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Old August 30th, 2004, 04:55 PM   #1
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Any tricks to learn from this? (aside from spending a fortune on equipment)

Was watching "Countdown with Keith Oberman". He was interviewing pundits from his set, right in the middle of Harold's square during rush hour. The voices were clear and were as good on a TV as you might hear from a studio. There was just a very, very slight background sound of rush hour traffic - not noticeable at all - until you see the visual of a bus almost silently passing by a few meters away!

What type of equipment do you think they used? How do you think they set this location up?


** Note: if you've never been, Harold's square is in the middle of a major shopping district, which has heavy vehicle and foot traffic. It's right on the intersection of 3 major NYC streets - and is normally very very very noisy.
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Old August 30th, 2004, 05:20 PM   #2
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We need more information. Could you SEE any equipment of ANY kind?

A dynamic ENG mic such as a Beyerdynamic m58 could do this easily... so could a Shure sm86 or similar... as long as it could be seen on-camera... just 6" or closer to the speaker's mouth.

Look up ENG mics... the most popular are the Electro Voice re-50 or the lower end 635s... but there are a lot of choices in dynamic stick mics that are made to do this very job.

If you couldn't see ANY mics on cam then I'd guess they used a Sanken CS1 or some other mic with extreme side/rear rejection.
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Old August 30th, 2004, 05:25 PM   #3
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I was watching it from work. I just happen to walk by there everyday, so I was amazed at how well they minimized the traffic sound on the TV.

They were sitting at a table with no mics in view! You could see about 3-4 feet around the people on set (medium upper body shot with 3 people). If they were using lavs they were invisible to my eye.

I'll stop by on the way home and see if I can see anything.
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Old August 30th, 2004, 06:10 PM   #4
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there are several ways to cancel background noise.
some simple technique involve two mikes mounted in opposite phase and direction, so the common noise is attenuated.
There is too electronics boxes that can do that (same principle, requiring 2 mics).
http://www.headwize.com/projects/noise_prj.htm
very professional products (as Gentner boxes) can cancel almost anything from echo to larsen with very complex DSP (digital signal processor). they are very common in video conference systems.
Actually, when recording with several microphones, phase cancelation is often seen as a problem (creates "holes" in some frequencies recorded)
another way is to use the correct equipment at the right place.
a very directional mic mounted on a boom pole located "nose up" just in front of the speaker (usually at belt height) will give excellent result. The body of the speaker make a good screen, absobing noise, and the mic position (pointed to the sky) ensure you will record only the speaker's voice (and eventually birds passing over him).
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Old August 30th, 2004, 07:30 PM   #5
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Yep, what Giroud said.

That was the other thing I was going to say... The easiest way to get isolation in a loud area is with ENG mics. Watch the news and you'll see reporters talking directly into stick mics. Those things only hear a bubble of sound about 5' or so in diameter... and they only hear GOOD sound within 5 INCHES of the mic head.

The next level of good location sound in a challenging situation could come one of two ways. A really good lav could be invisible... such as a Countryman B6 or even the ear mic which sweeps around the side of the face. You'll never see it unless you're looking for it. Pop a mic to within 2" of the mouth and set levels accordingly. Then it's easy to mainly hear the speaker's voice.

The second option at this level is a highly directional shotgun. A 416 or CS3e is a good outdoor mic. The CS3e is the very best at ONLY hearing what you want... with the exception of a really LONG gun... Using one of those in the manner Giroud said will primarily hear the voice... and if boomed from below it will only hear additional sound above the speaker... or boomed directly above and aiming just under the mouth should work in some cases also. In a use like this you'd want the mic as close as possible, just outside of the frame.

Unfortunately your title mentions "not spending a fortune"... so that pretty much leaves you with option 1.

ENG mics are cheap... $100-$150... Good lavs are $200-$400... Shotguns which can do the above trick are $530-$1500...
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Old September 1st, 2004, 02:07 PM   #6
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Are you sure he wasn't in some kind of booth with glass behind him?
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 02:41 AM   #7
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Jacques, the whole set is completely wide open AND I couldn't spot a microphone ANYWHERE! That's why I'm so fascinated, how can the sound be so good? :-) It goes against everything I've learned!

Here are some pics I took so you can see what I'm talking about. I took them while standing on the street. There are also hi-res photos if you wanna go mic hunting. Unfortunately, some protesters were causing a commotion though, so I couldn't get as close as I wanted :-(

A neat story - they had TV sets with the live broadcast show playing at the makeshift entrance, a couple of firetrucks and police cars come screaming by with their sirens wailing, so I put my ears up to the TV sets - couldn't hear ANY sirens coming through the TV!!! What the heck!!! Just the voices from panel. Pretty amazing.

