Oh Yippeee! ... ... oh CRAP! My first "big" gig

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by zemlin, Jan 26, 2005.

  1. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    I recorded the Indianapolis Children's Choir in a rehearsal room last year. I must have made a good impression because they just asked me to do a recording session (not a live concert) in this space:
    I'm all jiggly inside. :shock: :eek: :shock: I wish I had some killer mics for this gig - but they've been satisfied with what I've done in the past. I don't yet know how many voices will be involved.
    The date isn't set in stone - the Indianapolis Brass Choir (I think that's the group) needs to confirm. The organ will part of the program.

    sure hope I don't screw it up!
  2. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Cool... Looks like a fun gig. 3 omnis (or Schoeps MK21's) across the front of the choir, another pair for the brass choir behind the conductor... Easy. set. They'll love you :cool: :D

  3. LittleDogAudio

    LittleDogAudio Active Member

    Yep, keep it simple. With that large of a group and hall, you want to stay focused.

    Looks like a cool gig, very un-rock-n-roll.

    I'm envious.

  4. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    I've recorded enough choir music to know that "less is more" ... and now that I think about it, this isn't really my first gig in a large space - but this will be a larger choir than I've recorded before, and the Organ and Brass will have to be dealt with. :D

    Yeah - that would be nice. Unless I rent (which I will consider), here's what I have to choose from (and no ... I don't plan to use all of these!)

    Sebatron VMP-4000e 4 channel Microphone Preamp
    Allen & Heath Mixwizard 16:2DX 16 Channel Mixer

    (2) Studio Projects C3 multipattern Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones
    (2) Oktava MK319 Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones
    (2) Rode NT5 Matched Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphones
    Oktava ML52 Ribbon Microphone
    (2) Oktava MK012 Small Condenser cardioid Microphones
    (1) Oktava MK012 Small Condenser Microphone with Hypercardioid, Cardioid, and Omni capsules
    (2) Behringer ECM8000 Omni-Directional Measurement Microphones
    (3) Shure SM58 Cardioid Dynamic Microphones
    (4) Shure SM57 Cardioid Dynamic Microphone
    Shure Beta52 Hypercardioid Kick Drum Microphone
    Beyerdynamics M300 Dynamic Microphone

    Some good mics are near the top of my shopping list, but the bank account is pretty dry right now.
  5. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    If you could rent, I'd recommend it... There isn't anything in there that I would consider first or second choice for this kind of recording.

    If renting is out of the question, I'd probably use your 2 studio projects mics on the choir in omni and a pair of octavas as an ORTF pair in front of the brass. If the choir is too wide, put your octava with the omni cap in the center between the SP mics.

    Position them carefully and you should end up with a pretty good recording. If you have soloists, have them come up front and perhaps put up the ribbon for them. Place an arms length out from the soloist for a good starting place.

  6. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Yeah, I gotta agree with Ben on this one - if necessary rent.

    If you have a few bucks, there's a pair of Neumann 83's on Ebay - they would be a decent sub for the Schoeps.

    With a group of this size, and presumably caliber, less is definitely more, but make sure you place the mics at a height which will maximize the front to back imaging - not too high, but definitely up there.

    I don't think you'll have a problem - the other stuff I've heard of yours is good and clean and you appear to be a hell of a problem solver.

    Good luck!!!


    (PS. We want sound bytes when you're done!)
  7. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    I've looked around, but have not found any places that will rent high-end mics. Got any leads?
  8. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Here in LA, all the major rental houses do... Audio Rents, DesignFX, Advanced Audio. Dreamhire in New York rents and ships good quality mics...

  9. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    There was a person in this area that use to rent out his Schoeps microphones for $100.00 per day to people that he would "trust" to use them and not abuse them. I was going to rent three of his Schoeps for a project and he was very easy to deal with. He now lives and works in Cincinatti, Ohio. Maybe ask around at somewhere like GC or Sam Ash in your town to see if they know anyone like this person that you could rent from. I too think it would be a good idea to rent some microphones for this gig. Maybe a call to Dreamhire http://www.dreamhire.com/us/us.htm would be a good first move.

    They do ship to places outside New York but there prices are higher than if you could find some locally.

    Best of luck on what I would consider a DREAM job.
  10. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Karl, I keep forgetting to compliment you on the pictures you've been posting. (Talk about a thousand words!) Some great stuff, there, and I think it really helps explain what you're talking about.

    One of these days I'm going to try to start adding pics myself. (I see a button for "IMG"; does that imply we copy and paste the item between those buttons,or....? Guess I'll have to give it a try eventually...)

    In the meantime, good luck with your gig; that picture is GORGEOUS, and I'm sure you'll find a way to sort it all out, regardless of what mics you choose. (The never ending quest to have a few more mics than you need, although you can never have TOO many!)

