Some suggestions needed for invisible microphones...

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by Thomas W. Bethel, Mar 28, 2008.

  1. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    We have been asked to record a local orchestra playing in a local movie theater to accompany a silent film that will be projected off a DVD onto the theater's screen. The catch is that the theater is a movie theater and has no orchestra pit so they will be sitting in front of the screen. It is a 56 person orchestra spread out over the front of the movie theater with the projectionist in front of them. They do not want to see our microphones casting their shadows in the middle of the screen. I am really stumped on this one and wonder is anyone else has been asked to do this and how they got around the problem?

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
  2. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Will the orchestra members be casting shadows on the screen? It's not quite a joke to suggest that the conductor wear a hat with a stereo pair - you should be able to position a pair a few feet behind the conductor and (at least) a few inches above his head depending on the angle of projection. Have you been in the theater yet? You may be able to get the mic stands up higher than you think before they cast a shadow. And since it seems that the orchestra is going to be spread out the shallower-than-usual angle may not be so bad.

    By the way, when I saw the subject of the post I expected someone from the FBI or DHS.
  3. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    The problem is going to be that the projector will be on the same level as the orchestra so it will be projecting up on to the screen.

    Yes I have been in the theater and the sight lines are GREAT for watching a movie when it is projected from the projector located in the projection booth but....not so great if the projector is on the same level as the orchestra. There will also be stand lights on and the seated height of the orchestra will come up to the bottom of the screen. The conductor will be visible on the screen since he will be higher than any of the players. The theater is a typical shoe box with two side aisles. There is very little, if any, AC power in the venue and it will have to supply the stand lights and the projector as well as our audio equipment. FUN!
  4. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Not to add more gloom to the project but, has anyone even tried this out yet? It sounds like a nightmare. I can't help but think the orchestra will be on the screen whether they like it or not. Not to mention the fact that DVD video probably won't look so great on a big screen. It looks bad enough on a 52" projection.
  5. basilbowman

    basilbowman Guest

    I saw the debut performance of the rerelease of "Nosferatu", the 1920's Vampire silent flick, in Victoria, BC, at UVic, with the UVic orchestra playing the original score, which had been lost but some professor had recreated it from notes from the original composer. The moral of this story is it's kind of funny to watch the conductor "lose it" and have to rush ahead to get back in sync with the sound effects. Random thought - can you back project the movie? In other words, is there a big enough theatre or is there enough space to set up a translucent screen and to flip the video and play it pointing at the audience? Seems as though that would both be brighter and get rid of the whole shadow problem. Dunno if there'll be enough room though... Also, if the whole screen brightness will be a factor, you could probably get two projectors, set them next to each other split the feed off of the DVD player, and just eat the slight loss of resolution. I mean, it's a silent movie anyways, so it's old right? Or is it a student production from the college? Or, if you feel like getting tricky, 2 projectors, opposite sides of the theatre, with horizontal keystone set to where they project flat onto the wall and then you get around mic stand shadows, because the projectors are overlapping and covering for where the mic stands are blocking the movie. Dunno if that could feasibly be done, as far as getting the projectors that in sync physically, but it might be worth playing with, and then you can mic the orchestra as you want. Dunno if any of this will be useful, but some of it might be worth a shot...

  6. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Thomas, shotguns are very useful in these situations. The Neumann in particular, sound great for classical music. Because they are commonly used in the TV industry they should be easy to hire. Its remarkable how far away they can be and still sound close and coherant.
  7. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Thanks for all the helpful suggestions and please keep them coming.

    This is a very low budget operation to say the least. The orchestra is borrowing a video projector from the local college along with an operator. We only have one shotgun microphone that we use on a boom for our video operation and there is no place locally to rent any more. The screen of the movie theater is silver on one side and black on the other with lots of small holes in it so the sound from the rear mounted speaker can get through to the audience and it is NOT a rear projection screen and we do not have access to one and the screen that is there cannot be raised as there is no fly gallery and it is permanently mounted to the stage the side walls and the proscenium.

    I am thinking three omni microphones on very slender lighting stands painted black so they would not reflect light. Yes there would be more stands showing but they would not make as much of a foot print as our larger stand that we use for are ORTF setup with our Rode NT2 microphones.