I did finally get up close and scanned the set, I think I spotted a few mics up in the rafters. Wherever they are, they are well hidden, in the desk, in the clothing, or up in the trees - and comparing the street noise with my ears, to the sound from the speakers, those mics are setup really well.

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Old September 3rd, 2004, 07:32 AM   #8
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Thanks Michael! I always have a lot more respect and enthusiasm when people show some effort in getting a question answered... and the photos were pretty good too... Unfortunately I see what you mean... but since it was very dark it took me about 2 minutes to go through them... making each one hi-res and watching the details.

One thing's for sure... that little mic with the crappy black/orange foam (on cam) isn't supplying sound. Maybe it's doing some natural sound for a cutaway shot down the street or something.

In the second photo from the very bottom, I spotted something... it helps if you make it hi-res, but you can see it even in the small photo... there is a boom stand going up from the left side and angled out over the desk. Because it's a stand you're looking at the pole is very small diameter compared to a normal boom pole. So then take a peak at the flag which is hanging straight down... that is where the pole ends in what appears to be a Rycote pistol grip shock mount... I spotted the curve of the grip. That would suggest a shotgun but I can't see one.

They could use a CS3e, 416, or some other LONG gun with incredible side rejection... it would be no problem to get rid of that traffic with a gun at that angle. At 120 degrees off-axis of the street you'd get the maximum rejection angle for 99% of shotguns.

A LONG gun is really surprising with side/rear rejection... REALLY surprising. A couple months ago I got a 416 and I couldn't believe what I was missing out on... Recently I got a ck69 long/short modular and in the long configuration it isolates even more. They say a CS3e isolates the most... but I'd be surprised if it beats an actual LONG gun... the ck69 long is 18.5" and it freakin' isolates.

In my earlier post I thought they could also be using Countryman B6 lavs... I still think that's a definite posibility. If you havent' seen one you'll freak when you do... the mic head is so small it almost looks like a lav where somebody cut the mic off. They're almost the same diameter as the WIRE... you can hide 'em in plain site. Also they come in colors... so if there's a B6 on their chests you'll need to use some REALLY good binoculars to find out.
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 10:07 AM   #9
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Ah, now I know the scene you're talking about. Chris Mattews did his
show there too I believe, but unlike your report, I guess they must
have had a massive protest march (go KERRY! (sorry)) walk past.
At that point the marchers were making SO MUCH NOISE a that the
audio guys must have been going nutz. The 'talent' had to really raise
their voices, almost to the point of screaming, to get above the
ambient ruckus.

I didn't really pay much attention to the mic'ing technics used, but my guess
would be hypercardioid lavs pointed straight up, but as has been pointed out
they may have used a mic that only hears stuff that's within a couple of feet
or used some shotguns that are excellent at pulling in only what they
are pointed at.

I know they do make expensive echo cancellation boxes, but that's
echo cancellation and not ambient noise cancellation.
Ever notice how on the convention speeches you don't
hear any echo from a very echoey arena? That said, nosie cancellation
technology most likely exists but is far more expensive than any of us
can afford.

I have had gigs where I set up all kinds of good mics, only to find at sound
check that good mics suck because they hear all the hash and din and
things like cymbals that are going on behind singers. Not only that but
good mics also pick up sound wave reflections and produce what's known
as comb filtering (certain freqs cancel out so the summed waveform looks like a comb, which essentially makes a voice sound like wax paper
on a comb. Yeach.

I took down the good mics and put up the crummy mics.
Suddenly, the whole mix was a lot better.

PS Upon taking a closer look, they do have lavs on pointed straight up :)
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 10:37 AM   #10
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thats look like regular lav setup , both of them with mikes close enouth ( one on the tiy and another on the jacket )to get good signal to street noice ratio (and it defently no b-6) , with good gate prossesor, high pass filter and probably Dugen automatic mixer and another mike for ambient to mask the gating it could sound very good on regular tv set
there is almost impossible to work with shotguns from the top and not get reflected sound ( the set also use top lite so thats almost end the story becouse the shadows) and the table doesnt get any way to place it from below
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 11:18 AM   #11
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Okay, I just took another look at the bottom picture on hi-res... yeah, you can see the lavs.
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 11:28 AM   #12
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Voila! Okay thanks for taking a look guys, now it's making much more sense.
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