Decent stage show setup opinions at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > All Things Audio

All Things Audio
Everything Audio, from acquisition to postproduction.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old August 28th, 2009, 01:53 PM   #1
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Woodinville, WA USA
Posts: 3,464
Decent stage show setup opinions

I really hate all those "what should I do/buy?" threads, and yet here I am in the same situation, even after reading two years of posts. I'm probably the definition of the guy who knows just enough to be dangerous, audio-wise, so I'm probably making some really stupid assumptions here and would really appreciate some opinions and guidance.

We do four-cam shoots of stage plays, musicals, concerts and anything else that happens in the theatre. While our video comes out rather well, our audio is embarrassingly horrible -- even though I'm the only one who thinks that; I want to stick knitting needles through my ears whenever I hear our rough tapes. You can hardly hear the singers over the band, or even just a piano, and when you can, it sounds just like you'd expect it to, from having your mics a mile away from your talent. The creative forces have made it clear that they will never, ever, put mics on the performers and pulling the audio from the sound board using the in-theatre mics isn't much better, for reasons that are too frustrating to go into now. Suffice to say that I'm powerless to improve that situation.

So my thought is to place my Zoom H4n on a stand at the front center lip of the stage and use the onboard mics for a sort-of center channel, and then place a pair of mics, also on stands and just peeking over the front lip of the stage, about 10-15 feet to either side of the Zoom and go into the XLR inputs.

We'll also continue to record on-cam audio using our current mics (Rode VideoMics -- surprisingly decent for the price) but we use this mostly just for synching the video tracks in editing. One of our rear cams will have the feed from the board while the other will use a Rode NTG2. Our front cams are FX7s and our rear cams are FX1000s with Beachtek XLR boxes.

So I guess my questions are, 1) is this Zoom scenario reasonable? And 2) what would be some good choices for the stage mics that won't break the budget? From what I've read I assume a good hyper or super is what I want, and budget wise I'm looking at the AT4053 or the Rode NTG3. I'm sure there are better mics but I just can't afford to drop a grand or two on each of two mics, and frankly fidelity isn't the issue, only really directionality (right?).

I understand there is no audio equivalent to a zoom lens, but I would love to get rid of the boomy reverb that comes from mics really far away from the talent. And as I said I'm powerless to change that aspect of it -- just trying to make the best of a really bad situation. I know I'll never get really good audio in this scenario, but I just want it to be the best it can reasonably and affordably be.

All thoughts and advice welcome, and sorry for the length of this post -- I hate when people do that.
Adam Gold is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 28th, 2009, 03:03 PM   #2
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 34
audio opinons

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Gold View Post
I really hate all those "what should I do/buy?" threads,
me too... ;-) Some are educational, some aren't....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Gold View Post
... We do four-cam shoots of stage plays, musicals,<snip>
I'm doing 2 camera versions, same type of thing, which is why I always read your
posts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Gold View Post
The creative forces have made it clear that they will never, ever, put mics on the performers and pulling the audio from the sound board using the in-theatre mics isn't much better, for reasons that are too frustrating to go into now. Suffice to say that I'm powerless to improve that situation.
I feel for you, we use wireless for 10 to 15 of the performers, most of the time that
is a good thing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Gold View Post
So my thought is to place my Zoom H4n on a stand at the front center lip of the stage and use the onboard mics for a sort-of center channel, and then place a pair of mics, also on stands and just peeking over the front lip of the stage, about 10-15 feet to either side of the Zoom and go into the XLR inputs. <snip>
All thoughts and advice welcome, and sorry for the length of this post -- I hate when people do that.
I always run my AT822 sterio mike into an HR09. Its great for ensemable pieces where
everyone isn't mic'd but there is a lot of openness and volume. I blend as it sounds
nice with boardfeed and a big shotgun (neumman) on the camera.

What I've found on the stage lip mic is that there is some echo, some feet shuffling,
and some audience noise. In a more perfect world you should put some noise
blockers (audience side), or get hypercardiod (?) mic's.

