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Author Topic: Brand new to taping live concerts, any tips?  (Read 1095 times)

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Offline tapermansam

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Brand new to taping live concerts, any tips?
« on: February 08, 2024, 08:54:16 AM »
I'm brand new to taping live concerts, and am looking to record the Northlands Music Festival this June and wondering if anyone has been here and if they allow recording? I emailed them twice and haven't heard back...

I've done classical recordings before (piano, pipe organ, quintets, etc) and a few local bands here and there, but nothing like a festival/large outdoor concert. Any tips or recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

Gear that I'll be using:
Zoom F4
Rode NT5 matched pair (I have both cardioids and omni capsules)
Sony MDR7506 studio headphones
Impact 13' air cushioned light stand for the stereo bar + mics


Thanks!

Sam
« Last Edit: February 08, 2024, 08:55:58 AM by tapermansam »

Offline HealthCov Chris

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Re: Brand new to taping live concerts, any tips?
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2024, 07:04:09 PM »
I haven't been to Northlands, so I can't speak to that.  That lineup looks sweet!!! However, some important considerations to festival taping are as follows (not an exhaustive list).
1- Adequate windscreens
2- Adequate memory card size.  I use a seperate 128gb for each day, so I can start for first band and let run all day.  Don't want to run out of space, or be messing around with cards after libations have been had.
3- Adequate battery.  Know your consumption amount before you go.  Or take something like this for the day https://a.co/d/bi5STQ7 .  You can recharge it overnight.  I hate using smaller battery banks that may die.  Again...libations.
4- Rain coverage for mics and gear on ground.  Umbrella with clamp and clear trashbag.  Be sure your mic cables curl below the thrash bag tie off, this way any water runs down your cables and drips off before they enter the trash bag.
5- consider a weight for your tripod incase the wind kicks up.
6- If setting stand in traffic area, a small led string light is helpful to mark your stand base area to avoid people walking into it.
7- Dry storage for gear overnight to prevent moisture in the mics.
8- Double all this if you plan to record at both stages.

Notice the taper in the background (with umbrella over mics) from Northlands last year (2023).
« Last Edit: February 08, 2024, 07:17:05 PM by HealthCov Chris »
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Offline fanofjam

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Re: Brand new to taping live concerts, any tips?
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2024, 07:48:25 PM »
I haven't been to Northlands, so I can't speak to that.  That lineup looks sweet!!! However, some important considerations to festival taping are as follows (not an exhaustive list).

Excellent guide Chris.  A couple of comments to add...

Get big beefy screens or furs for festival taping because they act as shock absorbers and/or mud flaps if your stand ever takes a tumble, which can happen.  I've come back to my mics after a storm thinking I'd secured everything great before leaving the bowl or whatever only to find the mics capsule face down in 5 inches of mud. 

Second the suggestion about batteries.  I would strongly suggest overdoing your battery planning.  Take WAY more capacity than you expect.  I'm real close to my 100th festival and I can tell you 100% that batteries are the one thing that used to kill my festival taping experience more than anything.  That's a thing of the past for me now bc I have something like 25 tekkeons and my cables and/or recorders are such that I can hot-swap batteries, so I never have to worry about losing power as long as I keep an eye on my battery usage during the day (which sometimes gets away from me depending on beer consumption).

An alternative to weights for your stand are stakes. 

Alot of guys like to be FOB during fests, but I find that too much of a hassle of managing my stand and blocking drunk people.  For maximum festy enjoyment, get there before crowds amass and set up with your back to the barricade in front of the board.  I set my stand up than park my camp chair right next to it.  I usually will be recording from first act till late night, so that's sometimes 16 hours of recording, so the camp chair is essential to my festival enjoyment.  I'll usually pick either corner left or corner right, because alot of FOB engineers don't like the stands directly in their sight lines.

If it starts to rain, put a towel on top of your umbrella.  That'll keep the pitter patter of rain drops from your recordings.

For what it's worth, 24/48 uses about a gigabyte an hour.  So a 128gb card will be plenty for a weekend, and 64 usually is plenty but it can get pretty full if you do a four day festival.

I always take my laptop and download yesterday's performances as a safety in case something ever might go wrong with a card, say the last hour of the last day of a festival.  If I don't have my laptop, I change cards each day for the same reason.  I've never lost an entire festival, but always have lived in fear of it happening.

