MUlti MUlti Multi Multitracking an Orchestra!!!!!!!!!!!

Discussion in 'Orchestra' started by studio33, Feb 25, 2010.

  1. studio33

    studio33 Active Member

    Well I just got a call from a guy who wanted to rent 15 HD24 machinces to track a full orchestra. every person gets a mic. Is this a common thing, it cant be. I could'nt believe it! I thought he was joking at first. I dont think Michael Jackson or the smashing pumpkins even had this many tracks. Anyway has anybody ever done this?? and what in the world was that like??

    This is also a good opportunity for me to get advice on how to track an orchestra in general. I have done it a few times a couple different ways. First way is to set up 2 pairs of cardioid mics about 8 feet off the ground set about 10-15 feet away facing the group spaced evenly across the front of the auditorium. Second way is to do a left right center set up all cardioid same height and distance . Both ways included spot mics on soloists if needed. Sounds good but Im getting a pair of 414s so now I have polar patterns available and thought I would ask yall to start my research.
  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    If you are talking about normal orchestral performances and performance stages, then no that isn't normal. Normal would be a center array of some sort-Decca Tree, M/S, Blumlein, ORTF, NOS whatever. Usually the main array is behind the conductor four or six feet or so and above his/her head about ten feet. This is supported by mic's on the wings and then in very elaborate setups by spot mic's on soloists. Tweak to taste.

    90-95% of your sound in the mix will be from your center array. Very little of anything else is added in generally unless a soloist needs to come out a stitch. It's up to the conductor to balance the sound not the sound engineer. There are like 30 or so mic's hanging around the stage of Chicago Symphony and they may all even be going to a recorder, but I'd bet only about 3-5 are being utilized at any given time. Someone here may have better details on that and if so they'll speak up I'm sure.

    Now, for movie scoring soundstages that can be different. I've played sessions where everyone had a mic and every section had area mic's plus main arrays out front. You couldn't prove by me that they were all used either but they were there. 75 piece orchestra + area mics + main array could be a ton o' tracks.

    What's this for anyway?
  3. studio33

    studio33 Active Member

    I have no Idea what it was for but the guy that called me said that he needed that many tracks. His words were "Thats what their asking for so I'm gonna do it". I mean thats360 tracks man! That statement tells me that he's either an engineer that is being directed by a producer to do this and doesn't know any better and or doesn't know how to tell a producer or conductor that they are wasting money or a guy that's not involved other than organizing the rental of these machines and doesn't care a lick. Thanks for the advice about the micing techniques. I learned them in school but I havent recorded orchestras much till now. now that I have a decent pair of mics to get started doing this the right way I cant wait to do it again. My pair of c414s were waiting on the porch for me when I got home. I never thought i would feel like this about a pair of mics. Im sure the honeymoon will wear off soon but im going to enjoy it while its here!!!!
  4. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    It's only 180 tracks at 88.2k. If you are going with the 414's as the main pair then I'd recommend renting a third one. Set them all up in omni as a Decca tree. Rule of thumb is roughly twice as wide as it is to the front. All mic's 1m from the center point. You can read a wiki here. Where you are going to come up with 75 other mic's as a beginner is the $100,000 question.
  5. Aural Reject

    Aural Reject Guest

    Don't forget to factor in parallel backups.....
  6. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I think 180 tracks at 88.2K would be sufficient for redundancy. That would get you 90 twice.

    Also, I used a poor turn of phrase in my last post. I did not intend to refer to the OP as a beginner since I don't know him/her. Just the difficulty in coming up with 90 mics suitable for an orchestral recording. Talk about your nightmare additive effects if one used cheap chinese condensers with the ubiquitous high end. Of couse, I still think that unless it's a movie scoring session the job request is seriously ill informed. Someone probably saw some special feature on a DVD that panned an orchestra in Hollywood.
  7. Aural Reject

    Aural Reject Guest

    Absolutely - the point I was badly trying to make is that as soon as you add redundancy the track count comes down quickly.

    Other factors that could come in to play are things like is it a crossover band? Is it, for example, a full orchestra that's complementing another band / multiple singers etc...if you've got an additional drum kit that needs fully micing (inc top and bottom...some producers are quite specific) and / or enhanced percussion sections then the tracks can get swallowed very easily. Is it outside? Sometimes to get the balance you need on an OB that number of mics is apparently needed.... the line list for gigs like that can be scary...