I have a H2 and the problem I see you having is the recording splits. I have
shows where the 1st act goes long and I'll get a split on the HR09 but its
seemless, on the H2 theres several seconds of dead space...

good luck and let us know how it works out.

thanks
jim cowan
Jim Cowan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 28th, 2009, 03:18 PM   #3
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Woodinville, WA USA
Posts: 3,464
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Cowan View Post
What I've found on the stage lip mic is that there is some echo, some feet shuffling,
and some audience noise.
Yeah, they used some boundary mics once and we all got that plus ridiculous clomping of feet. Useless.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Cowan View Post
In a more perfect world you should ...get hypercardiod (?) mic's.
Yeah, as I mentioned above, I'm pretty sure Hypers or Supers are the way to go, but would love more input on that. Some can get really expensive and I'm curious about people's thoughts on the two hyper/supers I mentioned, vs. others that might be more expensive, but give only marginally more rejection of unwanted side and rear noise...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Cowan View Post
I have a H2 and the problem I see you having is the recording splits. I have
shows where the 1st act goes long and I'll get a split on the HR09 but its
seemless, on the H2 theres several seconds of dead space...
My understanding is that the H4n is seamless even when it splits files. I got it because I read that, but if it isn't true then I will be very sad. I'll be testing it this week to confirm.

Thanks for the input.
Adam Gold is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 28th, 2009, 06:38 PM   #4
Trustee
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 1,551
The problem with the H4N is unmonitored either the preamps get under or over loaded both resulting in poor audio. If going this route you should record continuous otherwise syncing is a nightmare. Btw, the built in mic should be fine.

Professional productions have the performers wear wireless lavs and they know how to project their voices. If you don't have access to proper audio feeds from the board you'll be at the mercy of the venue's acoustics. If you're using 4 cameras one should be close enough to run a wired mic to the front of the stage.
Pete Cofrancesco is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 28th, 2009, 06:47 PM   #5
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Woodinville, WA USA
Posts: 3,464
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Cofrancesco View Post
If you're using 4 camera one should be close enough to run a wired mic to the front of the stage.
That's actually a really good idea. I just got back from the theatre and where we have the mics planned, they are actually about equidistant between the cams on the front/side and the Zoom, so we could just run the cable to the cam rather than the Zoom.

Any thoughts on recommended mics? As I mentioned, wireless lavs on the cast are out of the question.
Adam Gold is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 28th, 2009, 07:09 PM   #6
Trustee
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 1,551
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Gold View Post
Any thoughts on recommended mics? As I mentioned, wireless lavs on the cast are out of the question.
Use a condenser cardioid
Pete Cofrancesco is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 29th, 2009, 06:34 AM   #7
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 5,742
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Gold View Post
That's actually a really good idea. I just got back from the theatre and where we have the mics planned, they are actually about equidistant between the cams on the front/side and the Zoom, so we could just run the cable to the cam rather than the Zoom.

Any thoughts on recommended mics? As I mentioned, wireless lavs on the cast are out of the question.
If you were going to use such an arrangement with the Zoom's own mics plus another spaced pair at the stage lip, I'd worry about several things. First would be the boundary effect with the mics close to the stage floor and the pickup of foot falls, etc, as the noise carries through the stage itself. Micing from the front of the stage might well be an option but I'd want the mics higher up and that would put them obstructing the line of sight of the audience. Is there any chance of flying mics well above the audience over the front rows or over the stage? Or perhaps try a cardioid/figure-8 pair in an MS arrangment on a tall stand in the centre aisle, about 5 rows back from the stage and 6 or 8 feet above the level of the stage floor wouldn't be too obtrusive.

I'd also be concerned about phase issues arising when you try to mix the outlying mics with the Zoom's onboard mics. A sound from the stage is going to arrive at the Zoom and at the outriggers at different times since the distance it has to travel to each mic is signifigantly different. If you try to mix them you could easily run into comb filtering effects or fast reverb effects due to the arrival time difference.