$10 wal mart ponchos have always been my go-to for rain-gear.  Small and fits in my bag with little or no space taken up.

Since this is your first festival be aware that 75% of festivals before about July are mud pits by the last day.  Gallosh type footwear or waterproof hiking boots end up saving your health.

If you like to imbibe, many festivals have police and animals outside the gate and upstream of the festival entrances.  Plan accordingly.  I've heard that spending a night or two in jail can ruin a festival experience.  ;)

Regarding the suggestion about string light on your stand...that's a good suggestion, but once the sun sets I just keep my led flashlight in my hand and when someone gets close and just shine the light on the ground to help guide them around my shit or to keep them from tripping on a stand leg.

Friends make the best blockers ever, so if you're going with others, make it a team sport.

Take a penknife or something discreet with you to kill beach balls and other inflatables.  All you have to do is put a pinhole in it and then knock it away and chuckle while it slowly deflates.  Nobody knows you're the murderer.

If I think of anything else, I'll amend.

Enjoy the festival!



« Last Edit: February 08, 2024, 07:51:46 PM by fanofjam »

Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Brand new to taping live concerts, any tips?
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2024, 09:53:09 AM »
I use a dog-leash ground-screw and adjustable strap to secure the stand to the ground and prevent it from toppling, but the ground needs to be soft enough to screw it in, and take a small folding 3-leg stool to put my recording bag on, keeping it off the ground.  Consider taking a second chair.  It blocks the other side of the stand and accommodates a friend. 

Rain sucks.  Keep a couple large heavy-duty lawn refuse style garbage bags folded up in your recording bag for deluge protection.  You may not need them, but if you do they are large enough to fit everything rapidly, and thick enough to survive in that environment without leaking.  If a tropical deluge threatens suddenly, throw your recording bag in one, along with your backpack or whatever else (with the low loop of mic cables keeping water out), on the stool out of the mud.. and if it really starts coming down, you can lower the mics and quickly put the other bag over them.  A couple large Damp-Rid style desicant packs back at camp are a good idea.  If you have a very small recording bag you may be able to hang it from a knob of the stand itself, but test that setup for secure hanging and center-of-gravity stability first.

Hot sun is beats rain but use something to shade your recording bag to prevent the recorder from overheating.  Make sure there is sufficient air space around the recorder in the bag.  Use something to shade yourself.

Get a tall stand.  Height above the audience is the first and most effective way to attenuate nearby talking.  That goes a long way to easing taper anxiety about distracted audience members ruining the recordings. But with height comes susceptibility to wind and toppling.  Stake or screw it down and use good windscreens.

Some festival tapers bring a folding wagon.  Easy to manage chairs, stand, gear, waters.  Can keep the recording bag in there, eliminating the need for the small stool.

Take a extra flashlight. Helps if one is a headlamp.  Bring extra earplugs.

Notice some common themes across responses? 

^ All this practical stuff is what makes it really work.  Once you have all that under control you can think about niceties like what mics and what microphone configurations. Which we can also discuss if you like, but is something of a secondary concern after all the other stuff is under control.
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Offline al w.

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Re: Brand new to taping live concerts, any tips?
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2024, 10:06:06 AM »
There are lots of tapes from last year's Northlands festival - and it's a jam-heavy fest - so you shouldn't have a problem. Some great tips in here!

Offline rocksuitcase

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Re: Brand new to taping live concerts, any tips?
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2024, 10:42:26 AM »

Some festival tapers bring a folding wagon.  Easy to manage chairs, stand, gear, waters.  Can keep the recording bag in there, eliminating the need for the small stool.

We started using a wagon back in 2015 after seeing some Vibes and Greyfox tapers using them. Especially if you're camping and need to go long distances from field to stage.
Highly recommended utility item. (Carrying in or on top of car has to be thought about, ours comes apart so the legs and wagon can be stored flat.)
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« Last Edit: February 09, 2024, 11:00:20 AM by rocksuitcase »
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Offline fanofjam

