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Author Topic: Microphpones for a school play.  (Read 1127 times)

dick rees

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Re: Microphpones for a school play.
« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2014, 01:32:24 pm »


I guess I'm fortunate that the amateur theatres I work with are pretty good about projection.

There's a HUGE difference between amateur theater and a school play...

As to the GEQ's for PCC's, I much prefer PEQ.  I'll agree with limiting (what you're using your compressor for), but I cannot see any use for other dynamic processing on mics which need every single bit of gain they can get.
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Microphpones for a school play.
« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2014, 12:46:27 pm »

This is the crux of the matter.  Not only are kids NOT good projectors, they do not often understand that their lines should be delivered TO THE AUDIENCE.  They'll talk softly to each other while facing across the stage.  No PCC will have a prayer of useful functionality in such a scenario.

If you get kids who'll face forward and speak to the back row of the auditorium, you're very, very lucky.

And those are matters for Herr Director.  If he/she is sufficiently clueless and fails to realize that the actors are there for the benefit of the audience, you're screwed.
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Microphpones for a school play.
« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2014, 01:15:44 pm »

I use PCC160's for most of the theatre work I do. One theatre I work in regularly has a 50' proscenium, and the apron is a little wider than that. I use 7 PCC160's across the front, spaced about 7-8' apart. I use a compressor and expander on each one, with the expander set to cut down on noise but pick up any voices, and the compressor set with a high ratio that only kicks in when a large ensemble is singing and doesn't need as much PA reinforcement in the house. A parametric or 31 band graphic EQ is a must to get as much level as possible. Insert one on each channel if you can, or a subgroup if you can't.

If the scenery allows, I'll add more PCC160's further upstage, since the mics start running out of gas once you get about 15' away from them. I have a total of 14 PCC160's, and I've yet to need more than that.

Typically the shows I'm involved with won't accommodate hanging mics for one reason or another, but they do work well if you can get a bunch of them up in the air.

Depending on the stage you may need to put some foam under them to isolate them, but I don't usually find it necessary. On a side note, I also use PCC160's for dance shows, they're great for tap.

The others are right though, if an actor can't project there's not much you can do for them other than put a headset on them. I guess I'm fortunate that the amateur theatres I work with are pretty good about projection.

I've done a fair bit of being the Stagehand/sound designer (I help the electrician hang & circuit, too...) for youth musical theater.  The gear available is whatever isn't already in use in the PAC, plus 8 channels of rented RF.  That generally gives me some speakers on stick to supplement the 40 year old Altec coax speakers in the proscenium arch, a small hand full of good mics for the pit, and 3 Bartlett or Crown PCCs.  I bring in 3 AT853 from my personal inventory and hang them after I see cast and set blocking in tech.  Lots of area mic mixing for the kids that didn't get a body mic (and I don't decide who gets them unless there is an obvious need to change something).  I think I'm better off doing some downward expansion with my fingers than fiddling with settings that are unlikely to be right at the next rehearsal or performance.  I get 3, 3 hour tech rehearsals before the shows open.  I'm glad it works for you, though.

For the OP, take the advice of folks that suggest Microphone Madness.  Their staff is very helpful over the phone, the products work better than the price would suggest.  You have bigger fish to fry working on youth musicals than wishing you had DPA or AKG or Countryman mics; and anything that helps you get more mics on more kids is a plus.

Area micing can be done successfully.  I designed a generic area system for for a high school theater competition that was in a gym.  We built a 40 x 30 grid for lighting and rags, and I was able to hang AT853s in zones, along with PCC 160 on the floor and 3 AKG C747 (mini 'shotgun' that is easy to hide) for spot micing in the sets or from a wing.  We did something like 4 shows a day, and I mixed all but 1 of them.  I had a number of teachers ask about the mics I used and I gladly shared the info, but only one of them asked how I was controlling or EQing (and that was where my secret sauce had been applied).  I showed him how I EQ'd individual mics, routed them to groups for additional EQ and some dynamics processing, and what I did on the outputs... and I'd have shown anyone else who inquired had they done so.

