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Micing for tenor/piano audition video?
Old 21st October 2022
  #1
Micing for tenor/piano audition video? (video clip added)

I have a session next Friday to record and video a young tenor and piano doing broadway tunes for a college audition. Normally for classical voices with piano, I have used a ORTF pair maybe 8-10’ out. For a solo female, I have used a single LD mic just out of camera view, maybe 4 feet away from the singer.

For broadway songs, maybe the classical approach above will seem too distant, so I could use a closer vocal mic and spot the piano, but then I’ve got mics/stands in the video which can look cluttered. Or I can spot the piano and use an ORTF pair just out of camera view at 4’ or so from the vocalist. I’m not sure what might be standard for this…couldn’t find any similar videos.

Anyway, what might you suggest or recommend here?
Thanks.

Last edited by jnorman; 4 weeks ago at 12:22 AM..
Old 21st October 2022
  #2
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king2070lplaya's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman ➡️
I have a session next Friday to record and video a young tenor and piano doing broadway tunes for a college audition. Normally for classical voices with piano, I have used a ORTF pair maybe 8-10’ out. For a solo female, I have used a single LD mic just out of camera view, maybe 4 feet away from the singer.

For broadway songs, maybe the classical approach above will seem too distant, so I could use a closer vocal mic and spot the piano, but then I’ve got mics/stands in the video which can look cluttered. Or I can spot the piano and use an ORTF pair just out of camera view at 4’ or so from the vocalist. I’m not sure what might be standard for this…couldn’t find any similar videos.

Anyway, what might you suggest or recommend here?
Thanks.
I think your second instinct is what I’d try first. Might even put a pair of 4060s in the piano if I really wanted to keep it low profile/mic free in the shot. Get the ORTF above and close enough to the vocalist to give it that forward, Broadway record vocal sound with less piano, still out of shot, and then add back in missing level and image for the piano with the spots.

Would also work well with other directional stereo arrays in place of the ORTF. Sounds like a good challenge, have fun with it!
Old 21st October 2022
  #3
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🎧 10 years
I recall Christian (Norsehorse) having a photo of a low (waist height) parallel AB pair of either regular or wide-cardioids at the front of stage pointing at the singer….I don’t believe there was even a piano spot used, but you could add a Decca tail pair, which will naturally tend to be out of camera view anyway.

Assuming an AB cardioid voice/piano pair spacing of 40-150cms, you could locate your camera tripod between and level with (or behind and zoomed in) this mic pair. Keep the AB width away from either too-close mono or too wide ‘hole in the middle’ extremes…

As both mics are on axis to the singer …rather than both off axis as per ORTF…you’ll get that extra presence bite to provide a “spot-mic-like” Broadway sound. Pan them in to about 70-80% to give a ‘wide mono’ image and credible width, as per current Decca recommendations.

Get the mics in the right place first for appropriate focus, then add camera(s)

In any case, visible mics in an audition video are not a bad thing…it confirms to the audition panel that the sound was recorded live and not dubbed in later. A different aesthetic applies if it’s a more standard ‘music video’ for YouTube…

Last edited by studer58; 21st October 2022 at 01:54 PM..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
i recorded the young man on friday, and used an MSTC64 just out front above the camera, and a pair of km184s as piano spots (did not use them in the mix). The session went very well, and the young man was very impressive - i will not be surprised to see him on Broadway one day...
Here is one of his songs:
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #5
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman ➡️
The session went very well, and the young man was very impressive - i will not be surprised to see him on Broadway one day...
Here is one of his songs:
No miking technique could overcome the ‘small room syndrome’ captured so vividly here….but it really doesn’t matter, because neither can it obscure the young man’s obvious talent and enthusiasm….so ,‘mission accomplished’
!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
Ray - yes, I had to make the reverb sound like the space you are looking at in the video…
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #7
Gear Nut
 
Looks and sounds good. I've seen your posts about the MSTC64 in other threads---I'm surprised it works well in a small room like this (capsules pointed at walls/windows)---I record similar rooms a lot and either close-mic or AB like studer58 suggested.

Consider dropping the red a bit in the color grade (he looks a bit sunburned here), and possibly amping up the brightness a bit to make the video pop.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
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🎧 10 years
Considering the size of the room you've got a great capture there.

I'm wondering if raising the stereo mic so that the rear of it's almost touching the ceiling, and then pointing it down towards the singer/flute player/soloist, might not get you much more direct sound from them...while at the same time putting the ceiling in the rear rejection zone of the mic.

Just musing that this placement also creates a big distance (and hence arrival time) differential between the soloists signal arrival and that which bounces off the ceiling, so the ear can more clearly differentiate between the two ?

At present, with a low mic, it's likely receiving a collective of signals (both direct and reflected) from walls, floor, ceiling and soloist...all at similar levels...and this is conspiring to accentuate the boxy sound ?

Maybe you'd also get a similar ameliorating effect from the stereo mic on the floor, inverted, and pointing upward toward the soloist....as once again you'd be using proximity to a room boundary to approach a pseudo-PZM effect ?

