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Old December 6th, 2011, 08:37 PM   #1
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Filming a concert with a mixer

I am filming a choir concert. I have a big mixing board they want me to use to do the audio for the speakers and the monitors. So I need a very quick tutorial on how to set the pots for a piano and microphones. It is a behringer mixer, 10 inputs (all XLR). I was trying to find a site that might have best setting for the pots and the dials, but couldn't come up with anything. If worse comes to worse, I will just fiddle and see what I get, but I would prefer some helpful advice on how to set up the thing!
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Old December 6th, 2011, 10:25 PM   #2
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Re: Filming a concert with a mixer

Whomever asked you to do this shows a serious lack of respect for the skill, knowledge and experience required to do live production. Worse they think so low of filming that they dump running sound onto you. More disrespect for what it takes to film a live production.
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Old December 6th, 2011, 11:25 PM   #3
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Re: Filming a concert with a mixer

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Originally Posted by David Delaney View Post
I have a big mixing board they want me to use to do the audio for the speakers and the monitors. ........................................So I need a very quick tutorial on how to set the pots for a piano and microphones. It is a behringer mixer, 10 inputs (all XLR).

Er, I do hope you've either told them to stick it, or booked into a 12 month course on Sound Management, followed by a 24 month apprenticeship with an experienced sound professional, after which you'll think about it.

What a bloody cheek, quite frankly. They don't have a sound guy, so get the video muggins to sort it and blame him/ her when it all goes pear shaped, which it will, in very short order.

I can't offer any real advice as I'm not a sound guy, and I'm not sure anyone else can either (that will make any sense to a complete newbie to the trade) except, get the flu' or some other serious ailment that keeps you well away from this particular gig.

Sorry I can't be more help, but sure as Hell, I wouldn't touch it with a 20 foot pole!

One of those "no wins" as far as I can see.


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Old December 6th, 2011, 11:47 PM   #4
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Re: Filming a concert with a mixer

I agree that you're being asked the impossible, but some help on the mixer:

You set a good level on each input with the input level control at the top -- knobs, in this case. Each channel, with the fader (the sliding controls) set to the "0" or normal position, should give a signal strong enough to register a strong signal without going into the red on the dB meter. Set each, one at a time. This takes care of getting a useable signal from each source.

The harder part is the faders (sliding controls) because you use them to mix the various sources in a pleasing way ---some sources need be louder or softer than the others, and this is where you control that -- to put it another way, you get the mechanics of the sound with the level controls, and the mix with the faders. Obviously, as, say, a soloist comes up, the audio balance will change from the chorus, etc. This is why you have to ride the mix, there isn't any time be shooting video too.

Mixing takes concentration and a good ear, and there is no practical way for you to run a video camera and an audio board at the same time, as others have pointed out. You can't just set it and forget it, anymore than you can run a camera that way. Good luck!

PS: If you're really stuck doing this, go to www.behringer.com and download the manual for your mixer, or one similar (they're pretty much all alike) and you will find a lot of useful info on setting the mixer up. Manuals are on the individual product page, click the turn arrow on the "brochure" section; you can find a similar product manual at www.mackie.com, their manuals are great. Their boards are pretty good, too.

Last edited by Battle Vaughan; December 7th, 2011 at 12:30 AM. Reason: addendum
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Old December 7th, 2011, 09:03 AM   #5
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Re: Filming a concert with a mixer

There are no "magic" (or even "standard") settings for audio mixing. The ultimate goal of sound reinforcement is to make the sound loud enough for the satisfaction of the audience while preserving the "mix" (proportions, etc.) of the performers and their instruments (including voices). If you find any sources with diagrams that show you where to set the knobs, it is probably bogus or severely uninformed at best.

Certainly the user manuals for the mixer (or similar mixers) will tell you WHAT all the knobs do, and that is critical information you need to know in order to properly use the mixer. But they can't tell you exactly where to set the knobs to achieve a proper result.

I have many decades of experience doing both live sound reinforcement and location recording even before I ever got involved in video. And even I would be quite dubious of such a request.
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Old December 7th, 2011, 10:38 AM   #6
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Re: Filming a concert with a mixer

Ditto to the 'don't touch this with a ten foot pole' posters above. Get them to hire a sound guy.

