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Thread: Opera in a Church with piano, but a recording compromise due to video

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    Opera in a Church with piano, but a recording compromise due to video

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    Got a real conflict coming up later in the week. We're quite small but work is steady, and I got a call about doing an audio recording of two opera singers in a church. Some light opera, accompanied by a pianist, in a quite nice sounding large UK church. Had a chat, agreed to do it and got on with some more work. My colleague, who does more of our video work, unknown to me has a job the same day - to video a recital in a church, featuring two opera singers, and a pianist ........... Yep the same recital. Normally, when we get an audio job like this come in, we get the client to make it clear the audio is the primary requirement, and if it also turns out to have a video element - we get lead, and the video people work around us. If we take on a video commission, we insist video comes first and sound, if involved is second to where we put our cameras and set things up.

    We kind of shot ourselves in the foot, and at a site meeting, our preferred way of dong this one, which being unamplified, in a nice setting would probably have meant a visually compromised result, with our mic stands in the way and looking pretty unpleasant. The client says the video actually is more important, while the performers want an audio recording as their main aim, but it is a performance for the audience - video and audio recording is secondary and is an exposure thing, not a revenue driven one.

    I'm going to try something a bit new, having had a good listen. I'm going to put a mic, type to be determined when I hear them, on a short stand, waist height looking towards the mouth - on each of the two soloists (who may, or may not include a duet in the programme - again to yet decided). I'm going to put a twin capsule mic dead centre using a Blumlein pair again at about 3ft above ground, between them, and I am going to mid-field mic, BBC style in the cut out area of the piano with the full stick lid facing the audience. I'll probably use a 414 for this as it's going to be a Yamaha grand, and they seem to like 414s. I shall probably add a couple of mics focussing on the audience, which should get me some of the clapping/applause, as the performer mics won't have good rear coverage. The angle of the centre Blumlein mic at low level will have reduced coverage of the big space, because I will have to tilt it up. I have the option of setting the capsules to A/B, or other similar techniques, or I could set it to do M/S?

    I'm going to record this through our Midas M32, going direct to a MacBook - so 7 channels max planned, but I've got scope to add extra channels if necessary - but hope that 3 or 5 channels will be sufficient for tweaking afterwards.

    Above waist height won't be possible, although I could close mic them with some gooseneck mics I have, but they will look a bit strange and feature in closeups. Keeping the above waist is a no go rule, has anyone any interesting alternatives I've not thought of. It's Mozart - so oldish, in opera terms.

    Cameras will be ten rows back on the centre line, one left, which will probably be locked of and looks nice with the (unused for the recording) organ pipes in the background, and a separate camera for the pianist, with the mid-field mic hopefully out of shot.

    That's the job. We're split - my colleague will handle video, I'll handle audio and we will fight later! I think we will end up with m ore a close mic sound to the recording which I can then manipulate either with some of the space mics, and artificial reverb. We've done proper close mic re wordings and of course 100% ambient ones with stereo techniques, but this will be a half way house - with singer to mic distances of perhaps 1m (3ft), no closer.

    It will also be with very short rehearsal time - if we are lucky we'll maybe have a few minutes of rehearsal, then a conventional service, then half an hour to reset things. I've sorted all the usual tricky things - cable routes, power, obstructions etc - but we will NOT have time to start moving mics or swapping them - a quick setup is essential.

    Any comments appreciated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rob aylestone View Post
    Got a real conflict coming up later in the week. We're quite small but work is steady, and I got a call about doing an audio recording of two opera singers in a church. Some light opera, accompanied by a pianist, in a quite nice sounding large UK church. Had a chat, agreed to do it and got on with some more work. My colleague, who does more of our video work, unknown to me has a job the same day - to video a recital in a church, featuring two opera singers, and a pianist ........... Yep the same recital. Normally, when we get an audio job like this come in, we get the client to make it clear the audio is the primary requirement, and if it also turns out to have a video element - we get lead, and the video people work around us. If we take on a video commission, we insist video comes first and sound, if involved is second to where we put our cameras and set things up.

    We kind of shot ourselves in the foot, and at a site meeting, our preferred way of dong this one, which being unamplified, in a nice setting would probably have meant a visually compromised result, with our mic stands in the way and looking pretty unpleasant. The client says the video actually is more important, while the performers want an audio recording as their main aim, but it is a performance for the audience - video and audio recording is secondary and is an exposure thing, not a revenue driven one.

