Field & Foley with the RODE NTG3

Steve uses the Rode NTG3 and Blimp during field recordings

Recording your own sound effects can be fun – or frustrating if you don’t have the right tools. Sound effects (SFX) and Foley recordings must sound credible, isolated, (free from background noise) to be useful in more than one scene or situation. To get a good, clean, isolated signal in a controlled environment, like a Foley studio, house or other enclosed space is fairly easy. If you’re recording at home, there are things you can control. You can turn off all those pesky buzzing lights controlled by dimmer switches. You can stop the dishwasher and turn of the refrigerator. But what if you’re recording a SFX for a project that calls for a man lost in the wilderness, being stalked by wolves? What are the sound effects you’ll need? What season is the season the story taking place in?

Maybe you need heavy footsteps through the tall brittle grass of Winter and twigs snapping in the distance from the pack of wolves approaching through brush. How do you collect sounds that make these things believable? Though many excellent tools exist, the tried and true methods that film makers and field recordists employ will provide you with excellent results. Enter the RODE NTG3 shotgun microphone and iconic Blimp shock mount and wind screen.

RODE’s NTG3 super cardioid polar pattern shotgun mic is widely beloved by both professional and amateur film makers for picking up dialogue, broadcast news and documentary work as well as being a workhorse for field recording. It’s designed from the ground up to withstand the rigors of outdoor use and exposure to moisture. RODE is so confident of their robust design and rigorous testing, they’ve given the NTG3, NTG3B (and it’s big brother, the NTG8) an outstanding 10 year warranty! Even the Blimp shock mount includes this generous coverage! But outstanding warranty coverage is just one of the reason’s RODE’s NTG3 is a top choice for field recording. Among the many reasons for the success of the NTG3 are it’s ability to withstand harsh environmental conditions, a high level of resistance to radio frequency, making it perfect for urban settings, film and stage sets and industrial environments. It sounds natural, even when off axis and it’s incredibly sensitive while being quiet. Meaning it has a very signal to noise ratio.  It’s also very affordable with a retail price tag of just $699.00. A quick note about product names. RODE sells two versions of this microphone. One is Silver and is named the RODE NTG3, the other is Black is called the NTG3B. There are no other differences between the two versions aside from color. Inside the box, the microphone ships in, is a sturdy mic holder to attach the mic to a book or mic stand, a concise manual, a foam wind screen and a weatherproof aluminum tube to store the mic in when not in use. It’s an impressive kit that ensures out-of-the-box usability and long life. The narrow pick-up patter of this super cardioid mic, allows one to focus the mic at a specific source, be it dialogue, bees in a hive or those heavy footsteps through brittle grass.

One of the biggest challenges when working outdoors is wind. If you’ve ever tried recording outside, you’ve probably experienced the havoc wind can wreak on your recordings.  Air moving over a microphone’s diaphragm is how microphones work – but too much and you get a very undesirable noise. Even with the included foam windscreen (included with the NTG3 and NTG8 microphones) recordings will still suffer greatly in even a light breeze.  This where RODE’s Blimp can be a godsend! The Blimp, with it’s bulbous yet iconic, lightweight plastic honeycomb frame design, breaks up the air moving around the microphone without effecting the sound. The Blimp also acts as a very stable shock-mount system to eschew any handling noise that could be transferred through the Blimp’s comfortable pistol-grip style handle or when mounted to a boom pole. In windy conditions, the Blimp allows sound and air to filter through its shell so that sound is unaffected by (most) wind noise. And even on windy days when breezes border on gale force winds, RODE provides their “Dead Wombat” faux-fur covering to cover the Blimp and protect the mic even further from gusty bellows. The fake fur, slows air down enough that even big gusts can be tamed. It’s pretty remarkable and in a future article, I’ll provide some samples of high wind I tamed and recorded with this set up. The Blimp is an indispensable piece of kit for field recording where weather does not cooperate with your production schedule. The Blimp sells for $299 and includes the blimp, XLR cable connector, Dead Wombat faux-fur cover and RODE’s outstanding 10 year warranty.

In this short video, I demonstrate the difference between using an in camera mic and the RODE NTG3. You’ll get a brief glimpse at my field recording set up as well as the headphones I use. Then, I record  few quick common sound effects using the RODE NTG3 so you can hear how detailed and focused the mic sounds for each effect.

In future articles, I’ll have some expanded audio examples and I’ll be talking more about NTG3 and it’s very big brother, the RODE NTG8. We’ll also set up the Blimp Extension kit for the NTG8 and discuss why anyone would want a microphone so long.

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