Advice - simple audio approach for steel band concert...

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David Pearson
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Joined: Nov 20 2000

I'd appreciate some pragmatic and simple advice on recording a steel band concert next Saturday (29th) - in the obligatory school hall (band on stage, limited in-house lighting etc). No amplification (except PA for mic announcements). The goal is a DVD for sale to friends and family etc.

I've got two Sony PDX10s and normally use a Rode StereoMic. So my gear is fairly basic (and likely to stay thus - it's very adequate for my normal needs).

Last year I locked off one of the cameras centrally towards the back of the hall - with the mic on camera, on auto-levels - and used the second camera hand held for closeups/cutaways on/around the stage etc. (I simply left both cameras running throughout, used the rear camera as a master video/audio track, and intercut video from the second camera. Very simple and effective.)

See the first two clips at http://uk.youtube.com/user/CometsSteel - you'll get the feel from last year (though neither of these were typical tracks...)

The audio last year was the main problem I couldn't deal with adequately on the day. On auto, sound levels were constantly somewhat clipped or compressed; and there was too much room accoustics. But the result was very effective, and the band were delighted with the end result. (I did have some wild audio on the onboard mics on an Edirol R-09 recorder - from the main camera position - which was appreciably cleaner. So I know where I'm going..)

I've two possible solutions/improvements this year (plus I'll be at the rehearsals too which should help a lot):

1. Hang a stereo mic from the lighting gantry (ie above the stage) to feed my Edirol R-90 (on manual levels!) - BUT this would mean up to a 20-metre non-balanced 3.5mm stereo extension cable (I don't have the means to phantom power a pair of balanced mics via that route) from (probably) the Rode Stereomic (I've also a Sony stereo mic). I'm likely to give this a go anyway, if only as a backup or separate audio recording. I know that the Rode can cope well with rather loud music!

2. Run a stereo mic pair, on a low-ish stand (don't want to spoil everyone's view) perhaps 20-30 feet back from the stage - back to the main camera (presumably 20-30m balanced XLR leads should be fine?) If so, I'm proposing getting a little pair of Behringer C-2 mics for this purpose (they're cheap enough... and again, the Rode mic couldn't easily be on a balanced connection.)

On (2), ideally I'd prefer a single run of cable for the stero pair - would making up a specific 4-core shielded microphone cable (with a pair of XLRs each end) be a good route, or am I better just running (and gaffa taping) two separate XLR cables? Any suggestions for effective (and economic!) cable spec and source? I've only a few days to sort this out!

I'd add that unless I can persuade a friend to help out (in particular, to keep a regular eye on peak audio levels on both recorders) then I'm running this on my own (and committed to shooting some stills too - a sizeable workload!!). So - as I say - this is a pragmatic approach! I can't indulge in more complicated setups...

DAVE M
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Joined: May 17 1999

http://www.studiospares.com/Cable-Drums/Cable-Drum-Snake-8xXLR-25m/invt/589640

might help you.

I use loads of 10M XLR cables and also use this

http://www.studiospares.com/Snakes/Snake-124-XLRJK-30m/invt/588220

I'd be tempted to place a pair of mics on the stage edge in foam blocks. Make a block about 6" cubed and poke the mic through it giving a closer miked sound with isolation from the floor.

David Pearson
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Joined: Nov 20 2000

Thanks for that - I'll have a rummage. I don't think the "mic on the stage" route is going to work, though - the width (and indeed depth) of the orchestra means I need to be further back, and/or higher, to get a reasonable spread (the musical director organises the players to get a decent mix). Any others' thoughts?!

DAVE M
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Joined: May 17 1999

in which case flying the mics will work - albeit with the hassle that overhead equipment has H&S wise. Or a mic on each side of the room. You can fiddle with the soundstage in post

Don't go too far back as the room reverb will kick in. The audience will dull the room down from the empty reverb you hear it rehearsal

David Pearson
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Joined: Nov 20 2000

Thanks again. A mic either side of the hall might work - there are wall-mounted spots I may be able to reach. Either way it's a cabling nightmare!!

DAVE M
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Joined: May 17 1999

I do a lot of live events so believe me - cable is heavy and takes as long to put away (neatly) as it does to rig! But you're not using much so lots of gaffer is the best thing safety wise.

PDX10s smear a bit in low light so see if the lampi will take it up a couple of points on his desk to give you a better picture. Also, a couple of lights FOH will lift a "normal" concert rig so that the front of the stage is lit better for video

David Pearson
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Joined: Nov 20 2000

Agree re low light. It's a school hall so to a large extent we get what we're given - limited control. Last year half the lights vanished the day before the concert, and I wasn't at the rehearsal - so the very beginning of the concert came as a bit of a shock in all respects...! Anyway, I'll basically have to work with that I've got, light-wise - they were very happy with the end result last year.

I'm very much an unskilled or self-taught amateur trying to do the most professional job I can with what tools I've got (and recognising that audio is the area where I'm weakest in terms of both tools and skills). Most of what I work on is coverage of amateur sports events, hence camera-mounted mics!