    However you mic it, I'm sure you know the real trick is keeping the clients happy and coming back for more...so you can buy more mics...to make more recordings....and buy more mics! :twisted:
  11. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    I just finished a similar project-- a cathedral choir in a big space with brass on 2 hymns. We overdubbed the brass to have more balance control but I doubt that is an option for you, so be sure that the conductir understands that one trombone can easily obliterate several hundred children's voices!

    The challenge is maintaining the "brassy" timbre at forte without completely covering up the voices. Put them far away and then you have ensemble problems. There is no easy solution but make sure the director understands what is going on. In a concert the listener (and conductor) can mentally adjust for such things thanks to the visual cues.

    IMO the real killer mic for choral is the Royer SF12 or SF24-- don't know if anyone rents these. The ribbons are easily damaged with wind so it is doubtful. If you are going to rent something else the Shoeps are a good choice like Ben suggested. Watch the sibilants, however-- a little HF rolloff might be in order, which will also rolloff any micpre noise.

    Assuming 60-70 minutes of music, how much session time have they scheduled? I think the key to "not screwing it up" is complete pre-session planning-- how to communicate with the conductor in the sessions, for instance. Cover every "what-if" and maintain good communication with the conductor (if that is who hired you). Also make sure you have adequate setup time so problems can be calmly solved rather than causing total panic.

    Try to have fun with this-- it will be a terrific sound!

  12. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    They have scheduled 5 hours for the session. When they called to book the date, they said I'd have 1 hour to setup. Can you imagine that? One whole hour!

    I said I'd need more than that - I'm figuring 3 hours - I'll take 4 if I can get it. I like to be sitting on my hands when the talent shows up - I think that's actually happened for me once.

    I might have a roadie that day - that would help ... My 15 year-old daughter who is also one of the singers.

    If I recall, the brass was pretty low key in the concert - 3 or 4 horns, and I don't think they ever hit forte. I don't expect them to cause much trouble.

    JoeH - thanks for the compliments on the pictures. I was saving my money for a bad-ass digital SLR when I decided to go into recording instead of photography. I still enjoy pictures, and still have a hankerin' for a nice digital camera. The photo at the top of this thread was taken at a concert several years ago - consumer grade print film and I scanned the negative. The main "photoshop" treatment on this one was perspective correction - I use Jasc Paint Shop Pro for my photo editing.
  13. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    I hear what you're saying about setup time, Karl.

    Just yesterday, I was doing a site inspection for a concert in a new venue (for me) and the client was expecting a 6:30 rehearsal/soundcheck for an 8 p.m. concert. (With monitors, wireless - on the string players (it's a new age trio) and a guest singer.) We all did a collective double-take and suggested they get there MUCH MUCH earlier to sort it all out.

    "sitting on your hands" is a good way to put it. If possible, I always like to have as much lead time as possible to setup, because there's always SOMETHING that can happen, good or bad, and the next thing you know, it's "Five minutes to show", etc.

    My own expression nowadays is: "I don't want to let them see me sweat" which is what I'll be forced to do if there's a lot of running around, pushing and shoving, etc. etc. (Gettin' to OLD for it, as well!) With so much detail to attend to, it's really not asking for a lot for 2 hrs ahead of time, if you can get it. I much prefer that golden 20-30 minutes before the downbeat, where you can calmly assess the situation, and take it all in for a moment or so. Usually, there's SOMETHING you've missed anyway.

    I've long ago resolved to bite the bullet and bring a competant helper as well. Many times, I get sidetracked by the client asking a question, or a "helpful" choir member pulling some kind of stunt, usually slowing things down for all of us. Having a good assistant who knows where everything goes is priceless. (Let THEM do the heavy lifting, and YOU come in and tweak it all up when it's time to get going...) It helps keep your thoughts clear, too. The assistant moves the car off the loading dock or doorway, does the gaff-taping, and most importantly: goes for coffee! ;-)

    Money well spent, IMHO.
  14. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    Yet another update.
    This gig is toast :(

    Turns out Aire Born, a local studio that does a lot of work with the choir is recording another gig in that same space in the morning - so they are already there and setup. They made the choir an offer they couldn't refuse - and I can't blame them. The CD was going to be a mix of my stuff plus some studio recordings done at Aire Born (recorded tonight, actually). It makes more sense to have one crew do the CD - they'll get a more consistant sound.

    The silver lining is that the choir wants me to do a different recording later in the spring - here http://cdfac.uindy.edu/facilities/
    Their hall is fantastic sounding. It will be two smaller choirs (probably 120 voices) and more interesting music. Accompaniment will be only piano. I'll have to do a little investigation into recording there. Last time I was in there they had a Jecklin disk, a Decca tree, and a couple of coinsident pairs strung up. If they already have the right mics in the right place, it could be a bloody easy setup.
  15. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Well this seems to be a trend around here. Setup at 6:30 pm for an 8 pm concert. One problem we face is the unavailability of the halls sooner. They are booked solid. We have to be very efficient if we are to do the gig at all. Most times I have to hire one of my interns to help since there is a lot of equipment and a short setup time. We also run into the problem, sometimes, of doing two concerts at once which really strains our abilities. We are going to face a couple more of those in the near future but we have already figured out how to do both and still not short change ourselves or the clients.

