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Author Topic: How to mic this stage ??  (Read 17208 times)

Kenny Deal

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How to mic this stage ??
« on: March 30, 2012, 07:51:05 pm »

I am not sure if this is the right section but I'll try. If not can a mod move it.
I was asked to use my PA for my sons school play. They have nothing. I am not sure how to do it. I was thinking of hanging maybe 4 mics down from the ceiling ?? I really have no idea. I did a quick vid of the stage here...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1Jk5OlfEJk
If you guys could give me advice on this. Obviously body pack mics would be ideal but these are 1,2 3 and 4th grade kids and I don't have those kind of mic. It's a charity event.
I will use my FOH. There is no music or instruments involved, just the kids voices. They will need 1-2 mics when they speak to the audience and then I need to mic the show somehow.
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Re: How to mic this stage ??
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2012, 08:04:07 pm »

I am not sure if this is the right section but I'll try. If not can a mod move it.
I was asked to use my PA for my sons school play. They have nothing. I am not sure how to do it. I was thinking of hanging maybe 4 mics down from the ceiling ?? I really have no idea. I did a quick vid of the stage here...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1Jk5OlfEJk
If you guys could give me advice on this. Obviously body pack mics would be ideal but these are 1,2 3 and 4th grade kids and I don't have those kind of mic. It's a charity event.
I will use my FOH. There is no music or instruments involved, just the kids voices. They will need 1-2 mics when they speak to the audience and then I need to mic the show somehow.

About all you can do in this situation is to put a few cardiod mics on stands at the front of the stage and have the kids march up and deliver their lines squarely into the mic.  Otherwise, no mics at all will make sure that all the voices are equal in level and presence......and un-intelligibility.

Even if you have enough body-packs and lavs for the principles, the others will be nearly silent.  You end up mixing the body-pack mics so low that they're almost superfluous when you try to balance the miked voices with the unmiked voices.

Area mics, apron mics and the like won't do a good job unless the kids are made to speak out enough so that the mics have something to work with.

You will be damned if you do and damned if you don't.  There's no magic formula if the kids won't speak out.  And if they speak out (as we were taught/made to do in grade school plays back in the middle of the last century) then you don't need no stinkin' microphones anyhoo.
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kristianjohnsen

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Re: How to mic this stage ??
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2012, 09:12:38 pm »

About all you can do in this situation is to put a few cardiod mics on stands at the front of the stage and have the kids march up and deliver their lines squarely into the mic.  Otherwise, no mics at all will make sure that all the voices are equal in level and presence......and un-intelligibility.

Even if you have enough body-packs and lavs for the principles, the others will be nearly silent.  You end up mixing the body-pack mics so low that they're almost superfluous when you try to balance the miked voices with the unmiked voices.

Area mics, apron mics and the like won't do a good job unless the kids are made to speak out enough so that the mics have something to work with.

You will be damned if you do and damned if you don't.  There's no magic formula if the kids won't speak out.  And if they speak out (as we were taught/made to do in grade school plays back in the middle of the last century) then you don't need no stinkin' microphones anyhoo.

I have done quite a lot of sound for childrens' theater lately.  Dick is spot on about everything.  Unless they have a lav, march them up to a mic to deliver their line.  This is the only way it will work.
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: How to mic this stage ??
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2012, 09:19:04 pm »

Area mics, apron mics and the like won't do a good job unless the kids are made to speak out enough so that the mics have something to work with.

You will be damned if you do and damned if you don't.  There's no magic formula if the kids won't speak out.  And if they speak out (as we were taught/made to do in grade school plays back in the middle of the last century) then you don't need no stinkin' microphones anyhoo.
+1

The "art" of projection is so often lost these days.  That is why they have "sound systems".

But the thing that is overlooked (not understood) is that the system can only do so much.  There has to be a good "signal to noise ratio" in order for the system to be able to do anything.

You can't just whisper and expect "the mic" to be able to pick it up and amplify it.  But that doesn't stop people.
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Kenny Deal

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Re: How to mic this stage ??
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2012, 10:45:54 pm »

What is a Lav? I don't know what that is. I feel bad because I want to do something for them but it sounds like I can't do much. The friars offered to loan their body pack but that is only 2.
I did tell the teacher they would have to speak very loudly.
So hanging mic down form the ceiling is no good. Just put like 4 mics on stands and hope for the best ?
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Chris Clark

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Re: How to mic this stage ??
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2012, 11:56:05 pm »

Lav = Lavalier = the type of mic most likely used by the body packs you mentioned (the typical alternative is a headworn mic)


This is very similar to the productions I did for my high school, very similar stage too. I used to have pretty good luck with 2 PVM480's (super cardioid condensor mics) on sticks at the front of the stage (actually sitting on the main floor so they extended about 3 feet above the front edge) and occasionally a 3 third super cardioid hanging about halfway back center stage, but this was with high schoolers who knew how to project so it was there as a reinforcement to *help* the projection, not create the projection.

If you attempt something like that it has to be done right. Your biggest enemy I think, even if you're using lavs, is going to be acoustical control in the environment. Big square room, and I see nothing resembling baffles. I guessing if you say something in this gymatorium, it echos for a good 5 seconds. Imagine what will happen if you amplify that. This was the hardest thing to overcome in my experience.

If you only have generic cardioid mics, you're going to have major problems... The pattern on these will probably not be enough to reject the sound waves echoing throughout the room, especially by the time the gains are cranked high enough to pick anything up. Feedback city.