    I'm going to try something a bit new, having had a good listen. I'm going to put a mic, type to be determined when I hear them, on a short stand, waist height looking towards the mouth - on each of the two soloists (who may, or may not include a duet in the programme - again to yet decided). I'm going to put a twin capsule mic dead centre using a Blumlein pair again at about 3ft above ground, between them, and I am going to mid-field mic, BBC style in the cut out area of the piano with the full stick lid facing the audience. I'll probably use a 414 for this as it's going to be a Yamaha grand, and they seem to like 414s. I shall probably add a couple of mics focussing on the audience, which should get me some of the clapping/applause, as the performer mics won't have good rear coverage. The angle of the centre Blumlein mic at low level will have reduced coverage of the big space, because I will have to tilt it up. I have the option of setting the capsules to A/B, or other similar techniques, or I could set it to do M/S?

    I'm going to record this through our Midas M32, going direct to a MacBook - so 7 channels max planned, but I've got scope to add extra channels if necessary - but hope that 3 or 5 channels will be sufficient for tweaking afterwards.

    Above waist height won't be possible, although I could close mic them with some gooseneck mics I have, but they will look a bit strange and feature in closeups. Keeping the above waist is a no go rule, has anyone any interesting alternatives I've not thought of. It's Mozart - so oldish, in opera terms.

    Cameras will be ten rows back on the centre line, one left, which will probably be locked of and looks nice with the (unused for the recording) organ pipes in the background, and a separate camera for the pianist, with the mid-field mic hopefully out of shot.

    That's the job. We're split - my colleague will handle video, I'll handle audio and we will fight later! I think we will end up with m ore a close mic sound to the recording which I can then manipulate either with some of the space mics, and artificial reverb. We've done proper close mic re wordings and of course 100% ambient ones with stereo techniques, but this will be a half way house - with singer to mic distances of perhaps 1m (3ft), no closer.

    It will also be with very short rehearsal time - if we are lucky we'll maybe have a few minutes of rehearsal, then a conventional service, then half an hour to reset things. I've sorted all the usual tricky things - cable routes, power, obstructions etc - but we will NOT have time to start moving mics or swapping them - a quick setup is essential.

    Any comments appreciated.
    You should find out EVERYTHING before you say yes

    Why a blumlein ??????????????

    You were hired to do audio. So do audio.
    Ignore the other guy unless he wants to buy the audio final track copy to add to his video.

    You are constrained by camera position since they want video more than audio.

    I would imagine that 3' stand would not be clear of obstructing the camera and audience.
    But if all they care about seeing is faces then that could work.

    We really need to see the layout of where everybody will be at.
    And will they be moving around??

    A big layout including theatre and the vid cameras too would be helpful.
    Also where the board and pc will be.

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    Er, been in the music and performing arts business since around 1984 - so I'll assume I didn't;t make myself very clear. We do sound, lighting, video, production management and education - that's how I paid the mortgage off. WE. - as in my business partner and I are doing video AND audio for the event. I responded to to one call, and he was talking to a different person. It's in a Church, with nice acoustics. The choice of the centre mic position is simply because there is a chance positioning, despite an x on the floor could be more central than I'd like, so a mic in the middle made sense as a backup, but then with the acoustics being rather nice, I wondered if Blumlein (which IS without doubt, my favourite techniques for ambient recordings in nice spaces) might get a bit of success - with the limitation of reduced rear coverage because of the low angle. From the site visit, waist height gives me a nice two shot, from the waist upwards with some single closeups of just head and shoulders. The side cameras will have the mic line out of vision. Not sure why you are interested in the board position, but although for classical recordings we'd normally set up in a side vestry, or other room with speakers, here, there's simply no time, and to be honest, I'm using experience to pick the mic positions I know works OK. I'm not convinced about the distances - being too far for conventional close mic, and too close for proper ambient. The variety of sources should give me some possibilities in post.

    I'm happy with the video placement my colleague has got planned - we know these will be OK.

    So What I have is this:
    ch1 +ch2 dual capsule one piece microphone, available patterns 2 x omni, fig-9, cardioid (any combination possible)
    ch3 Female vocal LDC or possibly 451/cardioid or omni capsules available.
    ch 4 Male vocal LDC or possibly 451/cardioid or omni capsules available.
    ch 5 piano 414
    ch 6 audience left 451?
    ch 7 audience right. 451?

    I've got another ribbon, some different types of cardioid and omni LDC and a Shure SM7 and RE320 that could be used if anyone has any strange ideas.

    The piano mic would be mid field, capturing direct and full stick lid reflections, but I could conventionally close mic it if necessary.

    Plenty of extra channels if anyone has a cunning ideas.

    So that's the ingredients and I have one recipe, but I'd like to consider others.

