How to Put Video Into a PowerPoint Presentation (Embedding Video)

Posted on July 3rd, 2012 - Written by: Josée Daigneault

In the earlier days of PowerPoint, almost every presentation I was given to prepare came to me via floppy disc. Now, we have the ubiquitous, hot-swappable USB key with tons of storage. We also have a stronger need for playing back videos from within the presentation, to make our presentations as seamless as possible. But, few presenters know how to fully prepare a video for their presentation.

Thankfully, the methods and software for downloading and editing video for presentations are simple and easy to use. One of the most popular sources of video for presentations is YouTube, who make it a pretty painless process. But, how do you get the video and how do you convert it to a useable format? It’s easy! (and all the links are at the bottom)

Downloading the video from YouTube
 
My first choice for downloading and converting YouTube videos is YouTube Downloader, a free program that allows you to download and convert, in separate steps (the paid version does it in one, easy step, however). Here’s how it’s done:
1. find the video
2. open YouTube Downloader (after installing it on your computer – PC compatible)
3. copy the video’s link from the address bar or from the ‘share’ bar below the video
4. paste the link into YouTube downloader (it actually does this automatically as you go back to the program)
5. select the ‘save to’ folder of your choice and click ‘download’
6. go to the ‘convert’ tab and select the video from the folder you saved to, then use the drop-down menu to choose your desired format (hint – use .wmv for Windows PowerPoint)
Done!
 
Converting other video formats to be used with PowerPoint
 
If you download an .mp4 or Quicktime, you will need to convert it to .wmv. Simply go to Sony Media Software’s site (link below) and try Vegas Movie Studio HD11 (or whatever the newest version is). Try it free for 30 days, but if you really want it, it only costs about $45.00!! Pretty awesome product for that price, trust me! Vegas Movie Studio HD will be able to read tons of formats and convert to just about any format you would ever need, but stick with .WMV (3Mbps Standard Definition, or 6Mbps HD), for a high quality, but small file.
 
1. drag the video onto the vegas timeline
2. highlight the file on the timeline
3. click on ‘Project’, then ‘Render As…’
4. the pop-up window will show all the different options, but choose .WMV for Windows (as stated above)
5. click on ‘Render Loop Region Only’ below the render options, so that it only renders what is highlighted
Done!
 
Embedding video into PowerPoint
 
1. create a file folder on your desktop and keep your presentation there (this is best if you are using a host computer, so that the file is easy to find and has all of the videos in the same file)
2. open your presentation from the desktop folder and create a blank slide from which you want to show your video
3. click on ‘insert video’ to locate your video from the desktop folder
4. click the video file to highlight it (a big square will surround it on the new slide and a new control tab will appear at top right) click on ‘play automatically’ or ‘on mouse click’ (these controls change ever so slightly with every new version of PowerPoint).
5. try it out by getting into slide show mode, just a slide or two ahead of the video slide and advancing until you get to the video slide to see if it works
 
Tip – be sure your audio control is at least 75% up for seamless integration into sound systems.
 
Cheers! ~ Buck Moore

Write a Comment


Tips to Cope with Speeches, DJs, Screenings and Cabarets

Posted on June 19th, 2012 - Written by: Josée Daigneault

Most club sound engineers set up and operate sound equipment for bands, often several on any given night. But many clubs also host a range of events that require a different approach to sound system management and, equally important, client relations. Today’s club sound engineer may be asked to handle speeches, DJ performance events, film and video screenings, slide show presentations and multi-act benefit shows that can feature a wide range of musical and non-musical acts. This article contains some helpful hints and procedures that should help the club sound engineer prepare for the unfamiliar and avoid audio pitfalls.

SPEECH, SPEECH

Setting up to project one or more voices through an existing and familiar sound system seems like child’s play. However, speeches can present unusual problems for an engineer whose only previous experience is with club-level bands. First, a well-known “keynote” speaker will rarely show up for a soundcheck, so the engineer should be sure to test the mics and sound system thoroughly ahead of time. Because the mic check will likely be done in an empty room before the audience arrives and changes the acoustics, a certain amount of guesswork is involved. The important questions to consider are: Will it be loud enough? Will everybody hear and understand the speaker? Will there be feedback? By answering these questions well, you’ll cut your work in half.