Edit/followup: Regarding the lavs - we did use lavs on the prinicpals but only because they were musicals - obviously singers (besides the "chorus" group) need to be able to sing over a small "orchestra". Being on a "no budget" budget, I had enough separate antennas from low cost mics on my table that it looked like I was controlling NASA... Routinely 4 or 5 people would keep theirs throughout the show, the others would switch between scenes based on who needed to be singing in the scene.

Being no musical going on here, and because you don't have enough lavs, you may need to get your system in there ahead of time, set it up, and ring it out a bit - see what kind of feedback you're going to be getting, and if you're going to be able to get any kind of amplification before that feedback happens. If you don't have the right stuff available to make it work, I'm tempted to say no system is better than the wrong system in this case.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2012, 12:11:47 am by Chris Clark »
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g'bye, Dick Rees

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Re: How to mic this stage ??
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2012, 04:50:05 am »

Lav = Lavalier = the type of mic most likely used by the body packs you mentioned (the typical alternative is a headworn mic)

You are correct.  It is possible that "lav" could also mean any body mounted wireless mic which can be used to listen to the wearer as they go to the "lav(atory)".  Could also be termed a "loo" in Old Blighty........

Sorry......

Quote
If you attempt something like that it has to be done right. Your biggest enemy I think, even if you're using lavs, is going to be acoustical control in the environment. Big square room, and I see nothing resembling baffles. I guessing if you say something in this gymatorium, it echos for a good 5 seconds.

That's a pretty liberal guess.  IME, the "hang-time" for sound in such a space is about 1/3 that, maybe less.  For the fairly benign level of speech it won't be nearly as bad as trying to deal with live, amplified music.
 Imagine what will happen if you amplify that. This was the hardest thing to overcome in my experience.
Quote
If you only have generic cardioid mics, you're going to have major problems... The pattern on these will probably not be enough to reject the sound waves echoing throughout the room, especially by the time the gains are cranked high enough to pick anything up. Feedback city.

Cardioid mics will be just fine.  Again, due to the relatively low SPL in this application, there will not be a lot of reflected energy to deal with, especially when you consider that the stage area is somewhat "decoupled" from the larger, reverberative space.  And when you factor in the very distinct possibility that two, three, four or more young voices may be present at the mic at one time, a more generous pickup pattern is actually desirable to give them all an equal chance at being heard and understood.

As to feedback, this type of work really requires a LOT of PEQ to be available, not just channel strip, but fully parametric units inserted on individual mics.
Quote
Edit/followup: Regarding the lavs - we did use lavs on the prinicpals but only because they were musicals - obviously singers (besides the "chorus" group) need to be able to sing over a small "orchestra". Being on a "no budget" budget, I had enough separate antennas from low cost mics on my table that it looked like I was controlling NASA... Routinely 4 or 5 people would keep theirs throughout the show, the others would switch between scenes based on who needed to be singing in the scene.

Yup.  That's how it works out.

Being no musical going on here, and because you don't have enough lavs, you may need to get your system in there ahead of time, set it up, and ring it out a bit - see what kind of feedback you're going to be getting, and if you're going to be able to get any kind of amplification before that feedback happens. If you don't have the right stuff available to make it work, I'm tempted to say no system is better than the wrong system in this case.
[/quote]

I would tend to agree with the "no system is better than the wrong system".  At least everything will be at the same level.  Once you start amplifying one thing, it puts the rest at a distinct disadvantage.  The audience will have to be quiet and pay attention.  The players on stage will have to project.  There's no "magic formula" or ad hoc system that will work for stuff like this.  Besides not having a pile of wireless to use, the amount of PEQ and delay necessary make it prohibitive for the casual parental sound person.

Sorry.  That's just the way it is.
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kristianjohnsen

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Re: How to mic this stage ??
« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2012, 06:11:21 am »

+1

The "art" of projection is so often lost these days.  That is why they have "sound systems".

But the thing that is overlooked (not understood) is that the system can only do so much.  There has to be a good "signal to noise ratio" in order for the system to be able to do anything.

You can't just whisper and expect "the mic" to be able to pick it up and amplify it.  But that doesn't stop people.

I have on occation told "Little Jimmy's mom" that our mics only pick up sound, but there is a new model coming out that will do thoughts as well.  Some of them get the joke...
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Tim Perry

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Re: How to mic this stage ??
« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2012, 09:10:17 am »

I have on occation told "Little Jimmy's mom" that our mics only pick up sound, but there is a new model coming out that will do thoughts as well.  Some of them get the joke...

Here are just some of the 16 wireless units I used to "The music man". this box of shure SLX cost $450 / for 3 days.

The lead actors got ULX. most had ear worn mics, some headset and a few lavs.

3 crown PCC mics were across the front.

I put two countryman hanging chior mics in the back because I was ordered to by the client. This was a waste of time. Unless you have a chior, trying to use a hanging mic is about as easy as eating soup with a chopstick.



 
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Tim Perry

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Re: How to mic this stage ??
« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2012, 09:47:28 am »

3 crown PCC mics taped to the proscenium were fed through a submixer then to then to a Sabine FBX inut then to the Studiolive.

This covered the adult barbershop and all the other scenes where individual mics were not available.

Even with all around pretty good equipment quite bit of past experience lack of advance planning by the client made this by far the most difficult play yet for me.

If you can work in several days of tech rehearsal to get the system and the people"dialed in" you may be able to find balance between  What is realistically possible and what the TV and movie viewing audience expects.

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Re: How to mic this stage ??
« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2012, 09:47:28 am »


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