As a simple request, maybe you could indulge me in trying this out in that space...as a quick experiment (even without piano accompaniment). Flute or voice would be ideal…while retaining the cardioid pattern/ORTF array

A near-ceiling placement looking down, an on-carpet placement looking up (using a mic boom stand to attain this, if you prefer to keep the mic off the floor)...and comparing it with a 'control group' placement of where you're currently placing the stereo mic.

To reduce one variable, keep both ceiling and floor mic distances (in front of the performer) the same as your current mid-height mic is.

It should be quite quick to do, with no additional piano spots to confuse the issue...and would give me/us confirmation: as to whether this alternate main-pair/almost-PZM approach has any merit, or is just my wild erroneous speculation !!

If vertical displacement towards either floor or ceiling boundaries (alone) can effect a change in the perceived ‘room signature’ pickup, that would make it an instructive exercise indeed ?

If I'm (somewhat) right, this could give you a cleaner and dry-er, more direct sound...which should also need less reverb application (or corrective De-Verb) to match ambiences ?

If it achieved that goal alone, it would be a worthwhile mic placement tweak...and perhaps the ultimate decider (between near-floor vs near-ceiling) would be whether the instrument primarily propagates sound up or down...eg clarinet, flute, violin, voice might require different placements ?

Last edited by studer58; 4 weeks ago at 09:19 AM..
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #9
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🎧 5 years
Nothing will cut out more of a challenging room than a parallel pair of hypercardioids; I've gotten the best imaging from this by spacing about 14".
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
Thanks for the thoughts guys. Ray, the mics were actually nearly at the ceiling. M50 - I have tried hypers as you suggest (mk41s), but I prefer the off axis mk4s as they are just smoother sounding.
The room is really fairly dead - the reverb you are hearing is a patch I created (in 2caudio breeze 2.5) to make the room sound like what you are looking at…l know it sounds “small room”, but that is what you are seeing. I don’t know how I could make it sound more natural - it’s not like I haven’t tried…
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #11
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman ➡️
Thanks for the thoughts guys. Ray, the mics were actually nearly at the ceiling…..
Thanks for clearing that up, I’d assumed the stereo mic was located at mid (perhaps knee to head) height when you described “an MSTC64 just out front above the camera”, rather than near the ceiling.

I wonder if something like heva’s Floorcatcher array that he has used for church organ might prove useful (his Superlux S502 ORTF mic has identical form and dimensions to your MSTC64)
See his post no.283 in this thread: Superlux s502
If your floor material is carpet, a thin square of plywood might help with making it a little more reflective around the mic.

I suspect you may be up against “the laws of physics”…as Star Trek engineer Scotty lamented to Capt. Kirk
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
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ronmac's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Perhaps this is a crazy idea .....

Why not do what they do on Broadway and close mic the singer with a lav planted in the hair just above forehead or use DPA headset?

This method will give a very direct vocal sound and allow you to close mic the piano for more room control. Use reverb/delay as you wish to create an appropriate balance.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ronmac ➡️
Perhaps this is a crazy idea .....

Why not do what they do on Broadway and close mic the singer with a lav planted in the hair just above forehead or use DPA headset?

This method will give a very direct vocal sound and allow you to close mic the piano for more room control. Use reverb/delay as you wish to create an appropriate balance.
certain techniques are simply not allowed for some auditions...
Old 4 weeks ago
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jnorman ➡️
[. . .] I’m not sure what might be standard for this…couldn’t find any similar videos.

Anyway, what might you suggest or recommend here?
Thanks.
In hindsight, one of the following. . .

1) Arrange for recording in a really great, much larger space where you can leverage and match more relevant visual and sonic attributes.

2) Erase the small room visual via rotoscoping and large room mega-plates. Target large room acoustic simulation effects on the audio.

3) Pull way back on the amount of reverb in the mix. Let it sound like a small, treated room. Try to get more dynamic play and separation with the piano [some of this is on the performers to execute].


Maybe turn on some moderately loud noise [e.g., tv or talk radio] when reviewing as a tool to help judge impacts on associated articulation and intelligibility perception?


Just another musician throwing in some thoughts,

Ray H.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #15
Thanks for the ideas Ray H.
1. Almost none of the students I record can afford to pay for a decent venue.
2. I don’t know what rotoscoping or large room megaplates are but I will look that up.
3. I have done that on occasion but generally the students seem to prefer some kind of room sound.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #16
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➡️
certain techniques are simply not allowed for some auditions...
I guess we’d have to define the term ‘audition’ for each case in which it’s used ?

Is it to build a performer’s show reel…demonstrating the range of material they are able to cover ? Is it a tightly defined range of specified excerpts, aimed at securing a position in an orchestra, a scholarship, a higher degree or a particular theatrical production ?

Is it a first-round video or audio-only submission to gain access to
a second round in-person personal audition behind a cloth screen?