To make sure that you’ll have enough gain-before-feedback, plug in the vocal mic and slowly bring the channel fader up until you begin to hear very mild feedback. Once you’ve reached that point, bring the fader down by 6 dB and smooth out the FOH response by dipping the lower mids (from about 150 Hz to 500 Hz) to get rid of any boxy vocal sounds. Ask an assistant to read a list of words for you while you walk around the venue and listen. Remember that the human speaking voice generally contains little useful energy outside the 80 Hz to 8kHz bandwidth, and an unnaturally bassy voice will be more difficult to understand than one that is higher pitched. Leave the subwoofers off, and don’t be afraid to use the high- and lowpass filters on the channel EQ.

Once you are happy with the clarity and overall level, begin to add other necessary mics. If you know that the room will be particularly dead when full, set up a stage monitor to provide the speaker with some foldback. Of course, the monitor level should be only enough to reassure the speaker that he or she can be heard; set it too loud, and the speaker will probably back off of the mic.

It is essential to have a backup mic in place and ready to go. This provides you with some assurance against equipment failure and, to a lesser extent, poor microphone technique or compromised mic placement. If the guest speaker is to be introduced, you may need to have a dedicated mic set up for this purpose — just make sure that the MC doesn’t hand the announce mic to the guest speaker. And mute the MC’s mic whenever he or she removes or replaces it in the mic stand.

If you cannot fit a second mic on the rostrum or the speaker will be using a lavalier, a shotgun mic can serve as a backup. Figure 1a shows a shotgun mic positioned for backup should the main mic fail, though the sound quality will noticeably change. Other backup methods include attaching a lavalier mic to the main mic’s underside and placing a boundary mic on the lectern. In general, it’s best to use only one mic at a time; combining two mics that are equidistant from the speaker will produce cancellation and phase problems. If you decide to use two identical mics for better coverage, such as for a speaker who moves around too much for a single mic, aim them inward at an angle-coincident style (see Fig. 1b) to minimize phase problems. However, unless you have access to a pair of slim, matte-black “podium” mics, a pair of regular cardioids may appear slightly obtrusive and will obscure part of the speaker’s face from some of the audience.

In a club situation, the sound person may need to light the speaker. If the speaker is using a lectern, simply put a white sheet of paper on the top surface and point a light at it from above; a clip-on light will suffice if there are no overhead spots. The reflected light will most likely flatter the speaker’s appearance and make his or her face visible from a distance. Subtlety is the key, so avoid blinding the talker with bright side-wash lights or bottom lights. Because you have a blank sheet of paper already in place, why not write a note reminding the speaker to speak up and to stay close to the mic?

Once you have determined your mic technique, your levels are ideal and the talker’s face is lit properly, you can concentrate on staying alert when the speakers start their presentations. If any speaker’s amplified voice is too loud or too soft, adjust it immediately — there is no point in aiming for subtle level changes if the voice is inaudible or deafening. Similarly, EQ changes should be immediate and drastic if necessary. If you can get the voice sounding right by the end of the speaker’s first two sentences, then no one will remember that it wasn’t perfect to begin with. Bear in mind that an audience will adjust its own self-noise according to the ambient noise level: Set the sound system too loud, and the audience will become noisy and inattentive. On the other hand, if audience members have to strain to hear, they will quickly lose interest.

SETTING UP THE DJ

One may assume that a DJ can be left to his or her own devices, but a prudent venue owner will bring in a sound person to ensure that sound levels are reasonable and that the music sounds good. Most DJs now play back from a variety of sources in addition to turntables and may not have the monitoring setup (or hearing acuity) to compensate for differences among them. Leaving a DJ solely in charge of a sound system can be risky.

If the DJ sets up near the console, the DJ mixer’s outputs can be patched into channel line inputs. Those outputs are typically unbalanced RCA connectors, though higher-quality mixers include balanced ¼-inch and XLR outputs. Whichever the case, chances are that the DJ doesn’t have the right interconnect cables, so connecting the DJ mixer to the club sound mixer or crossover/amplifier inputs becomes the sound engineer’s responsibility. A regular stereo RCA-to-RCA cable and a couple of RCA female-to-¼-inch male adapters will usually work.

Wherever the DJ sets up, he or she will commonly request one or more monitors; wedges on the floor or set at ear level on packing cases should suffice. Setting gain on the sound system mixer’s inputs should be straightforward; make sure to leave enough headroom in the system so that sudden peaks from the DJ mixer’s outputs won’t overload the club mixer’s inputs. If possible, have the DJ play a few representative tracks to determine overall levels and EQ. DJs typically drive the sub-bass and the tweeters much harder than a club band mixer, so you may have to adjust the system’s overall EQ to match their expectations. Needless to say, if you have system limiters in the crossovers or across the main stereo bus, make sure that they’re engaged and set at an appropriate threshold for system protection.

