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Well, I just got my first paid gig as a location audio recordist this week. It's an independent feature and doesn't pay much, but I like the story and it's going to be quite the road trip across the midwest.

I'm going over the script now. It's about a father and son bonding during a canoe trip. I'm keeping an eye out for any dialogue that occurs while canoeing. If that's the case, I'm going to suggest that we do a wild take on dry land and ADR it.

I read an article a while back about a couple of sound guys recording audio while on a speeding boat during the last Bond film, Quantum of Solace. At one point, the boat bounced around so hard that the guys got tossed out of the boat with the equipment! Well, I won't be in that situation as this movie involves canoeing. Plus the budget is tight, I really don't want to even bother putting a lav on any of the actors while canoeing. But that may be the case. Has anyone been in this situation on set where budget and gear is limited and you have to record dialogue while on the water?

I've heard stories where the sound guy was standing chest deep in the pond while recording audio of kids paddling across the water. The boat wasn't moving fast enough, so he was in the water to push the boat along. It made for a more interesting visual for a news story. The guy is a fricking trooper! Anyway, I'll update this question as I continue to read the script. We start shooting on Monday!

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I'd go for the lavs. You can always wrap bodypacks (transmitters/receivers) in plastic wrap to keep them protected from short accidental trips into the water. Just use a twist tie or rubber band where it wraps around the lav cable to seal it up.

Wild takes are good and all, but an ADR fix will be a ridiculous headache if you don't have sync audio. Of course, if you're lucky, the lav dialogue might be good enough to use in picture.

You could also buy a pair of really cheap shotguns (there are some for $110-$160 on B&H) and feed those to a pair of wireless transmitters. You'd be able to hide them down in the boat for some shots and aim them up at the two actors. Not ideal placement really, but if the area is quiet enough, it might work.

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    +1 on lavs, esp. if you can rent decently water-resistant ones like Countrymans. However, depending on the width of the shot, don't be shy about looking to boom from above like normal, especially if you can shoot some in the shallows! (At which point mixing the lavs and the boom mics becomes the challenge...) – NoiseJockey Aug 12 '10 at 4:02
  • wrap em in plastic wrap! great idea. Thanks, Shaun. – Hubert Campbell Aug 12 '10 at 12:46
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You absolutely must record audio during the canoe shots; this is non-negotiable. No matter which way you devise, whether it's lavs, boom, a figure-eight in the canoe itself, or some combo of all of the above, you do not want to depend 100% on ADR. This is critical for everyone on the crew to understand. ADR is a necessary evil that no one really looks forward to. Unless it is requested by the director / producer to change the performance or emotion of a scene, it really should be avoided. Actors often times don't like it (or don't know how to do it), it's expensive (to do correctly), it's time consuming (the takes must be edited) and very seldom do the loop lines sit in the mix well.

All of that - PLUS - if you deliver MOS scenes to the post-sound crew without a very, very good reason, they will hunt you down and wallop you.

Now, get creative and figure out your mic technique! And don't go into it thinking you're only recording a guide track for ADR; plan for it as if ADR is not an option.

PS> Will they be wearing life jackets in the canoe scenes? If so, voila - perfect place to hide a lav.

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So the shoot is going well. We have a great crew and great cast. Our first week went well and there's two more weeks left in the production. The DP is Bruce Shermer (Evil Dead, Roger and Me). The coolest, most level-headed fella I have ever had the good fortune to meet. Another veteran on the set is Robert Cicchini (Godfather 3, War of the Worlds), a humble actor who shows great passion for his work. For my first feature film gig, this has been an absolute blast! Although the majority of the scenes on the water will have voice over narration, I still placed lavs on the actors with good results for the most part. However, I have replaced at least 3 lavs on this production. I don't see myself ever working with sennheiser body packs in the near future. The Lectrosonics and Shur wireless brands have performed quite well however.

Anywho, does anyone have any preferences for wireless transmitters/receivers for use on actors? I did request Lectrosonics as they've always done right by me. They just weren't available initially for rental.

  • @Malvicus - we only have lectrosonics here at work. never had any issues with them. those things are tanks! – Shaun Farley Aug 25 '10 at 19:51

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