Choral Concert: venue wants to use P.A. system 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 October 1st, 2012, 05:02 PM   #1
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Salem, Oregon
Posts: 409
Choral Concert: venue wants to use P.A. system

I'm preparing to shoot a choral concert (school) that will take place in a large gymnasium later this Fall. The ceilings and walls are covered with sound absorbent panels, and the gym is surprisingly quiet as a result. The choir will be close to center of the gym, so far as I know. Good, right?

Apparently the gym is so large and quiet that it tends to swallow voices, so in the past the school has amplified its choirs for the audience using a house P.A. system that features ceiling-mounted and down-pointed speakers. It sounds great for what it is, but I don't want the house amplification bleeding into my microphones, which I plan to set up in front of the choir. What are my best options to obtain the best sound?

1. Ask the school to forego use of the PA system? They sounded partial to it, but it's going to be a paid shoot, so perhaps I could explain that house sound could muddle the production.

2. Record as normal and hope for the best with the PA in the background?

There will be a rehearsal and I do plan to attend. At this point, with comfortable amounts of time on my side, should I consider any options besides 1 and 2 above?

Thanks.
Steven Reid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 1st, 2012, 06:13 PM   #2
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Novato, CA
Posts: 1,772
Re: Choral Concert: venue wants to use P.A. system

How would they mic the choir? If they have enough mics you could use a multi-track recorder and pull from their mixer. Take a direct feed from each channel so that you don't take their mix. Then, in post remix all of it. Along with this place a couple of mics in the audience. if they are going to send through the PA place the mics about 1/4 to 1/3 away from the stage. That should give you a good amount of audio to use and test in post.
__________________
Garrett Low
www.GLowMediaProductions.com
Garrett Low is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 1st, 2012, 06:33 PM   #3
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Salem, Oregon
Posts: 409
Re: Choral Concert: venue wants to use P.A. system

Quote:
Originally Posted by Garrett Low View Post
How would they mic the choir? If they have enough mics you could use a multi-track recorder and pull from their mixer. Take a direct feed from each channel so that you don't take their mix. Then, in post remix all of it. Along with this place a couple of mics in the audience. if they are going to send through the PA place the mics about 1/4 to 1/3 away from the stage. That should give you a good amount of audio to use and test in post.
I think I'm looking at one or two cheap school mics placed in front of the choir run through a very BASIC box built in Soviet Russia in 1975. OK, slight exaggeration, but you get the point. I have a 3-channel field mixer and a stereo recorder, so multi-track options are not possible for me, but I DO like what you suggest. So, I don't think I have the capability of laying down (1) school audio and (2) my audio and mixing to taste in post.
Steven Reid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 1st, 2012, 07:36 PM   #4
Trustee
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Portland, Oregon
Posts: 1,177
Re: Choral Concert: venue wants to use P.A. system

At least during the rehearsal you can try recording (and listening from the audience area) with and without the reinforcement system just for demonstration purposes.

I hope they have some really killer reason to do something so goofy. Putting the choir out in the middle of a room (without a shell presumably) is pretty much the worst possible case, even for professional singers. And amplifying a choir is always difficult to do well, even under the best circumstances.

I would seriously consider refusing the gig altogether. To many negative factors.
Richard Crowley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 1st, 2012, 08:27 PM   #5
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Salem, Oregon
Posts: 409
Re: Choral Concert: venue wants to use P.A. system

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
At least during the rehearsal you can try recording (and listening from the audience area) with and without the reinforcement system just for demonstration purposes.

I hope they have some really killer reason to do something so goofy. Putting the choir out in the middle of a room (without a shell presumably) is pretty much the worst possible case, even for professional singers. And amplifying a choir is always difficult to do well, even under the best circumstances.

I would seriously consider refusing the gig altogether. To many negative factors.
It is a public school with modest but not crippled means, so I'm not in a position to criticize, just to work with what is presented. It would be great to have shells, I agree, but I have a hunch those aren't in the offing, ergo the "killer" reason for amplification: some audience members have trouble hearing the choir.

I like your suggestion, however: at rehearsal, record (A) with amplification and (B) without. Play back to director to demonstrate what I anticipate will be an inferior recording (A).
Steven Reid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 1st, 2012, 09:11 PM   #6
Trustee
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Portland, Oregon
Posts: 1,177
Re: Choral Concert: venue wants to use P.A. system

The only need a shell because they got put out in the middle of the room. At least put them up against a wall where they belong. You are dealing with a worst-case situation. Good luck. You'll need it.
Richard Crowley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 5th, 2012, 12:41 PM   #7
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Salem, Oregon
Posts: 409
Update

The situation is not as bleak as I had originally thought, which was based upon what I saw during a school assembly. Apparently it's different during a concert. To wit:

1. The choir has shells. Three risers.
2. There is a dedicated sound technician. FOH board is a digital Allen Heath 112 iLive.
3. Choir is mic'd with 5 SDC's on stands (I think; mic make unknown). Digital piano is mic'd. Choir has one monitor.

Sound tech can give me "any signal" I want. 5 mics for a choir of ~100 kids sounds about right.

At this point, I'm wondering whether to:
(1) take iso feeds off the board into their own tracks on a multi-track recorder and mix in post or
(2) set up separate audio.
Concerning (2), if I go that way, I'm wondering if something as simple as a spaced pair in front of the choir would suffice. In that case, I could still separately record some kind of mix from the house board, including a separate piano track, then see about mixing house and my audio in post. Thoughts?

