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Flying microphones in front of a large ensemble
Old 17th October 2022
  #1
Gear Nut
 
Flying microphones in front of a large ensemble

I'm reading with interest a thread where a number of us recount issues with videographers or administrators, where a recording is required but no microphone stands can be visible. Seems crazy to me, but hey....

So if you don't have access to the gantries, lighting racks etc. etc. over a stage, how do you fly microphones? (pictures would be good!). I can envision two, 20 foot tall stands on either side of the stage with a wire or something small stretched between them and microphones hanging from that but wow....what a PITA.
Old 17th October 2022
  #2
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Whatever hasn’t already been covered here: Best of flying mics

Also : What to do when the choir director has mic fright?

limitations in mic placement? what would you do?

Mic Stands, Sight-lines, and Video during classical music recitals

Last edited by studer58; 17th October 2022 at 11:01 PM..
Old 18th October 2022
  #3
Gear Guru
 
Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Two anti gravity mag lifts from Star Trek? A couple of drones with wireless mics?

There is no good way to "fly" microphones if you do not have access to a catwalk or cannot put permanent wires up in the concert hall. Two stands will not work unless you can put 500 pounds of sand on each of them to keep them from falling towards each other.

Just use thin mic stands...
Old 18th October 2022 | Show parent
  #4
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
i've been using a steel rope* between pillars (or stands pulled to pillars with straps - which looks ugly though) or opposing balconies...
...but i make the promotor pay dearly for such an extravagant solution! - and assuming i managed to get the rig up in the air on time, when i'm then still getting complaints by the videots, i'm ready to kill!


* i find it easier to hook up a fly bar (with all mics) to the steel rope than to attach (and orient) each mic separately - it's tricky enough and mostly rather time consuming to attach the multicore and/or cat cable to the steel rope while maintaining an acceptable look...
Old 18th October 2022
  #5
Gear Guru
 
Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
We did a recording at a local church. The pastor did not want mic stands in the aisles for "fire" safety. So I rigged up a setup using two 8 foot poles with padded C-Clamps and attached the poles to the aisle side of the pews and then put another pole over the aisle and placed the mics on that pole. The mics were approximately 10 feet up. The minister was pleased and we got a GREAT recording. Sometimes you have to be "super inventive" in order to get the job done.
Old 18th October 2022
  #6
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan H ➡️
[. . .] but wow....what a PITA.
It’s useful to look at tools and techniques employed by professional grips, gaffers and riggers. . .who often have to find ways to leverage and extend existing structures.


Lights!

Ray H.

Old 18th October 2022 | Show parent
  #7
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayHeath ➡️
It useful to look at tools and techniques employed by professional grips, gaffers and riggers. . .who often have to find ways to leverage and extend existing structures.


Lights!

Ray H.
For sure...it's safe, elegant, aesthetic, inventive...but when the location you're going to record in opens 60-90 mins ahead of concert start, and there's only one of you...and just running your regular kit of stands and cables eats into that allocation substantially, can you afford the additional rigging time ?
Old 18th October 2022 | Show parent
  #8
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe ➡️
Just use thin mic stands...
The OP specifically mentioned large ensembles, but I found a few pics (and associated audio sample) from 10 years ago...a trio covered with an Ikea/Sennheiser main pair plus stereo piano spot.

If you had to cover a larger group with similarly deployed thin-stand spots, the Line Audio SD mics plus thin mouse-tail cables would go a long way towards retaining relative video invisibility, for typical camera distances...but it's a pity Ikea discontinued that particular home light stand several years ago !
Attached Thumbnails
Flying microphones in front of a large ensemble-imgp1554.jpg   Flying microphones in front of a large ensemble-imgp1555.jpg   Flying microphones in front of a large ensemble-imgp1561.jpg  
Attached Files

Ikea Senn sample 2011.mp3 (12.49 MB, 74 views)


Last edited by studer58; 18th October 2022 at 03:39 PM..
Old 18th October 2022
  #9
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Plush's Avatar
 
5 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
If you cannot hang the mics, then you reject the request to hide them.
Old 18th October 2022 | Show parent
  #10
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 ➡️
[. . .] can you afford the additional rigging time ?
An apt question to raise very early—before accepting a gig. . .even before accepting a client.

