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Old April 26th, 2006, 10:08 PM   #1
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Recording musical stage performance

I do a lot of video recording in theatres and auditoriums. In most cases I deal with sound by geting a hard feed from the sound board and supplement judiciously with a directional mike to pick up applause and audience reaction.

We are scheduled in about a week for a large high school stage production of a musical. The speaking actors will have body packs, although not turned up real loud. There will be an orchestra in the pit. I believe there will be singing from people some possibly without mikes.

I have considered using either a single pzm or a pair of directional boundary mikes placed in a "V" at the front of the stage between the orchestra and the stage (I have several Audio-Technica PRO42s) . Considered using a hypercardioid (the Rode NT3) midway back where I will hopefully get a balance between orchestra singers and PA. Thought about whether to get a board feed for those speakers with body packs and fight it all night between the mikes and direct feed. Then I considered throwing the question to the NOW HEAR THIS thread for reaction and advice.
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Old April 26th, 2006, 10:35 PM   #2
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I have been down this road many many many times. Don't put anything on the stage. You get more unwanted noise than it is worth. The key to auditoriums is to pad your mics. Vibration and low ground noise is really bad in auditoriums. I used to be in charge of sound at a high school were we would run 10 lavs, 4 hanging mics, and many orchestra mics. Of course all of these running back to the board.

I always run one channel from the board and run a mic somewhere for your nat sound. If you can run an external mixer for more nat mics I would try that too.
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Old April 27th, 2006, 08:15 AM   #3
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Actually what I had in mind was to put the pzm or boundary mikes on a music stand just in front of the stage if I go that route. It worked pretty well at a previous play that was totally unmiked at the same auditorium, but that performance did not feature the live orchestra in the pit.

What I need is a simple but effective way to capture sound, as the director of the three cam shoot will be the one monitoring. Occasional riding one or two controls is feasible, riding six or eight is not.
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Old April 27th, 2006, 08:32 AM   #4
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You definitely want the body mics from the board feed. Otherwise I usually use a couple of short shotguns pointed at the stage. These pick up the orchestra, non-mic'ed actors, and the audience. The trick is their placement. Many times the sound designer will delay the body mics so that they match the actor's lips a few rows into the audience. The mics need to be located at that point, or it sounds strange.

Buddy
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Old April 27th, 2006, 10:10 AM   #5
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I just bought a new Rode NT3 Hyper Cardioid and a NTG-2 based on suggestions from this board and audio previews from the DVEstore comparing mikes. Would one of those be good (or a pair if I wanted stereo)?

Also, for what it's worth, "Guy" at the DVEstore REALLY went the extra mile for me. I ordered the new mikes above overnight, and Fed Ex dropped the ball. He sent a second shipment for AM delivery just in case the other did not show up. I got two boxes this AM. I really appreciate not only what they did but their attitude about the whole thing. That is customer service.
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Old April 27th, 2006, 06:00 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan Kirby
...Thought about whether to get a board feed for those speakers with body packs and fight it all night between the mikes and direct feed...
Apparently you feel the need to set up a blend that you will record in real time as fhe final track. Won't there be any post production work--or will a video switcher be feeding a recorder to create a DVD track in real time instead? They do that at a big high school near mine, but my end product looks and sounds better, IMHO.

I do three camera shoots routinely. I record at least four audio tracks. In post (Sony Vegas) I not only choose the cuts and crossfades for the video, I mix the audio from three or all four the the audio tracks.

For spoken dialog I kill all but the board feed of the body packs. I try for zero echo. A liittle echo may sound fine during the theather experience, but it sounds like crap in the video. The video is a different experience. Otherwise, why not just throw away the other two cams and record the event with a wide shot from the rear?

For solo numbers and at other appropriate times I add the pit track, for which a wireless omni lav works beautifully (lots of flexibilitiy on placement within the pit) and bring in the ambience mic just a bit to add body. For ambience I have an AT3031 cardioid at the rear, and the on board stereo mic from one of the cams to choose from.

For choral numbers I crank up the ambience track(s) to add power and energy.
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Old April 27th, 2006, 09:17 PM   #7
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Fred, you pretty well summed up our scenario, we are live switching to hard drive with a DVD running as back-up. We do enough events at this time of year that we are challenged enough just putting finishing touches and then creating the (mostly) DVD copies. It's not that we don't care, but time and budget are not on our side to do that much post work.

