Rule #14 – Know your Gear!

Rule #14 – Know your Gear!

When you get new gear there’s always a bit of a learning curve. Procedures that come naturally and effortlessly become a “how do I do that” and “why is that happening”? That’s where I’ve been for the last few days, and the saddest part is that I created the whole mess by not following one of my own rules.

Rule #14 – Learn one piece of equipment at a time, become proficient with it, and then and only then, buy another new piece of equipment.

Well I decided to 100% update my rig! Starting with a Sound Devices 664 – replacing my 442 and Zoom recorder. Adding a Shure UR 1&5 wireless system – replacing a Sennheiser G2. Powering the system with a new external battery/charging system, and toping it off by leaving my Neumann KM150 in the studio and packing Shure’s VP89S and VP89M shotguns.

Now why would I change everything that’s worked so incredibly well for me for way over a decade? To be honest, I’m not sure. Maybe all the new shiny equipment I saw at NAB peaked my interest. Maybe the hype “new and improved” has me thinking I can better my recording and streamline my operating procedures, or maybe I’m bored of the same old same old – change would spice things up, right?

Well it’s been one hell of a challenge the last week and as I write this I’m longing for same old same old.

It’s been a long time since I questioned whether my tracks were less then perfect. I’ve always carried myself with confidence and instilled confidence in my employer.
I’m easy going (so I’m told) and a lot of fun to work with – but not these past few days! I’ve been so engrossed and stressed with figuring out my gear that I’ve been less then pleasant to be around – broken Rule #6! And questioning looks from the producer is reminding me of my early days in the field.

But there is a silver lining and a learning/teaching moment I’ve come across during this struggle of a shoot.
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As someone who passes on what I’ve learned to anyone who’s interested. I find myself being a bit of a hypocrite for writing an article a couple of months back that slams unsocial coworkers, because that’s been me lately. What to learn from this? Know every nuance of your equipment before you play for real. (Past slamming article)

No matter how much experience you have, it’s surprising how something like the monitoring set-up, or file system, even subtle changes in the sound of a recording that you expect to sound a certain way creates uncertainty. Uncertainty turns into stress, and stress manifests itself into questioning your abilities and small screw-ups.

None of us want to be the worker everyone is avoiding because they’re stressed out, and none of us want to come across as unsocial. Know your equipment and play nice, a successful career depends on it.

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7 Comments

  1. Matthew
    August 2, 2013, 5:37 am   /  Reply

    Do you use the Shure microphones for any indoor shoots or do you still revert to using the your hypercardioid – KM185 for those. I find that although some shotguns with long interference tubes just don’t handle room reflections as well as a pencil mic like the KM185.
    Can you do a video review and setup of the SD665?

    • Dean Miles
      August 2, 2013, 5:31 pm   /  Reply

      Hey Matthew, You are correct about that the smaller hypercards like the Neumann KM150 doing an excellent job indoors, they also work very well outdoors. I’ve used my 150 outdoors numerous times with excellent results.

      I’ve also started using Shure shotguns (VP89S and VP89M). The short gun worked well on the last 4 or 5 times I used it indoors – no reflection issues. I did find at one location (a kitchen) that the ambience of the room changed as I moved the mic from talker to talker, nothing I ever had issues with when using the KM150.

  2. Cristiano Caldeira
    October 25, 2013, 9:27 am   /  Reply

    Hey, Dean, I don’t know if you said that before, but what boompole you actualy use? Do you have more than one option?

    • Dean Miles
      October 25, 2013, 10:44 am   /  Reply

      I use a VDB boom pole. I’ve also used K-tek poles. I’m getting close to needing a new one and the Ambient boom poles I tried out at the NAB conference this past year were awesome – Ambient will be my next pole.

  3. Cristiano Caldeira
    October 25, 2013, 2:54 pm   /  Reply

    I was just at the Ambient website and it made me excited, but it’s far from my reality now. I’m searching the better option for 3m ~ 4m coiled and less than 1kg.
    I’ll check the VDB site.
    The K-Tek is one of my actual possibilites.

  4. Cristiano Caldeira
    October 25, 2013, 3:03 pm   /  Reply

    Dean, what you do with these coiled options when you have to shoot something with action? No problems with the vibration and internal noises?

    • Dean Miles
      November 3, 2013, 10:21 pm   /  Reply

      Cristiano, the internally cabled boom poles will rattle if you’re not smooth. There not very good if you’re trying to snap the pole around for scripted dialogue, but for scripted drama type shooting, you’ll usually have time to use a cabled pole. I use an internally cabled pole for documentaries because often I need to move quickly and efficiently.

      I also like not having to carry extra cable on my mixer, and the ease for extending and collapsing the pole without uncoiling cable and wrapping it on the pole is nice.

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