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Re: Brand new to taping live concerts, any tips?
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2024, 02:00:45 PM »
You might be a little squeamish about leaving your gear unattended.  I get it, but once you're set up and mics are flying, I've never had anyone mess with my stuff (other than trips and accidents).  YMMV of course.  But with that said, one thing I've found that really helps alot is getting to the first act of the day way early and developing some repoire with the FOB guys.  If you're early enough they aren't running around like crazy getting their own shit set up.  Obviously, after the music starts, they're busy and usually aren't as amenable to talking to you.  They're all gear sluts just like us, so all you gotta do is start inquiring about something technical, like mics, and they'll chew their ear off.  Anyway, the point is that once you get some vibes flowing with them, 99 times out of 100 they'll let you put your mic stand inside the cage, usually at one of the front corners.  That adds an extra element of enjoyment because now with your stand in the cage, you don't need to do any blocking or worrying about anyone tripping over your stand legs.  Plus, once you're in, you're in for the weekend.  Sometimes, they also let me keep my stuff right there all weekend, so i don't have to shlep it back to camp every night.  YMMV on that...I don't feel as safe about theft when leaving my stuff at the board than taking it back to my car, but if I'm parked a million miles away, I've taken the chance kept it stashed inside the cage and behind their overnight tarps, and I've never had anything stolen.  Funny about festival people, at least at the jamband-centric fests that I attend...the addicts will steal you blind in the campground, but everyone generally seems to respect everything to do with the stage and the music.  Goes without saying, but camp is a different story.  Never leave anything valuable in your tent if you're camping.  Keep it locked and hidden in the car. 

This is probably pretty basic, but write yourself a checklist of stuff to take a couple weeks ahead and update it constantly in the days before packing because until you've been to a few fests YOU WILL forget something at home.  You just will.  But imagine driving 10 hours to get to a festival only to find out that you left your clamps at home.  Or interconnects.  It will ruin your weekend if its a key taping component.  It happens.  So make a checklist. 

I have a checklist app on my phone so my festival checklist is saved on it...I use the same checklist for every festival I attend now.  After i get home, I just go back in and uncheck all of the boxes and I'm ready for the next festival.

Duct or gaff tape is your friend.  Take a roll with you everywhere you go.

Towels are your friend...always take at least one towel with you everywhere you go.  The number of different things a towel is good for is endless.

I usually keep a 1/2 to 3/4 expended roll of toilet paper in my bag for obvious reasons.  (I was gonna say 1/2 to 3/4 used roll of TP...eeeuw!)

There have been a few mentions about heavy ply trash bags keeping gear safe from the elements.  Just one precaution about that, try to keep it out from public view.  Covering my trash bag is one of the many uses for my towel.  I know it's crazy, but some people assume a trash bag is used only for trash.  :)  Can't tell you how many times I go to check my levels only to find a half-eaten burrito thrown into my bag.  Goddam wooks!



« Last Edit: February 09, 2024, 02:13:59 PM by fanofjam »

Offline todd e

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Re: Brand new to taping live concerts, any tips?
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2024, 02:36:11 PM »
another thing that helps tremendously, act like you belong and don't second guess your shit (at least not out loud)
 
its soo easy to read someone unsure of where they are going or what they are doing, it just makes it easier for the security etc.  I.e.  (these are not the driods you are looking for...)

and almost every security/venue staff will say taping is prohibited, stand your ground and ask to speak to a manager politely (or someone with the touring musical act (often times they are unaware, not ignorant)

Offline checht

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Re: Brand new to taping live concerts, any tips?
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2024, 08:43:51 PM »
To avoid the 10 hour drive and no clamps (or interconnects, etc), set up your entire rig in the backyard or living room the weekend before. That gives you a week to find/order things you don't have.

I have a spreadsheet with different tabs for each kind of show - festi, outdoor open, indoor open, stealth. After I get home, I update w anything I forgot or wished I'd brought. After a couple years, it's idiot proof.
Mostly haha
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Offline SMsound

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Re: Brand new to taping live concerts, any tips?
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2024, 09:45:03 PM »
To avoid the 10 hour drive and no clamps (or interconnects, etc), set up your entire rig in the backyard or living room the weekend before. That gives you a week to find/order things you don't have.

