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jason porter

Hidden Camera Audio

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I have a pilot coming up where I need to gather stealthy audio from 3 x tables of 4 people in a working restaurant.

My ideas so far-

Plant a lav mic or two on each table, hopefully hidden by a practical prop (flowers, candles, etc)

Lav/directional mic hanging from a light fixture (if available and practical)

An second lav on the waiter (who is aware of the production) with gain set to pickup audio from the guests

Has anyone had success/failures with any of these techniques before? Any pitfalls?

Thanks!

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I did this on a DIY Network show.  I think your best bet is a wireless plant on the table plus the mic on the waiter.  Anything else could take a long time to rig and be too obvious.  You would likely have to build something custom to hide the tx and the mics.

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JP: " Has anyone had success/failures with any of these techniques before? Any pitfalls? "

yep, of course...both!

and Any pitfalls?: plenty

one of the first pitfalls would be unrealistic expectations.

this takes us to the premise:  do these folks know what they are doing ?? any experience ?? budget ??

 

as long as there is budget, you can, and should go for all possible alternatives... the insta-stash mic's "planted" on the tables, mic's planted on the staff, mic's hanging in the lights --and elsewhere-- possibly add fixtures that aren't regularly there,--movie making is problem solving!-- but are in fact added as places to hide mic's!!  and, of course, they will need plenty of time, effort, and more $$$ for post.

without budget, unless you want to become a significant investor, then the expectations are unreasonable.

 

BB: " Anything else could take a long time to rig and be too obvious.  You would likely have to build something custom to hide the tx and the mics. "

if this is a proper pilot, and a real production, then the time (and expense) for rigging, hiding, and custom work are part of pre-production; if this some wanna-bee's hair-brained idea for fame and fortune for free, faghettaboutit...

 

A producer/Director named Funt did an amazing job of this stuff on a regular, ongoing basis for years, and that was years ago... he had the time, effort, and budget needed...

Edited by studiomprd

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I've done a bit of this. The take outs (pun intended) were props, props and props (big enough to hide radio mics) and obviously treating the environment to make it as sympathetic as possible for dialogue acquisition (rubber crockery, cutlery and table in an anechoic chamber if you can :-).

We did wonder if an ambisonic (soundfield) mic would have any merits for this sort of production but concluded post would not have the time to make the most of it.

Realistically subtitles will probably be involved.

Dan.

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Lav on waiter could be put midway down chest - about leval with heads of diners - waiter could be asked to favour his /her chest ?/! to diner when having conversation...

Have had good results from lav on tables, bit like boundary mic affect - need to isolate from table noise - your idea of 1-2 planted in practical props may be better.

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Thanks for all of the good suggestions.

I am hoping they are not opposed to subtitles...

I have a meeting with the VP of Development scheduled to discuss expectations and budget.

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I wonder if it might be possible to use short shotguns on the ceiling pointing down towards each table? A normal-sized shotgun would be too big and noticeable, but I'm thinking an 8050/8060 might not be too big, and (assuming the right surroundings) it might not be noticeable, or it could be disguised as some kind of fire alarm. If nothing else, it'll give you some ambience for multitrack. 

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I did something where we drilled a small hole in the table and ran the mic head through the hole which was covered by a table cloth.

Fill the hole with Joes Sticky Stuff or Silicone with the mic positioned in the middle to help isolate it from the table surface.

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I did something where we drilled a small hole in the table and ran the mic head through the hole which was covered by a table cloth.

 

If you do this they will put something on top of it .It"s better to have a small flower pot in middle of table. make it as small as possible,  the faux flowers low and have it all rigged up and stick it to the table so it can't be moved. the silverware is a problem---give 'em burritos.

 

                                                                          J.D.

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If you do this they will put something on top of it .It"s better to have a small flower pot in middle of table. make it as small as possible,  the faux flowers low and have it all rigged up and stick it to the table so it can't be moved. the silverware is a problem---give 'em burritos.

 

                                                                          J.D.

Do both. A reasonably well isolated mics placed in hole in table sound good until someone parks a side dish on it, thats when the other props play. Have plan b, c and f. Ie. if your best sounding mic goes down you want something the waiter can place on the table to rescue the situation. Mini recorders are cool but if you're relying on those you will be like a 'passenger' in the back of a 'paddy' wagon.

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I rigged omni PZM style mic's under the table cloth and got great sounding dialoge. If its a busy restaurant there will be a lot of ambient voices.

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Plant a lav mic or two on each table, hopefully hidden by a practical prop (flowers, candles, etc)

 

If you can put a hole in the center of the table, run an omnidirection lav in a custom made center piece for the table. Wire through the hole to the body pack transmitter taped under the table. People are surprisingly reluctant to move a centerpiece in a restaurant, and it will keep you from needed a boundry mic, or having the danger or someone setting something over the mic and blocking it.

 

If you can, run another from an overhead light fixture if you can put one directly over the table and disguise appropriately.

 

And finally be sure to put one on the waiter. I like the idea someone else said about moving the mic down so its mouth high with the seated diners. Train the waiter to put the mic where it's needed and turn his/her body as required. The diners will just think it's a weird manerism.

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Biggest problem (beside the unpredictable rumble noises) could be the ambient noise around the table? Is this a noisy restaurant with a marble ground and many small tables or a silent restaurant with carpets and paintings? The later the evening the more drunk the other guests get - and so they talk louder and louder.

I did make the best experiences with a lav taped flat on the table and the tablecloth over it (works like a PZM). And Schoeps MK41 with the short cable or the Schoeps CCM41 if you have the possibility to place them.

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Did a small version of this once.

 

Small vase of flowers with Lectro transmitter and Sanken CUB-01

 

I think this approach for 4 people needs a less direction mike, just an omni lav

 

Choose a non busy restaurant with soft furnishings and carpet

 

mike

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The 788t is great but I despise the latency on the faders of the Cl-8. Never bought the CL-9 so I can't comment on it . I still have my Cooper CS-104 which I keep for utility purposes -and I couldn't get much for it anyway if I did sell it. I used it as a front end for the 788t on an independent feature, and the director was quite pleased with the sound. Maybe you would want to use your 208 on that kind of project, but it will probably sit unused for months or years at a time once you modernize your kit . OTOH, The Cl-8 is practical but no comparison to a mixer as nice as the 208.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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