In performance the experience, knowledge and overall familiarity with theater on the part of the operator is paramount... but how do operators GET THAT WAY?  That is what school is about, I think, but too often parents expect professional production values from student actors and technicians.  To be fair, most schools don't have great technical theater programs and those that do often concentrate on the more traditional aspects of stagecraft: carpentry, electrics and props.
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Greg Cameron

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Re: Microphpones for a school play.
« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2014, 01:58:36 pm »

I'll say with PCCs that in lively rooms, they're as useless as "tits on a bull." If you have a room/theater that is well treated acoustically, they can certainly help. Otherwise forget it. In those situations hung mics often don't work well either due to feedback. Head/ear mics are the only way to fly for those situation.
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Kevin Maxwell

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Re: Microphpones for a school play.
« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2014, 03:53:54 pm »

I will approach my comments from a slightly different angle. Unless you have actors that are projecting it is very hard to switch from a head worn mic to a floor or hanging mic and have it work well. I always have apron and hanging mics because I use them to pick up the chorus for the big chorus numbers.

If you regularly are having your mics on the wireless fail you have to find out why and fix that problem. I would like to know what mics you are using now. Exactly what is failing? I have found if we tape the mics so there is no place where there is excessive strain my failure rate goes down a lot. I should say A LOT! 

I also check each mic before it is released to be put on the actors. While listening on headphones with the mic under test cued up, I hold the pack up in the air with one hand and I slide my fingers down the wire towards the head of the mic. Then I talk into it, usually from the side so as not to overload it. And I also wiggle the connector and the antenna. All while listening for any noise that shouldn’t be there. My over simplified conclusion is if I find a problem I fix it. More details available on request. 

I also like to have a spare handy so the mic wranglers can change out a problem quickly. 
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dick rees

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Re: Microphpones for a school play.
« Reply #15 on: January 27, 2014, 06:23:02 pm »


If you regularly are having your mics on the wireless fail you have to find out why and fix that problem.

Yup.

I think it has already been mentioned, but it's worth a reminder that a "strain relief" taping of the cable to the actors neck so there's some slack for head movement will really help.  Takes the weight of the cable off of the ear-piece connection...which is one of the most likely FAIL points.
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Cailen Waddell

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Re: Microphpones for a school play.
« Reply #16 on: January 27, 2014, 07:36:44 pm »

Invest in some skin prep and transpore 3 medical tape. They aren't the only way to go, but all the A2s I respect in the area use it to tape their mics to actors.
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Art Williams

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Re: Microphpones for a school play.
« Reply #17 on: January 27, 2014, 10:44:25 pm »

Exactly, be sure to affix the mic to the actor so it DOESNT fall off, I like the next are clear medical tape... Be sure to press out all the little bubbles. The Kids will hate you because they have black residue for days afterwards haha, but it doesn't come off. Next best is transpore.
If the stage is big the area mics certainly won't have the same dynamic range and presence.
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Kevin Maxwell

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Re: Microphpones for a school play.
« Reply #18 on: January 27, 2014, 11:02:18 pm »

Invest in some skin prep and transpore 3 medical tape. They aren't the only way to go, but all the A2s I respect in the area use it to tape their mics to actors.

Please tell me about this Skin-Prep. I goggled it and it looks like you would put it on the actor and then use the tape. I usually use the 3M Transpore tape but it is very tough on the actors. Does the Skin-Prep stuff change how well the tape sticks?
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Cailen Waddell

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Re: Microphpones for a school play.
« Reply #19 on: January 27, 2014, 11:06:06 pm »

Yeah.  Skin prep makes the transpore stick really well.  But it tends to come off the skin a little easier.  The skin prep is rubs off a bit like rubber cement after use. 

I have always had trouble with transpore not sticking on actors that sweat a lot (pretty much all the kids at our resident youth theatre).
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