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Using low placement for main array?
Old 21st March 2021
  #1
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Using low placement for main array?

Due to almost everything being video these days, it is sometimes tricky to get the best mic placement without having mics intruding on the video scene. Using AB omnis or ORTF for sonata-type (piano and one instrument) can require a fairly close distance from mics to performers and best placement is often right in the middle of the main video shot.

While I have used a “low” mic (maybe 3 feet high) pointing upward as a vocal mic for opera type vocals in live performance before, I have always tended toward fairly high positioning for my main stereo pair. Now, I am wondering if I can get away with positioning the main pair at a height of maybe 4 feet in order to get the mics close enough and still minimize their impact on the video shot. Have any of you used a technique like that with success, or is it just asking for trouble?
Old 22nd March 2021
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tourtelot's Avatar
 
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I'm guessing that it's not possible to fly them in from over head.

D.
Old 22nd March 2021
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Doug - you would be correct
Old 22nd March 2021
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But wouldn’t a 4 foot high mic be even more visible, video-wise ? I think your main problem is going to be the mics collecting more piano than you’ll like, and perhaps floor bounce causing comb filter/flutter (a mat or roll of absorptive carpet can help a lot)

With SD mics as mains an overhead mains array may not be as impossible as you think....find/buy another instance of your regular main pair stand, both spaced widely enough to be out of shot.

A pair of hollow 7 foot aluminium poles, one thinner than the other so it can slide inside (with enough overlap to prevent sag) Drill a hole at each pole end to slip onto each stand top.

Attach your regular stereo bar in the middle via gaffa, then a 2 person raise to correct height...voila, almost-instant overhead !
Old 22nd March 2021
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Sadly, most of this kind of work is in a pianists living room with 8 ft ceilings, so it is hard to try to use mics at 7’ up which can give too much direct reflection off the ceiling - that is why I haven’t just used a big studio boom to suspend the mics from above. Obviously you guys are thinking it isn’t a reasonable solution to use low mics, so I suppose I will just have to try some low mics in addition to my regular pair and see how it works.
Old 22nd March 2021 | Show parent
  #6
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Thanks for that extra context...maybe a mid height (between ceiling and floor) would indeed be better than getting too close to either boundary, in terms of mitigating reflections ? How about putting your main pair off to one side of the solo player, as both instruments (flute,piano) propagate at least hemispherically. Twist the main pair so the solo instrument is central and let the piano take care of itself...that should get the mics out of camera view
Old 22nd March 2021
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What sort of ensembles? Or did I just miss that. Solo piano? How about a Decca placement at the tail of the piano? Still in the shot of course, but pretty far from the focus.

D.
Old 22nd March 2021
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Studer - that’s what I’ve been doing, but as I said, I feel like my mics are a bit too far away doing that. My Schoeps guide says my ORTF pair should be about 2m out.
Doug - sonata stuff - piano and single instrument. Been using just a single main pair, no piano spots (tried them on a few sessions and just didn’t need them in the mix).
Old 22nd March 2021
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I've gotten away with a low main pair a few times when an overhead was not useable due to video needs. No real problems with it, you just need to be careful to avoid doing it with instruments that project downward like brass or reed instruments. They will overtake the balance. On strings and voice, it usually works fine.
Old 22nd March 2021 | Show parent
  #10
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🎧 10 years
8-foot ceilings, huh?

...So maybe a pair of spaced PZMs on the ceiling?
Old 22nd March 2021 | Show parent
  #11
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i'd either use more directional mics at slightly larger distance/out of the camera's view (schoeps original ortf was using their hypercardioid capsules btw), pzm's on the floor (not on the ceiling: too risky...) or then use mini mics/spots nevertheless.

some videographers are okay with small capsules (attached to their remote preamp bodies)...

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 22nd March 2021 at 11:11 PM..
Old 22nd March 2021
  #12
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Damn. Chasing threads around the bastard sub-forum offspring of the old Remote Possibilities...at least I can still scan the main forum for the "Moved..." entries. [rant off]

By never seeing a mic in the video frame, the average YouTube viewer must think that the on-camera mics are fantastic now-a-days
Low stands often work fine for spots but I'm not a fan for the main pair. Its hard to balance the ensemble when the geometry folds to a flat angle - usually the musicians closest to the mics block or mask the instruments behind them IMHO. Low ceilings do make it tough on so many fronts and should generally be avoided, but if that's the hand you're dealt, then... I have never tried it, but I would be tempted to to put a sound absorbing panel or trap on top of the array and then get as close to the ceiling as required to stay out of the shot. Sort of like Steve Remote's mini-gobos.
Old 22nd March 2021
  #13
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Why not just get the camera(s) as close as possible (no need to video capture the room really, if it's not a concert hall it won't have anything to add visually !)... and then simply put your main pair immediately behind the camera ?

Alternatively....if that's giving you too much of the "small room sound", I'd simply abandon all thought of capturing the sound of the instruments interacting with the 'room acoustic' ....which probably isn't great anyway....and simply Decca tail-mic the piano, spot mic the flute or soprano from waist height, and then glue the 2 images onto each other with some nice reverbs.

