Orchestral Recording--Bad Situation--tips?

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pietro79
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Orchestral Recording--Bad Situation--tips?

Post by pietro79 » Sat Apr 28, 2007 12:04 pm

Hello orchestral recording people,

Tuesday, I'm going to record an amateur seniors orchestra for a film I've scored...

The orchestra practices in a less than ideal space, at least for recording (I think because they aren't funded or anything like that). It's just big enough to hold the 30-ish of them

the ceiling isn't that high...roughly 10 or 11 feet...a bit higher than standard ceilings

the room is a little on the bright side... 3/4 of it is in wood, 1/4 is stucco

one small advantage is that it's not a perfect box...the room is slightly broken up by walls going in and out and an alcove for the fire place

gee, I'm bad at describing, but most important is that it's a brightish small room, 30 people playing...

Generally, my concerns are boominess and poor balance...in addition to the room, the poor balance is also do to their physical ability as seniors (75-95 years old! very inspiring, but does pose technical problems performance-wise)...it's going to be difficult to record this and get a traditional natural sound...

I have:
-a matched-pair of Oktava MK-012's (3 capsules each)
-a single MK-012 (3 capsules)
-a matched-pair of ADK vienna's
-a beta 52
-three sm57's

As the main array, I am thinking of setting up my 012's in ORTF by the conductor's head... or I could go with a cardiod spaced-pair (I'd normally go omni, but here I'd use cardiod to minimize reflections off the wall behind the conductor, and subsequent phase issues)

Then I'll set my beta 52 on the contrabass because he's a little quiet... I'd like a little coverage

This leaves me with the ADK viennas, one MK-012, and the three 57's

I'd like coverage on the woodwinds, but I don't want to overdo it, so I think I'll put the single 012 here in omni

then one ADK vienna on the cellos

stop.

I probably won't use all these mics in the final mix... my idea is to use the ORTF and then record the spot mics for safety

Suggestions? Anything I should be especially cautious of?

Thank you for reading and helping

Sincerely,
Pietro

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Post by joelpatterson » Sat Apr 28, 2007 1:51 pm

Hmmmmmmm... the thing is, room sound is a big part of an orchestra, and huge vaulting ceilings is best. I like the idea of the MK-012's in ORTF over the conductor's head, because that's what I always do, but then I generally have a pair of LDC's wide out to either side. You might take the approach of spot miking every section, and then mixing it all with a good does of reverb?
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Post by @?,*???&? » Sun Apr 29, 2007 12:00 pm

Talk to a nearby high school and bring the seniors into a larger hall- for free.

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Post by Mzkguy » Sun Apr 29, 2007 12:32 pm

I'd go with the 57 as spots for the strings and the condencers for spots on the woods. The 57 will knock down the screetchiness of close mic'd strings.
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Post by johnmarkpainter » Sun Apr 29, 2007 1:42 pm

Your theory sounds corrrect.
You will mostly want spots mics on the low instruments and the Winds.

I wouldn't use Omni on the Winds.
Don't use the Vienna there either as it will just end up picking up tons of Lows and Highs from the other instruments.

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Post by Professor » Sun Apr 29, 2007 3:59 pm

Hmm, I haven't used the ADKs personally, but I'd expect that design to be a somewhat richer & darker sound which could be very nice on strings. So My gut reaction would be to see those as the primary pair.
But then as I reconsidered things a bit, and glanced again at your gear list, I thought of a different option.
A 10-11 foot ceiling isn't terrible, but of course, it isn't ideal. You have three MK-012s each with the set of three capsules, so a Decca Tree layout came immediately to mind, with perhaps the ADKs as a pair in front of the winds. Without the ability to get really high up, you'll tend to get more of the front rows than the back rows because they are physically so much closer.
But then I thought, if the ceiling is smooth, then you could tape the three MK-012s to the ceiling to create a PZM-style boundary mic. That would take the ceiling entirely out of the acoustical considerations because you would be getting no early reflections from the ceiling surface (except floor-to-ceiling flutter, but you ain't avoiding that unless there's carpet on the floor). If the wall behind the conductor is particularly reflective, you could even tame that a bit by making the two 'out-rigger' mics in the Decca Tree cardioid instead of omni. That would reduce the amount of those reflections picked up by the mics which would closest to the wall.

So yeah, as a first thought without having seen the group or the room, I'd say three MK-012s on the ceiling in omni as a Decca Tree (or maybe omni center with two cardioids), and then the ADK pair in maybe ORTF as a pair in front of the winds so you can add some presence there in the mix. If there's only one bass, then the 52a is a reasonable enough candidate for close-micing that to boost it in the mix, and then you have a couple 57s around for any other instruments that might be particularly weak and need a little help.
In mix down you can add a reverb that has very little early reflections (plenty of those in the room) and lots of rich long reverb, like a cathedral setting, though maybe not too long of a decay. That will blend in nicely with the natural room sound, and blend the two into a nice sounding hall... hopefully.

-Jeremy

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Post by johnmarkpainter » Sun Apr 29, 2007 10:59 pm

Just wanted to clarify my Vienna comment.

They would sound great as a pair on a group.
It's just that they don't work well in an ensemble situation with other mics.
I recently used them with a small vocal group.

One try was on Sopranos....sounded great when only they were singing.
But when the Men started singing with them they were louder in the Mic than the girls were. At first I thought I had hung the mic up backwards!

I had a simliar experience with a Brass/Wind section session.
The Vienna was on a Flute and it was picking up loads of Oboe from across the room.
I had it on a Sax and it was picking excessive amounts of Tube.

