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Old February 5th, 2008, 12:49 PM   #1
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Live band with dialog in audience

I have a director who is insisting that I capture dialog and crowd noise in real time while a band is playing. I told the producer that this is generally done with the band and crowd pantomiming for most of the takes, but the director wants to do it as authentically as possible. This means micing the band separately, as well as the crowd, and wireless on the speakers. They aren't shooting with multiple cameras, so I don't know how they are going to maintain continuity. Can anyone give me any advice on this? Right now they want to record direct to camera, but I'm considering insisting they rent a multitrack recorder and a mixer, and probably a stereo mic. I'm assuming I can tap into the board for the band, but what about drums? The bass and guitar often aren't mixed into the feed as well. For the crowd do I want a stereo mic in the back of the room (wouldn't that cause phasing problems with the direct feed from the board?). Or do I want a long shotgun facing away from the band into the crowd?
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Old February 5th, 2008, 01:15 PM   #2
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Are you mic'ing for spoken dialog ("this band rocks, dude!") or the crowd sounds?

Generally, when a band is playing the crowd dialog is pretty lame. Stuff like, "you're stepping on my jacket" and "where do you want to eat after the show?"

For interview dialog, I would think a dynamic, handheld mic right in their face would be the way to go. For great crowd sound, you might look at the Holophone. It's been used at the Grammies, football games and such for excellent surround sound results without phasing and setup problems. But most of the sound would come after the songs, not during.
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Old February 5th, 2008, 01:27 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Marco Leavitt View Post
They aren't shooting with multiple cameras, so I don't know how they are going to maintain continuity.
That sounds like they will be extremely limited in how they can edit it later. Any cut in post is likely going to cause a jump in the music, unless the actors manage to maintain the timing of their lines very, very accurately. Or will this be one long shot, without any cuts? Also, is this a feature film, documentary, or what are we talking about? At any rate, I believe your suggestion to the director (band and crowd pantomiming) was a good one.

But, assuming you are stuck with this job and director, I'd say multitrack is a good idea. I would try to make the band play at a fairly low volume, and keep the crowd noise low, too - while keeping it authentic, as requested by the director. With a multitrack recording, you can always bring the music back up, and either increase the crowd volume or replace it with a canned sound effect. Doing all this allows you to focus on recording clean (well, as clean as possible under the circumstances) dialog, which I assume will be the most important piece of audio.

If you need to go straight into the camera - oh boy, it gets more difficult. You'd have to mix right there, with no ability to fix it later. The difficulty I see is in focusing on just the mix output, and ignoring the live sound in the room - headphones attenuate sound only to some extend, so with a band and a large crowd, this could be tricky.

To be honest, I don't know what a really good way to do this would be. I am curious what others will suggest!

- Martin
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Old February 5th, 2008, 02:09 PM   #4
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Sorry for leaving out some crucial information in the original post. This a 16 page narrative piece. There is a combination of a live band and in other parts a live DJ. I count 18 different speakers who wander in and out of the conversation which moves around the dance floor. It looks as if the whole thing could be done in one long unbroken shot, but as I'm pretty sure -- note I say pretty sure, as I have a call into the producer over it -- that they're not using a steadicam, so I assume they're going to break it into different pieces somehow.
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Old February 5th, 2008, 02:27 PM   #5
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Are these experienced producer and director, or is this their first time.

Can they give you an example of what they want you can watch. You can use this to explain to them how it's done.

What kind of camera and what is the experience of the crew.

Is this a paid job?

In general, it sounds like the kind of thing to stay away from. Can't see how there is going to be a positive outcome given your parameters.

Read this article about Drew Kunin and his challenges of recording music and dialog on location for Robert Altman's "A Prairie Home Companion":
http://www.studiodaily.com/main/tech...udio/4506.html

Here is another article on "Companion" that discusses some of the challenges of this type of productgion:
http://www.studiodaily.com/main/tech...udio/4506.html

By the way, how many days do you have to shoot this?
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Old February 5th, 2008, 02:38 PM   #6
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The producer and cinematographer are good friends of mine. We help each other out whenever possible. I don't think either one of them have dealt with something this complicated before. The three of us (and my business partner) are doing our best to capture the director's vision. Excellent idea about asking for an example and great link! Thanks much. Oh, and no. It's not a paid job. This is a prestige thing. :0
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Old February 5th, 2008, 03:25 PM   #7
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I agree with Jon, an in the face handheld for the dialogue, assuming it fits the nature of the video. if it is in fact interview style, it would look appropriate. if it is to appear as random crowd comments, you might need a different method. why only one camera? it sounds as if it would work better to have one or two cams on the band, and fades to interviews.
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Old February 5th, 2008, 06:55 PM   #8
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Thanks Allen, but this seems more like a bar or dance drama, rather than a live event.

