Join the discussion about work/life balance in relationships:

December 1, 2011

The Mitra 3D Mic Pro 'Sounds' Like it Could Help Indies Gather Quality Location Audio

There's an adage about filmmaking that states an audience will put up with poor cinematography so long as the audio is good -- but an audience will not put up with poor audio even if the cinematography is good. So for all of the digital camera advances over the past few years, for many low budget films, getting good sound on location remains a challenge -- and on top of that many indies do not have the time or budget for a proper foley artist and surround mix. 3D Mic Pro to the rescue?

Here's Vincent Laforet on the mic:

The basic thing you need to know about this microphone, is that it has two high quality mics that are spaced apart roughly the same distance as your ears are from one another. It also utilizes a sound modifier technology which captures immersive sound just like we hear it. Most, if not all mics out there are mono mics – and a normal stereo microphone cannot record the same information in the same manner. The beauty of this system is that you can handhold the Mitra mic or put it on a small tripod and let it roll. Just monitor your levels and you can have this incredibly immersive sound out of the box. You can then mix it into 5.1 if you want as well.

The 3D Mic Pro ($995) and 3D Mic Indie ($695) are exactly the same except the former includes two XLR outputs in addition to the single phono plug. Thanks to Vincent, you can get a 15% discount on the mic at 3D Mic Pro website by using the coupon code VL3D0012.

Philip Bloom also shot this very pretty short using the 3D Mic Pro and an ARRI ALEXA:

Of course, there is no substitute for a professional sound mix -- but perhaps gathering better ambient sound on location could help with the time and expense of doing so.

God I love the ALEXA. Too bad it's $75k!

Link: Mitra 3D Mic Pro

[via Vincent Laforet]

Your Comment

29 Comments

That saying is so true.

Sound is huge, no doubt. Ears are more sensitive than we realize and are constantly picking up multiple sources of sound.

If you lend your ear to any number of big blockbusters, you will realize that there is a constant stream of sound filling everywhere and often producing/ evoking (subtle to obvious) states in the Audi(o)ence.
So many sounds are heightened in the process. Many sounds are not even realistic. Most people have no idea what a real gunshot or punch to the face sounds like.

Quality sound is actually more affordably attainable than quality image, but many people still undercut their sound budget in the indi world.

December 1, 2011

0
Reply
Granville

It is a shame that indies do this. The fastest way to spot a BGrade movie is to listen to it for ten seconds. It does not matter how new or old the BGrade movie is, the audio is always rubbish. Older BGrades from the 50's to the 80's have one other fun trait. Their title and ambient music is approximately three times the volume of the dialogue. As if drowning out the bad dialogue fixed the problems in the script.

And do not get me started about scripts. The order of importance is script, audio (dialogue, ambient and score), and then visuals (with high importance placed on lighting). Unfortunately most (not all) indie producers and directors have it in this order. Camera, editing, digital effects, lighting, script, audio.

When I started working in studios decades ago, I quickly learned that every single professional, including graphics specialists, have script and audio as the two highest priorities of every production. I also learned that people with no experience had script and audio at the bottom of their priority list. It is a quick and reliable way to evaluate if the person that claims to be professional online is truly a professional.

December 1, 2011

0
Reply
boybunny

visual cinematographers, welcome to 1931 ;-)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blumlein_Pair

December 1, 2011

0
Reply

@britmic: What you linked to is a solution used in ie. Zoom H4 recorders, not in this mic.
3D Mic is rather for this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binaural_recording

December 1, 2011

0
Reply
Vitos

Can you do same kind of recording with Tascam DR-100? DR-100 has two high quality mics.

December 1, 2011

0
Reply

Tascam make some very good potable recorders. The preamps are good in every model I have tested. The trick with this new microphone is the distance the microphones are set at. Most small portables can do stereo recording, but their microphones are set very close together. To get better stereo imaging, you need to move them further apart. Where good stereo and stereo ambient sound is needed, you normally get a pair of supercardioid or hypercardioid mics (called shotgun mics for the uninitiated) and set them on a mic stand with a T bracket at the top so the mics are half a meter to a meter apart. Please note that my description of mic positioning is severely wanting. There are a lot of tricks and considerations to mic positioning.

December 1, 2011

0
Reply
boybunny

I'm probably totally clueless as far as this goes, but that sounds pretty darn amazing to me. Unfortunately, my budget is so ridiculously low that I probably couldn't afford this either... one o' those "job" things could really come in handy, couldn't it?