    Space wise, if you look at the attached picture, imagine the singers in the position either side of the fella in the centre, and the main camera position will be central in between the two black grills in the aisle at the bottom. If it's critical for this discussion, the lens height will be about 1.8m above the ground. Hope this sets the context better. They are professional singers and will understand the necessity to not wander around. There is a chance of course that they will also need a music stand, and that, could be a bit tricky.stmarg-png

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    Shame the church doesn't have overhead choir mics already in place, i.e., those tiny things on wires that aim down. They're pretty typical placement over here, though the churches are more modern and less like that style, often with performances of some sort in the altar area, so I guess it's a pretty common add-on when they install the main system.

    There are also "micro boom" small mics that might be a solution. Not invisible, but could be relatively unobtrusive.

    I've seen mics - XY typically on a very tall stand, way above the crowd, placed in the center of the seating area, and aiming down, too. I guess that would be in the way of the video, though.
    "... I know in the mornin' that it's gonna be good
    when I stick out my elbows and they don't bump wood." - Bill Kirchen

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    Most traditional churches here have sound systems worth about $50, and are simply terrible! Normally, in this kind of building, we'd fly 3mm aircraft cable from side to side and fly the array, but this one is a very quick in and out - arrive 11am, 12-1 is a service, and then the recording will be complete by 3pm. So pretty much is a plan in advance job, then run! The central camera will be preset, marked and then struck - re-instated for the recording and will be battery powered, so no cabling to worry about. The other positions can have powered operation. I'm happy enough that three mics will do the job, but have enough time to try a few things extra.

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    Hi Rob, I was already thinking of flying a Co-I pair, a la BBC then at the last post you explained why you could not!

    Any chance of a breast height pot plant or two to hide mics?

    Dave.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rob aylestone View Post
    Er, been in the music and performing arts business since around 1984 - so I'll assume I didn't;t make myself very clear.....

    Plenty of extra channels if anyone has a cunning ideas.

    So that's the ingredients and I have one recipe, but I'd like to consider others.

    Space wise, if you look at the attached picture, imagine the singers in the position either side of the fella in the centre, and the main camera position will be central in between the two black grills in the aisle at the bottom. ...

    ........ .................

    Normally, in this kind of building, we'd fly 3mm aircraft cable from side to side and fly the array, but this one is a very quick in and out - arrive 11am, 12-1 is a service, and then the recording will be complete by 3pm. So pretty much is a plan in advance job, then run!
    Well I was going to suggest hanging mikes from above but that seems to be out.
    Also thought you all were competitors not that close.

    The picture also helped a lot.


    Do you have extra mikes too? Or just extra channels.

    How about a pair of PZMs on the floor?
    Can you fit an XY in the middle?

    I would prefer to run some ambience mikes to other channels and forget the Blumlein approach. Mix to taste later.

    Why not ALSO close mike the piano. You are doing the mixing later aren't you?

    If you have channels and mikes to use I would put them somewhere to be useful if you decided to mix with their signals later on. But do plan them and know why you might want to use them not just do it.

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    Mics are not a problem, or channels - the desk can do up to 32 at a go. With time to get in and do our usual stuff, which is often just two mics in the right place, this must be what us Brits call belts and braces - a rig that will cope for unplanned events. The things that wreck these types of things - performers who don't hit the mark they stood on for the rehearsal. Those unexpected things like where a performer deliberately walks forward and talks to the audience, or the pianist suddenly putting the lid up or down, wrecking the balance. Or the noisy person in the audience, who in this age of inclusivity often sits right at the front - but is clearly in one of the lobes of the mic and recorded very well. With no chance to sort these things - a stereo pair - one-shot mic position isn't safe. As a backup to the computer, I'm going to run a Zoom 4ch recorder - which will have male, female and piano mics routed to it. The camera audio is only for sync purposes, but does offer a possibility as a distance perspective if all else fails. This is also one of those events where I'm going to have to cable neatly - something I rarely do being honest.

    People don't seem to like Blumlein - which is a surprise. I've always used it as number one technique in our old fashioned 16-17th century churches where I could get the access. Never used it lower down, so could make my noisy audience problem worse. I could use the mic in M/S, but never done that low down either. The sound at the low position in my site visit it quite lively, aiming up towards the apse ceiling over the altar, through the chancel. I'm conscious of the blend dangers with two singers and a piano, offset to one side. The video really just gives me a limitation on available technique.

    Has anyone used waist height stereo techniques with any success? Anybody prefer A/B rather than central miking? Any folk who have experiment with M/S in anything other than overhead positions? I'm confident by belts and braces approach will be at the minimum, adequate - but I'm hoping for better than that. I have a couple of long goosenecks, but I'm reluctant to use them because of the intrusion into the video.

