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Old February 5th, 2015, 06:30 AM   #1
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Which mic to hang?

I am filming a musical stage production in a few days and I would like some advice about hanging a microphone from the roof. Hanging a mic is really my only option I think because I am right on top of the show, maybe as close as 8 feet and it is being staged in traverse with me and two other cameras along one side so my feeling is that there is no room to put mic(s) on stands in front of the show as it were. There is no audience. My plan is to hang one Octava 012 from the roof using the cardioid capsule. I was thinking this would be preferable to the omni capsule because then I wouldn't get any noise from behind the mic from things such as scrolling gels. Is this a good plan? The stage width is probably about 35 feet with a 4 piece live unamplified band at one end. The roof height is probably about 20 feet. I do have a matched pair of the Octavas if anybody has a different plan they think would work.
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Old February 5th, 2015, 07:03 AM   #2
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Re: Which mic to hang?

The Octavas would probably be ok for the band, but for dialog, the Octava 012 has low sensitivity/output (10mV) which would require lots of 'clean' mic preamp gain. Even with expensive mic preamps, they don't have much 'reach' to get decent sounding dialog from more than a foot or two away.. If good quality wireless lavs are not an option, I would recommend two or three boundary mics on the stage floor or choir/gooseneck type hanging from above.
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Old February 5th, 2015, 07:07 AM   #3
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Re: Which mic to hang?

I would probably start with a stereo recording with cardioids spaced about 10' on stands at the front edge of the stage or the first row of empty seats, the mics at about singer head height. This assumes the singers are singing/projecting to the missing audience, not the ceiling.

A problem could be that the band is too loud relative to the vocals. Will you have a chance to test mic positioning during rehearsal?

Recording solos with the singer 15 feet from the mic can be problematic sound quality wise. Too much room effect/reverberation for starters. (Not as much of a problem with choral groups.) Any chance the singers will be miced?
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Old February 5th, 2015, 07:41 AM   #4
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Re: Which mic to hang?

Hi Rick. The Octava would be fed into an SD722 if that makes any difference. I'm afraid wireless isn't an option and I don't own any boundary mics. I do also have an Audio Technica AT 8033 omni. Would that be a better bet to hang? I know its a very cheap mic so I assumed the Octava would give a better result but perhaps not.
Apart from the AT omni which I have used for a show into a Zoom H4n with results that pleased the client if not me all my equipment is going into use for the first time hence my questions. I'm definitely in the dark here.
I suppose it comes down to what is acceptable sound which is a big unknown right now. Are you saying that they might not even be heard if they are say 20 feet from the Octava in the roof?

Hi Dan. My preference would be to do as you say and set up a stereo pair. I confess I'm a little afraid of it and thought a hanging mic would be a safer option given that I am very green at all this. Perhaps I should put my anxiety to one side and go for it!
I am hoping to be able to test the positioning and levels. I too am worried about the band being too loud. This was a problem in the last show I did. I had to set the levels, this was on a Zoom H4n, to accommodate the band which meant I had to bring up ALL the dialogue in post. I'm recording to a 722 now but obviously that problem remains. I have no idea what I can do about that apart from deal with it in post as before..
The singers won't be miced.

Thank you both so much for your advice. Its really appreciated.
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Old February 5th, 2015, 08:19 AM   #5
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Re: Which mic to hang?

I would probably start with a stereo recording with cardioids spaced about 10' on stands at the front edge of the stage or the first row of empty seats, the mics at about singer head height.

Hi Dan. How would you aim the mics in this configuration. Straight ahead as a sort of very wide A-B technique or as a kind of crossed pair so to speak?
Apologies for my ignorance.
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Old February 5th, 2015, 09:24 AM   #6
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Re: Which mic to hang?

Patric,

I am a bit confused about the set up. When a full performance is done without an audience the point is usually to play "to" the cameras. Why are you stuck in the wings?