Aside from being able to do an audience mix, it seems like they want you to do a monitor mix as well. That's a whole new world of audio complexity in which pleasing performers and avoiding feedback require skills way beyond just getting voices and/or instruments to sound OK. As someone who mixed professionally (ages ago), I have the utmost respect for the folks who do the monitor mixes - though whether they are courageous or simply masochistic is something I've never quite figured out. ;-)

(BTW, a 10 channel board is actually pretty small, 24 ch. kinda medium and 48 and above is getting into big mixing desks).
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Old December 7th, 2011, 01:27 PM   #7
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Re: Filming a concert with a mixer

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Lagerlof View Post
it seems like they want you to do a monitor mix as well. That's a whole new world of audio complexity in which pleasing performers and avoiding feedback require skills way beyond just getting voices and/or instruments to sound OK. As someone who mixed professionally (ages ago), I have the utmost respect for the folks who do the monitor mixes - though whether they are courageous or simply masochistic is something I've never quite figured out. ;-)
+1.

Glad someone beat me to it. As a part time musician, I can tell you that the monitor mix would be even more problematic for the reasons Eric lists.

Walk away. Or better yet, RUN.

Seriously.
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Old December 8th, 2011, 12:37 PM   #8
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Re: Filming a concert with a mixer

IMHO, unless it's a very small, weak choir, or a very large, dead auditorium, they should need little or no reinforcement. The purpose of a choir (as opposed to one average, non-operatic soloist) is to fill the room. A piano should be able to fill a reasonable size auditorium without amplification, unless it's competing with a rock band, drums, etc... in which case you don't have a real "choir" performance but something else.

That assumes they are performing legitimate choral works, and not some new-ish rock'n'roll music masquerading as "choir" music.

But anyone running reinforcement really needs some experience with the equipment, some really good ears, and some experience with music. After all, the mixer's job is to get the sound that the musicians want out into the house where the audience can hear it. If you can't communicate with the choir director, etc., then you're facing an uphill battle.

Just an old-time view of musical realism... FWIW.
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Old December 10th, 2011, 01:26 AM   #9
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Re: Filming a concert with a mixer

As somebody that earns a pretty substantial part of his income doing live sound, tell this person to take a long walk off a very short pier. It is not fair to you to have to do this kind of work without the needed experience, it isn't fair to the performers (especially if they want you to do monitors as well), lastly, with all of that going on there is no way that you will even come close to making a decent video.

Either they hire somebody to take care of sound or tell them you don't do the work.

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Old December 13th, 2011, 03:29 PM   #10
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Re: Filming a concert with a mixer

I am finishing up a semester long class in mixing at my community college, and I think that's about what you need in order to be able to understand what a random dial on a random mixer does, and even then you will still probably need some time with the instructions and some experimentation before you have confidence.

But having said this, plenty of musicians who have absolutely no clue what they are doing are able to successfully run mixing boards simply by asking people who have used it before and experimenting. I define success here as getting sound, not getting great or reliable sound.
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Old December 17th, 2011, 07:10 AM   #11
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Re: Filming a concert with a mixer

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Originally Posted by Tom Morrow View Post
... I define success here as getting sound, not getting great or reliable sound.
No offense, but that's the wrong definition. One should never find the minimal quality or mediocrity as even being acceptable, much less as being a "success." For anyone aspiring to either professional or serious amateur status, the minimum acceptable level of performance needs to be as good as it can be given with quality of the tools one has to work with. That means sound as good as the system one is working with is capable of delivering and with 100% reliability. Just getting sound per se isn't good enough.

As a very famous entrepreneur I once worked for puts it: "Good enough, never is! Set your standards so high that even the flaws are considered excellent."
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Last edited by Steve House; December 17th, 2011 at 12:49 PM.
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Old December 17th, 2011, 12:25 PM   #12
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Re: Filming a concert with a mixer

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Originally Posted by Tom Morrow View Post
I define success here as getting sound, not getting great or reliable sound.
The problem with unreliable sound is that you might not get any sound at all, and that would be a failure. But I agree that sound quality is a judgement area and the requirements vary for different projects and audiences.
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