Yesterday a sound mixer hit me up on Facebook asking my thoughts about the Rode NT55 to capture ambiences and sound effects. He said he wanted to capture sounds like he heard in the Zoom F4 video. That’s when it hit me, I should do a breakout on how the audio for Zoom F4 video was captured.
We took a lot of our inspiration in the planning stages by watching Mad Max Fury Road and read up on how they went about miking up all the trucks.
Zoom and the ad agency said, sky’s the limit, lets go nuts! At one point in a planning meeting it was mentioned we should feature all different types and brands of microphones, really showcase a variety of what people might own. Two Weeks later I packed up my suitcase with a full arsenal of microphones and flew to the heartland of Illinois. While on the plane I watched Gotham Sound’s video about how Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee is recorded.
I know its a long video, but worth it. It also talks about their workflows on how each episode is scheduled and how they make each episode in two days.
Here are the mics we used for the shoot.
Sennheiser 416: This is also one of the mics used on Mad Max Fury Road along with the 816, its longer brother. We are using it inside the Sennheiser blimp so we don’t hear the wind across the mic, just the wind moving the corn stalks. Walking through a corn field was very surreal because just a few yards into the field and there becomes this odd wind noise that engulfs you. The 416 really is the workhorse for most of the video as the sound mixer recording me recording corn used it in his F4 also… (Very meta I know but read that slowly and it will make sense.)
Sennheser ME66: This mic was selected because of its price and was brought by the ad agencies sound mixer. If you were going to put a microphone under a moving car you too wouldn’t want it to cost too much. We are also using the Sennheiser blimp but we’ve added the fur wind muff to really cut that wind noise down and get the sounds of the dirt being kicked up only. The ME66 outperforms the NTG2 in so many way and best of all gets you into the Sennheiser ME-series of capsules. The ME capsules let you cheaply build out a full spectrum of microphones when you are getting started. In fact you can own the K6 power supply and ever ME-series capsule for less than the retail price for a new 416.
Shure MX391: I know you can’t see it in the shot, but we did use it, I promise. This omni directional boundary mic was used to help capture rocks that kick up and hit the frame of the truck. This is only one of the two omnis used on this shoot. (the other being the Sanken COS-11D run into a Lectrosonic um200 for my dialog at the end.) It is impossible to predict where pebbles will hit so this flat mountable omni really was the perfect tool for this job. I just love the Shure MX391 because it also secretly is a multi-capsule microphone. Remove the windscreen mesh cover and you will find that you can unscrew the omni capsule and swap it out with a cardioid or super cardioid. This makes it a very useful plant mic in all sorts of situations.
Audix i5: This is the only dynamic mic used to capture audio in the video. It is also my goto mic for capturing loud sound effects. Weird I know but hear me out. The i5 was designed to capture the quick attacks of snare drums and reject most of the surrounding sounds created by the rest of the drum kit. It features a very tight cardioid pattern (Audix doesn’t claim hyper cardioid… but you can be the judge) and features a >140 SPL. And because it’s a dynamic mic it requires more gain than a condenser so when you are miking up loud sound effects, you have a greater range on your recorder to dial down your gain structure without worrying about clipping and distortion. We used an old school Rode shock mount meant for DSLRs and the Zoom 1/4″ to microphone clip adapter to get it to mount into our C-stand. Really easy setup and very effective for isolating sound effects.
Oktave MK-012: This mic was used to capture the sounds inside the cabin of the truck. The cardioid and hypercardioid capsules rejected a lot of the echos and reverb effects that happen inside a metal box. A good rule of thumb when picking the right microphone for the job is bigger the space, the more ports your cardioid should have; smaller the space the fewer ports your cardioid mic should have. So outside a 416 works perfect but had we put a 416 inside this truck, we would have have captured a lot of the sound reflections.
You could purchase a few of these mics for the cost of the Rode NT55 pair. All of which pair up nicely with the 75db gain and the preamps in the Zoom F4. Different jobs and situations require a wide variety of microphones. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself on your next gig to hunt out the wild sounds and capture some onset foley.
About the Author
Andrew Jones is a location sound mixer based in Los Angeles. He started in the TV and Film industry in 2004. You can email him at Andrew@HoldForSound.com