Microphones

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‘The Voiceover mic shootout’ Posy.B (2015)

Types of microphones

Dynamic microphones

These microphones are versatile and ideal for general use. It uses a simple design and has few moving parts. This microphone is overall better suited for handling high volume levels such as recording musical instruments. It has no internal amplifier and does not require any external power.

Condenser microphones 

This is very similar to dynamic microphones however requires either batteries or an external power source. The audio signal from this is also stronger than the dynamic microphone. Another element that makes this different from dynamic is that it is more responsive, which means that it can capture smaller details in sound such as the subtle nuances. This microphone however is not ideal for high volumes as its sensitivity makes it prone to distort.

Polar pick up patterns:

Omnidirectional

This microphone is a sphere shape which allows it to pick up audio equally well in all directions. This microphone is ideal for studio recordings where the object is an open, natural sound.

Cardioid

This microsphere has a heart shaped pattern, other wise known as un-directional pattern, and is the most sensitive at its tip, allowing it to pick up sound within 120 degrees of the direction they are facing. This would be a good microphone to use in an interview placed within a crowded area.

Hyper-Cardioid 

This microphone is similar to the cardioid however is physically narrower and has a tighter 100 degree pick up. This means it rejects mores sound from the side, however picks up more sound from behind.

Super-Cardioid

These microphones are similar to both the Cardiods and Hyper-Cardiods however their pick up is narrower and they have a greater rejection of ambient sound. As this microphone has some pickup directly at the back it is important to place the microphone correctly. These microphones are most often used when a single source needs to be pick up in a loud environment, such as a conversation in a coffee shop.

Figure of Eight

This microphone has a figure of eight polar pattern which allows it to pick up the sound from anything in-front or behind the microphone but not the sides, this is known as a 90 degree angle.

Practical Task

For our task we had to test the difference in sound depending on which polar pattern was used and the different affects they would have on sound in both interior and exterior locations. We decided to test both a 30 and 150 degree polar pattern so that the difference in sound would be easier to tell apart. Before carrying out the task we found out that a 150 degree polar pattern would likely pick up more sound than a 30 degree one so this is what we were looking out for when listening back to the sounds after doing the task.

Interior Sounds

Interior location 1 (Corridor) 150 polar pattern

In this test you can hear the overall surrounding much clearer than the 30 polar pattern test. Sounds such as footsteps and voices that were not near the microphone were picked up clearly as well as the noises closer to the microphone such as crisp packet rustling which are clearly heard too. We chose to use the location of a corridor as it wasn’t too busy so we would be ale to pick out specific noises such as the crisp packet as well as any back ground noise.

Interior location 1 (Corridor) 30 polar pattern

In this test the polar pattern is focused on sounds that were closest to the microphone such as the rustling of a crisp packet and someone walking down the stairs near to the microphone. The distant noises that were picked up by the 150 polar pattern such as voices from down the hall were harder to hear and weren’t as clearly picked  up.

 

Interior location 2 (café) 150 polar pattern

As the café we recorded these sounds in was a larger area, the recording on the 150 polar pattern are very eerie and almost echo as you can hear the small noises from all around the room. I like how in this test no one sound stands out and instead you can simply hear all the small walking and talking sounds from around the room.

Interior location 1 (café) 30 polar pattern

In the café location on the 30 polar pattern the background noises from the whole room sound slightly more messy than on the 150 pattern and aren’t as clear. The sounds of paper and tapping on the table which the microphone was on were the clearest sounds to be heard.  I feel this setting would be good if you were filming a scene in a restaurant and wanted the noise from the restaurant to be background noise and the focus to be on two people close to the microphone having a conversation.

Exterior

Exterior location 1 (bins) 150 polar pattern

Again in this outside setting I found the sound quality was much clearer than the 30 polar pattern and you can even clearly hear the sound of a radio going on in the background as well as a clear sound of footsteps all around. We chose to use the area by the bins as it was a less busy location and we wanted to be able to pick out different sounds more clearly.

Exterior location 1 (bins) 30 polar pattern

On this setting the closest sounds such as people having a conversation were very clear and you can hear everything they say. The sound of the car going past also becomes a much louder sound when it comes past the microphone, however when it is in the distance it cannot be heard as clearly.

