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Go wireless or just mic the place up?

Discussion in 'Sound, Music, and Intercom' started by Fusiondude, Nov 18, 2006.

  1. Fusiondude

    Fusiondude Member

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    Here's the story... Our drama group is producing The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940. As of right now, I have no idea how I'm going to pull off sound. I've got lighting down to a science but sound is another story. I've narrowed it down to two options: One, get 10 wireless lapels and work with that OR two, try and mic the stage with two boundary mics and 2 hanging mics. Mind you, our auditorium is acoustically dead, so it's hard to hear anyone on stage. My only problem is that I kinda want to lean towards the wireless. We used some pretty crappy mics one year for a musical. The ones that actually worked sounded pretty decent with some tweaking on the EQ. However, I can't convince my director to go that route because she believes that the actors will act differently when they hear themselves through the system. Personally, I don't think that's the issue but I'm trying to figure out how to make it so that everyone can hear what's going on. Any ideas, solutions, tricks, tips? ANYTHING. Thanks.
     
  2. PhantomD

    PhantomD

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    Use the wirelesses. As I have said in another topic on this board, almost any wireless can sound quite good with a little tweaking, especially in the mid range.

    I think the director's viewpoint is crap. Actors I have experienced act no differently when wearing mics (except the obvious). Even if they're wearing mics, most actors know that they should project.

    Ask your director whether she'd rather the audience was able to hear and understand the dialect clearly OR use boundary mics for the sake of pleasing the actors? You need to talk to the actors (I ususally show them how to use/wear the mics), and tell them to act as if they were not wearing them, and still project.

    Trust me, I have experience with female directors. :p
     
  3. jbeutt

    jbeutt Active Member

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    I think in your position, you have a tough choice to make.

    Both your possible solutions require some knowledge and skill to pull off. Now, if you have experience using wireless lavs and are capable of putting together a good system, then I think that's probably the way to go. But on the other hand, if you don't have the experience with them, they can cause you a lot of trouble. You might get the volume you need, but there might be issues which detract too much. And in this situation, you don't want people regretting they listened to you. If you're certain you can make lavs work, from antennae to frequency selection, mic placement, eq and mixing, then by all means do it. But, as referenced in another post, subtlety is key.

    Boundary microphones can certainly work and are used very often. They require some technique to place and eq, but don't need the attention that lavs do.

    I think another factor is the size of your house. You say it's dead, but how large is it actually? In a 200-300 seat room, I'd suggest skipping the lavs and enforce projection.

    In my mind, well applied boundary mics are a better choice if we're talking about a relatively small theatre. Give them a lot of attention and tweaking and I think you'll have fewer headaches.
     
  4. Fusiondude

    Fusiondude Member

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    The space is of medium size. It seats around 530 plus a balcony on the second floor of around 50 about 50-60 feet back.
     
  5. jbeutt

    jbeutt Active Member

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    That definitely sounds big enough to use lavs, yet I still wonder whether you couldn't make boundary mics work.

    The problem I see is that having lavs may get your actors voices to the back of the room, but now you've thrown levels out of proportion and people in front are going to be blasted.

    I think if your room really has acoustical problems, it's your system design (speakers) that will help the problem and not what micing technique you use.

    Perhaps a delay fill for the back?

    I'd say it comes down to your experience. If you can do lavs, then certainly do them. If it's fuzzy for you, then throw in some delayed speakers for the back of the house and use boundary mics. This way, you needn't worry about mixing.

    Think about rearranging or supplementing your speakers to help counter the poor accoustics.
     
  6. audioslavematt

    audioslavematt Active Member

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    Some system specs would be helpful. If it were me, I wouldn't be using the lavs because there's no orchestra and they need to project. Lavs are a crutch that actors can use so they don't need to develop their voices. Do you want them to get better or worsen?
     
  7. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Don't use wireless for strait plays. Throw up some PCC and some CM31's and call it a day. There is no reason to spend money for wireless supplies on a strait play.
     
  8. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Last I checked The director was the one in charge of the production. whe it comes to technical issues they should be run through the TD who can arbitrate with the director. While you may think that the directors idea is crap your juob as a sound technicion is to make work, what you have to work with. I for one actually prefer boundary mics < my preference is pzms mounted on plexi suspended , in combination with moused pzms on the apron> in some cases specially for larger group numbers.

    As for you last statement, Wow , I think I'll let Sharyn or one of the other ladies on here ream you for that.
     
