliet when Romeo and Tybalt begin their final bout with their swords. How great would it be to hear the swords hit clearly in your home video?
Continuing in the realm of live theatre/stage performances, let’s say you are filming a standup comedian. Can you imagine watching a standup video at home and not hearing the audience laugh after each punchline, or if you did it was recorded by the comedian's own mic and really faint?
Audience laughter is actually a huge part of comedy videos. Simply put, you are more inclined to laugh when you hear others laugh. It is very easy to record audience reactions with the Wireless GO. Simply hide the transmitter somewhere amongst the audience and use the built-in microphone to capture the audience's applause, laughter, and cheers.
However, this method may not always be suitable: what if the person near the mic is having a conversation (you know who you are)? My preferred method in this case is to attach the transmitter to a shotgun mic and place it somewhere where I can capture a broader section of the audience. This gives a better “large room” feel when the audience reacts to the performance.
Sometimes an ADR session for your film is simply unavoidable. ADR stands for Automated Dialog Replacement (ADR). If you're not familiar with the process, it is when the dialogue captured on-set is not clean enough, meaning the actor must recreate their vocal performance in a studio.
This can be very difficult and expensive, as dialogue timing must be perfect, or maybe you just need the actor to grunt and scream a lot (see the now-famous Hugh Jackman Logan ADR session video).
The reason this is usually done in a recording studio is that you want to be in a room with minimal reflections so that you get a clean sound. We all know what our voices sound like in a bathroom and you don’t want that specific sound if the actor's scene is outside. You want the cleanest, deadest (deadliest, in Mr. Jackman’s case) sound possible so that you can manipulate it afterward.
But how can you achieve that if you’re on a budget and don't have access to a studio? If you've got a heavy-duty transport case for your gear, you can actually use it to create your own portable sound studio on the go. Get together with your actor and mic them up with the Wireless GO. You know that top piece of foam on your Pelican case's lid? Take that out and gently hold it in a concave shape around your actor's face, make sure the corrugated side of the foam is facing the actor. When the actor speaks towards the foam, it kills off a lot of reverberation, allowing you to get a cleaner audio take.
This is by no means the perfect technique, but it will get you 90% there on a budget. After discovering this technique I’ve been using it for my own voiceovers instead of lining my entire office with expensive in acoustic foam. I’m honestly surprised by how dead the sound is when I record it!
Jason Wang is a filmmaker, YouTuber, tech reviewer. His YouTube channel TL;DR Filmmaker is packed with amazing educational videos for aspiring filmmakers, gear reviews, movie reviews, filmmaking philosophies and theories, and more.