Are the other two cameras part of your crew so you have options there too? If not your crew are they friendlies you have worked with before? You could put a solution together for all of you and each take a feed from it? If you hang octavas and one of them is using boundary mics it would sure be nice for both of you to have each others track? You have a SD733 and a Zoom H4n to work with here.....
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Old February 5th, 2015, 10:10 AM   #7
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Re: Which mic to hang?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Baldwin View Post
Are you saying that they might not even be heard if they are say 20 feet from the Octava in the roof?
It's not that they won't be heard. It's that there will be so much of the room in there with them. They will sound weak and with lots of the background noise. If they are balanced well with the live musicians acoustically, then you have a fighting chance to get "ok" audio, but trying to record from that distance usually ends up just sounding like an amateur with their on-camera mic from the back of the room.

It also sounds as if you will not have anyone attending to the audio. That really just leaves what you get up to chance, especially with just one mic hung over the stage. If you could hang at least one over each side, that would help as actors move around or actors from different sides of the stage speak or sing. With an audio person, they could bring up the closest mic while turning down the farther one. They could also adjust levels for the dialog vs. when there is music. Still not perfect, but better than one "set and forget" mic.

Good Luck!

Rob
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Old February 5th, 2015, 10:56 AM   #8
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Re: Which mic to hang?

Straight ahead should be OK.as a starting point

The larger question is what is the intended purpose/use/distribution of this recording. That will drive the importance of getting it right vs. getting it "good enough."

The question is what type of performance w/o an audience was already asked, sounds like a dress rehearsal of a school or amateur group.

If the band is too loud, can it be moved; e.g., for this performance could it play in the audience areas or where the PIT would be in a typical theater?

As the mic moves further from the sound source (vocalist) the ratio of direct sound (from the singer) to indirect sound (echo/reverb) decreases, and the portion of other sound (e.g.. room, HVAC, digestive noises) increases. These all can detract from the recorded audio.

If there is no budget, no additional gear, and no staff, you have to do what you can with what you've got.
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Old February 5th, 2015, 11:15 AM   #9
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Re: Which mic to hang?

Hi Steven. It is a dress rehearsal but its not specifically being done for video so they won't be playing to the cameras. It is just their last dress rehearsal before actual performance. I am photographing their first dress earlier that day and the videoing the next so I will get to see it before I video it. It is being done as a test to see what we can achieve and gauge the interest throughout the college.
Sorry if I have confused you. We aren't in the wings. the show is being staged in traverse: Traverse stage - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The other two cameras are working with me. We will be set up along one of the long sides of the staging which will be a rectangle. Its only me who has any mics! so we are limited to two Octavas, an AT omni and a Rode NTG3. I am a bit time limited and my two assistants have zero knowledge about setting this kind of stuff up so I am on my own.

I'm thinking about Dons suggestion of spaced cardioids for stereo recording but I'm not sure which mic technique would be the most suitable.

Thank you very much for taking the time to respond. Its incredibly helpful. I suspect I'll be adding to my collection of mics fairly shortly.
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Old February 5th, 2015, 11:27 AM   #10
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Re: Which mic to hang?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Palomaki View Post
Straight ahead should be OK.as a starting point

The larger question is what is the intended purpose/use/distribution of this recording. That will drive the importance of getting it right vs. getting it "good enough."

The question is what type of performance w/o an audience was already asked, sounds like a dress rehearsal of a school or amateur group.

If the band is too loud, can it be moved; e.g., for this performance could it play in the audience areas or where the PIT would be in a typical theater?

As the mic moves further from the sound source (vocalist) the ratio of direct sound (from the singer) to indirect sound (echo/reverb) decreases, and the portion of other sound (e.g.. room, HVAC, digestive noises) increases. These all can detract from the recorded audio.

If there is no budge, no additional gear, and no staff, you have to do what you can with what you've got.
Thanks for the pointers Don. Its not possible to move the band unfortunately. The show takes place in a fairly small studio so there is nowhere for them to go. Your last sentence does sum it up perfectly in fact but your advice is very much appreciated. Thank you.
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Old February 5th, 2015, 11:30 AM   #11
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Re: Which mic to hang?

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Originally Posted by Rob Neidig View Post
It's not that they won't be heard. It's that there will be so much of the room in there with them. They will sound weak and with lots of the background noise. If they are balanced well with the live musicians acoustically, then you have a fighting chance to get "ok" audio, but trying to record from that distance usually ends up just sounding like an amateur with their on-camera mic from the back of the room.

