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School production_Live sound and recording

PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2012 1:03 pm
by Chris H
Just finished the big event for the year here at PLC. Every two years we do a musical with Scotch College. This years show was Disney's "Beuty and the Beast." Not a demanding story line with this one, but everyone knows the music etc so so it all hangs on being able to deliver a good mix over the rather large orchestra that is located between the stage and the audience at floor level. 16 radio packs, 24 DPA omni's some 4061 and some 4060 that are 6dB hotter, so, the mic tecs, who are students, had better not get them mixed up when changing pacs etc, or the gain structure I have carefully established during rehearsals will be up the creek. I have a student on the faders for the radio mics and for insurance and recording, they are grouped through subgroups 1 and 2 .....minor adjustment when needed by yours truly. I was nervous with this years show because it was the 1st time i had students on the desk and I usually don't like anyone near MY desk when I'm doing a show....... or anytime for that matter :-s
Expectations all round are high and reputations can easily be tainted if the show isn't delivered to a high standard. The student musicians had 80 pages of music to learn and deliver, sight reading the whole show. Lighting was programmed by the other AV tech here and students operated the lighting ques via the pre programed laptop.

With this show we have the rights to record and produce a DVD for non commercial release within the school community so I recorded all 4 shows to my mackbook using a MOTU 896 with a be!@#$%^& ADA 8000 to give 16 channels for recording. Mic placement for the recording was severely limited due to line of sight issues for the audience and the distance between the first row and the band. I had to locate the main stereo pair at the height of the musicians sitting down and about 3 feet behind the conductors head, so I added another two mics about 8 feet either side of center using fig 8 with the null pointing directly at the players because the mics where so close i wanted to capture what was around and not directly in front of the mics. Bass and keys where DI and I had a spot mic on the harp.
After an initial struggle to get the sound stabilized during rehearsals, things settled down and the shows went really well and everyone was pleased with how it all went. I have had a quick listen to the recordings and they seem to be pretty good so i will post a song or two up when I get them finished.
I think these type of shows are one of the few opportunities still available for a recording engineer to record with a live orchestra and I really enjoy this aspect of my job, along with the holidays!

Re: School production_Live sound and recording

PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2012 11:11 am
by gigpiglet
i think that sounds awesome! and good on you for having a student on the desk pushing faders. what console did you use?

ive done a few school shows (in the town hall and so on) its amazing how high the pressure levels can be (imposed by others of course) for what should be a fun thing for the students. i have seen some tears!

Re: School production_Live sound and recording

PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2012 12:32 pm
by Chris H
Yep, It can get pretty full on. The lighting ques kept getting a bit mixed up and the girls on the computer where under a fair bit of pressure the night before opening but it was timely intervention from the lighting tech that let them take a breather in the nick of time. The audio team had it a bit easier. I had two on radio mics, fitting, trouble shooting, pack changes etc, one on sound FX, and one on the radio mic faders, following the script and bring them up when onstage, balancing etc. She had the pressure job really. The cast is also under a lot of pressure, a few needing a day or two off after the show to get back into gear.

The desk was a Soundcraft MH2 with the meterbridge. Nice and straightforward with everything I needed.
Here is a test mix from opening night. Faders up, panning and comp on vox and stereo bus, no eq added in the mix in Reaper.The vox is a bit low in the loud section but I haven't got into automation in reaper yet. I have decided to have a serious look at Reaper and this is my first try at it. So far i like it a lot.

( http: removed........I decided to remove the clip from youtube till i carefully check the copyright conditions under which we are permitted to use our recording. I now we can produce a DVD for use in the school but putting it on the youtube is a different thing. I'm pretty sure if there was a closed in house way of sharing content it would not be a problem)

Re: School production_Live sound and recording

PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2012 10:27 am
by Chris H