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  #1  
Old 07-30-2008, 06:37 PM
timcorder timcorder is offline
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Default Audience mics technique?

I've been giving a lot of thought to revisiting how we mic and process our audience currently for broadcast and wondered if this would be an interesting topic for those of us who are tracking shows with the VENUE/PT combo to share notes on best practices for a killer live recording.

Specifically I'm curious of typical placement and configuration for wide & full audience interaction on tape - mics on stage, at FOH, hanging over the crowd, or a mix of the three? Any specific mics to recommend that you've found can't be missed? Processing tips that have taken your live mixes to another level?

In searching the DUC I can't find a definitive thread on this topic and it seems it would be quite important for capturing material worthy of release by our artists. Please chime in!
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  #2  
Old 07-31-2008, 08:30 AM
StrobeAlific StrobeAlific is offline
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Back to my time at Gaither Studios and working on LOTS of live audience recordings...

I love you using a combination of placements. Stage facing audience, middle of the room hung, and back of the room. Not only does this give you options for your applause, etc., but also give you nice effect for mixing in truly live ambiance. Sometimes using a digital effect is great, but nothing beats using the acoustics of a "good" room. That is assuming your room is good. :)
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  #3  
Old 07-31-2008, 09:42 AM
bmadix bmadix is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timcorder View Post
I've been giving a lot of thought to revisiting how we mic and process our audience currently for broadcast and wondered if this would be an interesting topic for those of us who are tracking shows with the VENUE/PT combo to share notes on best practices for a killer live recording.

Specifically I'm curious of typical placement and configuration for wide & full audience interaction on tape - mics on stage, at FOH, hanging over the crowd, or a mix of the three? Any specific mics to recommend that you've found can't be missed? Processing tips that have taken your live mixes to another level?

In searching the DUC I can't find a definitive thread on this topic and it seems it would be quite important for capturing material worthy of release by our artists. Please chime in!
Definitely like a variety of mic placement in a live recording. The thing about recording from the Venue live is that there's no opportunity during the show to monitor the recording (at least there wasn't for me.) Listening back the following day, I found a few things that developed into something of a system.

I think it's important to throw a few shotgun mics into the equation. We recorded 10 audience mics every day on both the Rush and Shakira tours. Of those, six were shotgun mics. When placed high and aimed into the distance, they seemed to pickup the "crowd" as opposed to the guy in the front row. Of course, if they're not high and aimed at the back of the hall, they REALLY pick up the guy in the front row.

Placing mics in a variety of locations was important, as well. I suppose that almost goes without saying, but the complication with a touring production is that there's a limit on how much time you have to string cable and hang things. I've heard of people mounting mics on the PA and off of Lighting truss, and that's not a bad idea, really. But it's time consuming. We basically tried to find a variety of positions across the stage and at the FOH position. Possibly not the best way to capture the audience, but logistically sensible on a daily basis.

We placed four shotgun mics on stands at FOH as high as possible without blocking sight lines. These were aimed directly house right and left, and deep house right and left into the back corners of an arena, for example. We aimed them at the highest seat in the room, or even a bit into the ceiling. There were also two shotgun mics directly under the PA downstage Left and Right. These were also aimed at the top row in the rear corner. These mics essentially recorded the "crowd" as a group.

Across the front of the stage we used four large-diaphragm condenser mics. One each downstage left and right (mounted on the same stand as the DSR and DSL shotgun mics) and one on each vocal mic stand facing straight out. These tended to pickup the first few rows, and gave the audience sound some "intimacy" which is helpful in a hockey rink.

The mics that really surprised me were the DSR and DSL large-diaphragm condensers. As crowd mics, they really just picked up the people sitting at the corners of the stage. As ambience mics, they added something interesting to the mix. A "fullness" of a sort. They were the one set of mics I definitely would add into the recorded mix on a daily basis.

On the occasions where we shot video along with the audio, we added a handful of mics around the room. Just pencil condensers, and about 6 or 8 of them. If we were in a hockey arena, they would just be spread out along the "boards" about 8 to 10 feet high, pointing straight out. This gave us a bit more of that intimate sound without making us too intimate with the same several people all night!

