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Old January 2nd, 2007, 11:35 PM   #1
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Stand up comedy audio

Does anyone have any experience recording stand-up comedy? I will be recording a series of stand-up routines for a pilot project. I am thinking I could use my Earthworks omni's in a x-y configuration placed above the audience and mix that live to digital with the comic's hand held microphone for a nice stereo effect and 'in your face' audience reaction. Any one have any specific ideas or thoughts?
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Old January 3rd, 2007, 12:37 AM   #2
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Mmmm Earthworks yum. But unless you can try 'em first, I wouldn't use omnis in any club, you'll surely get too much spill from the PA making your audience pick-up unusable.

I'd mount 2 cardioids each side, facing away from the stage; but I'd go there other nights with the cardioids into a HI-MD minidisc or something similar to get additional laffs. Pull the good ones out and number about a dozen so you can lay them in to boost the video. With some practice you'll get good at this and don't tell the comics.

I once produced a series of CDs for an elderly blue comic here. After 3 laborious club recordings he came into the studios to lay jokes for another 4 discs. We then carefully copied in the laffs and to my knowledge no one has ever twigged.
His biggest seller is one called 'Prick Up Your Ears!' still selling 20yrs. later.
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Old January 3rd, 2007, 04:01 AM   #3
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Getting the real audience reaction is so important.

I don't know how or why it worked but I once mixed the stage handheld mike with the camera mikes in post and even though the playback speakers were recorded onto the audience track, it seemed to work really well. The two camera mikes were pointed at the stage and the playback speakers but they came out useable anyways. Perhaps because the camera mikes were very close to the audience made the ratio of the audience reaction much higher versus the amplified sound.

A slight tweaking of the laugh track was done later but the majority of it was from the actual shoot.

The video is called "The Spirit of Comedy" and I think it's still available in many places.
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Old January 3rd, 2007, 08:36 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Davidson
Does anyone have any experience recording stand-up comedy? I will be recording a series of stand-up routines for a pilot project. I am thinking I could use my Earthworks omni's in a x-y configuration placed above the audience and mix that live to digital with the comic's hand held microphone for a nice stereo effect and 'in your face' audience reaction. Any one have any specific ideas or thoughts?
Careful of phase and delay issues. Every 30 feet of distance between the source and the microphone corresponds to 1 frame of delay in video. That means the performer's voice could be picked up in the audience mics as much as one or two frames after it's picked up in the handheld. You mix the stage handheld with the audience mics and depending on the exact distances this can result in distortion to his voice due to comb filtering effects, reverberation effects, or even echo effects. You need to keep his voice out of the audience mics as much as possible and that precludes the use of omnis.
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Old January 3rd, 2007, 12:45 PM   #5
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I record a standup comedy event once or twice a month. I don't claim to have the perfect solution, but here is what has served me well.

In my typical setup, I will record the stage mic, naturally, as well as two cardioid mics placed on or just in front of the stage pointed at the comic. This works better on smaller stages than larger (or when I know that the comic won't move around too much) and allows me to pick up at least some usable sound even if the comic for whatever reason says a few words without speaking into the stage mic, which happens every now and then.

In addition, I have two more cardioids somewhere in the audience, and I usually try to aim that away from the PA speakers as well as towards as many people as I can find in one spot. Obviously, these are to get the laughs and applause from the audience.

Sometimes, I add a wireless lav as a sixth source, but from my experience, it didn't give me a huge advantage compared with what I get from the stage mic and the two other mics in the front. Also, not all comics like to wear the lav mic, from what I have experienced.

I then record all five or six channels separately and mix them in post. By adjusting the volume of the channels recorded from the cardioid mics, I can not just control how loud the audience is but also how much of the room atmosphere (such as reverb and the PA sound) makes it into the mix - too much, and the comic is difficult to understand; to little, and it doesn't sound like a live event.

Hope this helps!

- Martin
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Old January 3rd, 2007, 07:24 PM   #6
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Very helpful. I think I will use two directional mics, one at each side of the stage and mix that with comics hand-held. Thanks to all for the GREAT INFORMATION!
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Old January 4th, 2007, 01:51 AM   #7
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Sorry if I'm missing something, but won't the PAs be on the sides of the stage? Seems to be a pretty universal configuration . . would you want the audience mics farther back?
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Old January 4th, 2007, 02:06 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abe Dolinger
won't the PAs be on the sides of the stage? Seems to be a pretty universal configuration . . would you want the audience mics farther back?
Some locations have the PA speakers on the sides of the stage, others have them hanging from the ceiling. The (directional) audience mics should point away from these speakers, and as you suggested it seems to help if they are located farther back (i.e. further away from the speakers).

- Martin
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