Location Sound Recording/ Recordist Equipment: An Introduction | Ryan Harrison | Skillshare

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Location Sound Recording/ Recordist Equipment: An Introduction

teacher avatar Ryan Harrison, A Sound Recordist/ Designer for film/TV

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

12 Lessons (1h 7m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. The Project

    • 3. Sound Bags/ Cases

    • 4. Audio Mixers/ Recorders

    • 5. Boom Microphones

    • 6. Lapel/ Lavalier Mics

    • 7. Wireless Systems

    • 8. Other Uses of Wireless Systems

    • 9. Timecode

    • 10. Pro Audio Cables

    • 11. Accessories

    • 12. Building a Sound Kit (Examples)

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About This Class

What location sound equipment do you need to become a sound recordist? What kit is expected on a film set? This course shows you equipment professional sound mixers use in TV, documentaries and film.

You don't need a complex setup to create amazing sound recordings, but this class will help you understand everything you’ll need when you get to the top of your game.

Ryan walks though his industry standard equipment including microphones, sound bag contents, wireless systems, timecode and more. (See Ryan's Website)

This class is perfect for beginning to intermediate sound engineers/ recordists looking to learn what professional equipment is used in location recording and filming situations. It's also useful for other filming crew who want to understand the kit a sound recordist uses.


What You'll Learn

  • Introduction - Who is Ryan, what is this course, why you should take it?

  • Project - An example of a real world shoot. You decide on the equipment.

  • Overview of bag  - A quick look at a sound location bag. How to choose a bag that’s right for you.

  • Mixer/ Recorder - What’s the difference between a mixer and recorder? A talk through of some popular mixers and how to choose one that’s right for you.

  • Boom Microphones - What is a boom microphone? Examples of what to use inside/ outside. Choosing a boom mic. Boom mic accessories (boom poles, wind shields)

  • Lavalier Mics (lapel, lav, clip) - What are lavalier mics? Most common types of lav mics.

  • Wireless Radio Microphones - What are they? How do they work? Examples of wireless systems. Do I need a license?

  • Other wireless uses - Camera hops, IFB/ wireless headphones

  • Timecode - Basics of why timecode is used? Equipment used for timecode.

  • Cables - A run through of common cables and connectors you’ll need to use with some kit.

  • Accessories - Batteries, things for hiding lav mics, things for sticking, things for everything…

  • Building Your Sound Kit (Examples) - A walk through of some different set ups for different budgets. 

    (See Ryan's Website)

Meet Your Teacher

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Ryan Harrison

A Sound Recordist/ Designer for film/TV


Hi there!

I'm Ryan, a sound engineer living up North in the UK.

I started my career doing live sound and working in a recording studio in Manchester. I now work in TV/film as a sound mixer/ boom op. I have over 7 years experience on set and 100+ credits in sound recording for corporate/ documentary/ short film. (see my website) 

I'm also a part time guest lecturer at the University of Huddersfield, where I teach sound for image.
I graduated uni with a Master of Arts degree and a 1st Hons Bachelors in Music Technology.

I love sharing my knowledge with people who are willing to learn. I'm only where I am because other people shared theirs with me.