December 1, 2011

0
Reply

Although... after watching a few more demo videos, I'm concerned with how well this thing works for dialogue. It's great for picking up ambient noise, but if you're recording a scene heavy on dialogue it might be overpowering...

December 1, 2011

0
Reply

I agree.

From the looks of the specs and the title of the post, this mic is meant for location sound. And best used for musical performances. It's not a shotgun mic. The website lists these applications:
Live performance
Garage band
Nature sound
Interview
Podcast

I wanted to see the polar pattern for this mic but couldn't find it. I'm afraid that if I used this in a noisy environment, i'd pick up too much unwanted sound, than dialog.
I doubt I'd use this for indie narrative filmmaking with dialog. I would invest more on a shotgun mic.

December 1, 2011

0
Reply

This is definitely not a mic for picking up dialogue, it is an ambient microphone.
If you're in a bar for instance, you would preferably use a cardioid or super cardioid boom mic to record your dialogue with no ambient sound (means that the bar can only be filled with extras who don't make a sound).
Then you go to a real bar and record the ambient with this binaural mic.
Mix both tracks nicely and you get a clear dialogue with convincing 3D ambience.

December 3, 2011

0
Reply
Heiko

I remember Adam Carolla describing his film The Hammer when he watched the rough cut without sound mixing. He said it was like "...eating a burrito while on novocaine. You know you're eating a burrito, you see it, but you can't make out the texture or the taste".

Sound equipment is insanely cheaper than camera equipment. We try to hire a sound guy whenever possible, but we also have a Rode NGT-2 and a pair of Sennheiser wireless lavs. Stereo mics are quite useful for "premixed" scratch tracks and you can get them in, like this example, one mic unit or matched pairs.

December 1, 2011

0
Reply
Angelo

Correction: Rode NTG-2

December 1, 2011

0
Reply
Angelo

Has any one tried anything like this just by grabbing a couple Zoom H1s and putting them a foot apart? Not sure if you would get anything good or not, just curious.

December 2, 2011

0
Reply

thats what I was wondering!

December 2, 2011

0
Reply

Well this is one of those "how long is a piece of string?" questions. Technically it would work. Do not stress for months over audio and put your production on hold. The H1 is a pretty good piece of equipment as long as you realise it has severe limitations and you compensate for those limitations. It depends on what you are expecting. If you are wanting to create a serious feature film that has a lot of post mixing with quiet passages and foley breathing.... then the H1s would need to be used very carefully.

The H1 microphones are pretty good, but are designed more for recording live music than quiet dialogue between two actors. You would need to sacrifice some camera shots to make sure the H1s were close enough to the talent. You may need more than one pair of them if the actors are not in very close proximity.

H4ns are not the way to go for anything quiet. They have amp noise (noisy amps/high noise floor) that sounds like low volume static.

If you are willing to spend a little cash there are a lot better options. Tascam, Marantz, Fostex and Roland all have very good mid range recorders. Low noise floor, XLR balanced inputs, phantom power (If you need it for weight. Often microphones work better if they are on their own battery if they have the option), and very important, they generally all have live monitoring with a record volume knob. Add to these "shotgun" mics, lavs or an exotic microphone like barrier microphones via the balanced XLR.

Balanced wiring is important if you have a lot of electrical or radio interference. Electrical can include electromagnetic loops of wiring. Radio can include trucks passing in the distance that have some short that broadcasts white noise on certain frequencies. The balanced wiring is immune to most interference. If you are run and gunning in the woods, it is doubtful that you will need balanced wiring. If you are in a studio surrounded with 20 tons of electrical equipment, then balanced XLR is a must.

Use your ears. Be picky. Like video, it is very unlikely that you can truly "fix it in post".

December 2, 2011

0
Reply
boybunny

There is NO camera on the market like the Arri Alexa. It is by far thee BEST!!!! As a DP, and a Colorist... it is the best option for my bigger budget projects.

December 2, 2011

0
Reply

That's not a bad product at all, but binaural recording has been around for ages and is really not new. Several manufacturers make a range of stereo mics.

A good option is the rode NT4, here's a location video recorded with it, for obvious reasons it wasn't going to be practical to mic up each person and the sound of the hall and reverberation was as much a part of the sound as the source. http://vimeo.com/12550087

Hurray for No film School...