And DEFINITELY don't use the Pad or the Low End Rollof as it really srews up the sound of the mics. (I'm talking about the original versions).

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Post by japmn » Mon Apr 30, 2007 9:53 am

I record a lot of orchestra.
the ORTF thing is solid. Decca Tree and MS can be cool too.
Avoid too many stereo groups. tight at the conductor, and a very wide room is ok but try to only put 1 mic on sections or you can end up with a lot of washy stereo mess. If you do not have a really clean preamp, rent one. at least for the stereo mics. Your enemy is going to be noise floor. Since the room is not ideal, I might even try to deaden it up with some rugs or blankets. If the room does not sound GOOD try not to record it. You dont want them to sound like they are in a garage.

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Post by Cryonicsound » Mon Apr 30, 2007 3:16 pm

Not knowing what the room sounds like, it's hard for me to give anything definite. I've generally been a fan of using spaced omni's, but as mentioned prior, if the room doesn't sound good, that might not be your array of choice. I haven't used any of the ADK gear, but one possibility might be to use the Vienna's in ORTF over the conductor's head with the MC012's with omni capsules as flanks.
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Post by pietro79 » Tue May 01, 2007 12:13 am

johnmarkpainter, why wouldn't you use omni on wood winds? Oh, because of bleed? I don't mind a little bleed... I was thinking of omni just so that those off axis would be picked up alright

----

@?,*???&?, about talking to a nearby high school or space, I would but there are time restrictions and physical limitations (I mean physical as in trying to get seniors who are already giving their time for free to move their rehearsal over to another place just to record for one hour...

This is a recording for someone else, and the director said we'd give it a go in this room and if it really really didn't work out, we'd try it again the next week elsewhere

----

Mzkguy, yeah, for the cellos I guess 57's would be better than the Vienna, to take down the sharpness

----

Professor, I would use a decca, or mutation, but I 'm hesitant to be dependent on too many mics in this crappy room... and pick up too much room in other words

I think I'd like to go with ORTF as a main array and then very sparingly spot mic for coverage (ie- not use them if not needed)

----

One question is whether to use the 012's or the Viennas for the ORTF... in a potentially boxy sounding room, I'd imagine the Viennas could get to murky being LDC's vs. the small 012's

still thinking...please keep thoughts coming

what should I do with the viennas?

thank you everyone

p

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Post by Professor » Tue May 01, 2007 12:45 am

Guess I should have asked, are you multi-tracking or are you mixing on the fly?

If you're multi-tracking then you can use as many mics as you've got and pick and choose which ones make it into the mix later. If there's indeed too much room, then you can reduce how much of outrigger pairs enter the mix, or drop them completely. I'm a big fan of ORTF too, and have used it in similarly difficult environments. You could certainly take an ORTF pair to the ceiling and go PZM as well, although you might want to pull back a little bit so you're not hanging directly over the front row and capturing them at 90? off-axis because that would pretty much defeat the stereo imaging.
Depending on how high that ceiling really is, I'd expect that pushing up to the ceiling would be the most effective way of taming the acoustics. When that entire surface is removed from the acoustic equation, and the floor is covered with 30 bodies in their chairs, you might actually find that things start to sound kinda dry - which leaves a lot of room for you to manipulate the sense of space in mix down.

I agree with Japmn that too many stereo groups can make things more confusing, and perhaps an XY pair over the winds would make more sense as it would remove timing differences withn that pair while still allowing you a little more spaciousness than a single cardioid would provide.

Whatever way you do it, let us know what you setup and how it works out.

-Jeremy

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Post by locosoundman » Tue May 01, 2007 8:32 am

Has anyone mentioned a Decca Tree using the cardioid capsules for the Oktava? The flanks should be focused outwards, and aimed at the second or third row.

Depends on how the orchestra is seated of course, but I would probably go with that up as my main - it covers all the strings and probably the high winds. Then spot what you need - probably double bass, low winds, percussion.

Of course, the low ceiling is not a good thing here for ORTF or the Decca Tree; the lack of height may make balancing the sections difficult. Listen for reflections/interference off the ceiling. Unfortunately, a good orchestral recording is 80% room and players.

You probably won't win a Grammy for this one. :wink:

Good luck!
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Post by pietro79 » Tue May 01, 2007 9:57 am

Professor wrote:Guess I should have asked, are you multi-tracking or are you mixing on the fly?
I am multitracking, and am aware I don't have to use all the mics I set up... I'd just like to keep it simple when possible... I don't know how much time I'll have to set up, and we're dealing with a small room that barely fits 30 seniors... i keep picturing a room full of mics falling over knocking everyone out... this is being done for free and is going to be eating into their regular rehearsal, so we want to upset their regular routine as little as possible (for now anyway... if it's bad, then I'll ask teh director to redo it, which he'll agree to)

I know, it's a compromise, and so does the director
Professor wrote:I agree with Japmn that too many stereo groups can make things more confusing, and perhaps an XY pair over the winds would make more sense as it would remove timing differences withn that pair while still allowing you a little more spaciousness than a single cardioid would provide.
This sounds good, but what can I use for this XY? my only stereo pair (other than the 012's already used for ORTF) is the Viennas... I guess XY'ed viennas with be better than on omni 012 on the woodwinds?

Do you think it would be a bad idea to use the Viennas as spaced pair on the wood winds? I mean is it a problem mixing spaced with ortf?

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