Anatomy of a Recording Session: the wedding

general questions, comments and ideas about recording, audio, music, etc.
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joelpatterson
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Anatomy of a Recording Session: the wedding

Post by joelpatterson » Thu Sep 09, 2004 7:34 am

Talk about off the wall, some kind of performance art--I got my Porta-DAT and two mics and followed my friends Dave and Mary Beth around on their wedding day. She's getting dressed beforehand, they're dealing with the caterers, sometimes I'm narrating the scene and badgering people into interviews, sometimes the mics are just sitting open, catching life as it passes by. Mic'd the stage for the ceremony in this quaint country church right down the lane, and then walking back across the field to the tent and the wild drunken party afterwards. This is in Vermont, green rolling hills all around that come out of the sky and they stand there.

Filled up 4 80-minute CDs-- 5 hours and 20 minutes, give or take. I did it as a favor, a free "audio" wedding video to capture the afternoon--but what a voyeuristic pageant! The sheer accumulated density of your familiarity with these two as they fret and ponder makes for a fascinating window on their world, a slice of life--a side of beef of life, more like it. There's something absurd but something with alot of authority about how it just goes on and on, unhurried in real time. You meet new characters, the fast talking caterer with the Brooklyn accent makes another cameo. People tell outlandish stories, and as the night wears on the stories get funnier and the laughter in the back becomes a din.

Dave topped it off by dressing up as Bono and his friend as the Edge to sing a U2 song and then a song he'd written for Mary Beth, a pulsating, tangled riff on loyalty and determination with a driving backbeat. The crowd of his old college buddies went predictably nuts. It is extraordinary how my two humble GXL 2200's (the littlest little brother of the CAD E100) and the Porta-DAT caught all this in stunning living color, in true graphic three dimensional realism. You hear people approach, you hear the traffic whine in the distance, it's kinda like a radio play almost. And 16 bit! That's like carving something on the wall of a pyramid, isn't it?

I tool the spectacular wedding shots of them as tiny dots walking through the field to make the tray card, scanned the ceremony program for the booklet. CD label is pale sky blue with a white puffy glow around their names. Now here is a project that in every sense of every word is priceless.
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Re: Anatomy of a Recording Session: the wedding

Post by awolski » Thu Sep 09, 2004 8:03 am

Very cool idea, and extremely rewarding no doubt. Sounds have a great way of triggering long-forgotten memories, and maybe some day they'll remember some obscure detail of their day better by hearing the recording.

Did you edit the footage at all afterwards, or was the "editing" done live by choosing when to record and when not to? Just curious how someone might go about this.

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Re: Anatomy of a Recording Session: the wedding

Post by joelpatterson » Thu Sep 09, 2004 5:36 pm

I tell ya, awolski, in the spirit of cinema verite, once I turned the DAT on I just let it roll. I had two-hour tapes, so I was managing it so that the tape not run out at any critical point, but other than that I just propped the mic stands where the people were... around the buffet table, subtly shifting them over to where groups had congregated... and then I just burned the CDs, spdifically.

I'm leaving it to a future generation to cut out all the lulls and produce it into a hard-hitting and revealing documentary.

I think one would--when one wishes to become a professional documentarian, and all that--need to be on fairly intimate terms with the couple in question? Some people were such hams they fell right into the 60 Minutes spirit of it all, but some thought it bizzare and intrusive.

I assume the real reason I did it is for their future children. I sure would have loved an unguarded view of my parents, before I was even born.
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Re: Anatomy of a Recording Session: the wedding

Post by djdrake13 » Fri Sep 10, 2004 11:44 am

This is one of my favorite fun acts to do. I've never done a wedding, but just letting the mic roll on parties and group hang-outs, is where you get the funny sh*t. My friends love when i do it without them knowing and the play it back later, they are on the floor laughing at themselves. I keep them all for years down the road, to remember what it was like to be young and fun....
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Re: Anatomy of a Recording Session: the wedding

Post by Spiderhead69 » Fri Sep 10, 2004 12:35 pm

I too love the practice of just letting the tape roll to capture the moment..

Best I got was when my then six year old nieces came to visit my wife and I ...While they romped on the floor, making each other laugh, I turned on the recorder and captured about 30 minutes of them talking and horsing around... I would ask them questions and would get great responses..such as when I asked them " How old do you have to be to get married" Their response was " You have to be really old, like 14 or 15"..
Then I got them to sing some songs and makeup stuff as they went along...with the words and innocence only a child can capture

My wife will listen to the CD I made at least once every 2 months....The nieces are now 10 and they laugh at their voices and antics....

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Re: Anatomy of a Recording Session: the wedding

Post by jajjguy » Fri Sep 10, 2004 12:48 pm

how did you set up the mics? did you have a stereo mount on a single boom and carry it around? or clip them to your head? or move mic stands around multiple times?

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Re: Anatomy of a Recording Session: the wedding

Post by joelpatterson » Fri Sep 10, 2004 7:30 pm

Two mics each on its own stand. I just jockeyed them around when it seemed like the action was flagging. 50 foot cables to the Porta-DAT. Now, wireless lavaliers that you could clip on people unawares---that would be the shit!

This is triggering a distant memory... for my daughter's birthday party when she was 10, for the "party favors" I sat ach kid down at the keyboard, pulled up the sound effects patch, and a live mic, and had each of them narrate their own 3-minute story. Thunder and lightning, kitty meowing, door slam, car crash... for the price of a C-6 cassette and a label (maybe 50 cents) they left with a once-in-a-lifetime party favor. Unless everyone does that.
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Re: Anatomy of a Recording Session: the wedding

Post by bobbydj » Sat Sep 11, 2004 4:01 am

awolski wrote:Sounds have a great way of triggering long-forgotten memories, and maybe some day they'll remember some obscure detail of their day better by hearing the recording.
I think sounds are almost up there with smells in the evocative stakes. And although it seems just plain wrong, I honestly think sounds without the moving pictures of video are more of a trigger. Ok, I better qualify that. I can imagine how Super 8 - or some such format - could be amazing for triggering stuff. But there's nothing worse than the uglyfying, flat light of your average camcorder efforts. Gimme sound only any day!
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