Television reporters, social distancing & parabolic mics
By Paul Terpstra
Reporters are faced with a dilemma in the current environment of social distancing. How can they capture clear audio during an interview while maintaining a safe separation?
Placing a lapel microphone on the interviewee is not practical and the shotgun mic on top of the camera won’t capture clear audio from a safe distance, especially if there is significant ambient noise. It would seem the only option is to place a shotgun microphone on a boom pole and hold the microphone in front of the interviewee. Unfortunately, that increases the chance of the interviewee being infected by someone on the crew, or the crew being infected by the interviewee. The boom pole is also quite obtrusive and distracting to the viewer.
Parabolic microphones, used primarily for sports, may provide a great alternative. Parabolic microphones provide a mechanical amplification for the sound coming from in front of the dish. This allows a person speaking at a normal level to be recorded from six to ten feet using a parabolic microphone only nine inches in diameter. The microphone, and reporter, can maintain a safe distance during the interview, reducing the chance of infection.
The amplification of the sounds coming from the front of the dish, while the peripheral sound is blocked by the dish itself, provides impressive directionality for the parabolic mic. This means that the level of ambient noise is greatly reduced so the person of interest can be clearly heard.
Any omni-directional lapel microphone can be used in the KLOVER MiK 9-inch parabolic mic, so it works with any camera with a microphone input. The base of the parabolic mic’s frame incorporates a ¼-20 thread so it can be used in a multitude of ways. It can be mounted to the cold shoe of a camera, or to a small pistol grip handle and hand-held.
If greater range is required, a KLOVER MiK 16-inch parabolic mic is also available. The Philadelphia Eagles use the 16-inch diameter parabolic microphone to capture questions during press conferences which they stream live. The online audience complained of not being able to hear the questions before the Eagles switched from a shotgun microphone to the KLOVER MiK 16 parabolic microphone.
A video comparing the audio captured by the two microphones during a press conference can be viewed here.
The same approach could be used to capture the speaker without touching the podium or the surrounding microphones.
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