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Hidden Camera Shoot in London's Black Cab

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Hello Everybody,

I was looking through the forum to see if there was any similar topic in the past but i didnt manage to find something specific so here I am posting the question.

I will be doing a hidden camera shoot in a black cab in 3 days and looking for opinions.

We will be using three cameras and the plan is to target groups of one to two passengers maximum.  Of course that means that we wont know where exactly people will seat or towards where they will look etc so I need to cover all bases.

My idea is to use 4 mics in the passenger cabin. initially I thought of using two DPA 4098 for when passengers are fully relaxed in their seats and two DPA 4060 high sensitivity mics with the BLM mount in the case passengers decide to come forward to talk to the driver. The big question mark is where exactly I'm gonna put these and how I'm gonna hide them so that they dont draw attention. I know that I can get away with a lot cause usually people are fully absorb in their own things so they dont notice what is obvious to us that placed it there but the clients can be difficult.

I dont think I will have a problem attaching the BLM mount in the roof. I have ordered some upholstery fabric (same as the one that is already on the ceiling) and I'm planning to attache some on the ceiling with double sided tape to use it to hide cables or even mics but not sure how to get away with hiding the 4098 and be at the same time closer to the passenger. The gooseneck accessory is great for angling etc but I believe it will make it to noticeable and maybe without it I can get away with planting it. Another option is to use normal lapels that have smaller foorprint and are a bit easier to hide but I believe the 4098 will pick up further than a cos 11 but again the cos 11 will be more forgiving with angles being an omni. Other option is to use 4 x 4060 with the BLM mounts.  I have never used in the car to be honest but I have listened to some tests online and they sounded pretty good.

Any thoughts?  Has anybody done any similar jobs? We will be recording inside the cab into 3 pix240 and my plan was to use cables directly into my nomad and then feed sound into the 3 pix 240. I'm trying to find out if there is any neat way of routing cables from the passengers cabin into the drivers cabin but I have not heard back from the driver or his company. The only way I can think of at the moment is through the money tray that is on the panel that separates the two cabins but it might end up being too messy with a lot of cables. We will be following on a van monitoring everything so I will use two radios to send a feed. Will probably use an antenna distribution system with shark fins to receive the signal in the van to make sure we have solid radio link.

Any thoughts would be very welcomed. Here is a link for a picture of the interior of a black cab   https://photos-0.carwow.co.uk/blog/1600/Black+Cab+interior.jpg  I tried to attach some pictures but the upload was always failing.

Thanks

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Looks like a black vent on the ceiling, I assume the right-side is the same. I would block the air tubes and stick mics in those. Can't see the front part of the cabin well enough for an idea.

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I wouldn't use a mic like the 4098, even though it sounds good--too hard to hide.  I'd go for all "flat" types like BLM, CUB etc, and if those are too obvious then something like a Sonotrim in their PZM mount.  The mic placement can be approximate (it will be anyhow as people move around), the talent is going to sound like they are inside a car no matter what you do.  If the windows are up, the AC is off (or low) the sound system is off (or low), the engine is quiet and the street smooth you'll be good.  Try to find a home for your TX where they are transmitting through as little metal as possible.

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There are many different types (models) of Black London Cabs. The one in your photo looks like a vert modern type of Black cab.

Be aware that most Black cabs have 3 seats at the back facing forward, and two fold down seats in the middle facing backwards. In your diagram the three rear seats are at the LHS, and the two rear facing seats are on the RHS. In your diagram the driver would be out of the frame to the RHS, and if driving forwards the direction of travel would be left to right.

So - it could be argued that one mic in the centre of the cab would cover all 5 seats, so long as the passengers are looking at each other. If it were I then I would try to get two mics for the back row, to be placed just forward of the sat passengers, plus one or two for the rear facing passengers. If the rear facing passengers turn around to talk to the driver then they may go off mic, so maybe one between them for when they are facing rearwards, and another on the dividing screen for if they tun to talk to the driver.

