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Old February 20th, 2009, 11:49 AM   #1
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Difficult theatre job

Any suggestions for improving the audio here in the following scenario.

Location (see diagram) - a small theatre in a school.This theatre is built next to (wait for it) a suite of gymnasia. No problems when gyms are not in use, but major probs when there is a game of basketball or whatever through the wall from the theatre. There is a communicating door (which is a fire exit) with the gym and a much of the noise seems to come through that.

I have to record a succession of scenes from plays (2 - 5 mostly inexperienced actors) with audio recorded clearly enough to assess the actors' skills. So far I have tried:

(a) Different number of cardioid studio condensers hung over the stage (1, 2 or 3). This was time consuming to rig and the three rig needed a mixer in the chain. The sound wasn't that good.

(b) Shotguns pointing at the stage. This resulted in dead areas as the actors moved unpredictably off mic, and there was a huge drop off with distance. Rejection of noises behind the shotguns was disappointing as well.

(c) A single omni radio mic cunningly suspended from a powered projector screen above the front of the stage - can be raised or lowered quickly and is out of harm's way when not in use (very important in a school). This is the best yet, it picks up evenly from the whole stage area but the noises from the gym are quite loud at times. A low cut filter helps with the earthquake noises of kids running, but not with the shouting.

The whole stage area is in use, and it's different every time. Not the easiest job I've tackled. Given that blocking off the fire door, using boom operator(s) or individual radiomics are ruled out, any ideas I hadn't thought of? No probs with the video, thank heavens.
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Old February 20th, 2009, 12:28 PM   #2
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Have you considered boundary or PZM mics. Three or four across the front of the stage in addition to some plant mics hidden in on the set works OK in some situations.

Otherwise the small goose-neck choir mics cardioid or hyper-cardioid is another option. Better than shotguns for interiors.
Nothing like having the talent wired though.
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Old February 20th, 2009, 12:53 PM   #3
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Actually, Rick, I hadn't thought of these. I have zero experience of boundary mics. Perhaps I should do a bit of research on them?
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Old February 20th, 2009, 01:12 PM   #4
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Check out Crown's "Crown Boundary Microphone Application Guide".
Very informative. Some ideas for enhancing PZM's by building simple reflectors.
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Old February 20th, 2009, 04:03 PM   #5
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Application Guides

Good call, Hank. So are Crown the big boys in boundaries? Shure, Sennheisser and many others do them as well I see (but not Rode).
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Old February 20th, 2009, 05:46 PM   #6
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Hi Colin,
I was just wondering if the Manfrotto/Bogen 420B might help.
tripods, heads, monopods, light stands, camera supports, lighting supports, professional tripod 420B - COMBI BOOM STAND BLACK
It's a combination light and boom stand.

Check out Guy Cochran's great video
Introducing the Combi Boom - A must have stand for lighting and location sound on Vimeo
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Old February 20th, 2009, 06:17 PM   #7
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"So are Crown the big boys in boundaries?"
Yeah, it seems that in Crown's product line, aside from power amps, they specialize in the boundary type mics.

I had a pair of PCC-160s for a while. loved them. Used them on piano a lot, taped under the lid in instances where the lid had to be closed. (Got a photo on my website someplace, I'll see if I can find it.
<img> http://rraud.com/images/synod/mics.html

Last edited by Rick Reineke; February 20th, 2009 at 06:34 PM. Reason: addendum
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Old February 20th, 2009, 07:24 PM   #8
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Crown were one of the first makers of PZM mics.

You could try out their low-end Crown Audio Sound Grabber 2 for $70. Mini-plug, not XLR.

Also, Radio Shack used to sell a Realistic PZM microphone made by Crown. They can be had on ebay for $30 or so. They work pretty well.
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Old February 21st, 2009, 10:42 AM   #9
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When the Shack O' Shame first sold the Realistic PZM, (a hundred years ago?) I bought a pair and replaced the AA battery with a 9v and put a XLR connector which increased sensitivity and SPL limit by a few dB. They sounded decent, as I recall.
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Old February 21st, 2009, 11:33 AM   #10
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I still have two of those realistic PZM's they were very good and I modded mine to xlr connectors. When I was in LA in 1981 (on a Tube shoot with Joolz and Paula) a hollywood sound guy showed me all sorts of wonderful ways to make them directional for soundstage use using sheets of perspex up to 2ft square. Never got round to trying any of the ideas but he said 2-3 of those was good for such an application as yours. More info on PZM here:http://www.uneeda-audio.com/pzm/
Only problem may be that the foot noise is always a problem when trying to mic up a full stage, a stereo M/S mic may also be a soloution as you will be able to control the width of pick-up, I use the sony 957 prosumer mic.
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Old February 21st, 2009, 12:07 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Nattrass View Post
... a stereo M/S mic may also be a soloution as you will be able to control the width of pick-up, I use the sony 957 prosumer mic.
Aha! Haven't done M/S for a while - thanks for the suggestion Gary.
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Old February 21st, 2009, 12:16 PM   #12
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Sorry for delayed reply. I had a look at the links and I would using consider that for another gig. Unfortunately I can't put anything visible on the stage or between the "audience" and the stage this time. Thanks for that suggestion anyway.
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