(I also love climbing, and have 3 sausage dogs...) 
See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hi guys. Thank you so much for dropping by. I'm Ryan and I'm a Production Sound Mixer and sound recordist based in the UK. I've got six years experience on set, and 100 plus credits in loads of, different setups. Feature films, short films, corporate stuff, documentaries, live TV, you name it- I've got the experience. I want to talk in this series a little bit about my equipment and specifically what I use, how it all works together and to give you a bit of an oversight of what I think should be in a sound recordist's bag. So if you're just starting out and you're looking at what equipment you might need to buy. If you're an experienced sound recordist, maybe you just want to look at some of the kit that I'm using. This is the place to be. We'll look at some basic things as well as some of the more higher-end things. This is what I use every day for my job. This is what I use professionally. So you are getting first-hand knowledge of what is currently used in industry in 2021. I look forward to seeing you on the course. 2. The Project: After completing this course, you should have a good understanding of equipment that might be used for different scenarios and different types of shoots. What would you use if it's just a sit down interview? What would you use if it's a big panel show? What microphone's would you use? So at the end of this series, you should have them answers, So for the project: A producer for a show has asked you to put together a kit list of equipment that you need to use for this particular show. We'll be filming a documentary interview with a historian, talking to a director just off camera. The talent will be sat down in a small green screen studio with a single camera setup, which will be an F7. Our editor has asked for the sound to be sent to the camera and time code to be present. I'd like to see examples of equipment that you've found online or maybe you own and then you can write or type that list in the gallery section for me to have a look at. 3. Sound Bags/ Cases: So first things first we're going to look at the sound bag. The sound bag really is the heart of the sound recordist kit. It's where we keep the recorders, microphones, it's got rain protection. It goes everywhere with us. So it's really important that with pick the right bag for us, As I said in the introduction, every job you do as a sound recordist is different. It requires different pieces of equipment, but the sound bag really should contain everything you need for those basic jobs and to form part of your basic kit. I've gone within an orca bag because that was the right bag for my mixer. And I like some of the features on there, which I'll talk about in a second. There are other bags available on the market with brands such as Sachtler or Petrol. And they're all really, really good, solid bags. So like say it just depends on what mixer you use and what kind of features you want on a bag. But for me, I like the Orca back. When I go to a job, I pack all of my equipment- my sound bag, microphone's, everything goes into Peli 1620 case, which fits the bag and my kit perfectly. Its a super hard case, it's dust proof and crush prove. Peli really make amazing pieces of kit and I trust leaving my equipment in there on set, Having that one case to keep all your equipment in means that you're not losing bits, because you can put things you're not using back in the case. So let's dive straight and I look at some of the features of this bag and the different bits that are in it. So this is my Orca bag, which I really, really like. It's got some really cool features. It's got wide areas in the bag so you can organize the bag I have a mixer at the bottom. I have my batteries and lavalier mics in the middle for the radios. Any additional wireless I'm sending out the box is in the back. You've got loads of opportunity to kinda play with things in there. And it's got a rain cover on top, which most bags have as well, which is super important when you're out. I really like this one. It's got kind of a bend in it so it can attach on there and you can still get your hands through the sides to mix. And it's got that room for the aerials aswell. There're lots of loops and fastenings that you can attach things to. I've just got some tape on the side there. But I can hang cables from them or you can attach your harnessed to this. And looking at the front of the bag. You've got a couple of straps here. When I'm carrying the bag, I carry the cables strapped to the bag. You can keep headphones there and extra cables that you're not using. It's got some really nice carry handles. It also comes with a strap which I've taken off just to make it easier to show this. At the front you've got two pockets. So you've got a front pocket here just to keep anything handed in there. And then the second pocket is a little bit bigger. And this is, this is where I keep spare cables. Little bits of mic'ing up bits and bobs. So it's a really useful pocket. I Keep my pens in there as well. One of the really cool features about this bag is that the sides collapse. You can use it in sound cart if you wanted to by collapsing all the sides and if it's on its back, you can access by taking off the bottom panel. So I'll take down the sides. We can have a look at some of the features that I like on the sides. There's an oval-shaped zip area here. And it's a really cool feature because you can unzip just this part of the bag. and this is where all the inputs for the mixer are. So if it's really bad weather, you've got a bit of extra protection there and it doesn't bend cables as well. If that was flat, you'd find that all the XLR cables are going in the side would bend and cause some abrasion. But you can fully open the side up, and that's velcroed. So you can really get into your bag. And if you've dropped anything down the back, you can get through there and wire in any bits and bobs. So looking at the other side, same thing, where we have an oval shaped area here where you can access all your outputs of the mixer. You can also unzip the sides, again with Velcro. And access the side of the bag which is handy for quickly getting SD cards or other media out. Or for changing batteries. This bag's got an aluminum frame to it that keeps the sturdiness of the bag. I can carry it in my Peli case without worrying is gonna get damaged, our squished. . Some people prefer them with their hard with the hard shell, like I do. And again for stability, but some people prefer not having the support's there. to made the bag a bit lighter and a bit more comfortable to sit around. But, this bag for me is I absolutely loved it. I've had other bags before and I really think that this one is perfect for the kinda work that I do. What are the bag I really liked from orca is this small case and it's incredibly useful. I keep all my radio mic bits in there and it's got compartments that you can move around. So I've set this up how I want to, you can take all the different bits out. It's all velcroed. I keep my spare radio mics in here- transmitters and receivers. I've got lots of Ursa straps for hiding lab mic's on people. Some tape. Tentacles, that are used for timecode. Spare cables, bits and bobs. And again, I use the Ursa bags, In the top parts I keep batteries and spare aerials for radio mics. . In here, noise and rustle protections. and various bits and bobs in there. And then the other side, I keep my radio mics and they come in individually packaged wallets. And in those little pouches, there's everything and that you'd need to mic them it with. The clips are already attached. And you've got some other things like mounts and bits. So yeah, that's the small Orca case. which I just find really useful just to keep everything nice and neat and in one place it's good for traveling. 