 

Exterior location 2 (smoking area) 150 polar pattern

We chose to use a busy outside location so that there would be a lot of sound to analyse. The sound quality is clearly much better for this location on the 150 polar pattern as you can actually hear what people are saying as appose to it just being background noise. As someone walks past with a set of keys this sound is also very clear throughout the whole clip and sounds slightly like a bell, something that cannot  be heard on the 30 polar setting.

Exterior location 2 (smoking area) 30 polar pattern

I found that the overall sound from the 30 polar pattern sounds more muffled than the 150 polar pattern and creates a more background like sound. Also the sound of the keys which can be heard in the 150 polar pattern cannot be picked up at in this clip showing that the 30 pattern hasn’t got as wider sound range as the 150 pattern.

Overall, from doing this task I have found out that a 30 degree polar pattern picks  up much less ambient sound than the 150 polar pattern. This suggests this pattern would be good to use in film when filming a scene such as a conversation in a coffee shop, the polar pattern would clearly pick up the conversation if the microphone was placed next to the people, and the background noise could be heard, so the audience can recognise they are in a coffee shop, however the background noises wouldn’t be obvious and the focus would be on the conversation. I also out found that the 150 degree polar pattern can clearly pick up noises from all around a room or area, even if they are far away from the microphone. This pattern may be affective to use in film if you were filming a POV shot of someone standing in a room looking around, the microphone would pick up sounds from all around the room which is what the person in the film would be hearing, allowing the audience to hear what they hear.

Foley Sounds

Our second practical sound task was to record our own Foley sounds. We used a basic microphone on a 30 degree polar pattern and used everyday objects and surroundings in order to create the sounds.

Rain

For this sound I simply used a shower and moved the shower head around the shower to create the effect of rain falling to the ground. This Foley sound could be used very often in films such as someone watching the rain from a window or a clip of the rain to establish the weather and location.

Car Engine

For this sound I recorded a car being turned on before it started driving and then carried on recording it as it drove away. This sound could be used before a getaway scene or a car chase in order to show the audience what is about to happen through sound.

Footsteps

This was the simplest sound to create as I just recorded someone walking and did it on a wooden floor to make sure the sound was clear. This sound can be used in film to build suspense, for example if someone was walking along a hallway up to a door in where they don’t know what’s behind it.

Horse walking

For this sound I recorded a book being hit against the wall which created a similar sound to a horse galloping. This could be used in any horse scene in a film and threw someone riding a horse it can tell a lot about their character such as them heaving wealth.

Human Voice

For this I decided to record a busy hallway in college to create a background noise of voices. This could easily be used for a scene in a café where there is a conversation between two people happening as this would make a good background noise to show someone is in a busy area.

Spaceship

For this Foley sound I found sliding doors in college that would squeak every time it opened and decided to use this to create a sort of space ship / alien noise. This sound would be good for any sci-fi film with a space theme such as a space ship coming down to earth.

 

Overall, some of the sounds were much easier to recreate than others. For example the spaceship sound was hard to re-create  as there weren’t many everyday objects we could use to make a similar sound and it took us a while to find a sound we were happy with.  When recording most of the sounds we held the microphone fairly close to the what was making the sound in order to ensure the sound quality would be clear and easily heard. However, for the human voice sound we deliberately held the microphone away from the direct sound so that it would sound more like background voices. I feel that most of the sounds went well while recording them, however I feel that if I had more time to do this task in the future I could have re-created some more elaborate Foley sounds as well as the basic ones such as footsteps. Overall from the task I learned that is important to keep the microphone very still while creating the sounds so that there are no other sounds such as wind or rustling to be heard.

Harvard Reference:

‘The Voiceover mic shootout’ Posy.B (2015) http://thevoiceovervoice.co.uk/voiceover-mic-shoot/ – Last Accessed 3/10/16

‘A Beginner’s Introduction to Microphone Polar Patterns’ Ehome  http://ehomerecordingstudio.com/microphone-polar-patterns/ – Last Accessed 3/10/16

‘Microphones: Polar pattern / Directionality’ Shure (2009-2016)  http://www.shure.eu/support_download/educational_content/microphones-basics/microphone_polar_patterns – Last Accessed 3/10/16

‘Which types of Microphone Are Used with PA systems’ Yamaha Corporation (2016)  http://www.yamahaproaudio.com/global/en/training_support/selftraining/pa_guide_beginner/microphone/ – Last Accessed 3/10/16

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