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Author Topic: How to mic this stage ??  (Read 17210 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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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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Kenny Deal

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Re: How to mic this stage ??
« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2012, 09:57:00 am »

Yeah I may be better off just telling them I simply don't have the equipment to do it properly. I may still give them 1 or 2 mics and one top FOH so they can do announcement etc.
I'll talk it over with the play director. I wish I could do more but I don't have the money to buy all those mics and these are young children who probably would not like them anyway.
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Re: How to mic this stage ??
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2012, 10:38:31 am »

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.

Please send me the contact information for your wireless supplier.  Around here for $450/3 days
you'd be looking at 7 or 8 PGX.......and you supply your own mics.
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Tim Perry

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Re: How to mic this stage ??
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2012, 12:27:03 pm »

Please send me the contact information for your wireless supplier.  Around here for $450/3 days
you'd be looking at 7 or 8 PGX.......and you supply your own mics.

By some miracle the strange uncoordinated mishmash of SLX ULX Sennheisers and Samsons worked out this time. I would hate to try it at anything above high school level.

The system shown in the picture is several years old and from a local sound provider. I came to me straight from a production of "south Pacific".  I assumed they got a special deal but I just called and was quoted $12.50 per day per channel used, minimum of 6 channels.  I put it on reserve for an upcoming play in 2 months.
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Mark Gensman

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Re: How to mic this stage ??
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2012, 01:11:06 pm »

I have stages full of kids all the time and simply put up four inexpensive (CAD M177) LD mics and everything works out great.

Tell the kids to walk up to the mic to talk.

It really shouldn't be that expensive or that complicated to pick up a bunch of kids on stage. Even the lowly MXL 990 really really cheap condenser mics work just fine in that environment.
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Kenny Deal

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Re: How to mic this stage ??
« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2012, 01:13:02 pm »

I have stages full of kids all the time and simply put up four inexpensive (CAD M177) LD mics and everything works out great.

Tell the kids to walk up to the mic to talk.

It really shouldn't be that expensive or that complicated to pick up a bunch of kids on stage. Even the lowly MXL 990 really really cheap condenser mics work just fine in that environment.
I will run that by the teacher. I have Sm58's
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Charlie Zureki

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Re: How to mic this stage ??
« Reply #15 on: March 31, 2012, 01:21:07 pm »

I will run that by the teacher. I have Sm58's

   Whatever Mic'g scheme you choose/use ...make certain that you run a couple of rehearsals with the kids... because if they're anything like most adults without any Mic experience... they'll get quieter and quieter as they hear themselves in the system.

   For some reason..people are afraid of their own voice.

  Hammer
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Re: How to mic this stage ??
« Reply #16 on: March 31, 2012, 01:27:49 pm »

   Whatever Mic'g scheme you choose/use ...make certain that you run a couple of rehearsals with the kids... because if they're anything like most adults without any Mic experience... they'll get quieter and quieter as they hear themselves in the system.

   For some reason..people are afraid of their own voice.

  Hammer

I call that "CEO SYNDROME".  The six and seven figure suits who, after a short course in mic technique, take your wireless mic out in front of the crowd and proceed to lower it to their belt buckle when they hear their own voice, then glare at you and make "up, up" hand motions wanting you to compensate for their total lack of brain cell (singular intentional). 

Rant (temporarily) over.......
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Charlie Zureki

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Re: How to mic this stage ??
« Reply #17 on: March 31, 2012, 02:09:30 pm »

I call that "CEO SYNDROME".  The six and seven figure suits who, after a short course in mic technique, take your wireless mic out in front of the crowd and proceed to lower it to their belt buckle when they hear their own voice, then glare at you and make "up, up" hand motions wanting you to compensate for their total lack of brain cell (singular intentional). 

Rant (temporarily) over.......

  Yeah...had three of these shows this past week where the executive talked quieter and quieter as the presentations progressed...   luckily for her...she didn't try to give me any physical signs or, say anything stupid into the Mic about her lack of (self-imposed) level.

 I wanted them to use some countryman head piece mics, but, they insisted on lavs.  >:(  Then, on show day, instead of wearing a Woman's business suit...like usual/ rehearsal...she wore a low cut sweater showing her old-but ample cleavage. :-[   The closest I could clip the Mic was at least a foot from her chin...

   Normally, I could have given more gain, but, the way the room was set up, based on their insistance...I couldn't do much.  (I hate the amateur creative types)

   The exasperating thing...is that I insisted on a rehearsal to counter the chase the level syndrome, but... even after stopping her three times during the reheasal and reminding her...her voice would still trail off... ::)

  She's lucky she didn't announce anything into the Mic...as being my fault... I'd have killed the system and walked off the gig.