4. Audio Mixers/ Recorders: So one of the most important pieces of equipment and probably the biggest investment in your sound kit is the mixer, recorder. It's the brain of the whole operation. It, it's got all the inputs where all your microphone's come in. It can then record the information and it can also output some of that, some of the signals as well output to cameras and anywhere it needs to go. So some recorders is a called Mixer/ Recorder and some mixes are just called mixes and some are just called recorders - it's is quite confusing, But it's actually quite a simple explanation. A mixer and a recorder does the functions of two units into one. So a mixer allows you to mix some of the signals coming in to form a new track. So for example, if you've got three people and all mic'ed up and maybe just one of them was talking at once. You could turn the other two down and then that goes onto what would normally be a left-right mix. That's the mixer capability. Sometimes it's fine just to do that, if you are sending the audio to a camera, maybe you just want to mix them and send it directly to the camera. And then the camera holds the audio. But in a lot of professional applications, it's actually better to record in your bag. And that's where a mixer/ recorder comes in. On the other side of that, you've also got just the recorder. So everything coming into the bag is just recorded as it is, with no options to mix the signals down. So let's take that a little bit further. In a professional capacity, it's always best to provide that mix track alongside the isolated tracks as well. And what that means is say you've got the three people again, one of them speaking, I'll turn the other two down and that'll form the mix. That'll be the new track, the mix track, which is what I'm doing with my faders. The recorder is recording all the information. So it is recorded in the mix track, which is what I'm doing. I'm physically changing the volumes of those microphones to create a mix, but it'll also record those individual microphones as isolated or ISO tracks. And what that means is, in post-production the editor, maybe he doesn't like the sound of the mix that I've done. or maybe there was an issue, when one of the microphones that was up in the mix, then he can go into my tracks. he can go into the isolated tracks and choose his own mix. Or another sound engineer can mix that later on. So when we're looking at purchasing in a recorder, there's so much on the market. There's so many different types of units available, so many brands. It's worth doing quite a lot of research into this because you don't want to buy a recorder that you can have to replace in a couple years. For example, the recorder I use is a sound devices, 664. I bought this unit because I got hired for a job that required six people to be mic'ed up at once. And this particular recorder has six full-sized XLR inputs. If I'd have bought a recorder with two inputs, I'd have to go and rent equipment or buy a new recorder to fulfill that role. It's really important that you think about the future and think about what kind of production's you want to do if you just want to do single documentary interviews like a set-up like this, then fine, it's, it's okay to have just a couple of inputs. A lot of the recorder's usually have a minimum of two inputs. Which, would be fine for something like a single person interview where they can have a boom microphone and a lavelier. It's also important to look at some of the outputs as well, because and you might think, well, what will you use outputs for, your headphones? And headphones to anyone else on set. We'll go into that a little bit later, but I always try and provide the director, at least with headphones, or clients who want to listen in on the action and also sending things to cameras you need to be able to send some of the audio to cameras. Is there more than one camera that needs audio, Do you have a boom operator that needs to listen to something different? So think about all these things that you might want to do with your career. And make sure that the recorder that you buy is suitable for your future. It's worth investing at the start, in something a little bit more high-end, rather than replacing things constantly. Another thing to look out on mixer recorders are the features that comes with it, as we've just said, a mixer/ recorder does different things than just the recorder or just a mixer. Does it have panning in if you want to create a stereo mix? Does it have adequate file structures? So if you're on a set, can you change the files and to say different take numbers, to make it easy for the edit. Can you change filenames? How is it powered? Is it external power, is it AA batteries. Is it L series batteries, camera batteries? Different brands of mixers required different power capabilities. We'll talk a little bit more about batteries later on in one of the episodes on accessories. Also, what medium does the recorder record to? Is it an SD card? Is CF Card. Is it just internal storage? And then do you actually have enough space on that on that recorded to capture a full day's audio. It's all these things that you need to do a lot of research on. Pick a few different recorders and really look at what your needs are. So we'll have a little look at this recorder. And this is the one that I personally use. I bought this as I needed lots of inputs for a job. And I still use this as my main recorder, even if it's just one person, is a fantastic recorder. It's got everything I need in it. So let's have a look at the 664 and I'll talk you through some of the features of this really briefly, just so you can get a feel of what things you might want to look for in a professional recorder. This is the sound devices 664, 12 input field mixer and integrated recorder. On the front. It's got all the easy to access dials for changing the fader, the gain, the panning and also the LCD screen. On the right-hand side of the mixer are all the outputs, you've got the main left and right XLR output. There's two camera breakout cable connectors. You've got a time code input/ output connector. There's two auxiliary tracks that you can send anything to. And behind this magnetic flat is the SD card. There's also room for a CF card as well. To power the unit you can use AA batteries or external power. So you've got six full sized XLR inputs and they can be used for +48V line level, mic-level and also your headphone outputs. So on the side of the mixer you've got six XLR inputs and they correspond to the six channel strips on the front of the mixer. So each channel strip has a few controls. There’s a low-pass filter which you can use to get rid of some wind. Or some low noise rumble, you've got a gain dial. You've got a fed a rotary dial so you can control how much of that signal is sending into the mix. You've got a left/ right pan. You've got PFL switch and an input set up, depending on which way you move the toggle. You've also got an LED which shows green when you get a signal through then goes orange/ red when the audio's starting to peak. Another feature that I really like on this mixer is the LCD screen on the front. It shows you everything that you'd want to know. Just a quick glance about what's going on with your recording. So as you can see, with the faders here, if you look at the left/ right channel which is at the top. And then if I turn down both of these faders here, you'll notice that the left/right channel is completely eliminated of sound. And that's because I've turned all my faders and nothing's going to the mix, but it still recording those two isolated channels. Channel one being the boom microphone, Channel two being the radio microphone. So if a turn of the boom microphone again, you'll notice that sound starts to come back through. And we can add different amounts So now, both microphones are going into the mix. Where it says X1, that's an auxiliary track which I'm using as a camera hop and that's sending audio to the camera via wireless signal. So I've told my mixer that I want the audio from the mix to go to the camera. So if I turned down the fader again, you'll notice that the audio has disappeared from X1, and that means that there's no longer any audio go into the camera. It's worth bearing in mind that some recorders are more aimed at, sound effects field gathering, such as the small Tascam's, that have inbuilt microphones and the small zooms. And then there's some recorders are a bit more versatile, such as the sound devices range that can do some more functionality that is more suited for professional applications in film and TV. So we'll start off with a zoom product, the zoom 4hn, and is a really nice small portable recorder. Again, we can't mix on this. This is just a portable recorder, but it's good for sound effects gathering, it's small, it's lightweight. If your budget is really, really tight, I'd recommend something like this. It's also got inbuilt microphone's on top so you can quickly gather some sound. If you don't have all your equipment with you, you can just take this and get semi decent sound. I'd highly recommend the sound devices Mix Pre 3 as the first mixer that you buy it. I really like sound devices equipment, and they brought this out as an intermediate recorder/mixer. That takes most of the boxes, but with a smaller budget. You're getting those really nice sound devices pre-amps, and you get a lot of the features that you would actually get on the bigger sound devices mixers. So on this model, as it's a Mix Pre 3, has 3 inputs. So you've got to on one side and one on the other. You've got loads of other features on here, such as an auxiliary track. You've got stereo outs. You can also use this as a USB interface, which is really good. So if you wanting to get into something like