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Microphones Pan mics during shows...

Discussion in 'Sound, Music, and Intercom' started by ChrisButterworth, May 2, 2009.

  1. ChrisButterworth

    ChrisButterworth Member

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    Is it worth during a musical to pan the microphones of the principals depending on where they are stood on stage, or is this unnecessary effort?


    Cheers :)
     
  2. DaveySimps

    DaveySimps CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    This is really a broad question. It varies drastically depending on your specific sound system, you venue, and the show. In general, I would suggest that it is not “necessary” to do lots of panning. I have always just used it only as necessary. Perhaps as an effect, or to help differentiate certain characters with only one line in a scene where there is a large group on stage.

    The risk of doing this poorly could hurt a production. Depending on the venue and sound system, too much panning may prevent large parts of your audience from hearing that actor at all since the speakers that cover that part of the venue may not be receiving enough level from the mic when panned away.

    When in doubt, keep it simple. There are enough other elements to worry about when mixing a musical.

    ~Dave
     
  3. Stookeybrd

    Stookeybrd Active Member

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    Dave is absolutely right.

    I won't echo what he said too much. But remember that even though a system may be stereo, many audience members will have a "mono" source due to speaker proximity. So hard panning would be like killing that mic for them.
     
  4. Eboy87

    Eboy87 Well-Known Member

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    Most of the time I try and mix musicals on a L/C/R system; the orchestra gets a L/R send to the two outer stacks, while all the singers go to the center hang.

    When I'm on a L/R system, I tend to still mix the pit in stereo, but for the most part, the singers are mixed in mono. If you don't have a digital board, the pans can drive you crazy, and nine times out of ten, you'll be busy mixing the scene before and won't have time to twist pan pots. Now, that being said, I do pan when two singers are close together. THe singer on stage right comes out of the stage right stack/hang, while the character on stage left comes out of the stage left stack/hang. It helps cut back on comb filtering drastically. I only do that if I can't keep on top of it on VCA's.

    To top it off, a lot of your fill speakers will be mono sends anyway. The front fills are usually mono, and our under-balcony fills are also mixed mono, though I have independent control of the house left and house right underbalconies (two HL, two HR).

    So it can be done, but I tend to not to. Again, PA placement and room issues can prevent a true stereo image. Our house PA is set up so that everyone can hear both stacks, but I wouldn't call it stereo. Plus, it all depends on what the sound designer wants, if there is one.

    I'm sure those more knowledgeable than I will be along shortly to share their views.
     
  5. museav

    museav CBMod CB Mods Departed Member

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    I think the question has been pretty well addressed. The bottom line is does panning provide the same result or effect for all of the audience, if it varies significantly over the audience area then panning probably needs to be used sparingly. The caveat to this is that a mono source, such as voice, routed to multiple speakers/arrays that cover the same listener areas can have its own problems. So as already noted, you just need to see what works for your system, but be sure to consider the entire audience area and not just one location.
     
  6. Anonymous067

    Anonymous067 BANNED USER

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    I find it too petty to mix pans...it's difficult enough with other cues, mixing the actual levels first, and keeping the pit happy. The only time I find this necessary is when there might be a principle on the left side and a group on the right, and its not hard panning.

    The show I'm running right now only gets a mono lav mix anyways, because I ran short on groups. Sorry actors, no panning this show (like they notice or care).
     
  7. spiwak2005

    spiwak2005 Member

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    I've done it a couple times when there were 2 duets going on simultaneously in a song - 1 couple SR and 1 couple SL. As has been said, I didn't do hard panning, but just a little to highlight the fact that it was 2 separate couples in "different rooms" in the same song.
     
  8. Andy_Leviss

    Andy_Leviss Active Member Premium Member

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    What has yet to be mentioned here is that I can almost guarantee that nobody reading this or replying here has a system that is actually capable of stereo coverage. Why can I say this so confidently? Because a true stereo system is incredibly expensive and very hard to implement in a theatre. Lots of people THINK they have true stereo or LCR systems, but almost without fail they are actually wrong.

    A system with speakers on the left and right is NOT a stereo system.

    If you don't have a TRUE stereo system, capable of reaching EVERY seat with both channels at appropriately balanced levels*, you do NOT have a stereo system, and panning inputs is doing a huge disservice to your audience.

    In other words, no, panning is not a good idea :)

    For more on this, see this great paper by Jim Brown:
    http://audiosystemsgroup.com/mix3ch.pdf

    --Andy

    *-It's tempting to say that it requires equal level from both sides in each seat, but what you actually want is the near side ~3dB softer than the far side. This is incredibly hard to make happen without a LOT of very carefully chosen speakers in all but the smallest of venues, and even there it requires very particular selection and aiming of speakers.
     
  9. museav

    museav CBMod CB Mods Departed Member

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    Even more, imaging is a factor of both amplitude (level) and timing. Does everyone have the same level and path length/time of travel from the each source? Unfortunately, for most facilities and systems both the relative amplitude and time arrival of the signals differs significantly over the audience area. This is why some people believe that mono sources should be panned to just one speaker as any 'phantom' images involving the same source reproduced from more than one speaker can vary throughout the audience.

    Another consideration is that when you have the same source coming from multiple, physically separated speakers you also get interactions that vary dependent upon the relative phase of those signals at any point in the space, the infamous combfiltering. So the resulting frequency response will vary thoughout the listener area and can change if you adjust the panning.

    As Andy said, a system that addresses all these issues well for anything other than a small portion of the seating is unusual. Panning may be worth experimenting with for certain situations but you probably want to assess the results for everyone and not just at the mix position.
     

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