One aspect that has consistently defined—for better and for worse—my own businesses, is that I mostly can’t deliver within an hour or within a day anything reflective of the compelling value I’ve been bringing my clients for more than 20 years.

Either way, building strong rigging skills and toolkits should make us [those of us having mechanical challenges to address] all more efficient, effective and safe.


Up the hole, around the tree, and back down the hole.

Ray H.
Old 18th October 2022 | Show parent
  #11
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush ➡️
If you cannot hang the mics, then you reject the request to hide them.
Unless a compromise situation can be wrangled where you hide them in plain sight ?
Attached Thumbnails
Flying microphones in front of a large ensemble-pic-13.jpg   Flying microphones in front of a large ensemble-3-choirs-rehearsal-rabbit-014.jpg  
Old 18th October 2022 | Show parent
  #12
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayHeath ➡️
It useful to look at tools and techniques employed by professional grips, gaffers and riggers. . .who often have to find ways to leverage and extend existing structures.


Lights!

Ray H.

Luke is a friend of mine and an uber-mensch (and a great gaffer). His whole (huge) series is worth watching if you work in any sort of location production.

Last edited by philper; 18th October 2022 at 06:12 PM..
Old 18th October 2022
  #13
Gear Nut
 
I'm particularly curious because I'll be recording a choir in a church that I'm only passingly familiar with, next month. I've been strongly encouraged to "make the recording transparent to the audience" by both the director and my friend in the alto section. There are no pillars nor balconies in obvious places from which I can hang anything. I'm pretty sure my usual 13 foot stand is not going to be "transparent" enough to make everybody happy, thus my thoughts about flying microphones....but how?

I have a pair of large plywood bases that I made, which are painted black, just like an oversize version of your IKEA lampstands. They can have 20 pounds of sandbags (in black cloth) placed on them and they're very stable. I'm reading with interest the stuff about the TAP plastics wound epoxy rods. There's a TAP not far from where I live, I've seen the rods/tubing there. I would wish that they came in longer lengths but it might be possible to make a sleeving arrangement to link two of them together for some extra height. This might be the way to go.
Old 19th October 2022 | Show parent
  #14
Gear Nut
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan H ➡️
I'm particularly curious because I'll be recording a choir in a church that I'm only passingly familiar with, next month. I've been strongly encouraged to "make the recording transparent to the audience" by both the director and my friend in the alto section. There are no pillars nor balconies in obvious places from which I can hang anything. I'm pretty sure my usual 13 foot stand is not going to be "transparent" enough to make everybody happy, thus my thoughts about flying microphones....but how?

I have a pair of large plywood bases that I made, which are painted black, just like an oversize version of your IKEA lampstands. They can have 20 pounds of sandbags (in black cloth) placed on them and they're very stable. I'm reading with interest the stuff about the TAP plastics wound epoxy rods. There's a TAP not far from where I live, I've seen the rods/tubing there. I would wish that they came in longer lengths but it might be possible to make a sleeving arrangement to link two of them together for some extra height. This might be the way to go.
I'm also thinking about maybe putting omnis on a pair of much lower stands, like maybe 4 feet tall, and placed about a foot forward of the corners of his rather small podium. If I remember rightly from a previous concert, the director stands on a podium about 3 feet by 3 feet and maybe 8 inches tall. The podium is about 10 feet back from a two-layer semicircle of singers. The back row of singers stand on small risers, maybe a foot above the front row. There are 20 singers, total in the group.

If I did this, the microphones would be at about the level of the directors music stand and about 2 1/2 feet away...about 4 feet off the ground. They'd be pretty far apart, probably about 6 feet.

I'm concerned about getting a recording with a big "hole in the middle" and also about picking up a lot of "director noise". The microphones I'd be using would be either Line Audio OM-1's or CM-4's.