I have a spreadsheet with different tabs for each kind of show - festi, outdoor open, indoor open, stealth. After I get home, I update w anything I forgot or wished I'd brought. After a couple years, it's idiot proof.
Mostly haha


^^ This times 100!  I do the same *almost* always. But of course, yesterday I grabbed some different kit I wanted to try out, ended up having the chance to tape, and found out after setting up that I was missing cables....
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Offline admkrk

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Re: Brand new to taping live concerts, any tips?
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2024, 10:12:24 PM »
I started doing this for festivals that I am working at. But, that involves much more gear than a night out. On the other hand I have had to make a quick trip to the store, more than once, for cards. Once I even had to make a quick trip back home for my mics.  :facepalm:
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Offline tapermansam

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Re: Brand new to taping live concerts, any tips?
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2024, 06:38:58 AM »
This was WAY more than I expected, but good stuff to know from the veteran tapers out there!

I'm a bit skeptical to keeping my gear outdoors if it rains, and I would rather not destroy my gear within the first day of using them outdoors. Does anyone use Pelican or other watertight hard cases for their field recorders? It seems like many just use the Porta Brace bags or some sort of shoulder bag and throw it all in a trash bag when it rains.

Definitely will have to invest in some sand bags or other weights for the mic stand, as well as an umbrella and rain gear. My biggest fear is dealing with security and having all my gear with me and them telling me I can't enter or I have to put that stuff back in my car. I know Goose and most of the bands are lenient with tapers coming to their shows, but does security/front gate staff know about this too?

Thanks for all your help and tips, these are great to start with! Very excited to setup at Northlands this year, I hope to get some good audio!


Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Brand new to taping live concerts, any tips?
« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2024, 09:58:38 AM »
^ Many tapers store their mics in small watertight cases.  IME, A pelican case for the recorder is nice, but tends to be most protective for transport and storage.  If you are using a recorder stored in one and it starts raining you'll most likely need to first turn off the recorder, then disconnect the mic cables to close it up watertight.  That's a stressful decision to have to make, especially if it quickly passes.  Figure a strategy where you can accommodate most any weather in a few progressive steps without having to stop recording unless you really want to.

I used to use a soft sided cooler as festival recording bag.  That worked well because it was well sized for the recorder, mics, batteries, etc. stored in it's internal plastic tub, which is rigid and fully water tight up to the lip, and has the fully padded bag around with a good shoulder strap, big zippered front pocket, mesh side pockets.  Just need to keep rain, mud, beer, whatever out of the top, and when the zippered soft lid becomes insufficient for that its own, it's easy to throw a plastic bag or umbrella over the top in a light rain, or drop the entire thing in a big plastic bag and secure the neck of the bag around the mic cables in torrential downpours, with a drip loop hanging down below the cable entry point into the cooler bag.  ..and its soft lid can be propped open to provide sufficient ventilation under something thrown on top to provide shade, retaining easy access.

How much you need to deal with rain/mud/dust/heat potential will depend a lot on the weather, where you are, time of year.  You may not have to deal with any of that, but wise to be prepared for what might happen. Appropriately, most of the recommendations in the tread specifically address the challenges of outdoor / festival recording..

..but the most fundamental advice here which applies to every recording situation is from todd e'-

another thing that helps tremendously, act like you belong and don't second guess your shit (at least not out loud)
 
its soo easy to read someone unsure of where they are going or what they are doing, it just makes it easier for the security etc.  I.e.  (these are not the driods you are looking for...)

Focused determination combined with a friendly, easygoing and courteous disposition tends to reveal the path of least resistance.  Remain aware and carry yourself with an air of quiet confidence and a Jedi mindset.   
musical volition > vibrations > voltages > numeric values > voltages > vibrations> virtual teleportation time-machine experience
Better recording made easy - >>Improved PAS table<< | Made excellent- >>click here to download the Oddball Microphone Technique illustrated PDF booklet<< (note: This is a 1st draft, now several years old and in need of revision!  Stay tuned)

Offline checht

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Re: Brand new to taping live concerts, any tips?
« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2024, 12:03:22 PM »
^ all great advice. 2 things:
1) Can't overemphasize how important Jedi mind tricks are, especially when going low profile.
2) I have decided that there is no one performance that is worth water damage to gear. I shut down and pack up quickly. Someone else at the festi will have made the opposite decision and I can download their recording later.
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Offline grawk

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Re: Brand new to taping live concerts, any tips?
« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2024, 12:59:20 PM »
2) I have decided that there is no one performance that is worth water damage to gear. I shut down and pack up quickly. Someone else at the festi will have made the opposite decision and I can download their recording later.

That's how I feel about festivals
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