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Author Topic: Help on micing an outdoor children's play  (Read 3482 times)

Steve Montambault

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Help on micing an outdoor children's play
« on: July 28, 2011, 03:20:17 pm »

I need help ...

I was again asked to help a local church out for an outdoor picnic they have each year.  There is usually a couple of small acts/bands, which I don't have an issue with.  What plagued me last year and what I am seeking help on is a children's play they put on.  Because this is outdoors, I need to amplify the kiddies voices, but have had no luck in coming up with a working solution.

I've tried floor boundary mics (Crown PCC-160), but the asphalt (It's held at the back end of their large lot) doesn't carry the sound enough to pick much up.  I've tried stand mics with both dynamic (Sennheiser 835s) and Condenser (AKG C1000) mics, but the kids are afraid of speaking/singing closely into them and I get feedback before I get enough gain.  I don't have enough wireless gear to cover more than a handful of them (there's usually 20 or so involved) and I really don't feel like having that gear dropped anyway for this non-paying gig.

Any suggestions?  I'm going to talk to the music director to see if we can get the kids rehearsing with stand mics so maybe we can get them a little closer.  If I need to pick up a couple of shotgun mics, any suggestion for a couple of low cost units (I don't do this much)?  Thanks,  Steve
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Steve Montambault
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Re: Help on micing an outdoor children's play
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2011, 03:31:27 pm »

I need help ...

I was again asked to help a local church out for an outdoor picnic they have each year.  There is usually a couple of small acts/bands, which I don't have an issue with.  What plagued me last year and what I am seeking help on is a children's play they put on.  Because this is outdoors, I need to amplify the kiddies voices, but have had no luck in coming up with a working solution.

I've tried floor boundary mics (Crown PCC-160), but the asphalt (It's held at the back end of their large lot) doesn't carry the sound enough to pick much up.  I've tried stand mics with both dynamic (Sennheiser 835s) and Condenser (AKG C1000) mics, but the kids are afraid of speaking/singing closely into them and I get feedback before I get enough gain.  I don't have enough wireless gear to cover more than a handful of them (there's usually 20 or so involved) and I really don't feel like having that gear dropped anyway for this non-paying gig.

Any suggestions?  I'm going to talk to the music director to see if we can get the kids rehearsing with stand mics so maybe we can get them a little closer.  If I need to pick up a couple of shotgun mics, any suggestion for a couple of low cost units (I don't do this much)?  Thanks,  Steve

You're showing an incredible amount of goodwill to begin with.  If they appreciate your efforts, get them to pop for the rental of a half-dozen wireless headsets and have the "backstage moms" swap them onto the kids as they go on stage. 

You're giving them something.  Have them give something back to make it work for everyone or consider taking a year off. 

How can they miss you if you don't go away????
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John Livings

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Re: Help on micing an outdoor children's play
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2011, 05:41:22 pm »

We use Wireless/Wired for Theater work with up to 50-60 Performers, using a Max. of 10 Wireless and 4 Wired.

The ages we work with are from Pre-K thru Adults.

The use of Wireless Headsets and Handheld wireless seem to work best for us.

Not "Addressing" the Mic properly is simply not solvable. (Al least without someone forcing a Mic in their Face)

The Music can overwhelm any performer, Many times the only way to hear someone is to pull the recorded music all the way down.

With many inexperienced performers, The louder the monitors, the softer they get.

We make a decision Prior to the Show how to deal with "Whispering" voices.

Friends and Parents want to HEAR their Kids, Period.

Our Vocal Coach sits in the front/center row and gives Hand Signals to the Talent, This also involves holding a Mic to the remind them to speak into the Mic.

I can't count the number of times a parent will "Rush" the Board, Demanding that their Kid be "turned up".

As a side note, The Music Director/Vocal Coach work with the group from the First day of rehearsal to "Project" their Voice and work prop mics.

Just my opinions.

Regards,  John

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Steve Montambault

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Re: Help on micing an outdoor children's play
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2011, 08:31:07 pm »

The issue with wireless is that most of the kids are on the makeshift stage (actually just an outlined section of the lot) at the same time, coming forward for maybe a word or 2, then dropping back, so I would have to mic them all, which I wouldn't be able to manage FOH by myself.  A lot of it is general song singing that if we were inside, I'd go with choir drops .. outside, I have no convenient place to hang them and donating trusses is not going to happen  :) 

I thought about a parabolic, but I won't have the time to train someone on use and I know I will be riding the faders with the kids.  Unless there is a good wide coverage, high gain mic setup, I will try to get the music director to do the rehearsals with at least a set of dummy mics in place to get them used to putting their face near one.
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Steve Montambault
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Jordan Wolf

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Re: Help on micing an outdoor children's play
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2011, 08:58:09 pm »

...I will try to get the music director to do the rehearsals with at least a set of dummy mics in place to get them used to putting their face near one.

