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Thread: "Orchestra" recording

  1. #1
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    Mar 2003
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    Default "Orchestra" recording

    Hey all,
    I'm doing a location thing up in Indiana on Sunday. It's a Christmas album for solo violin. We are putting together kind of a make-shift orchestra for some of the tracks. The location is going to be in a church. I'm comfortable with knowing where and how to place spot mics on the various instruments. It's the room (or sanctuary) that I'd love some advice on.

    Here's the details...
    #1. Each section is going to lay their parts down at separate times. There is no way around this. Due to scheduling issues we are going to do have to layer section by section. The order of which we'll do this is...

    Brass (F horns, Trumpets, Bone)
    Woodwinds (Flutes,Clarinets,Oboe)
    Strings (V,V2,Viola,Cello,Bass)


    #2. All the arr. are clicked out and each section will play to a MIDI mockup of the other parts. As we lay down the brass we'll mute the MIDI brass. As we lay down the Woodwinds we'll mute the MIDI woodwinds, etc....

    #3. We'll have to reset the stage for each section as we go as there in not enough room to get everyone setup in a conventional orch setup. So, we know we aren't going to get the exact same sound stage as a traditional orch. That's o.k. for this project.

    #4. The church that we are doing this in finishes their service at 11:45. We plan to start at 1:00. I have a team of 4 people to help clear some space, place chairs and run mic cables.

    #5. I don't want a TON of room. I can add ambience later if needed. The Piano and Violin will be tracked in a studio and I'll add some verb and such to those tracks.

    Mics- this is what I have
    (4) AT4050
    (6) Shure KSM137
    (2) 421
    (1) 414
    (1) SM81
    (1) SM7b


    My plan is to use the 137s as spot mics. I was planning on using 2 of the 4050s for the main stereo pair and the other 2 for spot mics if needed.

    As I said before, my main concern is placement of the room mics. I will not have more then just a couple of minutes to get sounds before we are off to the races! I've uploaded some pics of the sanctuary. If you all have any thoughts on where in the room and the pattern (XY,Omni,etc) that would be a good starting point for the main stereo pair would be great!

    Any other helpful hints would be appreciated!!


    Thanks!
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  2. #2
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    Default

    Dave:
    This is the kind of thing that I do all the time. I can't speak much to the placement of mics without seeing the positioning of the ensemble and the character of the room. I usually set up a metronome in the center of the orchestra section and let it click away while I monitor in another space and have my seconds move some mics for the room tone. Fortunately most of the spaces I record in I have been doing for almost 30 years so I have the locations down.

    One of the biggest challenges for me in a known or unknown space (especially churches) is the environmental and neighborhood noise. I just finished a sacred choral and organ CD that required a tremendous amount of location noise management even though it was the quietest location of the 5 we scouted. We shut down all HVAC (in a 4 degree January day) for example. Only me and the assistant producer had heat in the booth. But I digress.

    Summary: Room mics for me are the balance of character, clarity, and ambient noise.

    Sounds like a great gig.

    -D

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonM View Post
    Summary: Room mics for me are the balance of character, clarity, and ambient noise.

    Sounds like a great gig.

    -D
    Thanks for the insight Don!

    As far as the rooms you work in.... Do you typically use a spaced pair of Omnis or do an XY thing?

    This is going to be a super cool project. The artist is originally from Albania. He's been in the states for about 8 years. The players that are going to make up the ensemble are going to be some amazing players from large orchestras across the country. I've been reading some of their bios and I'm starting to get a little weak in the knees! I'm around world class musicians everyday but, for some reason this seems a bit more intimidating. Maybe it's just because it's out of my comfort zone. But that's one of the reasons I'm doing this project! I like the challenge!! Should be beautiful music!

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Indiana
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    Default

    For the stereo pair it all will depend on how they are placed in the space. XY, coincident pair, ORTF, Mid-side, Decca Tree... they all have there uses, just depends on the space and the orchestral placement. Personally my fall back is ORTF.. I like the space it provides.

    With that domed ceiling you will have to listen carefully when you place the mics for focused reflections. I think you have a very interesting project on your hands. Have fun with it. In a new space you will never get it perfect in a few minutes. Do some quick reflection tests by clapping your hands(or better yet, someone else clap), get a feel for the space. Go with your gut and don't second guess yourself.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bechtel View Post
    Thanks for the insight Don!

    As far as the rooms you work in.... Do you typically use a spaced pair of Omnis or do an XY thing?
    From reading sloop's comments I seem to have gotten confused. Your concern is with room mics since your front setup with spots is already determined right?