Depending on the model of cab, there might or might not be stuff on the ceiling to hide mics in.

Good luck, Simon B

Picking up on Philip's post. It is highly unlikely that aircon will be needed in London for about the next 3 months. The engines are not overly quiet, they are all deisels so are quite 'chuggy'. Enjoy, sb

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3 hours ago, Rick Reineke said:

Looks like a black vent on the ceiling, I assume the right-side is the same. I would block the air tubes and stick mics in those. Can't see the front part of the cabin well enough for an idea.

On the centre of the ceiling there is a speaker and to the sides of the ceiling these are some of the lights for the passengers cabin. Unfortunately the air vents are to on the divider on the side of each backwards facing chair.

3 hours ago, Philip Perkins said:

I wouldn't use a mic like the 4098, even though it sounds good--too hard to hide.  I'd go for all "flat" types like BLM, CUB etc, and if those are too obvious then something like a Sonotrim in their PZM mount.  The mic placement can be approximate (it will be anyhow as people move around), the talent is going to sound like they are inside a car no matter what you do.  If the windows are up, the AC is off (or low) the sound system is off (or low), the engine is quiet and the street smooth you'll be good.  Try to find a home for your TX where they are transmitting through as little metal as possible.

I'm leaning towards the BLM cause I think its easier to disguise a mic like that on the ceiling of a car.  There is a speaker in the ceiling already so the passenger might not think much of it. I agree with you that it will be a struggle hiding the 4098 but to be honest all this time I had the 4081 in mind and not the 4098. I have used the 4080 in the past and I was happy with it but I did not find that I had significant gain on range comparing to a cos 11 that was also mount next to it. Any thoughts on that?  If I can get my hands to a 4081 it should be possible to hide.

3 hours ago, Bash said:

There are many different types (models) of Black London Cabs. The one in your photo looks like a vert modern type of Black cab.

Be aware that most Black cabs have 3 seats at the back facing forward, and two fold down seats in the middle facing backwards. In your diagram the three rear seats are at the LHS, and the two rear facing seats are on the RHS. In your diagram the driver would be out of the frame to the RHS, and if driving forwards the direction of travel would be left to right.

So - it could be argued that one mic in the centre of the cab would cover all 5 seats, so long as the passengers are looking at each other. If it were I then I would try to get two mics for the back row, to be placed just forward of the sat passengers, plus one or two for the rear facing passengers. If the rear facing passengers turn around to talk to the driver then they may go off mic, so maybe one between them for when they are facing rearwards, and another on the dividing screen for if they tun to talk to the driver.

Depending on the model of cab, there might or might not be stuff on the ceiling to hide mics in.

Good luck, Simon B

Picking up on Philip's post. It is highly unlikely that aircon will be needed in London for about the next 3 months. The engines are not overly quiet, they are all deisels so are quite 'chuggy'. Enjoy, sb

This is indeed the model of the cab that we will be using.  I have pictures of the exact cab but I cant upload them on the forum.. Anyways we will be aiming at single passengers or two people max so the rear facing chairs wont be really used. To be honest there wont be any camera covering that part of the action so even if someone sits there we wont be using it.

I believe that after a certain point in the interaction the passenger will come forward to talk to the driver in a more personal manner cause the conversation will lead him to that and that's why I need a mic for the normal siting position and one if the passengers come forward and closer to the dividing panel. Having a mic on the panel though is a very valid point. I might do so to cover more possibilities.

I have ordered the same upholstery fabric that the cabs use and hopefully will arrive on time.  Thinking of cutting a big piece and attach it to  the ceiling with double sided tape (if the piece all along from side to side might go unnoticed) to hide cables etc and having mics protruding from it.  Otherwise I will have to improvise during on the rigging day. Indeed black cabs are really damn noisy and clunky.. It will be a challenge.

Thanks for the answers guys. It's good to have a conversation and bounce off ideas.