FILM AND VIDEO SCREENINGS

When setting up for a film or video screening, there are five things to keep in mind: equipment location, cable runs, output configurations, connections and output levels. For video playback, the projector should be relatively close to the screen, which should be between the main club system speakers, if these are to be used. With the projector between 12 and 20 feet from the screen, the image should be large enough with plenty of brightness; this is especially important for older videotapes and some film projectors.

Because AC power and signal cables will have to run under the audience’s feet, take special care to route them sensibly. The simplest method is to route all cables straight to the nearest wall and then along the wall to the mixer position. This should prevent anyone from accidentally unplugging your AC in the middle of the show. Using gaffer’s tape, secure cardboard strips along the length of the exposed cabling and add strips of bright masking tape in X formations to keep the cable covers visible when the lights are low (see Fig. 2). Using cardboard cable covers will keep the cables somewhat protected from equipment rollovers, as well as keep them relatively clean — plus, no tape residue to remove. Most important, well-protected and clearly marked cables will reduce the possibility of equipment failure and/or injury.

Video and film equipment’s output configurations are not always straightforward. When presenting a collection of videos, you will most likely find that the producers of the different segments created their soundtracks in different formats; some soundtracks will be in mono on both channels, some will be mono on either the left or right channel, and others will be in stereo. If the VCR has a mono audio out, the soundtrack will come from this single output; hook the output to two mono ¼-inch connectors via Y cable and bring them into two channel inputs — one signal will be the main audio, the other the backup. In the case of a hi-fi VCR, feed left and right outputs to two channels. If you pick only one of the two VCR audio outputs, chances are that the audio will be on the other, leading to poor or nonexistent signal. Avoid combining the left and right into a mono Y cable unless you are sure that the soundtrack will sum to mono properly.

Once all of the cables are in place and tested, double-check all audio and AC connections and secure them as if you would expect a bored child to play with them. All RCA, phono and mini-jack plugs must be secured and not just simply plugged in. Electrical tape holds fast, stretches over contours nicely and comes off easily without leaving a lot of tape residue.

Setting levels and EQ for 1- or 2-channel audio signals from a VCR can be surprisingly tricky; in general, production values will favor the images. This is particularly true for documentary footage, which may have been shot by amateurs with only the camera’s built-in mic for sound coverage. For a collage-type video, where scenes from different locations are spliced together in documentary-type style, you may need to ride gain and make frequent EQ adjustments.

I’ve often had to correct for “boxy”-sounding audio tracks, commonly the result of poor mic placement or a poor microphone choice. This can be easily corrected by cutting 3 to 6 dB between 250 to 500 Hz. To gain some clarity on muffled vocals, try boosting between 5 and 8 kHz, but not too much, because the EQ will also accentuate any tape hiss.

Stay alert during a screening. Murphy’s law dictates that if and when you leave the console, there will be a big blast of sound as the image switches from a quiet conversation to a full-out riot. But as long as volume and audio-quality changes are within a reasonable range, the audience will be able to concentrate on what they’re seeing and forget about the technology.

CABARETS AND FUNDRAISERS

Perhaps the most demanding club event is the fundraiser or cabaret show. Just about anything can happen at a cabaret: bands, solo artists, singers with backing tracks (on CD, tape or MiniDisc), video shows, ambient noise artists, poetry, comedy acts, conjurers, etc. And the craziness inherent in such a show can be further complicated if the schedule of performers is switched and the music/sound effects cues are just plain wrong. As with most technically dependent events, adequate preparation, legible documentation and easily located spares will decrease stress levels and make for a smooth-running show.

The first thing to do is ask the show coordinator/stage manager (if there is one) for the exact show requirements and running order. Check this with as many of the performers as possible and rewrite the schedule for yourself with incomplete information clearly marked. Work out a mic-input list based on the most complicated act and clearly mark mic stands and cables with unambiguous labels. A set of additional mics on boom arms marked Production #1, Production #2, etc., can help when strange or unexpected musical instruments are added at the last minute. For artists who will be using backing tracks, check the tape cues ahead of time and write the performer’s name on each CD or tape, as well as the track numbers to be used.

