Echoes From the Backyard
Posted Nov 2, 2004

Dear DJ,
In using the XLR external mic source on my Sony VX1000, I find I must physically plug/unplug the mic, which temporarily stops audio and makes a very obnoxious, disturbing noise. Is there a silent switching method?
Snap Crackle Pop

Dear Snap,
If I read your situation correctly, then the answer is "no."

I despise adding connections and adapters, so I cringe as I write this: You will need to add a Beachtek-style adapter and a shotgun external mic.

A quick Google search I did came up with xlr-menu.htm, which seems to offer the solution you are looking for, less the shotgun. Studio 1 offers an on-the-belt mini-mixer that accepts XLR inputs and runs a 1/8" stereo mini-plug to your camera. The advantage that the Studio 1 line offers is that it doesn't mount on your tripod, under the camera, where stability becomes an issue.

Then, you need the shotgun mic to replace the on-camera mic since it's already been bypassed. I'm partial to the Sennheiser ME-66/K6 combo.

I would strongly encourage you to upgrade to a PD150 or 170. Both offer you the ability to use the on-camera mic and also accept an XLR from an external source, while maintaining true separation of the audio channels.

Dear DJ,
Too often I've had good wedding video ruined by dropped audio using a wireless lav mic (because of distance, transmitter buried beneath too many layers of clothing, or weak batteries). I need recommendations for an affordable wireless lav system that provides multiple feeds or a backup mic/line. I am currently using a Sony VX1000 and VX2000. Or would a shotgun mic serve me better?

Dear Whazzat,
I always preach that "affordable" and "high quality" do not coexist. I'm not going to say that Lectrosonics are the best. I'm not going to say that Lectrosonics are the only choice for professional results. In fact, there are several systems out there that are rock solid and dependable. I'm simply stating my opinion here, one based on the following three facts:
1) Ever since I bought my Lectrosonics, I have never, ever had to worry that they would fail me.
2) I have never, ever had one let me down.
3) I have never, ever had one interfere with house sound, or receive interference from other transmissions.

When I first started out, I too tried the "affordable" route. About every season I found myself replacing one affordable system with another. In the process, I spent as much on affordable systems that now collect dust as I did on my Lectrosonics. 

I like to think that if I were a smart man, I would have just bought the Lectrosonics in the first place and avoided all the heartache and hassle for so many years. Apparently, I'm not a smart man, so...Which begs the question, why are you taking advice from an idiot like me? Well, I've made all the mistakes. Now, hopefully, others can learn from them. 

As far as a shotgun serving you better—not necessarily. A shotgun is good for "in the field" recording, but unless manually positioned (adjusted as needed) chances are it's not going to yield better results than being "on mic" with a lavaliere would provide.  

Dear DJ,
Here I spend all this time on a DVD that's telling somebody's story and then, when it's being shown on the home TV, everybody is chiming in with their comments. My question is, should I spend all that time getting the music and voice-overs just right, when most of it is drowned out with the jeers and comments by the family?

Dear Point,
Absolutely! The running commentary will not be present with every viewing, and those jeers...Well, you don't want them being about how bad the video was put together, do you?

I'm of the firm mindset that any job worth doing, even if it's slinging burgers under the golden arches, is worth doing to the best of one's ability. It may take longer, but in the end, the clients will notice the difference.

Dear DJ,
I just have to ask: "Echoes from the Backyard?" What does it mean?
Curious George

Dear George,
Echoes from the Backyard was started as a personal identifier. Originally it was a column written for a local publication that saw very little readership. It tied into the name of my company at the time, which was Backyard Productions. You see, the full story actually starts in 1987 with a trip to London, Ohio for the July 4th weekend. My best friend's family had moved there a few years prior, and a group of us were invited to come down for the holiday… What's that you say? Wrap it up?

We're out of space already? (Sigh)

Oh well… We'll just have to get to that story some other time, George.