    Of course it could be overkill as suggested ;)
  8. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Oh, I don't know about that. 89 Chinese mics (not connected) and an AKG C24 out front might work quite nicely.
  9. Aural Reject

    Aural Reject Guest

    In the UK, if I was looking at Schoeps for something like this I'd be talking to Origin Audio....and Richmond Film Services for most everything else.
  10. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Boswell. Great idea, LOL.
  11. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Boswell, that reminds me of the section of control board that I used to set aside for conductors. They could turn the knobs to adjust for "taste." Of course the knobs themselves weren't routed anywhere at all.

    Also agreed, a high quality stereo mic is an excellent choice for the main array. The OP might be able to rent a C24 or C424 or more likely on this side of the pond, a Royer SF24.
  12. blaumph2cool

    blaumph2cool Active Member

    That is awesome. I once did that to a drummer who wanted every single piece of his 9 pc kit miced. I ended up muting all but the OH, Kick and a little bit of snare, he never knew the better and was satisfied with the result.

    Customer satisfied + Not sounding like crap = Good

  13. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Sounds like a nightmare to me. Who's going to mix that behemoth? I can't imagine using more than 4 mics at most. I like Boswell's idea.
  14. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    I've mic'd a full on double kick 8 piece drum set before. It wasn't pretty and after working out all the phase issues, it was a nightmare to mix. It can be done but a rack full of Keypex gates sure makes thing easier.
  15. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    The most microphones I have ever seen used was 22 and that was at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam in 1990 with Leonard Slatkin conducting the American Soviet Youth Orchestra. The recording engineer was Andreas Neubronner. It sounded like he used one stereo microphone but of course he is very good at what he does and his recordings of the San Fransisco Orchestra are legendary. I personally think that one microphone per player is overkill and you are going to have more phase problems than you can possibly imagine. The normal rule is 1 to 3 (one foot away - 3 feet to the next microphone) and in the string, woodwind and brass sections you are not going to have that space to work with. Also the mix down is going to be a real PITA.

    Best of luck and let us know how it all goes.
  16. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    I was recording and broadcasting a national tour date of Tanya Tucker. She had the largest percussion setup I have ever seen. She wanted 32 microphones on her drum set for the recording/broadcasting. I had a 24 input mixing console. Obviously I could not honor her request and still mic the rest of the band. We finally did it with 8 microphones on her drums. It sounded GREAT! and she was pleased.
  17. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Studio33 -

    I think there's a great lesson to be learned by this discussion.

    You knew the request didn't make any sense.
    You also realize that people sometimes make senseless/unfulfillable requests.
    So, sometimes you just gotta lie and seem to fulfill that request.

    I remember a current thread where this very notion was discussed (dummy mics, as Boswell suggested).
    Of course, your situation is unique, as the other fella seems to be making the decisions, and you're just supplying the HDs. Am I right?
    If so, my advice is to fill his order and pass on your (and our) suggestions.
    If you two can come to terms on a way to do this, you'll save him a load of headache and money, and have a loyal client for life.
  18. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I have this vision of a forest of mic stands and music stands. Musicians pathetically trying to play. Best of luck. The customer is always...the customer.
  19. Aural Reject

    Aural Reject Guest

    It still happens, though....3 Tenors Live from Wembley.... >90 channels, all Schoeps iirc.....sometimes these things DO happen (and sometimes the engineer DOES 'argue' the track count down but sometimes there's no other option....)
  20. drumrob

    drumrob Active Member

    I once was hired as a shooter for a "Behind the Scenes" video of the making of a CD. This was for an opera singer, accompanied by a full, or at least very close to full, orchestra. I don't remember for sure if they miced every instrument, but I know that there were at least several mics per section. Still a ton of mics and stands around the stage. They had a couple of guys to run "monitors" through a board that had to have at least 40 inputs. The mics were run through pres and straight to a ProTools rig separate of the monitor mixer. The engineer (whose name I don't remember) was apparently a well-known and respected classical engineer. So I guess it can happen. It does seem like a balancing nightmare to me!

    Have fun!


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