If you employ two 8-10" spaced cardioids for the solo instrument/voice, facing forward & parallel, you can pan them 10am and 2pm to give a 'fatter, floating spot' sound...which is better than a thin mono spot image, as per Plush's advice in other similar threads.

You'll probably fare better this way than trying to adopt "concert hall main pair/spot approaches" in an altogether-too-small room...with ceiling/floor boundaries that are going to impart a small, boxy ambient overlay anyway.

2 relatively close miked/spotted sounds will cohere better as a mix (with a nice combo plate/recital room plug-in stereo 'verb to merge them), rather than setting yourself up for a compromised small room sound, via a traditional main pair approach. Make the best of an imperfect situation by not deliberatley exposing the acoustic flaws of the situation.
Old 22nd March 2021
  #14
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🎧 15 years
If this is is a relatively small room, is there any chance of booming an overhead pair in from the side using a robust stand, grip head, boom holder and a long fishpole mic boom? This has worked for me many times--12 to 15 feet out.
Old 22nd March 2021
  #15
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Philper - thought of that, but worried about having mics too close to 8’ high ceiling...
Old 23rd March 2021 | Show parent
  #16
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman ➡️
Philper - thought of that, but worried about having mics too close to 8’ high ceiling...
That's exactly why I brought up the idea of using PZMs on the ceiling.
Old 23rd March 2021 | Show parent
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman ➡️
Philper - thought of that, but worried about having mics too close to 8’ high ceiling...
I've done ok with this with cards, and certainly with oddball directional no-rear-lobe mics like Sanken CS3e for dialog. You might be able to soften the ceiling by many possible means. You can probably test this at home? With the low mount you have the floor to deal with, anyhow...

Last edited by philper; 23rd March 2021 at 09:02 PM..
Old 23rd March 2021
  #18
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🎧 10 years
Not a bad idea, the PZM/blm approach...you can actually get a good simulation of it simply by putting your best Omni pair on a couple of tall stands and raise them so the mic grille is touching the ceiling, at a 48-55cm spacing, a few feet in front of the solo player.

You can expect a sudden, dramatic reduction of 'small room' flutter artefacts....try it at home tonight, you'll like it...costs little time and no money to run the experiment

There's a time and a place for the standard 'main pair ORTF a few feet above and in front of the solo player'...and your current situation isn't it !

I recall Zappa trying something similar decades ago....a small Pignose electric guitar amp, laid on its back on the floor, pointing up at the ceiling...mic stand raised so mic was touching the ceiling. Apparently he got a "huge, spacious electric guitar sound". Room Boundary....meet other room boundary
Old 24th March 2021
  #19
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman ➡️
Due to almost everything being video these days, it is sometimes tricky to get the best mic placement without having mics intruding on the video scene. Using AB omnis or ORTF for sonata-type (piano and one instrument) can require a fairly close distance from mics to performers and best placement is often right in the middle of the main video shot.

While I have used a “low” mic (maybe 3 feet high) pointing upward as a vocal mic for opera type vocals in live performance before, I have always tended toward fairly high positioning for my main stereo pair. Now, I am wondering if I can get away with positioning the main pair at a height of maybe 4 feet in order to get the mics close enough and still minimize their impact on the video shot. Have any of you used a technique like that with success, or is it just asking for trouble?

this is low but not piano https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ez62cQPYyI8 but the video work is not great ! thank God for the music and the sound though.....IMO.....

There was also the Pinchas Z . low mics (schoeps) on violin and piano recently posted. The piano sounded good, as did the violin.. ..well, good enough for video anyways....but not bad at all.....

FWIW I actually want to see the mics...,,

Ray
Old 24th March 2021
  #20
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Thanks Ray - very nice piece. I love Piazolla.
Old 25th March 2021 | Show parent
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RayS ➡️
...FWIW I actually want to see the mics...,,

Ray
^^^ This!
When did a concert hall become a film set? I understand wanting to hide the mics when making a movie but the primary goal of a video recording of music concert is auditory and mics should be positioned to achieve the best sound, not the best look...
Old 25th March 2021 | Show parent
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimjazzdad ➡️
^^^ This!
When did a concert hall become a film set? I understand wanting to hide the mics when making a movie but the primary goal of a video recording of music concert is auditory and mics should be positioned to achieve the best sound, not the best look...
Unfortunately the mic stand and boom arm mfrs don't assist the cause of relative invisibility, with their unnecessarily thick poles and stuff...that's why I always aim for the thinnest possible (while maintaining safety) tubular sections, using either carbon fibre, kludged Ikea home lighting hardware etc. Most of the time we're supporting lightweight SD mics, after all....
Old 25th March 2021
  #23
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For every piano/vocal video that is available on the internet there are dozens, if not more, guitar/vocals being viewed. The primary concern that I have when shooting a video for a guitar/vocalist is to make certain I can always maintain a full view of the singers face. There are always other visual artifacts that will be essential elements of the screen including the guitar the mic and the wearing apparel of the performer: none of these are detrimental to the vital importance of a full face shot. I use a high end tube mic (FLEA47 Next) to simultaneously capture both the guitar and vocal. by placing the mic between the instrument and the singers face and moving it a bit right of center I get what I want sonically as well as a full face view.
The primary problem that I occasionally deal with is performers that are deeply invested in a two mic capture that features a close proximity "Eat-um rock & roll' vocal mic even though they are a solo acoustic act. Entrenched habits can be very difficult to change even when it becomes desirable or necessary.
Hugh
Old 25th March 2021 | Show parent
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman ➡️
Sadly, most of this kind of work is in a pianists living room with 8 ft ceilings, so it is hard to try to use mics at 7’ up which can give too much direct reflection off the ceiling - that is why I haven’t just used a big studio boom to suspend the mics from above. Obviously you guys are thinking it isn’t a reasonable solution to use low mics, so I suppose I will just have to try some low mics in addition to my regular pair and see how it works.
I'd venture a guess that part of the problem is that by the time you put up a mic stand or two and a video tripod in a normal living room with a piano and normal furniture, there isn't much space left to work on capturing different angles. In a concert hall, viewers may expect to see mics/stands, but not so much in a living room.
Old 8th April 2021
  #25
Gear Nut
 