    I intended not close miking the piano to try to retain the same perspective as the singers, but I could of course do this and add some artificial distance, I just rather like the sound of Yamaha and Steinways miked like this - oddly, I did one recording on a Bechstein and it sounded very mellow, not what I expected or wanted. Close miking this particular Yamaha could also be quite noisy, as the damper bar has (I think) quite hard felt pads, so taking the foot off makes a bit of a clump.

    I could replace the crossed fig-8 patterns on the centre mic with 2 x cardioids, or cardioid and fig-8 for M/S but I'd appreciate some reasons for discounting Blumlein, which has always served me well in these type buildings, admittedly, 3m further up!

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    Quote Originally Posted by rob aylestone View Post
    Mics are not a problem, or channels - the desk can do up to 32 at a go. With time to get in and do our usual stuff, which is often just two mics in the right place, this must be what us Brits call belts and braces - a rig that will cope for unplanned events. The things that wreck these types of things - performers who don't hit the mark they stood on for the rehearsal. Those unexpected things like where a performer deliberately walks forward and talks to the audience, or the pianist suddenly putting the lid up or down, wrecking the balance. Or the noisy person in the audience, who in this age of inclusivity often sits right at the front - but is clearly in one of the lobes of the mic and recorded very well. With no chance to sort these things - a stereo pair - one-shot mic position isn't safe. As a backup to the computer, I'm going to run a Zoom 4ch recorder - which will have male, female and piano mics routed to it. The camera audio is only for sync purposes, but does offer a possibility as a distance perspective if all else fails. This is also one of those events where I'm going to have to cable neatly - something I rarely do being honest.

    People don't seem to like Blumlein - which is a surprise. I've always used it as number one technique in our old fashioned 16-17th century churches where I could get the access. Never used it lower down, so could make my noisy audience problem worse. I could use the mic in M/S, but never done that low down either. The sound at the low position in my site visit it quite lively, aiming up towards the apse ceiling over the altar, through the chancel. I'm conscious of the blend dangers with two singers and a piano, offset to one side. The video really just gives me a limitation on available technique.

    Has anyone used waist height stereo techniques with any success? Anybody prefer A/B rather than central miking? Any folk who have experiment with M/S in anything other than overhead positions? I'm confident by belts and braces approach will be at the minimum, adequate - but I'm hoping for better than that. I have a couple of long goosenecks, but I'm reluctant to use them because of the intrusion into the video.

    I intended not close miking the piano to try to retain the same perspective as the singers, but I could of course do this and add some artificial distance, I just rather like the sound of Yamaha and Steinways miked like this - oddly, I did one recording on a Bechstein and it sounded very mellow, not what I expected or wanted. Close miking this particular Yamaha could also be quite noisy, as the damper bar has (I think) quite hard felt pads, so taking the foot off makes a bit of a clump.

    I could replace the crossed fig-8 patterns on the centre mic with 2 x cardioids, or cardioid and fig-8 for M/S but I'd appreciate some reasons for discounting Blumlein, which has always served me well in these type buildings, admittedly, 3m further up!
    Blumlein - less control over the room noise / ambiance than with separate mikes you mix later.

    Same as not putting f/x on the live track going in but add them later.

    Wireless mikes? Not sure if that would help but they are popular here.
    Put mikes on the singers and record those channels separately too.

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    As it happens, I have numerous wireless mics as we do lots of theatre stuff - but it's not an option here for performer tetchiness. Lavs for opera singers needs all kinds of brow mopping and it's quite easy to overload the transmitters, even on the max pad. You normally get them puff out their chest, and say something like "Darling, I think you will find that I don't need a microphone". I've met one before, but the other two are an unknown - so the added stress of convincing them on a lav is something that while effective, is a feather rustling request. I've never had issues with the room, in fact, that's the main benefit for me in the nice spaces. I'm doing one the very next day at another church, slightly smaller and not at all nice sounding, so for that one, absolutely X/Y - bit for Friday's? I'd like to capture as much real sound as possible. I even thought about modified M/S with an omni and side, to get a more ambient sound. I don't plan on having any close miked sources if I can manage to cover my bases.

    Anybody offer any comments on M/S - I appreciate all the comments, especially the warning ones - because while some I know have worked for me in the past - I'm sure they need listening to. I've been doing the prep work and am a tad concerned at the quantity of kit.

    I've taken a few pics of the stereo mic I'm really wanting to use - for those people who love weird and wonderful microphones.
    picture 1
    picture 2
    picture 3
    picture 4

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