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Documentary Realism Captured with Sennheiser MKE 300

(August 30, 2001)
With no acting, no scripts, and no "do-overs", equipment reliability is a premium in the world of documentary filmmaking. Director/subjects Gabriel Levitt and Judith Schlieper have trusted their audio to the Sennheiser MKE 300 camera-mounted shotgun microphones for the filming of "Three: Open Mic Night in America". "Three" explores the tension between a musical life of freedom and self-expression and a "responsible" life of income and commitment by tracking three twenty-somethings (going on thirty-somethings) as they play open-mic nights across the country in a final attempt at jump-starting their music careers. Because music and candid commentary figure so centrally to its success, Schlieper selected their microphones with care.

In contrast to the marathon scene arrangements of traditional filmmaking, documentarians eschew any setup time at all. Of course, the reality of the moment dissolves away when a cameraperson stops everything to switch microphones. Further, with no crew to speak of, a boom operator was out of the question. So her charge was clear: Schlieper had to find a camera-mounted microphone that would reliably deliver high-end audio in any situation that the cameraperson found him or herself in.

She opted for three Sennheiser MKE 300 microphones, one for each of three cameras that the participants would use (one Canon XL1 and two Canon GL1s). Designed specifically to fit on a camera's flash mount and tuned for an optimal on-screen pickup pattern, the MKE 300 is providing the sort of transparent audio Schlieper sought. Added extras include the virtual elimination of handling noise via state-of-the-art capsule mounting and battery life in excess of 200 hours.

"Having worked for, I had occasion to use the MKE 300 before we set out to do 'Three'," commented Schlieper. "It integrates wonderfully with the camera - it becomes an extension of it. The audio quality is superb and the pickup pattern is just right. It's not so focused that you lose ambience, and yet it's not so wide that you lose on-camera detail. The MKE 300 is the perfect microphone for this application." Internet:

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Related Keywords:documentary filmmaking, Director, subjects, Gabriel Levitt, Judith Schlieper


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