Lost In The Supermarket

RECORDING SOUND IN A CROWDED SUPERMARKET

Q I’m doing sound on a series of walk-and-talk commercials with a spokesperson that will shoot in a real working supermarket—yes, I know, buzzing refrigerator cases, buzzing fluorescent lights and lots of stuff that we don’t want to hear. We get to block off a portion of the store to shoot, but the store will still be open with customers on aisles opposite us. I’m going to use a Lectrosonics wireless lavalier on the talent, but the director prefers to use a boom mic most of the time, as he likes the sound quality better. I’ll be renting a boom mic setup, and I’m not sure if I should use a shotgun or a hypercardioid. What do you recommend?
John V.
Via email

A Glad to read that you’ll be using a lavalier, as that probably will end up being your recording with the least amount of ambient noise. That said, it’s always a good idea to record with two microphones in situations like these because this gives the director a choice of different sounds to choose from. Many sound mixers have a strong preference for using a hypercardioid in this kind of situation for two reasons. A hypercardioid is easier to aim at the talent than many shotguns since the pickup pattern is wider, and there’s the perception that the pickup pattern from the rear of the hypercardioid is less than it is on most shotgun mics.

Since your location probably will have lots of ambient sound, anything that reduces the pickup of room reflections is probably a good thing, although certain shotguns should work fine in this situation. The challenge is that since you’re renting, you probably don’t have the luxury of testing several different microphones to hear what works best. Based upon those criteria, since I know that a hypercardioid will work, I would lean toward renting a name-brand hypercardioid microphone/boom pole setup for your shoot. Make sure you’re always placing the microphone as close to the talent as your shot framing permits.

ZAXCOM’S NEW COMBO MIXER/RECORDER

Q The production company I work at is in the market for a new mixer, and I read on a sound forum that Zaxcom was going to be introducing a new combination mixer and digital recorder, but I haven’t heard details. Have you heard anything about it?
Ramy W.
Via email

A Zaxcom has just released a new combination mixer/recorder called the Nomad. The New Jersey-based company is well known in audio and location sound circles as maker of the high-end Deva recorders and the 800/900 series of digital wireless microphone systems. Users who placed their preorders months ago are receiving the first Nomad units as I write this, and from what I’ve heard, production will be ramping up, with more units shipping soon.

The Nomad is a four- to 12-track, 16-channel location sound-recording solution for film and television productions. Unlike Zaxcom’s Deva recorder, the Nomad was designed specifically for over-the-shoulder/bag usage so it’s much smaller and lighter with fewer buttons and controls. While I haven’t been able to secure a review unit, the Nomad appears to be a product designed with reality television in mind, much like recent products from competitors like Sound Devices.

The Nomad is available in various configurations, from the most basic four-track version that retails for $3,300, all the way to the top-of-the-line 12-track version that retails for $6,800. While this may sound like a considerable amount of money, you should remember that this is a state-of-the-art digital sound mixer, as well as a multiple-track digital recorder; the cost actually seems to be quite reasonable. It appears that the new standard is evolving from using an analog mixer with the outputs run into a separate outboard digital recorder, as many sound mixers have used over the last few years, to integrated solutions like the Nomad.