sound design, you can use this with your computer as well. So this is the Zoom F8N multi-track field recorder. And this really is when we're starting to get into the professional equipment. This is one of the lowest budget professional mixer/recorders. They're really popular as first-time mixers. The build quality is really good, it's housed in a metal casing. But you've got loads of access to easy menus, easy to mix, you've got the faders on the front. You've also got on this, if we look at the back, you've got a time code, which again steps up the level. You've also got external power. It does take AA batteires. bu it really does go through those quickly. So I would recommend if you are buying something like this, to buy an external power unit that you can put in a bag and move into the professional area. And this is the model just below mine. So this has three full-sized XLR inputs. There is 3 smaller XLR's So, this is actually a six channel mixer. this is the professional end of things. So here you can see that the price does jump up quite significantly. Maybe look on Ebay - but be careful make sure you know what you're buying, make sure you've done your research. But by going with something like this, you are getting a top end product. And you will see the results that follow that. So this one's powered slightly differently. So you can see on the back that this takes L- series batteries or AA's. And again, I don't recommend the AA's as it will rinse them, but you have options, to put bigger batteries on this mixer. You can external power the unit, by using the Hirose connector on the side. So the prices of these do jump up in stages. Again, remember that you don't want to be buying something now and then replacing something later because you've outgrown it, it's probably worth renting in something, and then saving up and spending money on something you think will last you quite a long time in your career and it allows you to grow into that role. So the take-home message from shopping for a mixer/ recorder is do research into what you need now and in the future. 5. Boom Microphones: This session's all about boom microphones. We're going to look at what is a boom microphone, what the different applications? What what would you use inside? What would you use outside? What accessories would you need for a boom mic? What's the point of a boom microphone? So yeah, let's dive straight in. So boom microphone really is just the term that we use for a microphone that's going to go on a boom pole. What that microphone actually is, is a little bit more complicated. I'm sure you've heard of the term a shotgun microphone. That's one type of boom microphone. And we'll look at, the ones that I use in a minute. But you've also got different types of boom microphones like hyper-cardioid, super-cardioid. They're also considered boom microphones- if used in a Boom application. So the main purpose of a boom microphone is to get a microphone as close as possible to the person's speaking mouth without getting in the way of other departments, if the person if is walking or the camera or lights. It's about staying in the shadows and getting a microphone in there with reach. We've got different types of microphones we can use, there are many on the market with different price categories. We'll talk about a few of them. I definitely prefer the sound of a boom microphone- if we just compare the two now. So you're listening to a boom microphone that's about six inches, just above my head. It will sound full, it'll sound more natural. It's a Sennheiser MKH 50 and it brings out a bit more of the bass in my voice. And then if we compare that to the lav microphone, is still sounds good. But again, it's, it's a little bit thinner, it's not as full. But productions prefer to go for boom microphones, So it should always be priority when recording audio, to get the good boom sound. There're different types of boom microphones for the different types of applications that you might be recording sound in. And we'll start with a shotgun microphone first. And so the one that I use, the Sennheiser MKH 416. It's the first microphone I ever bought straight out of uni. And it's incredibly versatile, it's incredibly hard wearing and it sounds amazing. I really like how are the 416 sounds And it's one of the most popular microphones. The Sennhesier 416 has a shotgun pickup pattern. And what that means is, it's got a long throw and it's very directional. So you'd want to point it directly in the area that they're speaking. That's good because it focuses on the person speaking and picks up their dialogue really clearly. See you've got the long through of the pickup pattern and then it rejects things to the side. And that's really good if you record in maybe outside next to a busy road, or some rustly trees. You isolating a lot of that noise. Shotgun's not perfectly in a straight line. You do have some areas around it that can pick up sound but it's mainly to focus on the sound's that are further away. So there are applications where this wouldn't be appropriate, if there was a low ceiling. Again, remember we're going to be picking sound up in a bubble or the back of the shotgun microphone. So it's gonna be captured in some of them reflections- if you're using this inside or if it's in an open space, a lot of that reverb is going to come back into the microphone. And that's not that's not the time that would use a shotgun microphone. We'd maybe go for something like the microphone I'm using here, which is what I use for interior dialogue. And this is a different type of microphone, It isn't a shotgun, it's a super cardioid. So this means it comes out in a big mushroom area. Again, if you're next to a road this would sound very loud. If I was speaking it would be competing with the traffic noise. But by using this microphone here, it means that I can kind of move around a little bit more and still be what we call on-axis. So compare that to the shotgun microphone. If if that was if that was on here, if I came out of the axis here, I'd now sound distant and dull. Really, we want to be using cardiod or super cardioid inside. This is also good for if you've got two people having a conversation. This is really good to have it in the middle and keep central. It will pick up both of their interactions at the same time compared to if you're using something like this, you'd probably want two boom operators where you'd have two booms going to different people, again because of the directionality. So if we are outside, we want to be using a windshield. I really liked the Rycote stuff, but there are other brands such as Cinella, who have cool windshield solutions. So for the 416, it's the windjammer 4 and it just stops wind noise getting in there. So as you can see when we take off the windshield, you then left with the basket. And this is good if you're just using it inside or there's very light wind- it does provide some wind protection without having a furry thing over the top of it. And then if we take off the cage you'll see inside that there's the actual shotgun microphone. If we unscrew it from the cage, we can see that we can slide out the pistol grip. So this is really good, if you're doing inside and you want to be on a boom pole, you can attach that to a boom pole and put a wind sock over, because when you swing a boom you're gonna get some of that noise from the air. So put wind sock on it, so it's a lot lighter than having the full kit on it. So, if we're not using the pistol grip, which is fine for some sound effects gathering. It's nice and easy. We want it to be on a boom pole. So the cheapest boom pole I'd recommend would be a Rode boom pole- it's three meters, so you get quite a good reach. It's quite heavy, which is why it's cheap. And some of the screws on terribly great, but I used this perfectly fine for a good two years, despite of arm ache, it's very robust. And again, this goes to 3 meters, have a look when you are buying a boom pole. I wouldn't say you want to any less than 3 meters because then you'll try and reach into shot. You want a decent sized boom pole. Again, we're thinking about your future. What kind of equipment, will you'll need, later on in your career? So I actually use a carbon fiber boom pole by E-Image, it was like a £100 and is as light and as good as some of the really expensive ones. The one I've got up here I've just put it on a C-Stand. This is my lazy boom operator. I've got a boom arm in there as well. So for interview style things sat down interviews. This kind of set-up is perfect. It means you don't get arm ache, you're using tools to make your life a little bit easier. One thing to note about boom poles is they can either come coiled internally, or with no cables in them. What this means is the coiled ones, have a cable that runs through the middle of the boom pole. So