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Old December 25th, 2017, 08:07 AM   #46
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

I thought about this topic watching the Christmas Day Carol Service from Kings College in Cambridge - and it's a wonderful building, but one where you would not want to listen to a single person speaking - the acoustics are wonderful for this kind of thing and sounded beautiful on the TV. Plugging in my stage in-ears I was surprised at how confused the actual stereo field was. As it was a TV product, clearly stereo imaging meaning very obvious miking was out, and the physical distance from organ to the choir meant all kinds of wonderful timing errors - so bad that the conductors arms rarely coincided with the real timing. The audio lip-sync with the choristers was clearly the important sync element - so this was where the effort went, and although I clearly don't know for certain, I think the organ was recorded in stereo and blended in - which messed up the soundfield. If you close your eyes you couldn't really determine which direction you were hearing - as in a left right split down the length of the building with the choir on both sides, or the left right line running at 90 degrees. It sounded gorgeous because the music and the building were in harmony with each other - but it was a very manufactured sound. They did it very well, but I wondered how they would have done the same service if it was for radio?
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Old December 25th, 2017, 11:18 AM   #47
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

Hey Paul! - really enjoyed your analytical critique review, and after doing this project I’m in the same mode. I’ll never be able to watch a program like this again without searching for the mics and looking for the little missteps.

Critique isn’t all new to me, though, ‘cuz watching the musical Oklahoma with the passenger train surrounded by attacking Indians whilst passengers were singing with arrows flying though the passenger car windows didn’t seem all that real. That was obvious but audio critique requires more attention to detail.

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I thought about this topic watching the Christmas Day Carol Service from Kings College in Cambridge -
Thanks for the name - I'll have to do a search for it.

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- the acoustics are wonderful for this kind of thing and sounded beautiful on the TV. Plugging in my stage in-ears I was surprised at how confused the actual stereo field was. As it was a TV product,
“It’s all about money.” When they set up and do this every year it should hopefully make the production a bit easier, and newer technology helps. The also had a sprinkling of English songs possibly to appeal to a wider audience, but then there are many University courses being taught in English.

I explained to others in the house, here, about the mic locations (and got them looking for them too), and explained how fast sound travels (does not travel at the speed of light), and the difficulties with syncing. Don’t know if it ruined their viewing experience or not, didn’t seem to, though.

All in all, it was an enjoyable program. Started to watch the 2016 version but actually liked the older 2008 version better. Oh, and the women here zeroed in on the soloist’s red dress (they liked it).

After doing this project I'll never watch something like this the same way again!
Edit: Found some videos from King’s College, f.e.: O Holy Night - Carols from King’s 2017
Very nicely done.

Awesome chapel! Also noticed the design of the ceiling - looked like a challenge also for the builders. For our American readers: (Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choir_of_King%27s) _College,_Cambridge Founded in 1441 by Henry VI of England and it has an interesting history. “Particularly long reverb”

On the video side, it is also interesting what various videographers do to avoid a constant wide shot, for example, a slow zoom in and pan across the choir then a zoom out, such as that done by Steven Reid in his video. This particular technique would be especially useful when sharing the video with chorister members later. (Learning something all the time!)

Last edited by John Nantz; December 25th, 2017 at 01:48 PM. Reason: Added material
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Old December 25th, 2017, 02:07 PM   #48
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

It's a great and wonderful building - and really old. There is a website for information about the building and when it was built.

Chapel | King's College, Cambridge

For music, almost anything sounds great.

There's a youtube video of the organ where you can hear the amazingly long reverb tail and the acoustic mess (though nice sounding) this causes to music that has fast articulations.
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Old December 25th, 2017, 07:16 PM   #49
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

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On the video side, it is also interesting what various videographers do to avoid a constant wide shot, for example, a slow zoom in and pan across the choir then a zoom out, such as that done by Steven Reid in his video. This particular technique would be especially useful when sharing the video with chorister members later. (Learning something all the time!)
I assure you that the genesis of my shooting 'technique' resides solely in the limitations of my using just one camera. I generally disdain zooms and pans while rolling, but they are preferable to the monotony of a locked-off wide shot. As a one man band, I can only do so much. In contrast, the splendid video of King's College you posted above is obviously the work of a team of videographers and several cameras, some of which appear to be unmanned. The few pans and tilts are rather tastefully achieved, I think.