None of this is recording ambience, exactly. It's all about the crowd. I think you'd want to capture more ambience in a more intimate setting, and frankly, there's little ambience in your average basketball court that's worth capturing.

On Shakira, we did once try a Holophone H2Pro (they've since released a mini version that looks interesting) to record 7.1 ambience. We placed it on a projector riser behind the mix position, up on a tall boom stand. I'd say it wound up at about 18 feet above the floor level I wasn't in on the mixdown of that, though, so I couldn't really report on the quality of the tracks we got. Again, no way to monitor the inputs during a show.
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Old 07-31-2008, 12:26 PM
dstagl dstagl is offline
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Brad, I have 2 questions.

First, when you mentioned the mics directly under the PA, were these on stands on stage or did you rig them to the bottom box on the PA?

Second, when you guys were sticking mics all over the room, was there anything you would do that worked to help cut down on PA bleed into the crowd mics?

Thanks!
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  #5  
Old 07-31-2008, 08:23 PM
Tiginbna Tiginbna is offline
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They were on stands directly under the PA, with no care to how high the PA was. I used them post fade to send them to the ear mixes when neccessary.

BC
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  #6  
Old 08-04-2008, 04:10 PM
RScovill RScovill is offline
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Hi all -- just thought I might chime in with a few thoughts for you concerning audience miking. From my vantage point, one of the most commonly misinterpreted concepts when doing this is defining whether you are looking to achieve "audience" miking or "ambiance" miking or some combination of the two in your live recordings. Most quality recordings are well served by having both -- however, few post mixes can successfully use a single set of mics that try to accomplish both audience and ambiance capture. What ends up happening is the post mix is created and the mics are kept very low in the mix until need -- they are generally EQed to death so they can be brought up at any critical crowd moment within the song without destroying the sonic qualities of the mix because of comb filtering/time smear.
They (ambiance and audience) each require two slightly different approaches in my opinion and also are subject to two different agendas when mixing. Let me explain --
First and foremost, if you are hoping to employ any portion of the miking scheme as "ambiance" -- meaning it will be blended in at a given level with the post production mix and remain there providing a "quality" to the mix -- then IMO it behooves you to pay very close attention to phase between which ever mics you use, as well as the position these mics are placed, in that the sound coming from the PA system will certainly be a component of what these mics capture. And that's okay -- in fact that PA component of the capture is desirable in most cases. While the audience may be a fractional component of what these ambiance mic(s) capture -- it is not the fundamental component; the sound of the PA and or the PA exciting the room is the fundamental component. So, if you're using a split miking scheme for this at the stage i.e. one stage left and one stage right -- or if you have distant mics, one house left and one house right -- the post mixer will be greatly served if you can ensure that the arrival time of the audio from the PA is equal in those microphones. You can do this very simply in this day and age by using an FFT like Smaart or SysTune and capturing one microphone listening to the PA and then storing it and adjusting the arrival time to the second mic (by physically moving it) to get the relative phase responses to match best you can. With that in mind, this is exactly why I prefer using XY for this type of miking or even the Bruce Swedien method of using two closely spaced omnis - in order to maintain good control over arrival time differences while still capturing width. The result of this is that, the post engineer will be able to actually use an increased amount of this "ambiance" without it inducing "smear" in his mix simply because of the poor phase qualities between the two mics to start with.
Now, this dove tails nicely into a discussion of "audience" miking -- here the object is to capture a very high level of signal to noise -- signal equating to audience -- noise equating to PA spill and or the room sound created by it. IMO this is done with a number of strategically placed tight pattern mics i.e. shot guns much like Brad Madix mentioned above. I've done this in the past using multiple shotguns around the stage area and even some shotguns pointing to different audience locals around the room -- sometimes at the stage in conjunction with large diaphragm mics as well -- but always paying close attention to the pick up pattern of the mics -- especially the large diaphragms. I suggest cardioid or hyper cardioid for the large diaphragms with the nulls directed at the speaker sources. But here is the important part -- regardless of whether I hang them from the PA, or whether I ground support them on mic stands -- I try to ensure that they are all as equal in distance from the PA system as possible using an FFT. Meaning if they are at the stage level -- get them all equi-distant from the PA source. If they are out in the room - make sure THOSE are all equi-distant from the PA. Again this allows the post mixer to pull up those faders during remix with at least minimal smear between the microphones themselves.
When I'm doing this in the field --for me what plays into the decision of whether to hang the mics near or from the PA system or ground supporting them away from the PA system is a balance of the anticipated level of excitement from the crowd vs. the actual amplitude of the PA and possibly even amplitude of the stage or back line equipment. If you have the mics close to the PA the relative phase with the post mix will be good -- but you might be trading good phase for poor signal to noise if it's a quiet crowd -- if it's a loud crowd and your mics are ground supported you might be trading just the opposite - especially if there is a lot of back line bleed into those mics. Get me??? You just have to make the best decision you can taking all this into consideration and also based on the circumstances before you --
As for mics, for audience I love the Neumann mid sized shotguns - UNBELIEVABLY great and natural sounding used in conjunction with the TLM 103 for ambiance-- best bang for the buck in the Neumann line IMO.