this means that there's no cables and things to be worrying about on the Boom Pole because sometimes you can get a slapping noise if it's not tight enough around the boom pole of the cable hitting the metal and the internal cables tried to avoid that but, If you get a cheap internally cabled boom pole, you will still hear some of that sound. I prefer to go with the external cable because then I can have control over what's going on and know that the cable is not going to get stuck inside. Some times when you dismantle the boom pole down, the cables can get tangled and caught inside- and I can't be bothered with that on set, just keep it simple. Keep a wire. Some booms, you can have wireless adapters to go on them. And if I'm using an external boom opperator, I'll provide a wireless boon for him so he can go anywhere I want. If I'm using my bag, I'll just keep it simple, keep it easy, and I'll keep it wired. So as I've previously mentioned, there's really two types of boom microphone that you need to look at, what you're going to use inside and what you're going to use outside. So for outside or applications where a shotgun is going to be more appropriate, I use the Sennhesier 416, it's a professional microphone with a mid-budget range, is a great all-rounder and it sounds fantastic. If your budget, it's a little bit lower than the Sennhesier 416, you could look at the Rode NTG range. So there's the NTG2, which is more of a short shotgun. So it's not got the throw of a longer shotgun microphone. But there's also the NTG3, which is a little bit longer. They're a little bit cheaper than the 416. For interior applications, I like to use this Sennhesier MKH50, it's incredibly light. It gives a lot of warmth to dialogue. Although I'd recommend this product, maybe you want to look at something a little bit different from audio Technica, they have a nice range of mics or perhaps the Deity-SMIC 2S. There are hundreds of microphone's on the market that are suitable for many of these applications. It's important that you do a lot of research before you commit to buying a microphone. And again, think about the applications that you want to be using these microphones in. Make sure the product you select is suitable for them. 6. Lapel/ Lavalier Mics: So the next type of microphone we're going to be speaking about is a lapel microphone, commonly known as a lavalier microphone, a lav mic, lapel mic, whatever you wanna call it. And they can either come as wired or wireless. And that's quite an important step, because a lot of people think a lav mic or a radio mic is the whole thing- altogether. The receiver, the transmitter, the microphone- it's not. In professional applications, you want to be looking at the wireless sets and then you want to be looking at the microphone's as two separate things. We're just gonna talk about the lapel microphones in this video. So when would we use a lapel microphone? I try and always mic someone up even, if it's just used as a backup. It means that if the camera goes slightly too wide and I can't get my boom, close enough, it means that I'm still getting the sound captured. Sometimes the lapel sounds a little bit nice if the room gets really loud. this microphone's a lot less sensitive than high-powered boom microphones, and it means that you'll get a cleaner signal from the lapel microphone. The microphone's consistently in the same place, so if you quite an inexperienced boom op, the boom can get quieter and louder and then off-axis/ on-axis as you move the boom around, say, whilst you're walking. But with a lapel microphone, it's always in the same place and you're always getting that consistent sound level. So here it's on show, it's fine. Here, I don't need to hide it. It's fine in this application. But sometimes it would look ridiculous, such as in a period drama. You don't want it to be seeing a modern microphone on a peroid costume. So when we're doing something like that is important to hide them. Another reason why I like lavalier microphone's is that the people who aren't used to being in front of camera a little bit more at ease - it's more natural If you've got a big boom, constantly moving in front of your head and you're not used to it. It can be really off putting for people speak in camera. So for interviews and where people aren't used to speaking it's best to use a lavalier microphone. Lavalier microphones can be used for different scenarios, such as if you're in a car scene and you can't put the microphone on them. Or say, you've only got one microphone, one lapel microphone, and that you've got two people speaking in a car. We can do something called 'plant' that microphone, and we can plant it in one of the visors or somewhere in the middle of the car and then it will pick up the sound around it. It's quite common if someone's wearing a bikini, and we can't actually have a microphone pack on them or a lavalier microphone- there's nowhere to hide it. Then we might look at the location that we're filming in and decide to 'plant' that microphone there instead. So just like boom microphone's, it's important that we treat them the same if we're outside, we need wind protection on them and there's lots of gizmos and gadgets we can get from different places. Different companies like Ursa or Viviana, Bubblebee. All these companies do wind protection. You'll see them on news and things where there's a big furry thing in the middle of the chest which is wind protection for a lavalier microphone. This one's just got a little pop shield on it, which is fine because if I go down like this, it might sound a little bit different. But you're not hearing any propulsion sound, but outside you will need to step out to wind protection. So as I said, you can get the lapel microphones either wired or wireless. And I'll let you weigh up the benefits of them. Wireless there's more to go wrong. Wired. You're restricted with wires. The one I'm currently wearing, is a very common mic used in our industry, which is the Sanken Cos 11 d, they come in different colours. This one's in Black because I'm wearing a dark coloured top, but you can get them in brow/ white and in custom colours if you've got a big enough budget. It's a very common microphone because of its durability. You get kids, tugging it on them, getting wet, stood on. They're very hardwearing.I've had mine since since I started my career and they're still going strong today. It's up to you what microphone you decide to use. Go test out a few, listen to a few on social media platforms and people trying them out and you decide what the best microphone for you is. What scenarios are you going to be in? What kind of productions are you going to be on? And what microphone's would be best for them. 7. Wireless Systems: So in this session we're going to be looking at wireless kits, why we use them, roughly how they work. And we're going to look at a few examples. There're two components to a wireless radio set. You've got the transmitter- often seen as TX, and you've got the receiver- seen as RX. And those two components talk to each other. So currently I've got my microphone into a radio pack, and that's the transmitter. It's sending the signal from the mouth through the microphone down the cable into the transmitter pack. That's then sending the wireless signal, the radio signal, over to the receiver that's in the bag and that's picking up. (that's the receiver, the RX) Then I've got an XLR from the receiver into my mixer. And that's the signal path that it followers. There's so many of the components to what makes up a wireless set. I won't talk about all the menu bits, but it's worth doing quite a bit of research on what kind of system you'd need. So depending on your budget, it varies quite a lot of which set, which wireless kit you be able to get. It also depends on what you want to do with it and how much you're gonna use it. So, I like to think of it into three categories. You've got (and this kinda goes for all kit), you've got consumer, you've got prosumer, and then you've got professional. And quite distinct with wireless sets, what products that falls into. So in those three different categories, the lower end, I wouldn't really bother with even if you're just starting out because it's so low grade that once the tx and rx, are even just a few meters apart, you'll start to get drop outs and that's really not good in a professional shoot. You want to have faith and trust in your equipment. So we'll just look at the prosumer, which is the middle ground. And my favourite set in here is the Sennhesier G3's. But now there's the G4's that have come out. I have not upgraded mine because they still work in the frequencies they're on are still okay for me. I don't really use these for mic'ing people up anymore, but we'll go through that in the next session. Which is, what else we can use wireless