Solo acoustic performers are common for cabarets and fundraisers, and getting them ready three to five minutes before their time slot doesn’t need to be a headache, even if they have limited stage experience. If you sense that any performers are inexperienced or microphone shy, explain why the mics are positioned in a certain way and what the limitations of the miking and monitor setups are. An instrumentalist or vocalist who moves off-mic will drop 6 dB in the mix every time he or she doubles the original distance from the mic (the inverse square law), an imbalance that cannot be easily compensated for at the console without the risk of feedback.

For comedy acts and plays, which are often impossible to mike properly without rehearsals, try suspending a pair of boundary mics above the stage. Results will depend on the performers’ abilities to project, but even fairly subtle reinforcement can often fill out the sound adequately. And, most “internally balanced” acts, such as small jazz and classical groups, big bands and choirs, can be reinforced very effectively with only two or three quality mics positioned downstage.


Buck Moore is a freelance sound engineer in constant pursuit of the ultimate live mix. He currently teaches at Trebas Institute in Toronto and is director/sound designer for BAM! Audiovisual.

Write a Comment


Club Sound Tips

Posted on June 15th, 2012 - Written by: Josée Daigneault

Most people who listen to live music have been to a club or a similar small venue to hear a favorite band or performer. Unfortunately, many music fans have told me that they don’t actually expect to hear live music sound “good” in a club —inferior venue acoustics, an inadequate sound system or a poor FOH mix have blighted the experience too many times. Audience members often tell me that they expect the worst; when they happen to hear “great sound,” they inevitably mention it.

Not every band or club mixer can achieve great sound every time, but I think that the overall standard could be higher. After all, mixing sound for bands in clubs and smaller venues is not rocket science! However, it can be a demanding and frustrating task and, quite apart from technical knowledge and experience, usually requires fairly well-developed interpersonal skills.

In this article, I will explain my typical setup and sound check methodologies and those mixing techniques that I’ve found to be effective in clubs. I will also explain how communication and cooperation among the musicians and sound crew are necessary to achieve balance and clarity, the essential components of any good mix.

AN IDEAL STAGE SETUP

The figure shows an ideal stage setup. As shown, all of the onstage speakers — instrument amplifiers and stage monitors — point in toward the band. This setup has two distinct advantages: it helps keep the “backline” amplifiers out of the vocal mics, and it means that the band members have to set their amplifier levels so that they can hear each other — not too loud, not too quiet. A good balance onstage can make the FOH engineer’s job much easier. Conversely, if the amps are too loud for the band members to hear themselves and each other, then they are definitely too loud for a clear mix. The only drawback to this setup is that equipment nameplates may not be visible to the audience. This typically doesn’t matter, but adjustments will have to be made if the band endorses a particular manufacturer.

In the figure, both guitar amps are aimed across the stage, and the bass amp is close enough to the drummer so that there should not be a need for bass in the monitors. Of course, not every band will immediately accept this “self-monitoring” arrangement. Musicians are often surprisingly conservative, and many set up their instruments a certain way because that’s what they’re used to. For example, most guitarists set up their amps so that the speakers point at the back of their knees, which usually corresponds to ear level to a seated audience. It may require some patient explanation to convince a guitarist that he (or she) will have a better idea of what the audience is hearing if the amp is at ear level.

10 STEPS TO A PRODUCTIVE SOUNDCHECK

Sound checks can be very useful, but things can and will change by the start of the show. Obvious post-sound check changes include the room filling up with people, which will almost certainly change the room’s acoustic character. Other factors beyond the sound engineer’s control include the bass player who has just put on new strings and will now be using a pick, the guitar player who went home to get another distortion pedal, the singer who has had a few drinks, etc. In such cases, the sound check may have only served as a time-consuming line check. Nevertheless, I always attempt to schedule a sound check and have developed the following 10-step program.

Step 1: After setting up the band as shown in the figure, I usually ask them to play a song with only the monitors on — I leave the FOH mix in the Off position. If the band can hear themselves play and feel comfortable, then you’re halfway there. Adding the FOH mix (see Step 4) typically adds the extra low-end information that monitors often can’t reproduce, which may help the onstage monitor mix.

Step 2: Listen for any element that is too loud onstage. Adjust the problem element so that it will be controllable. For example, if you are micing the cymbals, they may need to be “un-miced.” If the stage is treated properly, then they won’t be a huge problem. (See “Practical Acoustics” in June 2001 Mix.)