Hypers and supers such as the two mics you mentioned are pretty directional. Movement of the cast around the stage would take voices on and off mic quite severely as they move in and out of the pattern. If you want to try such an arrangment, spaced pairs are usually done with cardioids or even omnis, depending on how much of the room you want to let it. Hypers and shotguns aren't any more sensitive than cardioids or omnis - all they are is LESS sensitive to sound from the sides. Their directionality doesn't help bring in sound from farther distances so if you were thinking about them in an attempt to compensate for the distance from the mic to the cast, it's not going to help much. Their rejection of ambient noise does let you bring up the recording gain a little and that gives them the appearance of a longer "reach" but we're talking about a couple of feet leeway, not the 10 or 15 feet or more from the edge of the stage to most of the cast
__________________
Good news, Cousins! This week's chocolate ration is 15 grams!
Steve House is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 29th, 2009, 12:27 PM   #8
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Woodinville, WA USA
Posts: 3,464
Steve, thanks for weighing in on this... I was hoping you would. I've been assuming that I want the highly directional nature of hypers, supers and shotguns to reduce the echoes and reflections from the rear and sides -- I get that they're not more sensitive, but I was hoping to boost gain a little as you mentioned. But you've given me a lot to think about. See, I said I knew just enough to be dangerous.

Based on the responses so far, I'm guessing that while each specific make and model has its own personality, they're really pretty much all the same within a class and type, no?

As far as mic placement goes, I think just peeking over the lip of the stage may be our only option. They obviously wouldn't be touching the stage but the reflections of footsteps and such would still obviously be a problem, which is why I was assuming a more directional mic with more off-axis rejection (is that the right term?) would be best. They won't let us drop mics from the ceiling low enough, and when they're really high they not only don't pick up well but also create huge feedback, as they're too near the speakers. <sigh...>

This whole thing may be moot anyway, and it goes directly to the other thread/conversation we're having in the TCB forum about rights... they've decided to actually only tape the events that we can get all the proper rights and clearances to, sync and mechanical and whatever, so that eliminates the musicals, which is where we're having this audio issue. The concerts, band and orchestra and choir, always sound fine; even though I'd like to improve the audio there as well, it's not as much of an issue.

Any further thoughts and comments would be most appreciated.

Thanks.
Adam Gold is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 29th, 2009, 01:06 PM   #9
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 5,742
What I was thinking was a Decca Tree mic arrangment with the mics suspended over the edge of the stage or the first few rows of seats in the audience and above the audience's line of sight. Feedback wouldn't be an issue as they would be your own mics independent of the house PA though obviously if they were close to the speakers they might get overwhelmed. Do a google on Decca Tree and see if it gives you some ideas - it's a common technique for live musical performance recording.
__________________
Good news, Cousins! This week's chocolate ration is 15 grams!
Steve House is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 29th, 2009, 01:09 PM   #10
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Woodinville, WA USA
Posts: 3,464
Thanks, will do.

[pause while OP reads a bunch of articles]

Okay, I get it. It seems ideal but some questions arise: How can we use this in a live theatre environment, where placing the mics as indicated would clearly obstruct the field of view? No way we can get "Eight to ten feet above the conductor's head." In a recording studio, sure.

The other question arises from the mandated use of omnis. Again, in a recording studio where there is no unwanted noise I can see this, but in a theatre where you have audience noise, and echoes, and instruments overwhelming the voices, it seems we need to reject such off-topic sounds, hence my fixation (obviously inappropriate) on more highly directional mics. I guess maybe I should have mentioned earlier that in many cases the performers are semi-trained kids, sometime quite small, who often can't even project to the front row, much less the back of the theatre.

But the issue of spacing the three mics quite tightly seems quite usable and I appreciate the reference; I never would have figured that out on my own.

Maybe we can develop a theatre-version hybrid with the mics spaced similarly but in a place where they don't obstruct the view or generally irritate the directors, while still enhancing voices and subduing other unwanted sounds. Lots of thinking to do here...