for other than just lay mics. At the top end, in the professional category, you've got the kind of kits that I use, I use WisyCom. You've got you've got other companies like Lectrosonics, Zaxcom. These all make high-end professional wireless systems. They have so many different features like duel diversity. You can do your own research into things like this. If you're think about building up a sound kit, I'd strongly recommend looking at the Sennheiser EW100 range because they are great for their cost, I still use them. I trust them and they sound good. A few pros and cons to think about with wireless systems. Obviously the pros are that, there're no cables, you don't have to be attached and the talent can walk away and you can be somewhere else if it's a wide shot. There are so many good reasons why it's good to use radio microphones. The negatives around using a wireless system are, you can have things like dropouts, battery changes- depending on which which type of kit you've got battery changes can be more frequent than you want which can interrupt filming which isn't good in a professional setting. You've got all the problems with the lavalier microphones, like the rustle and wind noise. So there's a lot more to be thinking about if you are using wireless systems. One thing to note is that when you do move into prosumer and professional kit a lot of the microphone as you can actually select what frequency are at. It's definitely worth doing a lot of research into this, as it could get you into a lot of trouble. If you are using frequency bands that you're not licensed for, and you've not got a license for you can be fined and have your equipment seized as well. So it is worth checking what frequencies you are allowed to use in your country. In the UK radio frequencies are managed by OFCOM. And they basically issue you licenses and tell you what you can and can't use. Channel 70 is the free channel in the UK. So if you have a piece of equipment that operates on channel 70, then you can use that without any licenses. Bare in mind though, if you are using that block in quite high density area in somewhere like London, there tends to be other people using them free frequencies as well. And you can get some of the lower end stuff, also sharing those frequencies. So if you are on a professional shoot, you might find that you've got weird stuff coming through on your channels when you're trying to film, which again isn't good in a professional setting. If we are going more towards that professional equipment, we can fine tune those frequencies and search for clear areas where there's no-one else using those frequencies. So my wireless systems, I use Sennhesier G3's And I also use WisyCom's. So these are the Sennhesier G3 wireless sets from the EW 100 range. And we'll start off by just looking at their batteries. So both units, but both the tx and rx take two AA batteries. So you do get quite a good amount of life from them. Maybe half a day of fair use before you need a battery change Both the transmitter and receiver look quite similar, but if we look on top of the receiver, we can see that there's a toggle switch that says mute and there's also a mic input connector, then on receiver, there's an AF output. They're very quick to boot up, just a couple of seconds. So if we go into the menu, you can change the sensitivity of the input. There's lots of presets built into these units so you can easily and quickly go through and change frequencies if you have any issues. Just make sure that both units are on the same frequency. When you purchase the Sennhesier G3's it does come with a microphone, but I would strongly recommend upgrading that microphone at some point. It also comes with quite a few different cables. You can connect them to your recorder and cameras as well. I think the Sennhesier 100 range is brilliant. I think they're great value for money overall, there's quite a lot of pro-features. They're encased in a metal housing so they're quite durable. The range on them is quite good as well. The come with everything. So you're literally ready to go as soon as you unbox them. And one of the most important things which is a big step up from the, from the basic equipped is that you can change the frequencies. So this is the wireless system that I use to mic up talent. So we've got the WisyCom MCR42 duel receiver. So you'll find in the more professional pieces of kit that the receiver can receive two signals. So we can actually tune this transmitter to two different, to receive two different frequencies and from two different transmitters. The benefits of a system like that is that, your bag becomes a lot lighter and it also uses two aerials rather than one. And that's something called true diversity. It constantly flips between the two aerials to try and find the best signal. So it really is a step-up in quality. When you go to something like this, you can change the aerials on the more professional equipment. So you'll see that this one that I'm currently using has an aerial attached and this one currently doesn't. So these transmitters, which are the NTP41's and they're really small, I decided to go with these ones. You can either get them in the small units or slightly bigger. The main difference between them is this one takes one AA battery. So this kind of unit's more appropriate for something like a drama or a film where we can constantly keep changing batteries, but the benefit of these are that they are a lot smaller, so are a lot easier to hide on talent. So, let's say we're on feature film, with an intricate costume. Something like this is a lot easier to hide on the body. If you're gonna do things more like documentaries. Are you filming all day? Then I'd recommend getting the ones with the two batteries in. But again, these kind of features only come with more professional equipment. 8. Other Uses of Wireless Systems: So wireless systems aren't just used for radio mics. There's a whole other host of things we can do with them. So I'm gonna talk a little bit about what else I use my wireless systems for. So the main thing I use my Sennhesier G3's for is, something called a camera hop. I can send a wireless signal to the camera. So my audio that I recorded in my bag, is constantly feeding that sound into the camera. And this is real helpful. It means that you don't have to be connected by a cable to the camera. It means that the camera, has your sound that's come from the recorder baked into the footage. So when the editor watches this later, or the director watches it later, there can actually listen to the sound that's come from your bag rather than the onboard audio which has come from the camera- which is never too great. Another benefit is that, at the very least, it's a backup of your sound. It's not gonna be the greatest quality because the pre-amps on cameras aren't as good as the pre-amps that are on your mixer/recorder. And with camera hops, we can have one transmitter in the bag with an output coming out and that can be sent to any amount of receivers. So say we've got a three camera set up. The signal from the bag can be sent to all three of those signals at once, so all the cameras have your sound. That eliminates the need to have loads of cables going all over the studio when you do a shoot. Just to explain that workflow with this image. We can see the boom microphone in the shot. The sounds come in from the boom into the mixer. Then when it's in the mixer, I'm sending that signal of the boom to an auxiliary track. Then there's a physical cable coming out of the aux 1 into the Sennhesier G3 transmitter which you can see at the back of the sound bag on the right. That's then sending a wireless signal of the boom to the camera hop. If you look at the image on the left, you can see the other Sennheiser G3 on top of the camera and that's the rx, which is going into an XLR input on the camera. The second of the way that I use more wireless sets on shoots is to provide wireless listening for directors, for clients. Anyone who wants to listen in really. And again, it works the same way as the camera hop. I'll have a transmitter in my bag, that will transmit a mix that I want people to listen to. For example, we've got a boom operator that's got wireless boom, he's further away from me. I'm stood away from the action- mixing, and I've got my boom operator who's close to the action. We can't have any cables, but he needs to be able to listen to what he's booming. So as well as a wireless boom, I'm sending a signal of just the boom and none of the lapel microphones. I'm sending just the boom his headphones and he can listen and he knows what he's doing then. So as well as the transmitter and receiver in the Sennhesier range, there's also another unit that looks quite similar (excuse my tape on it) So this is the EK300 IEM. It looks really similar to the other units, is still powered by AA batteries. The only big difference here is if we look on top, there's a volume knob and a headphone part, and these are used for people listening into your mix. I can send a wireless signal to the frequency of one of these packs- a director, the boom operator, a client, a script supervisor, or anyone who wants to listen- they can have one of these packs and listen in to the action. Maybe whilst they're watching on a screen that's supplied by the camera department. So that one of the good things about this unit is the volume dial on the top. Because the individual who's wearing headphones can decide the volume. 