It also sounds as if you will not have anyone attending to the audio. That really just leaves what you get up to chance, especially with just one mic hung over the stage. If you could hang at least one over each side, that would help as actors move around or actors from different sides of the stage speak or sing. With an audio person, they could bring up the closest mic while turning down the farther one. They could also adjust levels for the dialog vs. when there is music. Still not perfect, but better than one "set and forget" mic.

Good Luck!

Rob
Hi Rob. Thank you for the explanation. That helps a lot. I'm afraid the sound will have to be set and forget I'm afraid. I will be too busy pulling focus at 10 feet on a DSLR! Apparently I do like a challenge.
Thanks for your advice. Much appreciated.
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Old February 5th, 2015, 12:05 PM   #12
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Re: Which mic to hang?

OK, this picture is coming together. You have two dress rehearsals to work with. You will be using the DSLR for stills at the first one. This is what I would be thinking.....continuity! Rehearsals were my best friend when I shot live productions. I always got great cover footage and b-roll for post. In your case you are going to be lucky if you end up with one complete scene well recorded since you won't be covering the real show. Even if the director told me he was going to let them roll through the last dress I never met one who could do it. There is always interruptions.

If you are serious about this I would record the audio and have static cameras rolling at the first one while you get your stills. Then do the best you can at the second and know you are going into post with a lot of work to do!

Good Luck!

Steve
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Old February 5th, 2015, 01:17 PM   #13
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Re: Which mic to hang?

Hi Steven. I can't video the first one because I need my three Nikon D4s to photograph it. I wish I had six! I will be videoing them on the same DSLRs later. It is also a musical so cutting between two performances of one song could be problematic although yes I would video it if I could.
I am going to record sound on the first one although I cannot monitor it at all just to give me some information for recording the second rehearsal. Plus one of my assistants will be there during the first one and she will do some video testing with my Nikon D800 partly to try and make some notes about exposure etc but also its a way for me to find out how well the D800 footage would cut into the D4 footage in the future. Not that well I suspect.

This is actually a test and the staff know that so if the show does get interrupted then so be it. In that case I will cut together a trailer for the show or something. The important thing for now is to see how good I can make it look and sound. Their benchmark up to now has been a locked off single camera with a mic on top of it halfway up an auditorium. I'm confident I can do better than that.
Thanks very much for responding.
Patrick.
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Old February 5th, 2015, 01:58 PM   #14
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Re: Which mic to hang?

Since they're playing the show in traverse, and you have a limited selection of mics, I think you have only one choice. This is dictated by the fact that half the time the players are playing toward one side (stage left?) and half the time they are playing toward the other side (stage right?). If you put your mic (or mics) on one side of the stage only, then half the time the actors will be playing with their backs to the mic(s) and the recording will be really bad.

Given all the above, I would hang one mic on each side of the stage, roughly the same elevation as the heads of the cast. Do NOT mix the mics. Record each mic on a separate channel. Then, in post, switch between mics, always taking the mic which the speaking actors are facing. You will end up with a mono recording, but at least you won't have to deal with dialog that's muffled because the mic is behind the actor.

Distance will be difficult to predict. If you're too close to the stage, then as the actors walk up and down stage, their distance to the mic will change drastically, and the levels will change accordingly. You can somewhat fix this in post. OTOH, if you're too far from the stage, everything will become indistinct because of all the reflections from the hall. (Reflections probably will be quite bad, since the house will be empty, with no audience to absorb any of the sound.)

I think that, with luck, you might end up with something that is useful for archival purposes, to analyze actors' diction and expression, etc. I think there's little or no chance you will end up with anything that is really pleasing to listen to. The end result might be OK for family and friends to listen to, as a keepsake. I think it's unlikely that anybody would want to listen to the entire recording for its own sake. And you will have a lot of work to do in post, constantly switching back and forth between mics, and riding gain, as the actors play to one side of the stage and then the other and move up- and down-stage.

Good luck.
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Old February 5th, 2015, 02:16 PM   #15
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Re: Which mic to hang?

+1 on everything Greg said. He nailed it.

Traverse stage and three cameras....I would have one of the cameras on the opposite side even if it was a wide lock down. But you probably have a reason for placing them all with you.

Steve
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