Thanks again. Keep those ideas coming...
Adam Gold is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 29th, 2009, 07:10 PM   #11
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Portland OR
Posts: 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Gold View Post
The creative forces have made it clear that they will never, ever, put mics on the performers and pulling the audio from the sound board using the in-theatre mics isn't much better, for reasons that are too frustrating to go into now. Suffice to say that I'm powerless to improve that situation.
You have a pretty impossible situation.

Getting close trumps just about everything else in this kind of situation, including mic pattern and quality.

Mics across the stage... Make sure the mic stands are not physically connected to the stage at any point; put something rubbery under the bases, and use good shock mounts on the mics. If at all possible, put some absorbtive material over the part of the stage closest to the mics to kill stage reflections - depending upon the theater, you may be able to do this pretty invisibly if you know the right color to use. Point the mics to the areas that are actually blocked to have action, not just evenly across the stage. Cardioid works fine here.

You can't mic the talent? Put cheap plant mics everywhere, behind the sofa, in the flower arrangements, etc. Get enough audio from enough places and you may be able to find workable dialog. The more the better, more cheap mics is better than fewer expensive mics for this purpose. With all the inexpensive Zooms, etc. these days, with their long recording times, this should be easy to do. Set and forget.

Have a stereo pair about 30 feet from any actor (to avoid phase problems) to pick up general sound on the stage, to use underneath the places where one of the plant mics works. (the edge stage mics might work best for that).

And finally here is something I have done which works well, if you are allowed to do it. You can't mic the talent in the performances... So do audio only recording of the last rehearsal before the dress rehearsal. You might even be allowed to boom, if you can sell the idea that this is a tool for the director to use to provide feedback to the performers ('Listen, Joe, how your voice does not project as much as the other actors'...). You'll likely get quite a few takes, and this could be used to fix problems later, or even as the main dialog track (lots of editing involved, of course...). At the least, you won't have audience noise on these tracks, and should be able to mic much closer since there is no worry about cutting off the audience view.

The above is about dialog. For a musical, you really, really need to multitrack to get any kind of quality.

-MD
Mike Demmers is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 29th, 2009, 08:19 PM   #12
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Woodinville, WA USA
Posts: 3,464
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Demmers View Post
You have a pretty impossible situation.
That's for sure!

Thanks for the ideas. Never would have thought of them. Will have to play around with these.
Adam Gold is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 23rd, 2009, 09:12 PM   #13
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Woodinville, WA USA
Posts: 3,464
Just to circle back on this a little...

Still haven't decided on which mics to add to the mix, but we did use the Zoom as described on our last shoot, and maybe because we're used to really lousy sound our standards are lower, but I thought it sounded really great. The onboard mics are just fine. Given that they're not very directional at all, I'm starting to believe all those wise souls above who pointed out that shotguns not only aren't necessary but are to be avoided in this situation. So now there's a whole new category of mics I need to start researching... <sigh...>
Adam Gold is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 24th, 2009, 12:37 PM   #14
Major Player
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Lakeland Florida
Posts: 619
I recently got my Zoom H4N and have used it shooting two recitals. One an instrument recital, had flute, classical guitar, piano, and a trio of violin, cello and piano. The other recital was a voice recital, with piano. The results each time were excellent! I simply placed the Zoom on a mic stand about eight feet in front of the stage. I couldn't believe how well it worked. It was so simple. I edited the two camera shoots with the camera shotgun microphones, then added the audio from the zoom to another audio track. I synched everything up with the wave forms. Once everything was synched, I deleted all the audio except for the zoom's. Then finished the editing by trimming the resulting clips of the songs.

The DVDs came out great.

Letting the zoom record continuously works well, the batteries last for several hours. One contiguous file is very easy to work with, just chop it up in the editor as needed. So far, the H4N seems extremely reliable and hard to screw up.
__________________
Roger
trueviewfilms.com
Roger Van Duyn is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > All Things Audio

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 04:37 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network