9. Timecode: This session is going to be about timecode. I know a lot of people get a bit scared when they hear the word timecode and they see all the numbers going around really quickly they're don't quite understand it. It is really useful and it really helps your job. In this session we're gonna be looking at what equipment I use, why we use time code and what all those numbers mean. Time code is a sequence of numeric codes. You'll see it as four numbers, hours, minutes, seconds, frames it's important, if you are using time code to make sure that your recorder is set as the same frame rate as the camera. So time code is a sequence of numbers that can be sent to lots of pieces of equipment on set, so that they all have exactly the same time and follow the sequence together. This means that we can sync all those different pieces of equipment up together in post. So for example, when you get into post-production and say we've got the sound bag, I use that as the master for the time code. So the mixer/recorder generates the time code. I then use a tentacle sync, which is a type of timecode box that then remembers the time code, which I can put onto a camera. And then the camera can remember that time as well. Different cameras have different ways of remembering that time code, and they all have different connectors as well. So it's worth checking what camera you're going to be using to make sure that you have the right equipment to provide time code. So we'll have a little look at the Tentacle Sync now. And I'll just show you what I mean by that time code. So I used the tentacle sync time code boxes and so I've got two in this case, so I keep everything keep everything in here. A few different cables for different cameras. A cool thing about the tentacles is that they are and Velcro'd on one side, so you can stick a Velcro piece to a camera and stick the tentacle on top to the camera, they're super light. They don't annoy camera operators, unlike some of the bigger boxes which can be a heavy and a bit clunky. So these boxes are really simple to use. We'll just turn it on by pressing it once until it flashes red. And that means it's waiting to receive the signal. So we'll get our time code cable from the mixer. And we'll just pop it in there and it will accept it by flashing green now this time code box is remembering the time code we've set on the recorder. We can then take this to a camera and plug it into the camera's timecode input. And now the camera will remember that time. Every camera has different cables, some are BNC or LEMO, so it's really important to check the camera before you've gone to the shoot and make sure that you are using the correct cable for that camera. All the tentacle cables will have a jack on one side which will go in there and then depending on what camera it is. So this is a BNC which would go on something like a Sony FS7. Stick the box to the camera and away we go, we were all in sync. We can go around as many cameras as we want and we can put lots of these on different cameras. 10. Pro Audio Cables: This session is going to be about cable. We're going to look at a few of the different types of connectors and types of cable that I use for connecting all the different bits together. So the most common type of microphone cable, as I'm sure you're aware, is an XLR. So obviously we need some XLR cables. Make sure you get good quality XLR cables. I only use cables with Neutrik, connectors and I like The Van Damme cabling. With cheap cables, lots of noise can interfere with them, the shielding is not that great inside, so it is worth investing in. Especially if you spend lots of money on equipment, invest in those good quality cables. So as well as the normal sized XLR's, you've also got mini XLR's. So just bare that in mind when you're looking at buying recorders. Maybe if it's got mini XLR's, it means that the unit is going to be smaller, but you are going to have to buy adapters if you want to use different microphones with them. Another main set of cables that you'll need as a sound recordist, especially when you're starting out and before you start getting lots of wireless equipment - is what we call a 'snake' or an 'umbilical cord', or whatever you wanna call it. is a cord that connects your recorder to a camera. And these can come in all shapes and sizes. It can be as simple as an XLR cable and a Jack, which can go from the output of your recorder into the camera and then the jack can be plugged into the headphone part of the camera and back into your mixer. Some of them can carry timecode and you can get them custom made to whatever your recorder is and whatever camera you're going to use. And they have a breakaway cable in the middle. So if you have to move and change set-ups, instead of unplugging everything from both sides, you can just uncouple the middle, take both parts separately and re-couple later. When we start moving into pro-audio, we see some different types of cables. Every recorder, mixer, and microphone has different cables. So just check before you purchase equipment, what kind of cable in you'll need to buy alongside it. Have a quick look at some of the more common pro-audio connections. So HIROSE is normally used for powering units. The sound devices mixers a powered by HIROSE cables. LEMO is quite a common cable connected with pro-audio that can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes with different pin configurations. XLR's don't just come with three pins. That can also come in variations such as five. Where you can pass multiple audio streams through them. One of the other common types of connectors is the jack, these can come in 1/8" or 1/4" with most recorders. You'll find BNC cables on some recorders as well. They can be used for timecode or for passing audio through as well. 11. Accessories: So this is a bit of a bonus session really. I'm going to talk a little bit about some of the accessories that I use. It's all about making your job easier. You don't want to struggle doing the job. You want to be able to concentrate on what you are doing. So try and make the rest of it as easy as possible. There are so many accessories out there for us, which we can utilise to make our lives easier. So I'm gonna be talking about things to mic people up with, straps, sticky stuff, slate boards, you name it, we will have a look at some of the main bits of accessories I really like using. These are the URSA strap and lots of companies sell them now. But I really like these ones. I've used them since they brought out their products. So I've got lots of different ones in here. There's ones that attached to the thigh, ones that attached to a bra strap, ones that attach to the waist- so you can buy straps to go anywhere. And the main job of these is to make the microphone as comfortable to wear as possible. So maybe someone's wearing a dress and we want to hide it, we can use something like this which would go around the waist. And then our microphone pack's slide into this pocket here, inside. Then we can attach the strap to the individual with Velcro, the microphone is hidden in a place that's not going to be seen on camera. Another thing I really like using is tape. So I've got some URSA tape here, but I use and other brands as well. Lots of uses for tape. This is skin tape. So we can tape cables to skin, so the cables aren't tugging and pulling the microphone off. We can tape the actual microphones to clothing, we can tape it to cars, we can take it anywhere we want, and we can make little soft mounts out of these as well. If it's something simple and you're in a rush like to mic up a T-Shirt, we can use these to create a barrier. So there isn't much rustle between the microphone and the clothing. There are lots of other tips for avoiding rustle, such as URSA Foamies. I really like these. There are lots of different uses for these. These are just tiny foam mounts. You could call them low-profile mounts. They reduce clothing noise because the the microphone just sits in the middle, and we can stick these directly onto T-Shirts on the underside or whatever costume. It creates that barrier between the clothing and the microphone. So the microphone's nice and cushioned