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Author Topic: unobtrusive mic set up for stretched out choir and other student performances  (Read 3320 times)

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Offline 2manyrocks

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I'm supposed to run sound for about 50-60 high school students putting on a dress rehearsal performance of their drama skits, solos, duets, quartets, and choir pieces before they go off to compete at the regional competition.

This goes on all day and well into the evening before they all get done. 

It's also the last real chance to catch and correct any mistakes before they go to competition.

Most of the skits, solos, duets and quartets take place on the stage, and I'm probably just going to do a recording off the sound board.  With all the coming and going all day in this space, I'm limited where I can put mic stands and cables and not trip someone. 

One problem I could use some help with.  The choir director puts all the students in a single line that stretches from the floor on one side, up on the stage, and then down back on the floor on the other side.  Space is tight.  They will be in the walkways for this part of the performance.  A mic stand in the middle may not capture the ends of the choir very well.  There's isn't room for mic stands on either side on the floor without going into the seats, and I'd rather not block the views with mic stands. 

What kind of results do you suppose I could get clamping some mics onto the seats on either side and maybe a set in the middle of the choir?  Or do you think I should just put a set of cardoids with omni flankers in the middle on a stand and just record what I get?  My concern with clamping mics to seats is the inevitable noise of audience bumps and knocks, plus having mic cables someone might trip over.  If I just record from the center, I think I'll get less crowd induced noise. 







 

Offline voltronic

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I'd avoid clamping on the seats in this situation for reasons you mentioned.  If you can, do cardiods in the center in ORTF set behind the conductor.  Just try to get your array as equidistant from all the singers in the arc as you can, but it sounds like you'll be limited in how far back you can go.  You could just set right behind the conductor, and go as high up above their head as you can with the mics angled down.  Since the audience's view will already be blocked by the conductor somewhat, a skinny mic stand shouldn't be a big deal.  I've only ever had complaints from the school TV station about having a stand in the middle of their shot.

I would also do as you suggested and add spaced omnis (and preferably back a bit in the auditorium).  You might actually be fine with just the spaced omnis if you're also getting the board feed for solos and other amplified groups, but it also depends on where their PA speakers are.  If it's like most high school auditoriums, they will be flown from the ceiling or mounted high up in windows to either side of the proscenium, so if you're in close you shouldn't get a ton of PA bleed. 
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Offline 2manyrocks

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They would be better served if they had speakers mounted to the ceiling because of lack of space and getting speakers away from their mic line.  However, they only have Yamaha's on stands on the stage.  I am going to bring in EV ZX90s for clarity, but because there's so little room to put anything, about all I can do is either put the speakers on poles out in the audience seating or put the speakers on the stage.  To make it more challenging to avoid feedback, the main part of the stage thrusts out at the center. 

Offline voltronic

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Whoops - I thought you were asking about recording, not running PA for the concert.  Please ignore everything I wrote in my previous post. :facepalm:

What mics do you have to work with?  I would usually put a few SM57s/58s on stands - as few as possible that cover the entire choir, or even better you could use AT or Crown PCC boundary mics for this.  The Crown especially works great for choir PA taped to the seat of a stool.

Also, this sounds like a show choir.  If it is, are the moving during the performance or staying in the formation you described?

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Offline 2manyrocks

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I am running sound, but will also be recording.   

The choir stands still, but they are wayyyyy spread out.

I'm thinking I need to set speakers on the front of the thrust platform and use a center mic stand behind the conductor as you suggested with a pair of Line Audio CM3s for the choir recording.  The skits and stuff I will pull from the soundboard.  My other option for mics would be Rode Nt5s with either card or omni capsules, but think the CM3s would do better in this particular room and do better with the wider pickup pattern.   


Offline Len Moskowitz (Core Sound)

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The choir director puts all the students in a single line that stretches from the floor on one side, up on the stage, and then down back on the floor on the other side.

For recording you could use a single, small ambisonic mic (like our TetraMic) placed on a stand or hung where the sound is good. Do mic pattern selection and pointing angles in post during decode. Make as many decodes as you need to pick up what you want to pick up. Combine the resulting decodes to get your final mix.

It's pretty simple to do once you understand the method.

 
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Offline voltronic

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The CM3s look perfect for recording in this situation.  No need to spend $1400 on a new mic - use the tools you have and experiment with placement.
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Offline ScoobieKW

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Check out the Stereophonic Zoom sticky in Recording Techniques. Figure the orchestra angle from the Conductor's spot and then choose the pattern that works best for placement of the edges of the performers.
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Offline 2manyrocks

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Yes, I need to do a few calculations to figure out placement.

No, I will not be spending $1,400 on this.  It'd be cheaper to give the conductor $50 and ask him to move the kids.   ;D

Offline voltronic

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If you want a great way to figure out the Orchestra Angle for your SZ calculations, my favorite way is this app:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.appyhand.bearingcompass

You would use it in Bearing Compass mode with the ruler overlay.  Standing at the center, note the bearing looking dead center.  Then pan to the left or right edge of the ensemble, and subtract that angle from your center measurement.  Multiply times 2 and you have your Orchestra Angle.  Then you can plug that in here: http://www.sengpielaudio.com/Visualization-ORTF-E.htm
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- Gustav Mahler

Offline ScoobieKW

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The online calculator is awesome, but doesn't work on iPhone.

Neumann Recording Tools app for iPhone and Android is a good field Stereo Angle calculator too.
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Offline 2manyrocks

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The choir director changed his mind, and he will be running sound.   The last time, he had his pa system on poles behind the mic line, his phantom power didn't work, and some of his mics were intermittent to name a few issues.   Oh well...

Offline voltronic

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The choir director changed his mind, and he will be running sound.   The last time, he had his pa system on poles behind the mic line, his phantom power didn't work, and it'ssome of his mics were intermittent to name a few issues.   Oh well...

That's too bad. I'm a school choir director myself and you can tell him from me that I said to pull his head out of his ass and let someone who actually understands audio take care of his sound. :P

In all seriousness though, I have had some colleagues in buildings I've worked in the past who have been tough to convince that I they could use help with live sound or recording.  My advice is to be politely persistent, and especially to be there to save the day when his setup craps the bed.  Eventually he may get tired of bad sound and let you try your hand, if his ego allows and if he can even hear the difference.  If not, at least you did the right thing in trying to help.
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Offline 2manyrocks

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I received an email from the choir director to which I have given a politely persistent response as you suggested.  He sees his system as performing well.  I had to tell him that one of his former adult choir members and his wife complained to me about not being able to hear what goes on.  I outlined the difficulties with the present system and recommended specific system changes and the reasons for them. 

Anyway, "politely persistent."   That's good advice.  Thank you. 

Offline voltronic

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I received an email from the choir director to which I have given a politely persistent response as you suggested.  He sees his system as performing well.  I had to tell him that one of his former adult choir members and his wife complained to me about not being able to hear what goes on.  I outlined the difficulties with the present system and recommended specific system changes and the reasons for them. 

Anyway, "politely persistent."   That's good advice.  Thank you.

It sounds like you're doing all you can without being too pushy.  The wife may be your way in the door, but the real way he'll look for outside help is if parents of his students start complaining.  Unfortunately, they typically complain straight to school administrators and then that can get messy.  Maybe there's another concert in the school or district you can volunteer to record, and then if you do a great job word will spread quickly through the department.  Especially if it's a high school band concert.
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- Gustav Mahler

 

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