Step 3: Solo any instrument that sounds funny. Bring its fader up in the FOH mix alone and listen to it carefully. Bring the fader back down and go to the stage to compare the actual sound with what you heard. Adjust the instrument (with mic placement, a different mic or EQ changes) until the FOH signal sounds like the onstage signal.

Step 4: Start a rough FOH mix by bringing up the vocals until they sound loud and clear. Add the bass drum into the mix until it sounds loud and punchy. Don’t overdo the low end — it will just make the mix muddy. Leave the outboard effects alone for now —adding them in too soon will only complicate matters.

Step 5: Add guitars, horns, keyboards, etc., one by one. If the vocals still sound good and the bass drum is still cutting through

while the rest of the instruments sound balanced, then go on to Step 7. If the mix falls apart and you are unsure of why, then proceed to Step 6.

Step 6: Ask the band to stop playing. Perform a rhythm section check by first asking the drummer to play “time. ”Once you are satisfied with the sound, ask the bass player to join in. Shape the rhythm section until it sounds good and balanced. Ask the other musicians, one at a time, to join in and see which instrument is causing the sound problem. Repeat this step until you solve the problem and then go to Step 7.

Step 7: Fine-tune the mix with minor EQ adjustments. Keep in mind that your fader levels may have to be changed regularly throughout the show, so aim for approximate levels. You should be making sure that every signal is useable — that is, you must be able to cut or boost every signal using the fader and/or EQ (within a reasonable range). If you can’t control some inputs — you can neither raise nor lower their levels in the mix — then go back to Step 6. To avoid running out of headroom, keep the faders at the nominal position (0 dB) and adjust the individual mic input gain controls.

Step 8: Bring in the effects, but only if they’re really needed. If the band doesn’t mention effects, then it’s up to you. If they specify effects, then try to accommodate them. Try to keep reverb out of the monitors because it can cause feedback and may confuse the onstage mix. Also, too much reverb in the FOH mix will degrade the clarity of the mix. Effects should be used to enhance a signal, not cover it up — if a singer can’t sing, then no amount of reverb will make it sound better. If you need a delay that matches the tempo of a particular song, it helps if you have pre-set all delay defaults to 100 ms, 200 ms, 300 ms and so on, all the way up to 1,000 ms if possible. The correct delay should then be easy to find.

Step 9: Walk around the room and listen for overall balance. Also, pay attention to vocal dynamics and make mental notes of how the singer is using the microphone. They could be “cupping the bulb,” screaming without backing away, moving around a lot, etc. All of these things will affect the quality of the mix.

WARMER COMMUNICATIONS

Step 10: If possible, make a recording from the soundboard. If the mix holds up through the recording and the FOH mix, then you’re on the right track. If any one element is way out of control, then you’ll have to put less of it through the console, which will further limit your control of it. If something doesn’t come through on a recording, then it’s probably too loud onstage. This should be pointed out, tactfully, to the offending musician. Surprisingly, musicians who point-blank refuse to turn down in order to improve the FOH mix are often much more compliant if a well-balanced “board tape” is in the offing.

The sound check routine I’ve outlined above requires at least some communication between the FOH engineer and the band or musician. Using a talkback mic to talk to the musicians through the monitor system can be handy when a room is packed, but I prefer to walk to the stage. I find that musicians tend to believe what they see rather than what they hear — if they see you standing in front of them asking them to help you solve a sound problem, then they are more likely to respond than if you are just a disembodied voice in the monitors. A cold request like, “Turn down the guitar!” is likely to be met with a similarly cold response, so friendly communication is necessary to achieve a great FOH mix.

MIXING THE SHOW

Unfortunately, live sound people in small venues are often seen as jaded, crusty, has-beens who never made it as rock stars. With this mindset, communication between sound person and band can suffer from the very start. It’s important for the band to give the sound person the benefit of the doubt, and equally important for the sound person to indulge in the band’s requests and explain why some things can’t be done, rather than just say, “Sorry, can’t do it.” As a live sound person who works six or seven nights a week and comes across the same issues almost daily, I can get tired of explaining myself over and over again. But I have to remember that most of the bands I work with deserve to be treated equally, and so I explain the same thing to them as I do for anyone else.

Now it’s time to mix. The pre-show music fades out, the band adjusts their instruments, the singer taps the lead vocal mic and the audience quiets down a bit in anticipation of what will happen next. The focus is on the band, and if they don’t sound good right away, then the focus will soon be on the sound person. Here are some tips on keeping things under control.