inside. I've got them in black, and white, but you can get them in different colours as well. We said about wind protection outside. You can just stick that to the microphone and that'll provide wind protection. Depending on how windy it is, you might need to step up and get something a little bit bigger, or a few. In these snap packs, I keep things like microphones and little bits. This one has lots of different microphone clips and mounts. I quite like using hair grips to attach cables to clothing, if I can't stick to it- I use hair slides to attach the wires, Safety clips, various little microphone clips. I really like these bumblebee mounts. So you get these to fit the microphones that you have. This fits a COS 11D and they fit really snugly down the middle. There's a clip on the back, you can detach that and stick it to clothing. It creates a barrier between the clothing and microphone. It's really useful haven't things like ties and fastenings and things that you can tie things together. These are called Bongo ties. I find them really useful if I just need to quickly attach something somewhere. Or I can use them to tie up cable, there's so many uses for them, it's just good to have a pack of them in the kit. It's always carry around a bag of bits. In here there's loads of different types of connectors. if I'm somewhere where they're doing music playback, there's lots of things in here that I can attach my recorder to someone else's mixer with adapters. We've got cables, headphone cables, XLR adapters, headphone adapters. There's basically one of everything in this tiny bag. One of the most important things that gets overlooked in the sound kit is the headphones. I use the Sony MDR 7506, they're not the most expensive headphones in the world, but I certainly think that some of the best out there. They try their best to give a completely flat response, so you're listening exactly to what's going on in the mixer. Rather than a commercial pair of headphones, where you might be listening to colored sound as bass frequencies are often boosted in commercial sets. If there're lots of people listening to my mixes I'll try provide headphones for everyone. And I will try and provide these Sony headphones because I want people to enjoy listening to the sound while they're on set. And although not necessarily your job, I still think it's important that every sound recordist carries a slate. Just in case the camera department forgets one. Or if it's a low budget production, you can supply one and be in their good books. It doesn't really matter what kind of slate you get as long as it has the basic information on it. You can get them very cheap online. It's just something else to our services. 12. Building a Sound Kit (Examples): So hopefully this course has given you a good understanding of the different components that make up a sound recordists kit. Maybe you're just starting out your career and you're looking to buy a first piece of equipment, what should that be? Maybe you have a good understanding of sound and own equipment, but looking to get more into filming applications. No matter what stage in your career you're at, it's always important to look at the future and think about where you want to be in your career. Because ultimately that will decide what equipment you need to buy. In this session, we're going to quickly recap the different scenarios. And then we'll have a look at four different sound kits with four different budgets. So each section in this course has shown you different type of equipment that sound recordist may use, such as a boom microphone or a wireless system. But we don't always have to use all of those applications. At the start of my career, I didn't own any wireless equipment for about a year- simply because I couldn't afford it. I just used my boom microphone for all the shoots I was doing. This was fine because I was doing smaller, lower budget productions that didn't require the top-end equipment that I'm using today. So in situations like this, we can see that the bag can be attached the camera so we don't need any of those wireless systems to hop. It looks like the talent are mic'd up because there's no boom, but he could have just as easily live boomed that application as well. For a scenario like that, he could have gotten away with just a mixer and a shotgun microphone. So we can see again in this scenario, although not ideal, he is attached to the camera and you can see that he's just booming, so there's no wireless there. It's just a small mixer on his waist, a pair of headphones, a cord to the camera, and then a boom microphone. If you compare that to a situation like this, here it's going to be important that he is using wireless systems because it looks like the talent are on the boat. Obviously we can't boom that far over water, so with applications like this, it is more going to be the professional equipment. That said, we don't have to buy the wireless sets, we don't have to buy the top-end equipment straight away. If this is going to be a one-off, let's rent the equipment. Let's buy the core equipment that you'll need such as a mixer and a boom and then if you do need radios or other expensive equipment then just rent them for those individual jobs. Maybe you want to look at doing live sound applications. So for example, in this shoot, there was no need for boom microphones. I used five wired lavalier microphones, which really brought the cost down for this shoot. So here I've got my core equipment- my mixer, but all the talent have wired lavalier microphones attached to them. The cameras had XLR's going from the mixer to the cameras. So there's no need for any extra wireless kit here. We'll have a quick look at some different budgets and what you can buy So for £50, it's not a very big budget in the sound world, but we'll have a go. So we've got an ATR55 Audio Technica, that's a shotgun microphone, but doesn't have XLR, so you're going to struggle to get good quality sound with that. There's no windshield, so you won't be able to use that outside either. And we need something to listen with, why not throw in some apple headphones for £2? Probably wouldn't recommend that budget. So we'll move on to if you had £150, One of the most important pieces of kit you should look at buying straight away is a shotgun microphone. So the RODE NTG-2 is a shotgun microphone that costs about a £130. We need something to listened on, we'll go for the budget Sennheiser HD 201's. And because we've got a little bit of money left, we'll throw some Freddo's in. Again, not a big budgets we'll step up to £500. So again, we'll include a RODE NTG-2 but this time we can add a Rycote wind system, which means we can use that boom outside and some headphones again. And this time we'll add a wired lavalier microphone. This is XLR wired in, so we will need to buy an XLR cable for that as well. But you now have the option of doing sit-down interviews with a lavalier as well as a boom. We've got budget this time to add a recorder. This is a very cheap field recorder, it's a Tascam DR-05, and that's £52. It's not gonna be able to mix anything, but it's got two inputs, so it means that we will be able to record away from the camera and sync it up in post. We'll add a boom pole for the shotgun mic so we can now use it in boom applications and we'll add a flight case as well, to keep all our equipment. The £500 budget is really where you want to be starting to build a kit. Although these prices do seem quite daunting, you don't have to buy everything at once. You can stagger your purchases and only buy things that you're really going to use and need. We'll jump up, to what I think is a very good starter sound kit. This budget's obviously gone up to £2180. So this time we'll include this Sennheiser 416 with a windshield system, that's about £1000. We'll look at the Sound Devices Mix-Pre 3. I talked a little bit about this in the mixer section, but this is a good entry-level recorder. It's got a lot of the features that the bigger, more professional recorders have and it also lets you mix on set as well. Again, will put in that lavalier microphone from AKG. This time we'll upgrade to the Sony headphones so we're able to listen a little bit clearer. We'll still include the RODE Boom Pole, just to keep budget down. We'll include a flight case to keep all the kit in. We'll also add a Tentacle Sync timecode box, that we can use with the sound devices mixer. So this list of equipment is a complete list that you should be looking when starting your sound kit. On there, there's everything you need to do professional work. I'd say after that, you want to be looking at adding a wireless kit. Such as the Sennheiser G4's I think they come in at about £600. So really if we can get a budget of about £3000. We're really on our way to providing those professional services.