   Hammer
 
   Damn tired of amateur talent....
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Tim Perry

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Re: How to mic this stage ??
« Reply #18 on: March 31, 2012, 02:36:22 pm »

I think in this case that finding the best speaker placement will be of the most help in making the play happen.

Given the layout in the video 12" speakers in crank up stands with a downward tilt (if possible) would work the best. they should be places in front of the stage and pointed so that no one at a microphone can see the front of a speaker.

In a cavernlike multipurpose room this can reduce slapback echos by having the audience absorb much of the HF content.
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Kenny Deal

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Re: How to mic this stage ??
« Reply #19 on: June 14, 2012, 11:08:04 pm »

Well I did the play tonight. It went better than I thought. I put 2 58's up front. It was a play about a hospital so most of the time they were by the beds or two tables so I set up border mics on the tables , I put 58's on booms by the beds and tables and overall it wasn't bad. was it ideal ?? No . I had to push the mics to the edge but I stayed on them and everyone was very happy so it can be done. Actually when they were by the tables and beds it was quite clear. Only when they were in the middle of the stage was it weak but some of the kids projected very well and the mics got it. I also bought two cheap Nady shotgun mics thinking they would help but they were completely worthless...I didn't expect much for the 29$ each they cost  . The 2 border mics were Shure's. They worked not bad.
I ran a total of 8 mic in various locations.
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Bob Leonard

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Re: How to mic this stage ??
« Reply #20 on: June 14, 2012, 11:41:06 pm »

Did any of the kids have to use the lav.
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Tim Perry

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Re: How to mic this stage ??
« Reply #21 on: June 15, 2012, 01:15:57 am »

Well I did the play tonight. It went better than I thought. I put 2 58's up front. It was a play about a hospital so most of the time they were by the beds or two tables so I set up border mics on the tables , I put 58's on booms by the beds and tables and overall it wasn't bad. was it ideal ?? No . I had to push the mics to the edge but I stayed on them and everyone was very happy so it can be done. Actually when they were by the tables and beds it was quite clear. Only when they were in the middle of the stage was it weak but some of the kids projected very well and the mics got it. I also bought two cheap Nady shotgun mics thinking they would help but they were completely worthless...I didn't expect much for the 29$ each they cost  . The 2 border mics were Shure's. They worked not bad.
I ran a total of 8 mic in various locations.

Welcome to live theater!   here's one I just wrapped up.   A shotgun mice is taped to the top of the flat with the arch painted on it.  It is covering the high stage built on a scaffold. PCC's on main stage and "the underworld".  They opted no to use any wireless due to costume and movement considerations.  The play was "Eruydice"
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Kenny Deal

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Re: How to mic this stage ??
« Reply #22 on: June 15, 2012, 01:30:28 pm »

Did any of the kids have to use the lav.
No. I really didn't have a chance to look into borrowing the 2 from the Pastors and there wasn't really a lead actor persay. It was more of a General mic scenario. I talked it over with the drama teacher today. They were very happy with it but I told them it could be better next year if we move the mics closer to the center of the stage. If they were 2 ft closer I think it would have been alot better but like I was told by the principal and some of the parents. Anything is better than nothing. Last year they could not hear it at all. My biggest gripe was on was right on the edge of a mid range ring I could not get rid of. It was probably no noticible to the audience but I heard it and there was just too many mics and no enough sound check to find the culprit. I suspect the one 57 I had center stage left.
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Tim Perry

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Re: How to mic this stage ??
« Reply #23 on: June 16, 2012, 11:40:24 am »

No. I really didn't have a chance to look into borrowing the 2 from the Pastors and there wasn't really a lead actor persay. It was more of a General mic scenario. I talked it over with the drama teacher today. They were very happy with it but I told them it could be better next year if we move the mics closer to the center of the stage. If they were 2 ft closer I think it would have been alot better but like I was told by the principal and some of the parents. Anything is better than nothing. Last year they could not hear it at all. My biggest gripe was on was right on the edge of a mid range ring I could not get rid of. It was probably no noticible to the audience but I heard it and there was just too many mics and no enough sound check to find the culprit. I suspect the one 57 I had center stage left.

Sometimes is noise being produced by a combination of the air handling system and all other environmental noises.  A little gate action can help here.

For my latest production I subgrouped all mics through a FMR RNC compressor set for a severe 6:1 radio above threshold. this prevented blaring when the got loud or made thumping noises on the stage.


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Re: How to mic this stage ??
« Reply #23 on: June 16, 2012, 11:40:24 am »


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