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The Gathering Sound by Will Strauss C apturing decent location sound requires skill, experience and, as Will Strauss discovered when compiling a list of recent audio acquisition innovations, piles of expensive kit. Although some cameramen might disagree, audio is still the most important thing to get right when on location. The odd dodgy shot can, generally speaking, be sorted in post but if you make a mess of your audio acquisition, it is much harder to fix in the edit. And a TV programme is only as good as its sound. This simple truism may go some way to explaining why location sound is such a money pit. And I mean that with the greatest possible respect. Capturing good audio on location clearly requires a high level of skill but it also needs serious kit: and lots of it. And lots of good quality kit doesn’t come cheap. Shure - VP83F LensHopper Available: Summer 2013; Price: TBD Video enabled DSLRs might capture great images but they are notoriously bad when it comes to audio. As a consequence most professionals recommend that sound be captured separately. However, if you can combine an on-camera shotgun mic with that ability to record audio independently you do have a compelling alternative. That’s where the Shure VP83F LensHopper comes in. It’s a small HD condenser shotgun microphone with built in flash recording and playback to microSDHC cards. The HHB Flash mic might have been with us for more than a decade but this latest innovation brings that capability, including WAV file capture at 24-bit/48kHz, to on-camera acquisition. Let’s look at an example set up. For a standard factual shoot you probably need a mixer, a multi-track recorder, radio mics, a shotgun mic (plus windshield kit), lav mics, batteries (plus charger and hot shoe for powering), decent headphones, camera loom with return, brace or shoulder bag, cables and a harness. Want to know how much that little lot might cost? Well a SQN-5S Series II mixer alone will set you back in excess of £3000 new. And even if you go down the second hand route, you’re still looking at least £1500 on TV-Bay. com. You can do the rest of the maths for yourself. I’m not trying to put anyone off. I just wanted to make the point that audio needs to be good. And to make it good, well that costs money. In a world where (in some cases) analogue still trumps digital and the kit is very expensive you might assume that audio acquisition innovations are going to be thin on the ground: far from it. While it doesn’t fill the halls of NAB, there’s plenty to keep up with. Here’s six of the best for 2013: Tascam - DR-60D Available: Now; Price: $350 (£225) If you do go down the separate audio route when shooting with a DSLR, one new option is Tascam’s DR-60D. This is a 4-track solid- state recorder that makes the most of high-grade HDDA pre-amps and Tascam’s renowned AD converters to capture 96kHz/24-bit high quality audio to SD/SDHC cards. It features two 1/4” XLR inputs – each supplying +48V Phantom Power - plus a 3.5mm stereo mic input. Amongst the outbound options is a Camera Out socket equipped with a volume control to ensure a quality reference track is recorded onto the camera. 38 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 77 MAY 2013 TV-BAY077MAY13.indd 38 02/05/2013 21:18