    Keep those cards and letters coming...
  8. basilbowman

    basilbowman Guest

    This keeps getting better and better! The recording absolutely, positively has to be done live? You can't record the dress rehersal, mic the audience for the applause during the live show, combine the two, and end the nightmare that way?
  9. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member


    One shot live performance with one stop and start "in venue" dress rehearsal just before the concert. Stupid - yes, ill conceived - yes, have to have it recorded - yes, have they stopped to consider the problems and or possible solutions - no, Will we make it work - of course.

    Oh yea and the projector makes quite a bit of noise (or so I have been told) and we have two other full blown live recordings to do that day one of which starts about 1.5 hours after this one ends and is a 30 minute commute to get to the recording venue. Luckily my business partner is gong to do that one by himself with help from one of my interns and my other gig is only a block away and I have about an hour to set up.

    I also had to turn down a very lucrative session recording on this same day that would have netted me more mone because we were already commited to these recording months ago. Fun.....
  10. basilbowman

    basilbowman Guest

    And a couple hangs are out of the question? Seems like that would be out of the line of sight...
  11. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    No attachment point available in the theater and all the walls are plaster covered with material and the theater owners do NOT want any holes drilled into their walls. First thing I thought of and asked about.

    Great minds....etc.
  12. basilbowman

    basilbowman Guest

    God! This is rough. Wait, what about the screen itself - is there a point you can tie onto there? If you can run a line from each side of the screen, and a line from the projection booth, and tie all of those three lines onto a triangle overtop of the orchestra, then you can hang off of that. There'll be a lot of sag, but if you can get good sturdy points in the booth and either behind the wall between the screen and the wall or on the frame on the side of the screen, and use a thin cable, you might be able to get away with it that way. But, that's a lot of work for a project that's already looking like a lot of work.
  13. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Go 4 across on the orchestra using omnis or subcardiods. Low profile stands- DPA Grand Flamingo, Schoeps Colette, etc... will all work. Hang DPA 4061 mics around... There are lots of things I've done in situations like this.

    If they are front projecting, how about placing a couple stands behind the screen. Omnis inside an orchestra, while not ideal, can work well.

    there are plenty of remedies to your problems. You just need a bit of creativity to solve them.

  14. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Well as stated above I cannot hang anything in the movie theater.

    I don't have a lot of low profile microphones or stands.

    The thought did occur to me to place the omni microphones behind the screen but I have had problems with this conductor in the past with the "sound" of the orchestra. I normally do the orchestra with two microphones in an ORTF configuration and they are located above his head and back about 3 feet. He always complains that he does not hear the strings the way he hears them when he is conducting (of course he is close enough to the violins and cellos to reach out and touch them) and he does not like a lot of hall sound and wants the orchestra to sound more close up the way he hears it. I sometimes wonder what he does when he goes to a concert and has to listen to an orchestra from 25 feet back.

    Thanks for the suggestions.
  15. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    "Stupid - yes, ill conceived - yes, have to have it recorded - yes, have they stopped to consider the problems and or possible solutions - no, Will we make it work - of course."

    With a few changes that sums up the way of working in our Church beautifully.

    Do we change plans at the last minute? Yes.
    Do we stop and think of how to approach something from several angles? No.
    Do we plan anything other than a quick run through of the songs at the previous rehearsal? No.
    Do we miraculously wing it through 95% of everything we do? Of course.
  16. BRH

    BRH Active Member

    Put the projector in the booth were it belongs.
  17. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    That's the approach I would use. I'd get off the stage completely.
  18. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Yeah actually, why isn't the projector in the booth? Too far away or too wide an angle or what, is there any valid reason they aren't using that equipment?
  19. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    This is a movie theater where they normally project 35 mm film from the projection booth using a Xenon lamp BUT for this concert they are using a DVD and a LCD projector in the house. The throw would be too long for the LCD projector and it would be way too dim. I am stuck with what the management of the orchestra has decided and they NEVER asked for my opinion before THEY scheduled the event and asked us to record it. They originally thought that this was going to be a film but the company that rented the scores and the film decided to transfer the film to a DVD to save wear and tear on the FILM and also to make it available to places that DO NOT HAVE 35 mm motion picture equipment that is needed for the projection of the MOVIE.

  20. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Oh, definitely. One day you'll look back and laugh...

    Typical movie theatre with the audience level with the bottom of the screen, or is there any chance of getting the projector up a bit without restricting anyone's view?

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