Flying the microphones would be ideal, but I really doubt that there's any way to do it. Maybe there are some eye bolts in the cement and tile walls that flank the sanctuary...I have plenty of wire rope I can use to fly the gear.

Oh, one last detail.... I can get into the church before concert day to take a look around, no problem. However, I can't get in there to set anything up until after services are over at noon. Concert is at 4:00, pre-concert talk at 3:30. So I should have a safe three hours to set everything up, but no more than that.
Old 19th October 2022
  #15
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Your plan for low (director’s music stand height) mic stands sounds like a recipe for capturing unwanted presence from the front row of singers and less from the central and rear ranks…not a promising skewing of balance. Check out the Dunkerley et al Decca classical recording book, or Richard King’s, for some potential clues.

https://www.routledge.com/Classical-.../9780367312800
https://www.routledge.com/Recording-.../9781138854543

I don’t know how successfully your OM1/CM4 mics could be adapted into BLM or PZM area-gathering devices …attached to wall, floor or columns ?

If this idea is new to you, welcome to a relatively hidden little sub-branch of recording !

With their light weight and small size, the Line Audio mics could be easily gaffa-taped side-on to a small steel, wood or plexiglass (acrylic PVC) square, and mounted on a suitable nearby boundary.

Does this following publication have any relevance or useful tips for your situation …page 7 for example (though do read the preceding theory pages first) ?

The venue's floor or walls could be become your biggest ally...while, depending on their size and weight and how they reflect ambient light, home-constructed boundary panels could be either effectively invisible..or large, bulky and dangerous !

Consider taping mics to small boundary plates instead..or directly to the floor/wall itself, if little or no foot traffic permits this...and if you can glom yourself onto one of the choir's rehearsal sessions, you can safely engage in 'proof of concept experimentation' ...at little time and no embarrassment cost to yourself, prior to the concert day.

https://coutant.org/pcc160/127089.pdf

If it works for you, you'd at least be proving Neil Young wrong on this one: https://youtu.be/QF1CMJ1jh9k

You could also use your Line Audio mics to build your own version of the head-sized SASS (page 17 onwards) ...using wood or acrylic sheets and glue plus acoustic foam. It's less invisible than boundary miking, but also a little less visually intrusive than a Jecklin Disc, for example

Such talk about making the recording process ‘transparent to the audience’ is cheap and utopian…coming from people who don’t have to implement such an ideal…nor be directly accountable for the outcome of such practices…so it’s not a helpful comment. Of course you're not going out of your way to uglify the setup...that goes without saying.

I suppose they’d also recommend that a visual artist paint without brushes…as some kind of misdirected aesthetic ideal ?

Last edited by studer58; 19th October 2022 at 02:30 AM..
Old 19th October 2022 | Show parent
  #16
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tourtelot's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan H ➡️
Concert is at 4:00, pre-concert talk at 3:30. So I should have a safe three hours to set everything up, but no more than that.
This is my "every day".

Friday, world-class string quintet in a "performance space" that is as ugly as a shoebox. Three cameras. No way to fly and the audience is 360*. No one wants stands in the way.

Each performer will wear a cheap lavalier for the music pickup and I'll mix it in post.

No, just kidding. That's the world of motion picture dialog recording.

Considering a long boom (18') to get a SDC ORTF pair in the correct position and maybe spots on the piano. Maybe the Samar stereo ribbon although it's a bit heavy for my comfort on the long, long boom. String spots? Oh and a "yak" mic. If it can't be done in eight channels . . . . It WILL be done in eight channels. Short set up time of course. It's just that way some times.

D.
Old 19th October 2022 | Show parent
  #17
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot ➡️
This is my "every day".

Friday, world-class string quintet in a "performance space" that is as ugly as a shoebox. Three cameras. No way to fly and the audience is 360*. No one wants stands in the way.

Each performer will wear a cheap lavalier for the music pickup and I'll mix it in post.

No, just kidding. That's the world of motion picture dialog recording.

