Posted by: nick on: November 7 2011 • Categorized in: Cars
Figurative inspiring words? Naw.
Behold: the definition of giving 110 percent in competition. Jason and John White recently took to the Targa High Country in Victoria, Australia in their Lamborghini Gallardo. The duo spent the final day of the event battling for the top spot with a menacing Nissan GT-R. The final stage of the day saw the Whites four seconds behind their rival when the green light lit, and the team proceeded to do their best to close the gap.
Posted by: nick on: April 4 2011 • Categorized in: Cars
Finally this weekend we saw some GTA spring weather. Saturday was a wonderful 12 degrees and sunny, so I got to finally take the car out for the first day this year. This also gave me a chance to try our reinforced HD Hero mount. The result? Video quality is superb at 720p 60fps, audio quality? Drowned out by wind. The motorsports pack comes with two housings, one they say that is good to 85mph, and another for beyond that. It seems like my rear mount is aerodynamic hell, and even at 30mph wind noise over powered everything. Switching to the other housing should help. The other problem was that even though I’d padded the housing so it wouldn’t rattle against the plate with vibrations, the bottom of the plate cover rattles against the plate itself over bumps. Will be easily fixed with some foam tape from the dollar store stuck in the hidden part of the cover that makes contact with the license plate. Never the less, was a gorgeous day for a drive, like rain to the desert after a drought, and other colourful metaphors like that. Of course to spite me, we had a huge blizzard Sunday night, thankfully I was out in the Ford…
Now, how about some weather good enough to get the car up and work under it…
Gettin' my Myspace on: the cell-phone-in-a-bathroom-mirror-style self-portrait
One of the hardest things to capture when it comes to cars is the sound of the engine. Engine sound is made up of several components, but the majority of the sound is induction and exhaust. Induction is the howl produced when the cylinders suck air in, exhaust is when they push post-explosion hot air out. Capturing induction isn’t particularly difficult, the frequencies seem to pick up pretty well on everything from cell phones and better. Exhaust is a much trickier thing to capture accurately, though being the louder sound on most cars, is what people desire to record.
The reason exhaust is so hard to capture accurately is two fold. Firstly the frequencies are quite low, which poses a problem for most smaller mic pickups. To that end, I don’t believe its ever *really* possible to capture and play back an accurate exhaust of say a Ferrari or a Le Mans car, but we wan’t to get as close as possible… As much of the sound is ‘felt’ as it is heard.
Secondly, and the major problem when recording exhaust notes is the shear amount of sound. A showroom stock high performance car will produce upwards of 80 dB at full throttle at a distance of about 15 meters (50 ft). Thats not particularly a problem for most microphones, but the sound levels go up dramatically as you get closer making it impossible to get any sort of accurate recording. Race cars on the other hand, such as ALMS cars produce 110dB as close as 15 m. Good luck trying to capture it from a far, let alone from right at the apex of a turn. Once a microphone is over exposed, it begins to clip, and not all frequencies are lost evenly. This produces very unrealistic audio, and is the reason that most of the exhaust videos on the youtube are terrible… Anyone who’s tried to record race cars will attest to this.
The 5Dmk2 revolutionized the world of HD video recording, with its full frame sensor’s amazing low light performance. As good as its video quality is, its audio quality isn’t. The tiny onboard mono mic clips early, produces very non linear tones and always ends up sounding echoy. I’ve never been happy with the sound on the videos I’ve produced of our own cars, and at the track its completely useless. Upon doing some research into the budding SLR microphone market, I decided to pick up a RODE Videomic on Tuesday. The mic provides recording down to 40hz (with an optional high pass filter to cut it off at 80hz, though thats the opposite of what I need), and can record 143dB with less than 1% distortion. On top of that, theres dips for -10 and -20db pads. More than enough for the race track. The mic is light and snaps directly into the hot shoe mount, plugging into the mic port on the left of the body.
I gave the setup a test run, which more than vetted the recording resolution of the mic. However I had set gain up wrong on the camera body, which didn’t really show it off. I whistled in the parking garage and watched the dB meter, deciding upon an audio gain of 3/64. This was much too low while blipping the throttle to about 4500 rpm, with the sport button off, that both slows down the opening and prohibits the throttle bodies from opening fully at low RPMs. (I’ve since learned humans can whistle in excess of 120dB!) I doubled the audio in iMovie ’09, and it was still too quiet. Though despite being boosted by 200%, the reproduction quality was still good, you can hear the muted throaty-ness of the exhaust, and the wurr of the inline-6 feeding it, pretty accurately to being behind the car. Next time I’ll probably go with a gain setup on the camera body of 15/64, keeping the HPF off and not using any of the on-mic pads. Fun ahead!