Merry Christmas!
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Old December 26th, 2017, 08:21 AM   #50
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

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I thought about this topic watching the Christmas Day Carol Service from Kings College in Cambridge - and it's a wonderful building, but one where you would not want to listen to a single person speaking - the acoustics are wonderful for this kind of thing and sounded beautiful on the TV. Plugging in my stage in-ears I was surprised at how confused the actual stereo field was. As it was a TV product, clearly stereo imaging meaning very obvious miking was out, and the physical distance from organ to the choir meant all kinds of wonderful timing errors - so bad that the conductors arms rarely coincided with the real timing. The audio lip-sync with the choristers was clearly the important sync element - so this was where the effort went, and although I clearly don't know for certain, I think the organ was recorded in stereo and blended in - which messed up the soundfield. If you close your eyes you couldn't really determine which direction you were hearing - as in a left right split down the length of the building with the choir on both sides, or the left right line running at 90 degrees. It sounded gorgeous because the music and the building were in harmony with each other - but it was a very manufactured sound. They did it very well, but I wondered how they would have done the same service if it was for radio?
The PBS station I used to be on staff at did a presentation from Kings College a number of years ago. We sent representatives from our station ( TPT in Minnesota) to oversee the recording and video taping, then did the post production in our facility. It was a nationally broadcast program. The big challenge was the lighting as we were only allowed to use the available light from the candles in the processional and video cameras weren't as sensitive as they are now. I remember it sounding really nice, and in spite of the limitations it looked great too. I looked for it on line and couldn't find it. It was called Christmas at Kings and was recorded about twenty years ago.
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Old December 26th, 2017, 10:26 AM   #51
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

One of my earliest broadcast jobs was lighting (well, in truth at that time it meant heaving huge quantities of kit an and out of locations) and the cameras in the 80s needed huge amounts of light to get decent depth of field. Narrow DoF then was the enemy, unlike today. At many churches there was nowhere to put the lihts and no power available for them either - and the gaffer had an assortment of cut down nails he routinely swapped for the fuses!
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Old January 5th, 2018, 06:34 AM   #52
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

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Originally Posted by Bernie Beaudry View Post
The PBS station I used to be on staff at did a presentation from Kings College a number of years ago. We sent representatives from our station ( TPT in Minnesota) to oversee the recording and video taping, then did the post production in our facility. It was a nationally broadcast program. The big challenge was the lighting as we were only allowed to use the available light from the candles in the processional and video cameras weren't as sensitive as they are now. I remember it sounding really nice, and in spite of the limitations it looked great too. I looked for it on line and couldn't find it. It was called Christmas at Kings and was recorded about twenty years ago.
I came across this documentary on YouTube last year about the Christmas Lessons and Carols service from the chapel at Kings College Cambridge. There are a few technical details in the doco and I found this one quite fascinating:

So the choir can read their music, there's a light bulb under the candle and the light comes down. And what the first lighting director and I devised was to put in a ring to raise the candle an inch or so up so that we could have a window [with diffusion] so that light could shine out from the bulb towards their [choir] faces. But it means the light (lighting their face) is coming from where you expect it. -- David Kremer, Director

Ref: Technical discussion starts at 25:18 See specific quote at 26:44

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Old January 26th, 2018, 04:17 PM   #53
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

This has been a fascinating thread and many thanks to all of the links. I have been trying to take audio recording more seriously lately. The problem that I deal with is that these choir festivals tend to have choirs of all different sizes and there are no breaks between choirs to make adjustments, so I have to make a good middle of the road effort on mic placement. I have typically just used a matched pair of Rode NT3s on stands that are set up about 20 feet apart. However I have been thinking of adding another pair to the setup using an X/Y configuration in the middle and then having the other two further out. (I have been advised to angle the outer pair more directly at the edges of the choirs to avoid overlapping with the X/Y setup). This makes sense to me, but I was going to ask what others thought about having a 4 mic set up with:

a) choirs of different sizes/shapes and no time to re-position mics
b) a piano sitting there on the stage just off set from the middle
c) Do not have any 20' booms. (Just 4x K&M extended boom stands)

The problem that I foresee with the X/Y pair is the piano sitting there, upstage. Relatively speaking, the room is so narrow, that maybe I'm better off with just the one pair of mics? I have attached pics of the space. Thanks for any advice!
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Audio Micing Church Choir-17190878_1474832149234139_4202079464041053330_n.jpg  

Last edited by Jeremiah Rickert; January 26th, 2018 at 04:19 PM. Reason: Typo
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Old January 26th, 2018, 04:18 PM   #54
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