I like very much the sound of mics at the tail of a piano; it also may prove a nice placement in relation to video, being just at a side of the view if not outside it.
Omnis are the choice for this Decca tail placement, of course, but I'm asking if also cardioid could be used on the tail side if the room is not great or if the tail of the piano is too close to a wall ( like a small room/stage).
If cards may be used, what a good compromise in position will be?
Old 8th April 2021 | Show parent
  #26
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by carpa ➡️
I like very much the sound of mics at the tail of a piano; it also may prove a nice placement in relation to video, being just at a side of the view if not outside it.
Omnis are the choice for this Decca tail placement, of course, but I'm asking if also cardioid could be used on the tail side if the room is not great or if the tail of the piano is too close to a wall ( like a small room/stage).
If cards may be used, what a good compromise in position will be?
Remember that the tail end is only a starting point,,,in fact there's a usable arc-range of positions, around which you can swing the mic pair, to give a shift in audible spectrum, and satisfying balance of tone.

Imagine a string attached to the rear (tail-end) leg of the piano, at the floor level, and the other end of it attached to the gravity centre of the mic stand's pillar, also at floor level.

Swing the stand around clockwise, towards the middle of the piano, and you'll increase the perceived balance towards mid-range/HF. Swing the stand anticlockwise, towards the hinges of the lid plane, and you'll get a darker sound balance. Your ideal will lie somewhere between these 2 extremes...maybe a maximum 90 degree arc range in theory...in practice, much less than that

The new Decca book gives a very precisely specified starting point, and suggests there's not very much latitude at all from it...verfiy by trial and error to see if you agree ?

I'm still trying to figure out if the new Decca book is the equivalent of the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Dead Sea Scrolls, tablets brought down from the mountain, etc etc

Dogma...or doggedly correct, in spirit at least ?
Old 8th April 2021 | Show parent
  #27
Gear Nut
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 ➡️
Remember that the tail end is only a starting point,,,in fact there's a usable arc-range of positions, around which you can swing the mic pair, to give a shift in audible spectrum, and satisfying balance of tone.

Imagine a string attached to the rear (tail-end) leg of the piano, at the floor level, and the other end of it attached to the gravity centre of the mic stand's pillar, also at floor level.

Swing the stand around clockwise, towards the middle of the piano, and you'll increase the perceived balance towards mid-range/HF. Swing the stand anticlockwise, towards the hinges of the lid plane, and you'll get a darker sound balance. Your ideal will lie somewhere between these 2 extremes...maybe a maximum 90 degree arc range in theory...in practice, much less than that

The new Decca book gives a very precisely specified starting point, and suggests there's not very much latitude at all from it...verfiy by trial and error to see if you agree ?

I'm still trying to figure out if the new Decca book is the equivalent of the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Dead Sea Scrolls, tablets brought down from the mountain, etc etc

Dogma...or doggedly correct, in spirit at least ?
I see....so as approaching towards the trebles our main pair goes toward the “standard position”. Still omnis are great on piano. Soon I’ll have the possibilities to make some trials with a piano with little space from the tail and the side wall. Will try to tape two little omni caps on the wall as boundaries...who knows?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #28
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🎧 5 years
Ive been miking lower recently.
Works well with small ensembles especially when they are on stage.
Have yet to try large ensembles with depth of seated players....
If they want cinema do it to playback like the pros.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #29
Very low placement, 2 Schoeps BLM3 80-90cm A-B on the floor. Recorded in 1989 with a SONY PCM-F1 digital recorder, the one that used a betamax videotape as media.

I have up loaded a wav file, but at my place Gearspace does not allow me to listen to it, can You ?
Attached Files

01-Brass with BLM3.wav (9.90 MB, 325 views)

Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #30
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Orgeltonmeister ➡️
Very low placement, 2 Schoeps BLM3 80-90cm A-B on the floor.

I have up loaded a wav file, but at my place Gearspace does not allow me to listen to it, can You ?
No I am unable as well
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