    If that is the case my experience has been to use Omnis if the session is closed and spend some time monitoring changes during a rehearsal to 'tune' them. If I have limited options due to the session being a live concert. I may adjust pattern based on location and audience noise.

    -D

  6. #6
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    Hi Don,

    Yes, this is a closed session. No audience or observers. No matter how politely you ask folks to sit and not talk they always seem to think it's o.k. to whisper.... which is never really a whisper

    So spaced Omnis then?


    Thanks
    dave.

  7. #7
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    Fort Wayne, IN, USA
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    Default

    Would anyone else be concerned about using omnis with that big parabolic reflector (the curved ceiling) overhead? Granted the focal point of the arc (where the radii intercept) appears to be about floor level, I would still be concerned about hot spots in the midrange due to that.

    Are my concerns unfounded? I don't do much location recording, so I'm just curious.

    My only suggestion would be to position the players on stage as you would have them in a regular orchestral setup, if that is the panning you'll be using for the mix. That will make it easier to integrate them together and you can use the main stereo mics for glue to make them all sound like they were recorded together.

    I did an mock-orchestra French Horn (1 player) overdub once where we set up the room as if for a large string section and recorded a spot mic and the main room pair for each of four passes. It was easy to make that sound like four FH players in the room at the same time with the strings during the mix.
    Lynn Fuston
    3D Audio

    Making beautiful music SEEM easy since 1979.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    Franklin, TN
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bechtel View Post

    #5. I don't want a TON of room. I can add ambience later if needed. The Piano and Violin will be tracked in a studio and I'll add some verb and such to those tracks.

    As I said before, my main concern is placement of the room mics. I will not have more then just a couple of minutes to get sounds before we are off to the races! I've uploaded some pics of the sanctuary. If you all have any thoughts on where in the room and the pattern (XY,Omni,etc) that would be a good starting point for the main stereo pair would be great!

    Any other helpful hints would be appreciated!!


    Thanks!
    I would say ORTF (first choice) or X/Y(second choice), but another good option may be an M/S setup which would give you a bit of 'control' over the size of the ambience down the road.

    my 2 pennies...
    Todd Robbins
    TX3 Productions, Inc.
    www.toddro.com

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3daudioinc View Post
    Would anyone else be concerned about using omnis with that big parabolic reflector (the curved ceiling) overhead? Granted the focal point of the arc (where the radii intercept) appears to be about floor level, I would still be concerned about hot spots in the midrange due to that.

    Are my concerns unfounded? I don't do much location recording, so I'm just curious.

    My only suggestion would be to position the players on stage as you would have them in a regular orchestral setup, if that is the panning you'll be using for the mix. That will make it easier to integrate them together and you can use the main stereo mics for glue to make them all sound like they were recorded together.

    I did an mock-orchestra French Horn (1 player) overdub once where we set up the room as if for a large string section and recorded a spot mic and the main room pair for each of four passes. It was easy to make that sound like four FH players in the room at the same time with the strings during the mix.
    Yes, your concern is well founded. I think problems may show up in more than just mids, but again without hearing the room I can't say for sure. To your point, that's why I suggest monitoring and checking placement options.

    Another thing to consider is just how much room will be placed back into the mix. I have to post some of the progress mixes where I just dealt with this. I ended up using some linear phase hi-pass eq on the room mics while also bringing them further down in the mix - I'll post samples if I have time after a session tonight and early tomorrow.

    -D

  10. #10
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    well... it's 2:30 am and I just finished getting things ready to roll for tomorrow. I can't set up all the mics, headphones, chairs stands, etc. as there is a church service in the morning but I got everything hooked up and tested. All the mics are on their stands, headphones are plugged into the D.A.s and cables are labeled and coiled up ready to be unwrapped. Should take about 1/2 to get everything in place giving me 30-45 minutes to get sounds and adjust mic placement and such.

    I spent about an hour or so testing some different mic configurations for the room mics. I ended up going with the 4050s in XY. It wasn't quite as wide as the ORTF thing but, I feel that it will give me the best control of the amount of room later in the mix. I'm thinking about using the two 137s as some side fill to try and achieve a little more width. I can print em and always ditch them if is doesn't work out.

    So the artist informed me that he has approx. 37 people that will be participating tomorrow. As I mentioned before...not all will be at once but I think that should give us a pretty big sound! Should be fun! Tomorrow is going to be a LONG day. 11am-7pm doing this Christmas project and then 7:30-10:30 doing a mass choir thing in the same room for a worship album I cut rhythm tracks for on Tues.

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