Recording thespians

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by rubberlugs, Nov 2, 2005.

  1. rubberlugs

    rubberlugs Guest

    I work in a studio which is driven to music production as this is the demand from our client base. We are lucky enough to also have a venue at the other end of the building and have the control room hooked up to this for the purpose of recording shows. On a tuesday evening this venue is now being hired by a theatre group and this is where I need some advice.

    I would like to be able to record the show for them on a night when they are rehearsing in the hope of getting them interested in recording their performances for radio, or any other audio media. I have never done this sort of thing before, I've worked on musicals with radio mics, but this will be straight drama/comedy sketches. Can someone give me advice on how using a minimal mic set up I could record a performance that will happen on a stage that is 6.1 metres wide by 4.8 metres deep and 2.5 metres high.

    The mics that will be available will be simple, a couple of PZMs, couple of 414s, 2 KM 184s, 2 Rhode NT2s,2 AKG 414s. I will be looking to create an accurate and clear to hear representation of what is going on on that stage without the actors being aware of microphones, well not in the sense of everyone has to make sure that he/she has to have the right mic when they go on.
    Any ideas would be gratefully appreciated.
  2. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    I've never done that either, so the following is just a guess:

    414's as a M/S pair just in front of centre stage, and KM184s to fill in the sides if needed. I would probably also try sticking the PZMs to the stage walls to see what they sound like.. but if I could hear all the dialogue clearly from just the centre pair (this will probably depend on the director's "blocking") I would probably just use that.

  3. rubberlugs

    rubberlugs Guest

    hmmmm, it's those mics in the front that I'm worried about. The side fills shouldn't be to much of a problem. It's trying to get those central mics which I suspect the most clarity would come from at the appropriate height without sticking a couple of mic stands between the audience and the actors. The stage is 1 metre above what is usually the dance floor, I was going to sit them on the floor and raise the mics to just above the stage height but I suspect there would be more footsteps and such noises than the dialouge.
  4. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    anything to hang them from?
  5. sheet

    sheet Well-Known Member

    Crown PCC160s across the front of the stage. I used to use them in theater all of the time, and still use them now, but not on big productions. You will need someone who is good on the console, so that you minimize the phasing and open mics.
  6. rubberlugs

    rubberlugs Guest

    When mixing a theatre recording do engineers tend to keep the stereo image or mono the balance?
  7. sheet

    sheet Well-Known Member

    I have been involved with some productions that had over 50 discrete channels and speaker systems for sound effects, etc. I would not mix it as stereo, but surround, to keep the elements intact as the original sound designers had intended. If I could not do surround, I would do stereo as a last resort.

    As far as the stereo field is concerned, with the stuff I have done, I tried to reproduce it as it was. So if a player is walking across the stage, then that is how I panned him/her. The hard thing to do is keep the phase of everything in check, because people are always in motion. Their positions, hence the phase relationship is always changing. Then you have to deal with the bleed. So, try to mix with the TC'd video, so that you can see what is going on.
  8. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    I did a stage recording a while back. I used an ORTF pair (SDC) just off the front of the stage. I could have used some side fill, but was concerned about phase issues that would have come from that.

    Overall, it worked pretty well. I was recording a live show - recording in a rehearsal setting where you can reduce enthusiastic foot stomping and movements on the stage would probably yield pretty good results with a single pair.

    Whether you use MS, XY, ORTF, or whatever will depend on the space you're recording in.

    As I've preached before - I've come to believe that one key to good location recording is a monitoring setup with great isolation. I use in-ears with good hearing protection muffs - I'd guess I get 40dB or more of isolation so all I hear is what's coming through the wire. Really allows me to check sound with confidence as I'm waving mics around in the air.
  9. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    MS should guarantee mono compatibility however (he mentioned radio..)
  10. rubberlugs

    rubberlugs Guest

    Just to complicate things, they've decided that they're not only going to use the stage but for some sketches they're going to use the dance floor in front of the stage, (which is pretty much bullet shaped with a wide base). I think I'm going to try a MS at the bullet head, with a couple of side fills into the bullet. Then the stage which is 1 metre above the dance floor I was thinking of 1 PZM centre front and two sidefills on the stage, it's that PZM I'm worried about. I'm concerned it's going to get more footsteps than dialouge.
    For the phase issue I'm going to try an old trick that I picked up when working with pipe bands. We used to stand the pipers round in a horseshoe, stereo mic the drones from behind, then stereo mic the chanters, which are on the front of the instrument. These chanter mics were inside the horseshoe. We would send one chanter mic to tape, then knock the tape return out of phase. Bring the other side of the chanter mics to the tape, with tape return at exactly the same level and when the sound cancelled out, pop out the phase button and phase should be good. Then we would do the same with the drones, then group the two pairs, knock one group out of phase, match the groups till you get cancellation, then group the lot and knock out the phase buttons. I'm thinking of playing on this idea to see what comes out with those different pairs. Could be quite educational.

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