Another picture that shows where the piano is placed.
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Audio Micing Church Choir-16938924_10208748088047272_833550831321785422_n.jpg  
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Old January 26th, 2018, 09:48 PM   #55
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

I use M/S rather than X/Y for most concerts - so far I've had absolutely no problem with a single coincident pair covering an orchestra of 60 - 70 musicians.I suspect if I were trying to record a space like Radio City Music Hall I might need more. I sort of rely on the fact that the conductor will manage things so the music sounds right at his/her location, so the closer you can get to the condutor, the better.
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Old January 27th, 2018, 04:47 AM   #56
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

I agree that an M/S mic is a good simple choice and I have done numerous concerts using a basic set-up of a Sony ECM MS-907 or 957 straight into a canon HF11 camera as a locked off wide shot and using the small camera as an audio recorder. I have also used both mics and an old mini disc recorder for lots of TV sound capture and recording.

The advantage of the Sony mics is that they are M/S capsule wise but then output an A/B signal for recording, you can also adjust the width on the mic.
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Old January 27th, 2018, 04:52 AM   #57
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

This posts made me google for more information and I came up with this site. Even I as a dumbo can understand. Types of Stereo Mic Techniques | Audio Undone
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Old January 30th, 2018, 08:33 PM   #58
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

Small update: Here it is the end of January (within a couple days), and this is still a work in progress. The SD card with all my "B-roll" files have been delivered to the conductor and he recently emailed me that they were copied to his computer, presumably okay because he didn't say there was a problem. Remember, he is running a PC and Vegas and I'm running a Mac and FCPX so there may be issues there.

Tomorrow I will hopefully get the SD card back and, also hopefully, I asked, with his video and/or audio files. He had a Sony cam locked off on a tripod with the H4n recorder on a tall tripod stand behind him. My side of the project has been on hold so we'll see what happens.

Jeremiah: I'm glad to see this thread was of interest. Recording serious audio is a very interesting area and there is definitely a lot to learn about it. For the British audio members here I just found out that some of the girls from this choir were invited to Wales in early July for some kind of choral event. [Note: if I got the terminology incorrect please feel free to provide correction. Choir stuff is not my forte, and, come to think of it, neither is French spelling].
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Old January 31st, 2018, 12:14 AM   #59
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

The mention of choirs and Wales means Eisteddfod. Choirs are very big in Wales, especially male voice choirs historically led by coal mining communities and are serious stuff. Most are completely amateur but the standards very high. If you Google the word or YouTube it you will hear some fantastic stuff. The US choir will have a great time, and the Welsh love visitors who love music!. My band were invited to a 60s70s festival and the standard of the local contributors we heard was amazing. You don't get this in England or Scotland.
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Old February 2nd, 2018, 10:19 PM   #60
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Re: Audio Micing Church Choir

Paul - that was interesting. Coal miners, eh? So if one of the guys asks her if she would like to see his digs, I should warn her to look out??? Okay, kidding aside. Just found out her parents and younger sister will be going too and they already have room reservations - and they were hard to get even this early.

Itís interesting how different cultures like certain things. In Austria and Germany, for example, they seem to also be big on group singing. Iíve been to some places where, maybe at a gasthaus, anniversary celebration, or a Stammtish, were everybody would sing songs they know. In Vienna Iíve gone to an accordion Stammtish and one can definitely count on it there. In America, at least on the west coast, it never happens. This particular one there are also guitar harmonica, players.[Stammtisch: informal group meeting]. No conductor although there may be a lead player and the others try to follow. This would be very similar to a jam session but with a difference.

Anyway, for everyone who has been following this thread, I did get the conductorís video file taken with a small Sony handicam (locked off) but didnít get the H4n audio file. He says he is really busy and given how long it took to get this far Iím, I'm sorry to report, I'm going to give up because I donít want to nag him. He is also the conductor that will be taking the choir to Whales so Iím sure he is very busy. Iím going to chalk this up to ďlesson learnedĒ and if I do it again I'll take my own laptop along and copy the files right then and there. This long distance stuff just doesnít work.

Iíll still put some multicam video together (3 cams) but, unfortunately, with very lousy audio, and Itíll be ďquick and dirtyĒ for personal and family consumption only. *sigh* On the plus side, it was a very enjoyable event.

My next project will be doing some piano recording - have an upright and a rebuilt (if that's the right word) ďgolden eraĒ Steinway grand to work with but Iíll start a separate thread on that. The good part is I'll have full control. Just got some key grip-kit bits and pieces in today for the mics and lights, and a few more pieces on the way. Lookin' good. More on this to come.
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