Don’t make any sudden changes. If you need to turn a guitar up for the solo and you miss it by a few seconds, then fade the guitar up smoothly. Turning it up quickly will make the error more noticeable.

Don’t make drastic changes. Major EQ adjustments should be made as smoothly as the “fade-up” guitar mentioned above. If you find yourself putting a 15dB boost or cut on any input, then you might want to explore other ways of getting something to sound the way you want.

Don’t run out of headroom. Pay attention to those overload LEDs on board channels and outboard gear. Remember, cutting frequencies on a graphic EQ will preserve headroom, while boosting frequencies will cut into headroom.

Don’t lose control. If you feel the mix is falling apart, then go back to the flat settings for the channel strips. (If your system is set up properly, you will get an accurate-sounding signal for each source, but accurate doesn’t always mean good.) If all the minor EQ/fader moves you did along the way didn’t combine properly, then you’ll have to backtrack or start over.

Don’t freak out. If you are losing control of the mix, try to keep cool and stay calm. Chewing gum and moving to the beat of the music tends to make you look like you know what you are doing. Promoters, managers and family members can get quite emotional if they feel that their band’s sound is being compromised, but you should just nod, chew your gum, move to the music and keep looking at the console. Keep a straight face and you’ll be back on track in no time.

Keep a close eye on the performers. If the guitar suddenly drops out of the mix, then check the stage before reaching for the fader —you may see the guitar player hunched over his effects pedals or fishing for a disconnected lead. Watch out for gestures that mean “more monitors.” If the singer is looking directly at you while singing, it may mean something is wrong.

Keep a close eye on all incoming signals. Watch those telltale LEDs to pick up on keyboard peaks, mismatches between output levels of different guitar pedals, etc. Check your power amps, outboard gear and console for overload. Many peak indicators light up as a warning that the signal is 6 dB away from distortion, so lowering an input signal by 3 or 4 dB may be enough.

Don’t be too sensitive to criticism. Everyone’s entitled to an opinion and there’s no sense getting into a big discussion in the middle of a show. But if someone says, “I don’t want to tell you how to do your job, but I think the singer/guitar player/drummer should be louder/quieter,” try to acknowledge the input politely and use your own judgment as to whether changes are called for.

Every working sound person should own a sound level meter and earplugs — and use them. An SPL meter can help you convince managers and band members that the volume needs to come down, especially if you keep records of the SPL levels of each performance. At high SPLs, it is easy to lose perspective and wind up with an excessively bass- or treble-heavy mix. If audience members are sticking their fingers in their ears, then there is probably too much treble in the mix. Similarly, if anyone reports a breathing problem, then there is probably too much bass energy.

Finally, be ready for anything. Almost anything can happen during a club performance. The mixture of loud music, performing musicians, adrenaline, alcohol and other mind-altering substances, all crammed together in a relatively small room, can make for a potent cocktail.

Happy mixing!

Buck Moore

Write a Comment


Save Money on AV Services: Live Video Coverage

Posted on June 7th, 2012 - Written by: Trebas Toronto

Buck at a live event in Toronto

Video coverage for live events is a great way to keep a record of what happened because, if it goes well (which it should if you plan right), you’ll be glad you had it recorded. That being said, if you’re going to do it, don’t leave too much to chance!

1) Give a schedule to the video team – email or send a schedule to let the video team evaluate the time they have to set up, especially between presentations, if there are a full day’s worth. If the itinerary isn’t carved in stone, perhaps it can be discussed before the final version gets sent out. Better planning up front may mean a bit more money initially, but much less in post production. This is especially important if there are ‘breakout’ sessions happening simultaneously with very little time to set up gear from room to room.

2) Hire the video team for a site visit – they may include the visit because it is in their best interest or they may charge a little extra, but a site visit will go a long way and minimize any surprises. Believe me, I’ve encountered many! People don’t often think much about cable-routing or noisy corridors because they do not know what questions to ask. Ask the right questions, get the right answers and save yourself from both on-site and post-production nightmares!

3) Ensure all presenters and public speakers know it is going to be recorded – some speakers are represented by bureaus and may not want to be recorded. They should know about the available microphones and the limitations of the technology. For example, a speaker who refuses a lapel mic (it happens) may drift away from a podium and not be heard well on the recording. Ask the speakers if they are ‘standers’ or ‘roamers’ because the microphones must be selected and planned beforehand (wireless lapel microphones require their own article!!)

