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Using the VideoMic Pro on assignment in Brazil

In 2013 I was preparing myself for a brilliant assignment: Mentoring the winner of the global World Nomads Travel Film Scholarship and also to make short travel films in Rio de Janeiro during Carnival. I shoot on an HDSLR camera rig – a Canon 5D Mark III with all the required accessories. Up to this point I’d been mounting my favourite microphone on top of the camera – a RØDE NTG3 broadcast-grade shotgun microphone. I loved the sound but was worried about having such an imposing mic on top of my camera – especially in crowded and possibly dangerous places. We were going to be shooting in massive street parades (block parties), in favelas (Rio’s famous shanty towns) and football stadiums. I wanted something smaller, low profile and lightweight.

Brazil

Brazil from above (photo: Brian Rapsey)

In the week before takeoff I bought a RØDE VideoMic Pro – along with a deadcat windjammer and a VXLR adaptor so I could plug it into my three channel mini mixer.

My first impression was this “It’s beautifully compact – but I hope it’s rugged enough.” Two years on I can say that I’ve used and abused it, occasionally dislodging its rubber shock mounts – and reconnected it quickly and easily.

Day one of shooting in Rio found us on the back of motorcycles riding up the side of a mountain in Rio’s biggest favela – Rocinha. It happened quickly and unexpectedly and I hadn’t taken the time to “build” my camera rig with a mixer on top. I simply attached the VideoMic Pro, flicked on the low cut filter on the back off the mic – and I was ready to go.

Riding to the favela

The VideoMic Pro on a DSLR is perfect for "run & gun" (photo: Eeshit Narain)

Very soon I was loving the VMP. It was small and lightweight, it was flexible (I could mount it directly on my DSLR and film quickly without any other gear, or I could mount it on my small three-channel mixer with the VXLR adaptor, to quickly mix between my two radio mics and the VideoMic Pro) and most importantly, it sounded great.

The three-step level control on the back of the mic was a lifesaver for me in Rio as I filmed many street parties and parades where I was amongst extremely loud marching bands with percussion and horn sections: I could change the attenuation quickly to match the environment.

Brian's camera setup

Brian's camera setup at Carnivale (photo: Eeshit Narain)

I was most impressed with the results I got from filming an outdoor performance at Pedra do Sal – reputedly the birthplace of Samba music.

For this piece I used a Juicedlink Riggy Micro RM333 compact mixer with the VideoMic Pro in one channel and an omni-directional radio microphone on my talent in the other. The only place I could stand to get my shot was right next to the PA speaker – the sound was so loud that I thought it would definitely distort. The combination of attenuating the mic itself and the quality preamps of the mini-mixer did an excellent job. Mixing the two mics together created a wonderful stereo-like effect - hearing the music clearly, being in the crowd and part of the environment at the same time.

Brian Rapsey is a travel filmmaker and mentor for the World Nomads Travel Film Scholarship program. He has spent the past 20 years working in documentary, TV and corporate film production, as well of being a photography enthusiast and lecturing at one of Australia's premier TV and video production training schools, Metro Screen. Learn more about Brian at his website - www.rhapsodypictures.com.au.

Products mentioned in this article:

NTG3

NTG3

DeadCat VMP

VXLR