For a narrative piece, definitely record the dialog without the band playing. You should be able to use a boom while you play the music from a quiet stereo far from the mic to give people something to groove to. If you try to record dialog while the band plays, expect to do ADR - and that won't sound near as natural as mixing on-set dialog and music in post.

Don't make the audio sound like reality, unless it's a documentary. Make it sound like we imagine or wish reality to be.
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Old February 6th, 2008, 12:44 PM   #9
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Interesting comments. What I'm recommending to the producer is we use a wireless boom along with two wireless mics on actors. Pretty sure I can cover each scene that way. We only have a three channel mixer, or I'd go for even more wireless. As they don't appear able to rent a four channel recorder, that's the most I think we could realistically mix down to two channels anyway. I'm also recommending double system sound -- a HiMD unit connected to a Denecke AD20 converter, as that's what we already have. My business partner will handle the mixing and maintaining the audio log. Apparently this will be almost entirely handheld. Also, after talking to the cinematographer last night, there is going to be a second camera getting interview style footage with a reporter and a handheld mic. I figure I split the track for them and rely on that cinematographer to monitor the audio.

One more thing. With the boom (I'd like to use a Schoeps CMC6 MK41), I'm real leery of having any music playing, no matter how low it is turned down. The Schoeps will hear it for sure. What about a visual cue, such as a flashing light keeping the beat, so at least the dancers will be in sync with each other? Is there something we can rent for that?
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Old February 6th, 2008, 12:55 PM   #10
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I don't know where you get one but I've heard of Hollywood studios using something they call a "thumper" to give dancers a beat to dance to. Send a beat through the floor that the people can hear and feel but low enough in frequency that it can be tuned out of the audio with a high-pass filter on the mic. If you have a Cut1 for your Schoeps and you have time, it might be an interesting experiement to see what you can come up with by creating a low frequency click track in your workstation using a tone that is below the filter's cutoff and playing it back on set through a set of stage monitors aimed at the dancers.
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Old February 6th, 2008, 01:04 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Marco Leavitt View Post
With the boom (I'd like to use a Schoeps CMC6 MK41), I'm real leery of having any music playing, no matter how low it is turned down. The Schoeps will hear it for sure.
I fear that any mic worth recording your dialoge will also hear the music. They will differ in how much of it they pick up and how good it sounds, but it will be there.

Quote:
What about a visual cue, such as a flashing light keeping the beat, so at least the dancers will be in sync with each other? Is there something we can rent for that?
Now that would be a much better solution, audiowise at least. I guess we've all been under the assumption that the music was going to play, no discussion, because that was the director's plan. But if not: I am sure you could buy/rent a strobe light (the type they use in dance clubs), set its frequency or even couple it to the music, and use that to ensure the dancers know the beat. If visual cues don't work, or if the resulting flashes are not acceptable for the picture, I wonder if the following could be done: while you are taping, mark the beat by playing (in the room, for everyone to hear) short pulses of a pure sine wave, a frequency outside of the vocal range. This should be one of the easiest things to remove from the recorded sound when you clean up the audio. Disclaimer: I have never tried this, so I cannot promise that it would work.

- Martin
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Old February 6th, 2008, 01:05 PM   #12
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Just a thought, but would a regular bass speaker from an ordinary stereo system work as a "thumper"? These speakers are non directional and aimed down at the floor to begin with and if you crank up the volume should give a pretty solid "thump". They also usually have a low pass filter of some kind built in so they only play back the low end below a selectable frequency. Not perfect, but probably cheaper than a Cut-1. And you probably already have one in your home stereo system.
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Old February 6th, 2008, 01:21 PM   #13
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"I guess we've all been under the assumption that the music was going to play, no discussion, because that was the director's plan."

Well, in talking to the cintematographer last night he said that he would be insistent with the director on not having the band play live throughout, and agreed with me on the continuity and other problems. I went so far as to say that if we couldn't silence the band, my partner and I may have to walk.

Good idea on the thumper. Not sure we can make that happen in time though. I wouldn't want to try it without doing some tests, and the shoot is two weeks off.
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