Considering a long boom (18') to get a SDC ORTF pair in the correct position and maybe spots on the piano. Maybe the Samar stereo ribbon although it's a bit heavy for my comfort on the long, long boom. String spots? Oh and a "yak" mic. If it can't be done in eight channels . . . . It WILL be done in eight channels. Short set up time of course. It's just that way some times.

D.
kidding or not: i rather use a bunch of close mics (and maybe two blm's plus pzm's) than to spend too much time trying to fly or hide my 'mains'...
...so if i can't get my 10-12 mics i'm typically using on a string quartet up and running within an hour due to videots asking me to jump through hoops, i'm either asking for a heavy additional fee (which i 'know' the promotor is not willing to spend) or i'm out!

i make this unmistakably clear well in advance of the recording; amazingly however is that there have been promoters who wanted to take a chance and were then very surprised that i actually took my stuff down, and this very quickly! - i bring long lots of gear which leaves plenty of options, i am prepared to work under acoustically and logistically difficult circumstances and deal with extravagant artists but not with silly crew; more importantly, i don't make any recordings if i'm not convinced that they meet my aesthetic standards (and i also risk damaging my reputation)!

i know that this is an uncompromising attitude but i'll stick to it... (it's precisely what gets me some jobs btw)
Old 19th October 2022 | Show parent
  #18
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot ➡️

Considering a long boom (18') to get a SDC ORTF pair in the correct position and maybe spots on the piano. Maybe the Samar stereo ribbon although it's a bit heavy for my comfort on the long, long boom. String spots? Oh and a "yak" mic. If it can't be done in eight channels . . . . It WILL be done in eight channels. Short set up time of course. It's just that way some times.

D.
The long poles exist of course...it's how they are going to be anchored that's the issue...
Attached Thumbnails
Flying microphones in front of a large ensemble-ambient-jumboeis-s1-800x800-72.jpg   Flying microphones in front of a large ensemble-ambient-qp6200-jumbo-pole-action-shot.jpg  
Old 19th October 2022
  #19
Gear Guru
 
Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
What is it that promoters and video people dislike about mic stands? There are lots of "other stands" on stage including the musicians stands with the music on them. I never understood the logic behind "no mics visible". We have been in situations where we had to do some amazing things to get the sound we wanted where the video people did not want to see microphones. This included gaffer taping PZM mics to the pillars of a cathedral, using mic mice on the floor, using EMT boom stands with 20' reach and hiding the mics in the flower arrangements at the stage front. We did a recording session with a PBS station. We gave them a feed and the also did their own micing. They wanted a shot of the conductor but there was no place to hide the camera on stage so they put a cameraman and camera inside of some black cloth at the back of the stage so the camera could video the conductor but the camera and cameraman were all but invisible at the back of the stage.

OTOH - We also did a video taping of a piano player in a large recording studio and they wanted us to videotape the pianist from 360 degrees. The recording engineer was Michael Bishop and he did not want to compromise his mic setup. It was a nightmare but we pulled it off. We had to wear heavy socks so there was no foot noise and the camera dolly had all it's casters "over oiled" so there was no noise. It was something that I would not do again.

FWIW
Old 19th October 2022 | Show parent
  #20
Gear Nut
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 ➡️
Your plan for low (director’s music stand height) mic stands sounds like a recipe for capturing unwanted presence from the front row of singers and less from the central and rear ranks…not a promising skewing of balance. Check out the Dunkerley et al Decca classical recording book, or Richard King’s, for some potential clues.

https://www.routledge.com/Classical-.../9780367312800
https://www.routledge.com/Recording-.../9781138854543

I don’t know how successfully your OM1/CM4 mics could be adapted into BLM or PZM area-gathering devices …attached to wall, floor or columns ?

If this idea is new to you, welcome to a relatively hidden little sub-branch of recording !

With their light weight and small size, the Line Audio mics could be easily gaffa-taped side-on to a small steel, wood or plexiglass (acrylic PVC) square, and mounted on a suitable nearby boundary.

Does this following publication have any relevance or useful tips for your situation …page 7 for example (though do read the preceding theory pages first) ?