One part of your set up though gave me a thought though. You said "For ambience I have an AT3031 cardioid at the rear, and the on board stereo mic from one of the cams to choose from."

Since you are doing your mix in post and have the luxury of "sliding" the ambience tracks to "re-align" them with the board feed, is that something you do?

Perhaps what I might do is put a digital delay on the board feed to compensate for the distance from the stage to my ambience mike back in the house. That would allow me to have the clarity of the body packs with out the echo apparent from my rear mike. The switcher I will be using has a frame sync in it anyway which causes a frame or two delay to the video.

Has anyone else tried that?
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Old April 27th, 2006, 09:57 PM   #8
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Alan, I'd take your setup in a heartbeat, believe me. I do spend at least 80 hours of my own time on a DVD production. Everyone loves the result, but the truth is, as I'm sure you know, that the main thing they like is seeing the people in the video and knowing that the moment is preserved. If they could have that within a few days rather than a few months they'd probably be even happier. With some planning as well as good instincts, a DOP in communication with his camera operators can do as well or better than me on the video angles. My three are shot by operators working independently without communication, according to a general strategy. Then in post I take what I can get. What I'm able to do with audio would be hard to do in real time, though.

When I used to record the AT3031 and the board feed in the left and right channels on the same tape, I wound up using an audio editing program to delay the board channel. I found that I needed about 50 milliseconds, which is consistent with the physics. It did help, but the AT3031 still contained its own room echo
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Old April 30th, 2006, 10:44 AM   #9
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Alan,

About a half dozen times a year I do the same thing. We have upto 18 body packs, 2-6 overheads, plus 2-4 pit mics. All of this is fed to the sound board. Plus I have the onboard camera mics.

What I do is use an eight track recorder (I have used both an ADAT and a Fostex VF160) connected to the sound board. I set the board so each track records a different input(s). Some tracks may have one or two mics, some will have more.

My usual track arrangement is male leads, female leads, male cast, female cast, overheads, pit piano, pit other. Sometimes I'll put the good cast voices on one track and the "not so good" on other tracks.

The biggest advantage is that in post I have the opportunity to basically mute the mics I don't need at any given point. I can turn up the good voices and turn down the bad. I also can improve the sound significantly with reverb, eq, compression, etc., as needed.

Barry
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Old April 30th, 2006, 06:13 PM   #10
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Barry,

I would love to produce to the level you described, but speaking as a business person, I'm reticent to add another day of post to what is already a tight budget. (and don't have a multi-track)

I am doing a 3 cam shoot (four person staff on site about 12 hour day) of two programs mastered to DVD for duplication. Our client is a High School drama department and the budget is just over $2k.

What is the budget for the productions you mentioned? How much extra time would it take for the post audio mixdown for 4 hours of performance? Perhaps 6-8 hours if nothing goes too wrong?

If this was a corporate job then they would not mind (as much) the additional $$ for making sure the quality is first rate. This client cannot absorb more budget no matter how good it is. They were thrilled with the last performance we did for them. I just want to make sure we stay at least at that level, even if the project gets a little more complex.
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Old May 1st, 2006, 12:31 PM   #11
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Alan,

For a two hour performance, it takes me 2 hours for capture and 6-10 hours for mixing down the audio.

In Premiere, I usually will create a sequence with eight audio tracks (no video). I will eq, compress, and reverb tracks as needed. I then will listen to the performance and increase track levels or mute tracks depending on the scene, the ambient noise, unwanted noise, etc

Once the audio is mixed I will export the audio as a single wav file, then sync the audio with the video in another sequence. The other choice is to directly create a new sequence with the video on one track and the audio sequence on another.

If you don't have a multitrack recorder, you may be able to use the audio tracks on your cameras as recorders. Use the output of the board for feeds to each camera. But instead of feeding one camera the "main" feed, feed each camera a different "aux" feed. Most theater boards it is easy enough to create aux sends with different mic sources on each send. If you have something like an XL2 and a four track input capability, you could even feed one camera for different audio feeds from the board.

Barry
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