    The other problem is tear down. The halls are so booked that when the recital ends at 9:30 pm the hall is booked for a rehearsal immediately afterwards which means we have to get all of our stuff out ASAP. We have requested a one half hour grace period in case the concert runs long or starts late but the halls are so booked they are reluctant to do this for fear someone will not get their chance at a full dress rehearsal.

    The other problem is the custodians in churches want to get the place locked up and go home and sometimes they are very insistent that we get done "as soooooooooooooon as possible". In one case recently we got locked out of the church because the custodian was in such a hurry to leave that he locked all the doors, including the one we were using for taking out our equipment. We had to go back the next day and retrieve the rest of our equipment.

    Which brings up at good point. We did an on location recording of a youth choral. It was a good gig and we had lots of time to setup and tear down. We loaded out and then I remembered that we were missing our Beyer mic stands so I went back and they were no where to be found. I asked the choir director and the custodian but neither had seen them. The next day I went back to the church and talked to the secretary and together we looked all over the church to see if we could locate them. We ran into the custodian and again I asked if he had seen them and he said no. When I told him what they looked like he looked at me funny for a second and then said "oh those" "oh I thought those were ours" he proceeded to go back to his room and came out carrying our stands. I thanked him and on the way out told the secretary what had happened and that I had asked him the day before the exact same question. She told me that they were having problems with this person and that lots of stuff seemed to be missing. I think it was because I had the secretary with me that he gave up the stands.

    Just because you are doing things in a school or church does not mean that all the people working there are honest.
  16. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    << Just because you are doing things in a school or church does not mean that all the people working there are honest.>>

    I hear you, Tom. I'm sure that's got something to do with what happened to my "lost" AKG 422. Someone took it that shouldn't have. Even if it was "left behind" or pilfered, it's the kind of thing that someone would have immediately picked up and handed to someone in authority and said: "This obviously belongs to someone." I watch EVERYTHING like a hawk nowadays, esp on the way out. It's all too easy for something to "grow legs" and dissapear.

    We don't have quite the same # of hassles with overbooked halls and grumpy custodians here, but it's close. I suppose one good side of a union hall is that once they're able to charge for the extra hour (and fully know that it wont go into another after that) they tend to "help" you get out fairly quickly. That way THEY are out all the faster.

    Your sticky fingered custodian reminds me: Does anyone mark their cables? The sound system at our local union hall has very nice cables - color coded for length (at a glance) and embedded name-tags under clear shrink tubing. We NEVER mix up who's whose there.
  17. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    I have a few cables I picked up used that have simple wrap-around tags that are easily overlooked - but the cables are bright blue, so they're easy to keep an eye on.

    The rest of my cables I made myself - they have color coded ends (not for length, but for IDing connections). Both ends also have the length and "Cheap Tracks" under clear heat-shrink.

  18. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Yep, I do. I use either Monster Cable or Mogami home-rolled and needless to say, they are rather expensive. At the beginning of 2004, I had:
    8 x 50' Monster (500 Series)
    10 x 50' Mogami (Neglex Quad)
    22 x 25' Monsters (500)
    18 x 25' Mogami (NQ)
    6 x 15' Monsters (500)

    At the end of the year, come inventory time, I had:

    5 x 50' Monsters
    9 x 50' Mogamis
    15 x 25' Monsters
    15 x 25' Mogamis
    6 x 15' Monsters

    I'm guessing that's somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 of lost/stolen cable.

    I've been marking my cables with a standard label maker for a while, but it doesn't seem to stop the problem. Of course, I do this with stands too, but I seem to always lose a few regular (not tall) boom stands a year too.

    Oh well... tax write-offs :evil:

  19. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member


    I just checked out your site - that's a cool site!

    Also, I saw that you did some work at Warren Central HS... I used to go there - I lived in Castleton and went to Belzer MS and Warren CHS! Small world!!!

  20. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Guitar Centers had a BIG sale on microphone cable straps and we brought them out. Ours are BRIGHT YELLOW so we can tell, almost from across the room, if they are ours. We to have a BIG letter "B" on all of our cables, stands and all of our cases are marked. It is the little stuff that seems to grow legs and disappear. (Buy the way the microphone stands we almost lost both had big "B's" on them so I knew they were ours.)

    One additional point is that having someone else with you is really important. Then one of you can watch the other's back and answer questions and fend off possible time wasters while you are trying to setup.(Most of the concerts we do are open to the general public so we get a lot of "tire kickers" coming over to us and asking questions, which we are always happy to answer but my intern can be answering the questions while I am finishing up the setup which works GREAT!) It is also important to have someone else around if you need to go back to pick up something you forgot or when it comes time to strike one person can do the microphone tear down while the other is doing the equipment tear down so no one is away from the equipment for long periods of time.


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