The venue's floor or walls could be become your biggest ally...while, depending on their size and weight and how they reflect ambient light, home-constructed boundary panels could be either effectively invisible..or large, bulky and dangerous !

Consider taping mics to small boundary plates instead..or directly to the floor/wall itself, if little or no foot traffic permits this...and if you can glom yourself onto one of the choir's rehearsal sessions, you can safely engage in 'proof of concept experimentation' ...at little time and no embarrassment cost to yourself, prior to the concert day.

https://coutant.org/pcc160/127089.pdf

If it works for you, you'd at least be proving Neil Young wrong on this one: https://youtu.be/QF1CMJ1jh9k

You could also use your Line Audio mics to build your own version of the head-sized SASS (page 17 onwards) ...using wood or acrylic sheets and glue plus acoustic foam. It's less invisible than boundary miking, but also a little less visually intrusive than a Jecklin Disc, for example

Such talk about making the recording process ‘transparent to the audience’ is cheap and utopian…coming from people who don’t have to implement such an ideal…nor be directly accountable for the outcome of such practices…so it’s not a helpful comment. Of course you're not going out of your way to uglify the setup...that goes without saying.

I suppose they’d also recommend that a visual artist paint without brushes…as some kind of misdirected aesthetic ideal ?
Now I really wish that I hadn't tossed those old Radio Shack boundary microphones. BTW, these are the microphones that I had. Are these what you were writing about?
Old 19th October 2022 | Show parent
  #21
Gear Nut
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan H ➡️
Now I really wish that I hadn't tossed those old Radio Shack boundary microphones. BTW, these are the microphones that I had. Are these what you were writing about?
Back when I had them I was just running the signal from these things into my cassette deck. There was a low-frequency hum that could only be solved by adding a ground wire to the length of the microphone wire and grounding the microphone to the deck. I made two, 2 foot-square clear plexiglass panels and joined them along one edge with clear tape, so that they could be opened like a book and laid on-edge on a table. There were small wire hooks just above the middle of the panels so that the microphone sat in the center of each plexiglass square. Being clear, they didn't obstruct the view, much. I'd open the panels to about a 45 degree "V" and set it on a table. Now that I think about it, that's sort of like a Jecklin disk. Sort of.

I remember getting some decent results with this setup, but that was a ~really~ long time ago.

EDIT: I just read through the Crown Boundary Microphone guide that you linked to, and I see that they recommend something that they call a PZM wedge, to approximate ORTF stereo recording. That's essentially what I did, only the angle was different, I didn't open my "wedge" up to 70 degrees.
Old 19th October 2022 | Show parent
  #22
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan H ➡️
Now I really wish that I hadn't tossed those old Radio Shack boundary microphones. BTW, these are the microphones that I had. Are these what you were writing about?
Yes the Radio Shack PZM mics, like the pic you showed, were built under license from Crown (but had unbalanced 1/4” output plugs fitted, hence your hum experience).

However you can substitute your Line Audio mics (both types) plus any DIY boundary plate (or none) built along the principles shown in the Crown document….and expect to get a decent sound from them.

At the very least it’s an avenue worth exploring, to determine if it can effectively replace flown mics ?
Old 19th October 2022
  #23
Registered User
 
🎧 5 years
My weapon of choice...

Ha, I built Luke's recommended Menace Arm, used it on a few sessions where the dais steps interfered with movement of the mains! Works great on a big roller stand, looks cool as hell too. :P

And yes, all my rigging tools and safety cables & assorted hardware now occupy their own milk crate. Grab and go....
Old 4 weeks ago
  #24
Gear Nut
 
pfffftttttt... Never mind.

It so happens that the church is installing a sound system with the option to send all the input to a console which can have thumb drives or hard drives plugged in. I know nothing else about the system besides that. The church wants to have their system installer run it for the first month or so until a couple people in the church have been trained. Thus...the concert will be recorded by this system and my services are very politely no longer needed.