At another event, covering audio and video in Uxbridge

4) Have all materials available to the video team before editing – nothing is more time-consuming and costly than not having materials available, exactly the way you want them to appear, available at the time of the edit. One question about titling* can hold up the production for a day or more! Late-arriving PowerPoint presentations must be edited for screen and converted to still images for the edit and if they are prepared beforehand, it will save a lot of time for the editor (and look great on video). * Choose the font you want before editing!

5) Allow enough time for a proper edit – there are way too many details involved in an edit of an event to rush it. Rush jobs are ‘rough jobs’. Allow enough time for rough edits (to evaluate), correspondence and proper titling. This will help the project flow along nicely and avoid any frustrating snags for the editors.

Tip – a proper video team will have audio recorders as back-up just in case something happens to the video. The cost is minimal and should be a part of the whole package – a small price to pay for seamless audio! (see below)

Did you know – videographers often use ‘cutaways’ when shooting video? A cutaway is a visual change from the main action to another action, such as an audience reaction shot or wide shot of the whole room – to establish the size of the crowd. This ensures proper coverage and good material in post production. Also, if something were to interrupt the video, the audio would be seamless and not interrupt the message.

Have a great event!!
- Buck Moore

Write a Comment


Using Open Vocal Microphones

Posted on June 4th, 2012 - Written by: Trebas Toronto

Microphones are THE essential component in just about every live situation. They are also one of the more difficult things to set up compared to other components used and once they are set up, the sound person must carefully monitor them because they now have to watch the users.

(The mic shown is an Apex podium microphone with a base attached – and an XLR connector built into the back. It’s a low profile, matte black mic which works great with my Sony ECM windscreen. It hides nicely and, with a little EQ magic, it’s sounds great! The talker shown had great mic technique!)

Once the sound person ‘rings out’ the loudspeakers, it’s up to the user to work around the limitations of the system. There is a lot to consider for the sound person here, including microphone type, loudspeaker orientation and position of the ‘source’ (or presenter). The sound person follows a set of guidelines, which are well established in the audio industry, to maximize what we call ‘gain before feedback’ – or, getting the loudest, best quality signal from a sound system. Once the sound system is set up properly, the person behind the microphone must do their part and speak directly into the microphone to get the loudest, clearest sound. If the speaker (‘presenter’) cannot be heard throughout the room, a series of checks must be performed to find out why – and fast, as an audience will not tolerate poor sound. Let’s go over some of the most common causes of unclear vocals coming through a mic: System not ‘rung out’ properly When a sound system squeals, it means that either someone is pointing the microphone at a loudspeaker (which never works and can damage the speaker) or the sound system has not been tuned properly. Basically, the most efficient frequencies travel from the loudspeakers, back into the microphone and form a loop of sound we call feedback. Have you ever stood in between two parallel mirrors and saw and endless pattern of reflections? It’s very similar to that.

When we turn up a sound system, certain frequencies start to ring before all others and we have to take these out before we can make the system any louder. We can achieve this with an equaliser (aka “EQ”) that has multiple ‘bands’ for controlling individual regions within the sound spectrum. We simply take them out a little bit so they don’t squeal, but this can only be done until the sound system will get as loud and clear as it gets – then we can’t do it anymore.

Loud room After we EQ the sound system properly within a room, we must now pay attention to the room. Even if it were possible to really CRANK the volume to incredible amounts, we would, at some point, only be increasing the volume of the room itself through the sound system.
This happens in rooms with loud HVAC systems or external noise problems (such as noisy service corridors or shipping areas right outside the room). When you start hearing the sound of the room, including audience sound, through the loudspeakers, it’s time to investigate the possibility of briefing talkers on ‘mic technique’.
Quiet talkers/singers Assuming the sound system has been EQ’d (‘tuned’) and the room itself is not being amplified too much, the rest of the work is left to the talker or singer. Quiet talkers cannot be amplified without the risk of feedback (when going past the original tuning of the sound system or amplification of the room.
Quiet talkers can simply be reminded, before they speak, that they must speak up (or ‘project’) and stay within the useable range of the microphone (within 6 inches). They must be able to sense when they get too loud as well, by moving away from the microphone (unless a sound person is carefully monitoring them).
There’s my three cents worth! Have a fantastic day!!
Buck Moore

Write a Comment