A few years ago I had a friend ask me to help her with a project. She was doing a one-woman show, but with a live band. We needed to do the live sound, record it, and film it. She had hired a couple of people with cameras, but asked if I knew any more. So I was able to get a friend out to help with the filming. One of the people that she had hired called me a few days later for a last minute project.
Over the phone he was pretty vague, and basically said he thinks it would be interviews and light music. Huh?
Well I went out there to see what it was all about, and brought my sound bag, which had my Sound Devices 788T and a few Lectrosonics wireless in it, and a small pelican case of support equipment that was still packed from a recent gig. It was a good thing I brought all that because what I had ahead of me was not what I expected.
The shoot was at the MAK Center at the Schindler House. I asked around to get an idea of what was going on. What was explained to me is that there was to be a live performance that evening. It was an Opera, with two singers who would wander throughout the house, and accompanying musicians who would begin in one room, and end up in another. What!?!
So I am to record a musical performance where the artists meander around a property, and not necessarily together? Ok… I got this.
So the two wandering singers, that’s easy. Stick a lav on each of them. As long as they don’t wander too far, reception should be ok. The building is made of concrete, but it has a pretty open design. I can position myself in the middle and hopefully that’ll work. I had a couple of DPA 4061s that I hadn’t tried out yet, so I thought that this might be a good opportunity.
The two musicians that would move from one room to another, consisted of a flute and cello. They began in a room in front of a music stand. I was able to stick two Sanken CUB-01s on the stand and the beam above them, which ended up being a really good setup.
The third thing was that there was someone in an adjacent room, where the other musicians would end up in, playing a grand piano. I was told that they didn’t want the audience to see microphones or cables (something that a lot of people say, but I have a hard time understanding why?!), so since I happened to have two mic stands in my car and some fairly long XLR cables, I was able to take two Sennheiser mkh416s that I also just happened to have with me, put them up on the stands just out of sight, pointing towards the piano, and run the cables to them.
Within minutes of my setting these things up, and without being able to actually test any of it, and still not really knowing what to expect, the performance started. As soon as I heard singing, I hit record, knowing that I had pre roll engaged, I knew that I wouldn’t miss anything.
This opera consisted of letters written between architect Rudolf and wife Pauline Schindler. It was quite the piece. I made a stereo mix on the fly as I was recording, but I think that they made a different mix for the video, because the instruments don’t sound as present as I had them in my mix. Overall I think that it turned out pretty well, considering everything was last minute and I was going off of little to no information. Either way, it certainly helps to be prepared!
Above is the video of the performance, and if you would like to read more about the event, click here.