December 2, 2011

0
Reply
Chris K Jones

Hmmmm... Went to a talk recently given by some top sound designers/mixers and several (one in particular) was keen to stress that he preferred a mono mix over all else, arguing that it drew the audience into and through the image - adding an extra depth to it, rather than sending their attention left, right, behind etc. A few people thought he was being a bit of a luddite, but most came away convinced that there was at least something to what he was saying - that actually the stereo/5.1 experience (all too often used primarily for something whooshing past...!) is often overrated, and that a good mono-mix can give the same (if not more) depth of information, without distracting an audience. I've just finished the mix on this, in mono (a short Western... Shot in Britain) - and as it's designed primarily for people watching on their home computers/laptops that's probably no bad thing: http://alexrichardson.co.uk/project/the-ballad-of-byron-and-cole/ - I'm aware it's not perfect, but I'm also aware that good sound for a short is a)important and b) bloody hard! We've worked on all sorts of textures and layers to try to bring the environment to life and decided that working in stereo was an unnecessary distraction. At this rate we'll be working with wind-up cameras next...

December 2, 2011

0
Reply

I *love* stereo in music. However, there are many filming situations where a mono mix could be preferable.

Thing is, you can make mono out of stereo. But, by and large, without some crazy, time-consuming shenanigans, you mostly can't make stereo out of mono.

So, for those who can afford it, stereo is just more versatile.

Just my 2 cents...

December 2, 2011

0
Reply
Muzozavr

Yep, of course - they were referring to the final mix, rather than the on-set recording... For the price of this mic though, what it offers seems like a bit of an expensive gimmick - there's plenty of decent mics out there - from Sennheiser, Rode - at a lower price than this which can give you all you need if you're at least up with some basics :

1) point it in the 'right' direction
2) get the levels right
3) be prepared to do a proper sound mix in post and
4) know when the situation is going to cause problems.

This mic seems to offer to take care of 1), but I can't believe it'll be as good for dialogue as a properly directional mic and a boom swinger who knows what they're doing, and as far as 4) goes... no mic can tell you that - you need someone who has actually specialised in sound and knows how to get the best out of each setup. Kit manufacturers are keen to keep suggesting that we need more of everything - pixels, color depth, more 'immersive' sound ('immersive' being open to debate) - when what most of us really need is simple - more planning and more practise, and NOT more expensive 'solve-all' kit!

December 2, 2011

0
Reply

I think stereo is good, but I don't need any surround effects in movies. Hell I don't need surround effects at all! I rather have a good hifi stereo amplifier and good stereo speakers than any amount of surround sound satellite speakers.
For me, surround sound is just like 3D - it's a nice gimmick, but mostly unneccesary

December 6, 2011

0
Reply
Heiko

I've gotten some pretty good results for ambient using a Sony ECM-MS907 Stereo Condenser Microphone
plugged into Canon EOS T2i, and placed on top of the camera using a Rode Shockmount hotshoe clip. (using Magic Lantern which records the audio in stereo at uncompressed 48.8khz with manual audio gain)

This particular mic MS907 has two directional patterns (90degree or 120degree) controllable by a switch on the top, and I found it worked well for doing an interview with a chef in a noisy kitchen, as well as recording a rock band in a loud night club. It is quite cheap, around $100.

(here's a link to my rock band video, with the sony mic (mic was placed on a table next to me, not in the hotshoe:

http://geoffmobile.com/blog/push-the-modern-states-live-at-the-media-clu...

)
cheers!
Geoff

December 4, 2011

0
Reply

I'm curious what the second mic is doing while I boom my talent. It would be pointing up in the air. Unless there was a boom rig to point the mic at a second talents in a two shot situation. That may be useful, Otherwise this look like just a mic to gather the ambient sounds.

December 6, 2011

0
Reply
Shayne

You can just as well use a directional mic for that purpose, it almost picks up as much sound from the back as from the front (and that's why you shouldn't use a directional mic for indoor recording, because it picks up too many reflections from the ceiling...)

You are perfectly right: this is an ambient microphone. Period. Dialog is never 3D or stereo - a human can only articulate theirselves in mono - and that's how you're supposed to record it!

December 6, 2011

0
Reply
Heiko

I hope that everybody read the manufacturer's description of this mic very carefully. It is nothing special at all, the principal is called "binaural" and sounds real great under one single condition: You _must_ listen through head phones. On their website the mitra people say "two closely spaced side-by-side speakers". This listening condition does't exist in any projection room, theatre, whatever you have....
If I'm mistaken I'd be glad to hear from anybody.
Cheers
Jurgen

December 12, 2011

0
Reply

3D Mic Pro produces binaural like sound using psychoacoustics. What sets it apart is its immersive sound and extreme sound fidelity. You just have to experience it as no amount of word can describe it; we call it true-to-life sound.

