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Old November 24th, 2004, 03:15 PM   #1
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How do the Oscars handle live sound?

I'm just using the Oscars as an example, but here's a live event that obviously has to mix their sound for both the audience and broadcast. Typically, when I've filmed a live event in the past and received a feed from the mixer, it doesn't sound good. That's because the engineer is mixing the sound for the house, not the feed, so the levels are going to be different.

But in an event like the Oscars, the broadcast sound is clean, balanced, and overally just sounds great. Microphones don't sound dry, but rather have a little bit of that live reverberation to make it more realistic. Audience feedback (applause) is clear and live sounding.

So how do they accomplish both a good house mix and a good broadcast mix at the same time? Do they have two separate mixers operating, one for the house and one for broadcast? What kinds of microphones and what placement are they using for audience feedback and other "live" elements?

I'm sure the equipment they're using is on a hyper-high budget, but I'm just curious how they overcome so many of the problems of a live mix.

Thanks,

-Brent
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Old November 25th, 2004, 08:56 AM   #2
 
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They use 2 desks, with everything multed to both. It's not all that expensive to do, other than requiring two of everything post microphone.
Even if you only have one desk, if it has enough subs or even aux mixes, you can still do this, you just need to bring room mics into the broadcast feed but not into the house feed or foldback/monitor feeds.
Never been to an Oscar ceremony but have been at several of the others. Last year, the People's Music Choice awards was done off of one desk, but sent to a second, identical desk and although there was an engineer sitting there, he was mostly there for union requirement.
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Old November 25th, 2004, 10:31 AM   #3
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Live Sound

Typically, all of the mics onstage will go to a splitter rack that splits the signal 3 ways (or more.) One signal will go to the stage monitor consoles for artist in ear moniters and stage wedges. The second signal will go to the live FOH sound console for the live audience mix. The third signal goes to the broadcast audio console (usually in the production truck, or in an audio production truck) for the broadcast audio.
As for audience and ambiance there are usually several shotguns on the edge of the stage pointed at the audience for "nat" sound. Additionally, these will also often be sent to the artist in-ear monitors so the artist can hear and interact with the audience.
Hope this helps
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Old November 25th, 2004, 01:17 PM   #4
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Yes, thanks to both of you for clarifiying that. I had a feeling that two completely separate systems were being used since the requirements for house and broadcast would naturally sound different. Seems I was on the right track!

Thanks again,

-Brent
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Old November 25th, 2004, 07:53 PM   #5
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DSE wrote; "Last year, the People's Music Choice awards was done off of one desk, but sent to a second, identical desk and although there was an engineer sitting there, he was mostly there for union requirement."

Hmmm. Very strange, Spot. I have worked many award shows over the years, and never remember one that had a technician working simply as a "union requirement." More likely, he was controlling the PA level to the house, but that's just a guess.

Sorry if I sound thin-skinned, but unions take a lot of bad raps. This would be a miserable business to work in without unions, even for people who work on non-union shoots. Knowing the union organizer is just a phone call away keeps many non-union employers honest.

Wayne
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Old November 25th, 2004, 10:58 PM   #6
 
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Wayne, I know unions get a bad rap, (and I'm a member of the musicians union) but...in many cases, it's well deserved.
LA and to some degree, NYC still have pretty good union members in my experience. On the other hand, most cities don't. Chicago, Vegas, Atlanta, Wisconsin, and many other states, we've had ridiculous problems, and nowadays it's easier to deal with the TSA than to get the steward or organizer to do anything about it. Not to mention the time lost.
I know you're very capable, and that there are lots of other union guys in various areas of the industry who are talented. But there are quite a few who are talented but have let a little power go to their heads and are unreasonable, or less talented, or who have zero people skills. No longer does a union call assure quality, professional people. That's my experience in many, many houses. Please know I mean no disrespect to you, or anyone else. It's just the way things are these days. I wish there was a way to keep union organizers honest. Like I said, LA is unique. So is NYC, in my experience.
BTW, the union guy was a babysitter for Gungi Patterson, who is one of the most famous sound engineers in the history of music.
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Old November 26th, 2004, 01:53 PM   #7
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Sometimes a babysitter is necessary.
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Old November 28th, 2004, 05:53 PM   #8
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Point of Information

Douglas and Ronald, you had it right conceptually, but just a point of information: the Oscars have 4 and sometimes 5 mixers and boards.
Because there is an orchestra in the pit there is a mixer mixing just the orchestra and sending stems (stereo strings, horns, keyboards & guitars, drums, and bass) to both the FOH mixer and the broadcast mixer (in the video truck). The stage mics for hosts and winners and mics for performers of nominated songs as well as the voice-over announcer mic get split to both FOH and broadcast mixers.
Then there is the monitor mixer who controls what the performers are hearing in their monitors (I guess he's been getting all the same splits).
The broadcast mixer had a small digitally controlled board for the onstage bands so that if necessary someone from the band could come in and mix the performance of that song. Otherwise he uses the mix he stored in a setup made during rehearsal and sound check.
There's lots of prespiration and adrenaline and yelling going on in the intercoms because it's a live show - but there's lots planning and just enough rehearsal that it usually goes pretty well and sounds good in the house as well as on air.
For performances that aren't broadcast live you can record all these elements to multitrack and mix later.
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