Steve,

Have you thought about talking to the music director (and/or whoever is directing that performance) about the choreography?  Maybe you could arrange it so that the kids line up in two rows or 10 deep or 3-4-3, with a mic or two DSC (Downstage, Center)?

Either way, I think this would be a great time to interface with the director to think of a creative idea to make everyone happier with the end result.  Maybe you could even set up a trial and error test outside to see what works better for your situation.
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John Livings

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Re: Help on micing an outdoor children's play
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2011, 09:15:35 pm »

Hi Steve,

Don't get overwhelmed, Its doable.

Below are 4 handheld Wireless (Sticking out of a 4X mic stand on the floor.

6 headset wireless (on 6 of the key singers)

The 4 handhelds are passed around and replaced into the holder.

From the back I direct  the Lights, 4 cameras, FOH and monitors.

This involves up to 10 wireless and 4 wired Mics, Direct 3 cameras and operate the Main camera, direct 2 light operators and run a very simple intelligent light show (DMX), record up to 24 tracks of audio, Que the recorded music and of course calm down parents wanting more of their child in the Mix.

Of course this is not something you just do, it requires some planing and the temperament to roll with live shows.

We use a simple rig that can be plugged into one 20 amp circuit.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rzzrpp9NQM0

Good Luck with the show(s) we do over 100 per year, no stress :)

Regards,  John



Can't load the image, Sorry
« Last Edit: July 28, 2011, 09:35:00 pm by John Livings »
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Steve Montambault

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Re: Help on micing an outdoor children's play
« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2011, 11:00:20 pm »

Hi Steve,

Don't get overwhelmed, Its doable.

Below are 4 handheld Wireless (Sticking out of a 4X mic stand on the floor.

6 headset wireless (on 6 of the key singers)

The 4 handhelds are passed around and replaced into the holder.

From the back I direct  the Lights, 4 cameras, FOH and monitors.

This involves up to 10 wireless and 4 wired Mics, Direct 3 cameras and operate the Main camera, direct 2 light operators and run a very simple intelligent light show (DMX), record up to 24 tracks of audio, Que the recorded music and of course calm down parents wanting more of their child in the Mix.

Of course this is not something you just do, it requires some planing and the temperament to roll with live shows.

We use a simple rig that can be plugged into one 20 amp circuit.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rzzrpp9NQM0

Good Luck with the show(s) we do over 100 per year, no stress :)

Regards,  John



Can't load the image, Sorry


I certainly appreciate all the responses.

The wireless will still be tough, mainly because they have no budget to rent and I have no intention of letting the kids use my systems on asphalt.  I'm a nice guy to a point ...

I'm guessing that a coordinated effort with the music director and play director to get the kids to use a set of standard mics is probably the only realistic way .. I was hoping for one of those magic bullets ... sort of a shotgun, omnidirectional, high GBF but wide dynamic range, able to leap tall buildings mic setup ...
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Steve Montambault
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Kevin Maxwell

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Re: Help on micing an outdoor children's play
« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2011, 11:14:50 am »


I certainly appreciate all the responses.

The wireless will still be tough, mainly because they have no budget to rent and I have no intention of letting the kids use my systems on asphalt.  I'm a nice guy to a point ...

I'm guessing that a coordinated effort with the music director and play director to get the kids to use a set of standard mics is probably the only realistic way .. I was hoping for one of those magic bullets ... sort of a shotgun, omnidirectional, high GBF but wide dynamic range, able to leap tall buildings mic setup ...
You probably donít have the ability for whatever reason to do this. But the only way that you stand a change of distant micing working is if the main speakers are downstage far enough that they donít just pick up the mics causing feedback. You need the main speakers about 8-10 feet in front of the stage and time aligned to the stage. And then put some small front fill speaker run very low in level near the front of the stage. And some delay speakers out in the audience. And you need to know how to tune a system for overall linearity and then insert a sub group EQ on these mics and tune them for optimal gain before feedback.
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Re: Help on micing an outdoor children's play
¬ę Reply #7 on: July 29, 2011, 11:14:50 am ¬Ľ


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