Why we suggest listening headphones?
---------------------------------------------------
Using headphones is like wearing 3D glasses to see 3D movie. It eliminates channel crosstalks to bring out fullest immersive sound. That does not mean you will not get good sound in stereo sound systems. 3D Mic recording provides wider soundscape in any stereo speakers than any stereo mic. recording. You can easily validate that by listening to videos by several filmmakers at.

http://3dmicpro.com/info/3D_Mic_in_action

Please play them in your computer stereo or surround sound systems or listen using a pair of headphones.

5.1 Dolby sound production from 3D Mic recording
---------------------------------------------------------------------
You can also produce an accurate 5.1 Dolby sound track out of 3D Mic recording by using third party plugins. The 3D Mic psychoacoustics recording preserves the surround data and most plugins separate them into six surround channels very accurately. You can thus produce 5.1 Dolby track for your Bluray ot DVD disks, super wide stereo for your stereo system or true-to-life binaural like recording for streaming web videos, all by using 3D Mic in a simple DSLR run and gun setup.
Vincent Laforet has created a 5.1 Dolby version of his demo, which you can download as a DVD ISO image to burn it into a DVD and play in your home theater system.

http://filesonic.com/file/2848712485/vl5.1dvd.iso

Dan Campbell-Lloyed has filmed Baja 1000 race all alone in a simple 3D Mic Pro and 7D run and gun setup capturing fact paced action without any preplanning. The simplicity of the setup allowed him to capture the event without any elaborate setup and crews. The easy workflow of 3D Mic allowed him to put together this short film in his Mac in few hours of the shoot.

http://youtu.be/--ZaxmfWAY8

He will soon produce a 5.1 Dolby version.

If you have any questions about professional sound production with 3D Mic Pro, feel free to post your question at out Facebook page and we will be happy to answer it.

http://facebook.com/pages/3D-Mic-Pro/282059038501128

We are in the process of posting bios of prominent filmmakers using 3D mics in their production. You can see that at

http://3dmicpro.com/info/3dmicers

Wish you all very happy holidays.

December 23, 2011

0
Reply

Don't believe the hype! Ignore the 3D buzzword. This mic is a hacked together form of a HRTF binaural array, such as has been around for decades. It has a high noise level and a poor frequency response.

Buy a shotgun mic (~$300), then buy some Primo EM172 omni capsules ($10 each, 18dB better signal to noise, much flatter freq response), a Naiant PFA plug-in power module ($65) and a foam ball ($10?) stick the capsules to the side of the ball, plug them into the power module, plug that into your camera, and you will get the same '3D' sound for $605 less that this product, and your audience (and sound mixer) will thank you.

If you buy this product, you are being had. End rant. I'm not affiliated with any of the products I've suggested.

February 5, 2012

0
Reply
Ben

Very nice sound, but it's too much for my budget!....

December 29, 2013

0
Reply
F.P

Resurrecting an old thread, but immediately listening to this it was so obvious that the audio from the Mitra sounded TERRIBLE. Such a shame, because the accompanying footage was very well shot.

The Mitra audio was either doubled up by mistake during the render or, incredibly, it actually sounds *THAT BAD* -- "two high quality mics" my ass. I hope this product was either dramatically improved quality-wise or it died a death in the two years following this article, because I wouldn't ever want to receive any kind of raw footage with Mitra-recorded audio as the only soundtrack. It sounds horrible!

Vincent needs to clean his ears out if he honestly believes the Mitra sounds better than the shotgun -- listen to the clipping and distortion in the prison scene (when metal gates are slammed shut) and how much midrange there is - with almost no fine detail or transients in the high-end. It's a cheap, mushy mess. Low frequencies are muddy and indistinct.

The same goes for the streetcar scene - ugly, hard to distinguish sound. Ok, spatially it's quite nice but from a quality standpoint that would be rejected by any edit or post production suite as unsuitable. You'd then have to go ADR and foley the entire scene again!

The water scene at the start with the mono shotgun mic sounds SO MUCH better than the Mitra. I would take mono from that any day, it's so beautifully flat in its frequency and transient response compared to the Mitra. (In reality, any location recordist worth their salt would be using a stereo mic or stereo pair at the very least for wildtrack sound.)

If you can't hear the difference from that demo video, I suggest you don't consider a career in sound design -- you're either using very cheap headphones / speakers, or you don't know *how* to listen to production sound. (It's an important skill to learn, and it doesn't take a long time.)

December 30, 2013

0
Reply