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Sit in the cab. Imagine you are moving up to talk to the driver. I'd pull down the front left seat to talk across to the driver. Above the middle not too close to the glass would be fine. 

Recently, cabs I've been in have "coms" between driver and passengers so the glass is solid and driver is safe. You could easily sell the 4098 as a mic to the driver. BLM overhead in the middle with DPA in their BLM mount could be anything. 

Keep it simple. They'll have piles of footage to choose from. They'll use the best sounding pieces where people are loud and enthusiastic. 

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11 hours ago, RPSharman said:

Sit in the cab. Imagine you are moving up to talk to the driver. I'd pull down the front left seat to talk across to the driver. Above the middle not too close to the glass would be fine. 

Recently, cabs I've been in have "coms" between driver and passengers so the glass is solid and driver is safe. You could easily sell the 4098 as a mic to the driver. BLM overhead in the middle with DPA in their BLM mount could be anything. 

Keep it simple. They'll have piles of footage to choose from. They'll use the best sounding pieces where people are loud and enthusiastic. 

Thanks for the comments and I think you are spot on most things.

As you say there is coms between driver and passenger.  There is already a speaker and some mics on the ceiling and yeah my line of thought was that the BLM mounts will blend pretty well.  Not sure about the 4098 hanging but can get one and give it a go. As far as I remember there is no window any more but there is still the tray for cash which leaves some space for communication and cables to pass. Its a good idea to have a mic close to that part of the cabin.  Thanks for the comments.  Do you have any experience of using the 4080 or the 4099hi sensitivity inside a cab? Never used the 4099 but looking at the frequency response they are flatter but relatively similar to the 4098.

Thanks

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Probably none of the sound mixers problems, but I'm curious:

How does production address the issue of privacy in a shoot like this?
Are they just asking the passengers for permission for the footage on the end of the ride and tell them that they won't use the footage if they feel uncomfortable? I could imagine some people getting quite upset when they hear they've been filmed and recorded secretly (I think I would). 

chris

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On 3/6/2017 at 11:57 PM, chrismedr said:

Probably none of the sound mixers problems, but I'm curious:

How does production address the issue of privacy in a shoot like this?
Are they just asking the passengers for permission for the footage on the end of the ride and tell them that they won't use the footage if they feel uncomfortable? I could imagine some people getting quite upset when they hear they've been filmed and recorded secretly (I think I would). 

chris

Well basically according to the law there needs to be a sticker reading cctv or filming in operation and as soon as filming is finished people are told about it (given that they haven't noticed which nine did) and if they want their image to be used they have to sign etc. 

 

 

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Back to the sound perspective, at the end I used two DPA 4060 with the Blm mount to the right and left of the speaker that is located in the middle of the ceiling of the passengers cabin. To be honest the DPAs worked so well that I was able to pick up really well both passengers on both mics.

So I run the cables into the speaker and then over the ceiling of the cab all the way to the top of the back door and then all the way along the drivers cabin. It was quite straight forward. Had to take the handles off but it wasn't complicated. I also used another 4060 with a blm on the air-condition vent that is on the separating panel to make sure I capture any passenger that moved forward to talk. The vent is circular and the exact size of the BLM mount so it was perfect and conveniently just under the money which could be removed and cables were run underneath. 

For the driver I used a DPA 4099 on the visor and a 4060 on the panel to cover the possibility of the driver turning to the passenger to talk. The background noise was really reduced on the 4099 but mixed with the passenger cabin Mic it blended well. 

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I had to do something very similar in a black cab a few years ago, there is a light in the centre of the cab i put a Cub 11 in it and ran the cable up through the light, as there was a electrical cable behind i followed that. The feeling panel came away with gentle persuasion, a credit card or similar is a great tool to use, i put a radio on the driver and recorded everything on a sound devices. I fed the output of the mixer to radio TX and had a mag mount areal on the roof of the cab. In the chase vehicle the crew could easily listen to the dialogue. All went well. Good luck regards Jonathan Mitchell


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