In general it’s been my experience that the selection panel don’t much care whether mics are visible or not….the main consideration being that the performance is fully genuine, live and unedited…while technical concerns of lighting, small room ambience or even background noise are secondary.

To this end, it explains why in many cases a modern mobile phone is capable of satisfying most of those criteria….though dedicated audio combined with camera video will typically produce better results.

In Jim’s case shown above, a phone video alone would have further pulled in unwanted ‘room tone’ and I wonder whether either a hairline (as per ronmac) or shirtfront lavalier mic might have given a better direct to ambient ratio…or (context-wise) even using an Elvis style Shure 55SH mic: https://www.shure.com/en-MEA/product...0Series%2520II or olde-style ribbon or carbon (eg: https://www.soundseasy.com.au/produc...iABEgKlL_D_BwE

Many ways to get the job done…some involving yet more purchases, which probably can’t be justified by the OP…but still worth future consideration, as he’s clearly “in the auditions game” now.

I doubt very much whether most audition panels viewing a submitted video would endorse the use of rotoscoping….it would needlessly invoke suspicion of editing or similar manipulation, and immediately torpedo the applicant’s chances

Last edited by studer58; 4 weeks ago at 12:32 AM..
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 ➡️
I guess we’d have to define the term ‘audition’ for each case in which it’s used ?

Is it to build a performer’s show reel…demonstrating the range of material they are able to cover ? Is it a tightly defined range of specified excerpts, aimed at securing a position in an orchestra, a scholarship, a higher degree or a particular theatrical production ?

Is it a first-round video or audio-only submission to gain access to
a second round in-person personal audition behind a cloth screen?

In general it’s been my experience that the selection panel don’t much care whether mics are visible or not….the main consideration being that the performance is fully genuine, live and unedited…while technical concerns of lighting, small room ambience or even background noise are secondary.

To this end, it explains why in many cases a modern mobile phone is capable of satisfying most of those criteria….though dedicated audio combined with camera video will typically produce better results.

In Jim’s case shown above I wonder whether either a hairline or shirtfront lavalier mic might have given a better direct to ambient ratio…or (context-wise) even using an Elvis style Shure 55SH mic: https://www.shure.com/en-MEA/product...0Series%2520II or olde-style ribbon or carbon (eg: https://www.soundseasy.com.au/produc...iABEgKlL_D_BwE

Many ways to get the job done…some involving yet more purchases, which probably can’t be justified by the OP

I doubt very much whether most audition panels viewing a submitted video would endorse the use of rotoscoping….it would needlessly invoke suspicion of editing or similar manipulation, and immediately torpedo the applicant’s chances
i have indeed focused on applications for participation in an institution in the classical field - at least around here, the jurors are very strict and leave no room for technical trickery; in case of doubt, the decision is made against the applicant!
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➡️
i have indeed focused on applications for participation in an institution in the classical field - at least around here, the jurors are very strict and leave no room for technical trickery; in case of doubt, the decision is made against the applicant!
Yes that’s been my experience too, and equally distributed amongst both European and US orchestras and universities, so it’s a common requirement/expectation at that level.

Several institutions have required me to sign and submit a ‘no editing was employed’ declaration along with the video or wav
Old 4 weeks ago
  #19
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 20 years
He's great, good sounds. I might've gone short stick or even closed, though. The kid gets a little swamped.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 ➡️
I guess we’d have to define the term ‘audition’ for each case in which it’s used ?

Is it [. . .]?

[. . .]

I doubt very much whether most audition panels viewing a submitted video would endorse the use of rotoscoping….it would needlessly invoke suspicion of editing or similar manipulation, and immediately torpedo the applicant’s chances
Good points. . .especially the “ Is it [. . .]? ” stuff.

I found the existing reverb the primary distraction. I understand why it was added; but it’s an issue that I would address whatever the “ Is it [. . .]? ” stuff is next time around.

Roto was indeed my least favorite alternative of those I put forward, for a few reasons. It seemed perhaps beyond available resources to the OP to do it [or have it done] well—unless equipped and competent to do it in-house. And still maybe pricier than renting a suitable large space for this circumstance.

What judge would be able to detect any artifact whatsoever from viewing the video to even think to question if it employed roto or not?

The overwhelming majority of viewers can’t tell the difference between what is real and not real—absent having it explicitly pointed out to them—if the fx artist is competent.

The “ Is it [. . .]? ” stuff is the key question. What specifically is affordable, allowed, desired, and [if necessary] will stand the test of time? is the question that would most drive me to whatever solution.

I’m pushing back on this a bit, Ray, because I see video production [including fx] capabilities becoming more useful and necessary to many going forward in this industry.


. . .the times, they are a changin’.

Ray H.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #21
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🎧 10 years
Or... have your guy watch Tony or Frank (or even Barbra) working a U47 back in the day on YouTube... then put up one of your LDCs in "classic" position in front of a mic'd up piano and let him rip... the fedora is optional. Looking forward to seeing/hearing a sample regardless. Cheers.

Edit: Just saw the audition above... well done! But it would be fun to find a crooner and gin up some Frank...

H
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