Good Luck!
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  #7  
Old 08-08-2008, 01:59 PM
bmadix bmadix is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dstagl View Post
Brad, I have 2 questions.

First, when you mentioned the mics directly under the PA, were these on stands on stage or did you rig them to the bottom box on the PA?

Second, when you guys were sticking mics all over the room, was there anything you would do that worked to help cut down on PA bleed into the crowd mics?

Thanks!
Dave
Cutting down on bleed from the PA is one of the two main reasons to use the shotgun mics, the other being that you can make it sound as though you're capturing a much larger crowd, assuming you can get the mic high enough and aim it far away enough.

I should mention, though, that I made board recordings on one tour and had good luck with a pair of shotgun mics at FOH pointing directly at the PA! This isn't exactly ambience, and it's definitely not crowd, but it adds back an element of "reality" that's often missing in live recordings.... assuming that's what you want.

On Rush we did a lot of sheds, and I wanted to keep the mics as far away from the big metal roof as possible, so none of them were mounted on the PA, though it might have worked to mount them on the bottom, now that you mention it. The stage left and right shotguns and large diaphragm mics were mounted on dual mic clips on boom stands directly under the PA, as much as possible.

As for the Shotguns on the stage, I tried to position them in a left pair and right pair, as close together as possible.

Robert's point about time-alignment is well-taken, though I think it depends on what you're trying to capture - audience or ambience. In either case, if the mics are positioned closely enough together, in groups (say, stage and FOH groups) then it's a fairly simple matter to move the tracks to line up later. This is especially important if you're trying to capture ambience to deliver a "surround sound" on the final product.

As for the other large-diaphragm mics along the front of the stage, they were meant only to capture close-range audience, and would never be used in the mix for ambience, so time alignment was somewhat less of an issue.

Brad
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Old 08-08-2008, 02:00 PM
bmadix bmadix is offline
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Which is the other thing I don't think I mentioned, this is all great to feed to the ears for the artist...

Brad
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  #9  
Old 08-12-2008, 06:15 PM
bmadix bmadix is offline
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It occurred to me while I was ripping out the subfloor in our master bathroom preparing to install a new shower basin and re-tile, only to discover that the old drain pipes were only one-and-a-half inch, and code is two... that there might be a trick to "time aligning" all of these mics.

I always have a stereo track that is the main left and right out of the desk, and I use this for later reference. This makes it easier to navigate through the show later, as you only have to assign the two outputs, and you can get started editing and so forth.

Anyway, if you were record a few seconds of pink noise, you could easily come back later and bump ambience and audience tracks to line up. Spectrafoo, for example, will calculate delay times to the sample and can be used as a plug-in. Once the number of samples of delay is known, just shift the tracks that amount! Voila...

Now back to the bathroom...
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  #10  
Old 08-12-2008, 06:16 PM
bmadix bmadix is offline
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To be more specific, run pink noise through the main L&R and record that, along with all of the ambience and audience mics.

Brad
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