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Recording Theater
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
Gear Nut
 
Recording Theater

How would you record a small (one actress) theater play audio-wise? ORTF?

On person mics is out of the question, and this is low budget…

Any hints appreciated!
Old 2 weeks ago
  #2
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Presumably there is movement by the actress across the stage during the play ? Will there be an audience or is this a rehearsal...is it being filmed for video also ?

Will there be any soundtrack, recorded incidental sounds played through the theatre PA system ? If there is actor movement, any type of stereo recording will reflect that movement, which can be distracting to listen to if it's an audio-only capture..less so if it's video with audio.

I would aim for predominantly mono sound...because this gives no movement cues, unless the actor moves off mic and the off axis pickup has a drop in level, or sounds less present and muffled.

A line of 3-5 BLM's along the front of the stage may capture dialog (monologue !) effectively with less chance of dropout ....or if you really want stereo you could use a shotgun or hypercardioid as mid mic of a mid-side set, and track her movements with a boompole...fading out the side component when she moves and then increasing it (to give stereo) when she stands still.

More information needed about the setup proposed...ORTF is perfect, if she is seated for the entire play. If there's any movement, this method will reveal it ruthlessly.

Hire of a Rode Go wireless mic will solve all your capture problem, but she won't wear a mic...hence all these other less adequate proposals above
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #3
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
as always, the choice of gear should depend on acoustic properties of the venue, the source, the desired results, realtime or post processing options, delivery format etc. and only then on the readily available gear, time and budget...

...and without being given any context, i find any suggestion on mic setup pointless: there is no generic tool/technique that does it all/is suitable in any situatio/under every circumstance, except that you want a lavalier on the actor/performer!

with very limited funds, i'd probably opt for a cell phone though, no kidding!

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 2 weeks ago at 08:58 PM..
Old 2 weeks ago
  #4
Gear Nut
 
This is for video, hopefully in a dry acoustic. There will be movement (probably not overly much), but I would think that it is supposed to be heard as such, so if she speaks from a side it would be good to hear her from the side, too. Hence the question whether ORTF would work.

That‘s as much as I know myself…
Old 2 weeks ago
  #5
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
If for video you'll need to have the mics invisible...so ORTF will give you position-accurate stereo, if that's what you seek.

If it's just a single voice with no added background sounds, music etc then mono would be fine...because the illusion of 'just a voice' gets broken somewhat when movement in the stereo field is involved. That voice does have to be 'present'and on-mic at all times...anything off axis is going to sound compromised. You can also hide mics in or behind objects (eg a flower vase, books on a table, other stage props), so that the voice is kept in focus.

Mid side would give you the option of using just the mid mic (for mono) or adding in the side matrix component for a sense of width, space and movement.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #6
Gear Addict
 
My vote would be for NOS hypercardioids; spacing reduced to about 10", due to their increased directionality. This would be less 'off-mic' sounding than using cardioids.

Would be a real shame to record a dramatic performance in mono, eliminating the actor's stage movements.
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #7
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by k brown ➡️
Would be a real shame to record a dramatic performance in mono, eliminating the actor's stage movements.
"Eliminating stage movement's" is just another way to say "the recording wasn't ruined when the performer slightly turned their head.

Sometimes you want some stereo realism, and more often: you want a clean recording.

The only real answer to the question is to capture both. Use some boundary microphones (or whatever you have onhand / seems right for the situation) plus a lav on the performer. You'll probably wind up using one 90% of the time, and the other for for 10%.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #8
Gear Addict
 
A performer turning their head hasn't anything to do with stereo or mono. Only thing that can address that is body worn, which has been ruled out (?)
Old 2 weeks ago
  #9
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
It depends on the particular stage, but I've found the most success using 5 or 6 spaced-out hypercardioids hung above the lip of the stage. You can pan as you'd like but ultimately this gave us way better clarity (all-important with dialogue) and the least amount of hall.

Traditional stereo arrays like ORTF I don't find to be useful in this context. When the performer walks near the mics, you hear them well. But as they walk away from them, you hear more muddy hall reverb and way less dialogue clarity/volume. They become much quieter at the outside edges of the stage simply because they are much farther from the mics and... inverse square law is everything.

Stereo imaging doesn't usually matter very much in theatre, and this is especially true if video is involved; we're used to hearing dialogue come out a mono centre in film/video. If there are a lot of close-up shots, then the viewers have no idea if the performer is supposed to be on the left or right anyways. They're in the middle of their screen and that's what matters.

If you multitrack, you can get fancy in the mix stage and "chase" the performer around by turning off/down mics that aren't currently covering the performer. Though I found it works well enough even without doing this. The main advantage of doing this work is minimizing phase interactions of the other mics.

BLM's are a similar approach but have the rather significant problem of allowing the performer to get pretty darn close to them, which means the level difference between downstage and upstage is too great. Hung mics help alleviate this. Even coverage is key for clarity, so hang fairly high such that the difference in distance between performer and mic doesn't change much whether they're upstage or downstage.

But yeah, if you can put a lav on the performer, do it. 10 bucks says you'll just use that if you have it.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #10
Gear Addict
 
Crown/AKG PCC160's supercardioid pattern is designed to restore upstage/downstage balance to a fair degree.

5 or 6 cards across the front, with much fader-riding is how some major labels recorded opera.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #11
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
More germane than any technical or aesthetic discussion is: how limited is the budget, and what mics do you have (or are able to rent for the event) ? Once the limits are known, possible solutions within them can be more helpfully offered
Old 2 weeks ago
  #12
Gear Addict
 
Size/width of the stage will affect recommendation.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #13
Gear Nut
 
Thanks everyone. This is not actually my own gig, and a lot of it seems to be in the unknown so far, but your hints and tips help a lot in determining how to proceed.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #14
Lives for gear
 
kludgeaudio's Avatar
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JGebauer ➡️
How would you record a small (one actress) theater play audio-wise? ORTF?

On person mics is out of the question, and this is low budget…

Any hints appreciated!
How dead is the room and how much moving around is there?

I might just put an ORTF pair on the stage fender but... it depends on how the reflections from backstage go.

I might also... since it's only one person... make a studio recording instead.
--scott
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