Pity, I was looking forward to doing this, but honestly it all might have been more hassle than it is worth. Both the church and the choir director were at least nice and somewhat apologetic about it, at least.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #25
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan H ➡️
pfffftttttt... Never mind.

It so happens that the church is installing a sound system with the option to send all the input to a console which can have thumb drives or hard drives plugged in.
The success of this fit-out will largely depend on the mic choices and placement. If the choir routinely sits in one location only, and solo singers have a fixed location, they have a chance of getting it right. If the choir are mobile in location within the church from week to week, it'll be a moving target for the sound engineer. Expect some quite unbalanced recordings during their trialling period....

Hopefully they'll be seeking a number of installation quotes from knowledgeable and experienced installers...but many churches simply opt for the cheapest, regardless of the installer's track record. Anyway...not your problem !
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #26
Gear Guru
 
Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan H ➡️
pfffftttttt... Never mind.

It so happens that the church is installing a sound system with the option to send all the input to a console which can have thumb drives or hard drives plugged in. I know nothing else about the system besides that. The church wants to have their system installer run it for the first month or so until a couple people in the church have been trained. Thus...the concert will be recorded by this system and my services are very politely no longer needed.

Pity, I was looking forward to doing this, but honestly it all might have been more hassle than it is worth. Both the church and the choir director were at least nice and somewhat apologetic about it, at least.
This seems to be happening more and more as churches and schools decide to do their own recordings. FWIW
Old 4 weeks ago
  #27
Gear Nut
 
I suspect....but do not know for sure, that the system is more for sound reinforcement rather than recording. From what I know, the church choir normally sits in an alcove on one side. However, this is a separate "concert" choir that just happens to be conducted by the church choir director. For concerts, the altar is moved and the singers line up in the front of the church, standing on the steps up to the altar area.

I know zilch about how this system will be set up, but if it's intended for sound reinforcement from the 1.) pastors pulpit, and 2.) to record the church choir in its normal area, then it's going to be woefully inadequate for concerts. Then again, maybe they'll have multiple microphone installations.

IN FACT, it might be interesting to show up on the last day of testing and talk to the engineer about how he/she did what they did, and why. I'd probably learn something useful.

EDIT: So now I've experienced, in miniature, what a number of the professional folks here in the remoteness forum deal with all the time. I'm not really upset (I'm a little disappointed, but not mad) but if this had been an ongoing contract and my livelihood depended on it, I'd not be exactly thrilled by this.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #28
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tourtelot's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan H ➡️
It so happens that the church is installing a sound system with the option
I just went through this on a small scale. I did the installation; they spec'd the gear. They hired someone to run it all for who audio and video (they installed five cameras as well) are only a part of their job, along with a desk job, greeting clients and taking their coats, serving drinks, shaking hands and the like. That person really has no interest in the tech of audio or video.

I get, probably, two phone calls a week to which I mostly respond, in the nicest way possible, RTFM. Then I bill them $75/hr for taking the calls.

D.
Old 5 days ago
  #29
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pkautzsch's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Most of the time, "invisible" mics doesn't mean that mics aren't where they need to go. It's just a matter of hiding them in plain sight, and certain types of mics are easier to hide than others, think all those small mics like CM3, MKH 8000 series, or matte grey Colette setups. You will find them in about all televised concerts, even with the biggest names.
The funny thing about "transparency" with mic setups is that sometimes you get less visually obtrusive when you use more stands but have them closer to the ensemble, or even right in the ensemble. A triangle main setup around the conductor can be done with three single slim stands, maybe not even with a boom on top, and will keep the audience's view clear. You don't want to use anything shiny, keep it matte grey.
OTOH one heavy 15 ft steel stand with a long boom, and DIY stereo bar is not exactly "transparent" either, even if you can place it a few feet farther back.

If the client wants flown mics they have to pay for the extra time, the extra gear needed, extra insurance, and if flying includes drilling holes into the venue's walls, they have to make sure the venue allows it, get that in writing, and pay for it as well.
Usually, most are just fine with a few mic stands once they see those numbers.
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