  9. Fusiondude

    Fusiondude Member

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    The house system consists of a single ElectroVoice EVI-15. It works very well for our space because it throws a hotter signal towards the back than the front, so no one gets blasted, so to say. I think what I'll do is use two PCC160's evenly spaced out on the stage apron (the rental house only has two available because the others are booked) and two MX202's hanging upstage. That as well as making the actors project more. Do you guy's think that's enough for what I'm trying to accomplish?
     
  10. SHARYNF

    SHARYNF Well-Known Member

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    A couple of things to keep in mind.

    For drama and verbal clarity, a dead room is actually better, if you look at the amount of "liveness" you want in a room the highest is for orchestra, and the lowest is typically for speach.

    Jacks comments are very valid.

    The problem with lav mixing is that it takes quite a bit of skill and constant mixing to make the production sound realistic, you want the voices to come from the stage, in their acoustical perspective and not sound like they are from the pa system, this is a lot more difficult than you might think.

    Boundary mics should be able to work well in this setup, if you get a thin piece of foam similar to the very thin material they wrap things in for packing and put it on the back of the mic (I typically use Crown pcc 160s) and place the across the front of the stage near the lip it should work quite well.
    Placing them on plex surfaces also can be used to make additional pick up areas.

    When you set the system up and get your levels, the sound should appear to originate from the performers, and the reinforcement should be not obvious.

    I think you need to be careful about taking a position where the sound designer is dictating to the director how it is going to be done. There are different ways to provide sound enhancement, and how the director envisions the audience experience is important.

    Sexist comments typically will totally destroy any of your credibility.

    One thing to remember is there is rarely one "right" way to do something, there are tradeoffs and different approaches, but at the end of the day, it really is the directors decision, and a good professional sound designer will be able to translate that vision in to reality.

    Sharyn
     
  11. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    I would like to take my usual route and agree with Van.
     
  12. stjc15

    stjc15 Member

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    I agree that the director is the one in charge. When I am steeing up a system, I ask the person in charge what they want exactly. After working for a little bit, I usually come back with something slightly differnent because what the director wanted was not entirely possible. After explaning why, the director will usually give you another idea or tell you to do it how you think will work. The sex of the director means nothing. There are male directors out there that are technically incapable, but that is besides the point.

    One thing about wireless mics on actors is that they usually don't even notice the microphone on stage. Though, the point about projection is quite valid. I personally would go with the wireless mics, unless of course it is stricly a play, and not a musical. I have not had much experience with boundary mics. I have used them for the first time recently, and it was very...interesting. We'll leave it at that.
     
  13. Andy_Leviss

    Andy_Leviss Active Member Premium Member

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    Actually, you have to worry about mixing area mics (only floor mics are boundary mics; hanging mics, since they're hanging in mid-air, don't involve a boundary surface), just as much as with wireless.

    It's a little easier, because you're not mixing line-by-line, and you're keeping track of fewer mics, but you don't ever want to have more mics than you actually need up, or you'll get weird cancellations and additions from phase differences (the same sound reaching two or more mics at different times), as well as being closer to feedback.

    To effectively use area mics, you need to watch the blocking of the show, and actively mix the mics, only bringing up the one closest to what you need to pick up at any given moment.

    --A
     
  14. SHARYNF

    SHARYNF Well-Known Member

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    Here is an area where a digital mixer with scene recall really helps ;-)
    In a lot of cases just muting and unmuting can be very effective ( this is why a number of the analog consoles added basic muting control for just this reason)

    Sharyn
     
  15. jbeutt

    jbeutt Active Member

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    Well I disagree that they both require equal mixing. That isn't to say that area mics don't benefit from the same attention, just to a much subtler degree. You can certainly get away with letting them ride the whole show.

    But you are right that they should be mixed. I didn't mean to give the impression they should be forgotten. And, if you do end up with lots of comb filtering, or find that muting and unmuting channels as Sharyn said, has a noticeable impact, by all means mix away.
     
  16. BNBSound

    BNBSound Active Member

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    It doesn't matter what you do, you're going to have a heck of a time getting anything done on a hich school production. It's kind of a catch twenty two the situation you're stuck in. As a working professional 14 years in the business I still think HS drama is the toughest mix around, and here you've go to try and pull it off while you're still getting your wings AND deal with a bunch of nonsense from the director.

    My typical setup is a dozen or so lavs AND boundaries, but tell the director the overheads are dead (wrong mic for the job, but if they think they work, direcrors will insist that you use them). Good luck.
     

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