Finally, a question about mic choice. In the past, I've used a matched pair of Rode NT5's fed into a SD 302 --> Korg MR-1000. The NT5's are crisp and bright, and with kids' untrained voices tending to be thin anyway, the result sounds a bit thin, sizzly, with a slight emphasis on individual voices rather than choir as a whole. For these reasons, I'm toying with the idea of using a pair of LDC's, Rode NT-1A's to be specific, to give warmth and a fatter sound to the choir. Thoughts on this approach?
Steven Reid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 5th, 2012, 01:23 PM   #8
Trustee
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Portland, Oregon
Posts: 1,177
Re: Choral Concert: venue wants to use P.A. system

The FOH sound tech's objective is different from yours. He needs to mic the choir sufficiently close that he can get reasonable gain before feedback in his reinforcement system.

OTOH, YOUR objective is to get a smooth blend of the entire ensemble. Typically, the room/space is a critical part of getting a good blend of a large chorus.

These conflicting objectives mean that his optimal mic selection and placement is NOT the same as yours. If you have tracks to burn, then it would be great to multi-track all of his microphones. You never know....

However, for recording, in the situation you describe, I would allow maximum time available for adjusting the location of my recording mics. I would expect that your optimal distance will be more distant than what the FOH tech is using. And, of course, you will need to make a judgement call based on how much of the reinforcement sound leaks into your recording mics.

Remember to allow for any vocal solos or additional instrumental accompaniment. And announce/narration if that is part of the desired recording.
Richard Crowley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 5th, 2012, 01:39 PM   #9
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Salem, Oregon
Posts: 409
Re: Choral Concert: venue wants to use P.A. system

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
The FOH sound tech's objective is different from yours. He needs to mic the choir sufficiently close that he can get reasonable gain before feedback in his reinforcement system.

OTOH, YOUR objective is to get a smooth blend of the entire ensemble. Typically, the room/space is a critical part of getting a good blend of a large chorus.

These conflicting objectives mean that his optimal mic selection and placement is NOT the same as yours. If you have tracks to burn, then it would be great to multi-track all of his microphones. You never know....

However, for recording, in the situation you describe, I would allow maximum time available for adjusting the location of my recording mics. I would expect that your optimal distance will be more distant than what the FOH tech is using. And, of course, you will need to make a judgement call based on how much of the reinforcement sound leaks into your recording mics.

Remember to allow for any vocal solos or additional instrumental accompaniment. And announce/narration if that is part of the desired recording.
Much appreciated, Richard. Videos of previous years' concerts show that the choirs are indeed mic'd closely, which was a concern that motivates me to set up separate audio for recording purposes. I will have a dress rehearsal to tinker.

My Korg is wonderful for smaller projects, but it's limit of two tracks isn't going to cut it here. Yes, I thought of soloists, announcers, and a piano, in addition to my mics (minimum 2). That brings my possible total to 5.

Any thoughts on the SDC vs. LDC selection of mics?

Thanks again.
Steven Reid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 5th, 2012, 03:06 PM   #10
Trustee
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Portland, Oregon
Posts: 1,177
Re: Choral Concert: venue wants to use P.A. system

My habit (and that of most people I observe) is to use SDC on more distant large-ensemble micing. I believe this is because of the reputation that LDC have for off-axis coloration, and off-axis is a large part of micing the ensemble IN the ambient space. OTOH, I have used LDC (my Sony C-37As) for great choral recordings.
Richard Crowley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 7th, 2012, 07:32 PM   #11
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 190
Re: Choral Concert: venue wants to use P.A. system

Hello Steven,

If your mics are reasonably close to the choir, you should be getting a decent mix of direct to ambient (including PA) sound. After all, the PA can't be turned up so loud that it will feed back into the live mics. A stereo pair plus flankers is a simple solution to mic the choir here, but yours stand in addition to the "house" stands may make it look like a jungle gym.

The best solution is to NOT use the house PA system. It is meant to fill the whole gym, but the performers will already be taking up one side of the bleachers. Three or four active speakers pointed towards the other side of the gym will give a better sound and better isolation. If this is a gig you need a hand on in any regard, feel free to shoot me an email. I do PA, audio, and video for gigs like this.

Good luck.
Christian Brown is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 8th, 2012, 06:27 PM   #12
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Salem, Oregon
Posts: 409
Re: Choral Concert: venue wants to use P.A. system

Quote:
Originally Posted by Christian Brown View Post
If your mics are reasonably close to the choir, you should be getting a decent mix of direct to ambient (including PA) sound. After all, the PA can't be turned up so loud that it will feed back into the live mics. A stereo pair plus flankers is a simple solution to mic the choir here, but yours stand in addition to the "house" stands may make it look like a jungle gym.
Thanks, Christian. Yes, before you posted, I slowly converged upon the idea of using a pair of LDC's for my main stereo mics and a pair (of SDC's probably) toward either extreme side. And, yeah, that's a lot of metal in front of the choir. I'll just have to explain that's how it is if PA and recording are desired.

Quote:
The best solution is to NOT use the house PA system.
I agree, but the director and sound tech seem firm, so I'm trying to work with what is handed to me. That is to say, I'm not sure how much I can influence technical decisions. See below, however.

Quote:
Three or four active speakers pointed towards the other side of the gym will give a better sound and better isolation.
Audience is in bleachers, whilst choir is on risers (and in front of shells) maybe 20-30 feet in front of bleachers, facing audience. Hence, choir is fairly close, not on the opposite side of the gym. The PA speakers are scattered around the ceiling of the entire gym, pointing down. I like your suggestion of using carefully placed speakers in lieu of the PA, and I'll see if I might persuade the school to use those so as not to sully the recording.

Quote:
If this is a gig you need a hand on in any regard, feel free to shoot me an email. I do PA, audio, and video for gigs like this.
Yes, I'm aware of your work. Thanks for the invitation! I'll reach out privately as appropriate.
Steven Reid 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 04:04 PM.


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