Jump to content
Daniel Ignacio

Micing an old car for effects: a Ford Model T.

Recommended Posts

I’m working on a period drama next week, and the director wants me to mic a 1920s Ford Model T. No dialogue, but he wants the sounds of the car as it’s driven around with a single-camera rig on it. At my disposal: two COS-11Ds on Lectrosonics LTs (I’ve got Rycote Overcovers for it) and my MKH 50 (which I would only use inside the car, if I even use it).

 

It’s my first time rigging a car for effects, and I’m already finding general advice (here and elsewhere) for that. But I’m wondering if there’s anything different I could or should do for a car of this era.

 

Here’s some reference photos of 1920s Ford Model T’s:

 

538113854_95a598513c_o.jpg

Photo by Bill Burris

 

6044551271_fbfd721a92_b.jpg

Photo by sv1ambo

 

43167159132_d17908f30a_k.jpg

Photo by Andrew Bone

Edited by Daniel Ignacio

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Henry Ford Museum I presume?

 

These cars are so old that they really don't have any insulation whatsoever.  This will work to your advantage as you could probably just mic the firewall (from the inside) to get the engine clatter.  Then maybe throw another mic pointed towards the exhaust tip to get the exhaust note.  All depends on what camera angles you're going to be getting to as you'll want to focus on the perspective of the camera is seeing.  One word of caution, these engines put out a lot of heat!  So make sure to not attach any gear on or really close to any heat source (engine bay / exhaust piping etc).

 

Oh, and if you have a moment, ask the driver to show you how these things drive.  It's NOT the typical throttle/brake despite how it looks modern with pedals / steering wheel.  It's a pretty wild setup once you see how they actually operate!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Privately owned actually, but I love that museum.

 

Thanks for the tip about the firewall. I think I’ll clamp my MKH 50 pointing at the firewall and stick one of the COS-11Ds over the rear exhaust.

 

Been browsing Model T videos, wish I had an extra 416 and blimp to capture that lovely exhaust note more fully.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 You may have already found this out from reading other threads, but any microphone that’s outside of the vehicle needs to be wrapped in quite a bit of foam. The Rycote  overcover by itself will not cut it. When I did a car recently I got some fairly thick foam from a craft store, and zip tied it all around my lavs.  The foam will also help protect the microphone from the heat of the engine or exhaust. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Make sure you make best of the opportunity to get recordings both inside (on board) and out, so factor for that especially if on your own. Try to find out from the end user (presumably the supervising sound editor) rather than just the job source what is or might be required, and if possible draw up a priority list. Make sure you (do your best to) cover everything on the list but don't lose your chance to get a good range of sounds or especially an interesting unexpected sound.

 

Can you use the COS-11s directly into a preamp bypassing the lectros? If not it might be well worth bringing the idea of additional (small cost) mic rental of Sanken adapters, or DPA lavs, to the job. To make sure you're not missing a good recording opportunity. I would (at the least) grab onboards of cabin, fixed distance (ie boom or lav on stick from onboard), engine and exhaust; then cover as much externals (following and passbys) as I could. MKH50 perfect for latter.

 

Understand that there are quite a few Model T recordings out there in libraries and from previous films, so it really is good to find out if possible from sound post what is actually needed (ie missing) and then what is preferred that you might get. If the film is shot look over the footage with the sound editor - it might be the case that the 'gold' is just a couple of shots at a particular speed that couldn't be covered by library sound. Quite often we (editors) are missing 'normal speed' stuff for a certain vehicle where we're well supplied by speedy pass-bys - etc etc. If it's not yet shot study the script and if possible have a little discussion with director, possibly editor or even DP on what is intended visually (or story) and use your judgement what is needed.

 

Hope this helps Daniel - didn't mean to be so long winded - in fact we love in post whatever we get (so long as the shit is well recorded!) - cheers,

 

Jez

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

if it were me, the two primary things I'd be figuring out are drafting placement and exhaust.  Also, if you have a second rig, another person holding a boom for passbys, ins and aways and tire noise will be worth its weight in gold.

 

If the exhaust is in the rear, as is typical, I'd cover that with both the MKH50, and the COS11.  You really can't cover the exhaust thoroughly enough.  I'd place the other COS11 in the engine compartment.  

 

I've had excellent results in the past by taping PZM and cub mics to the rear bumper with little to no wind protection, because the vehicle itself acts as the wind barrier while it is in motion.  The COS11 should be easy to mount as close to the exhaust as possible while still using the vehicle for drafting.  The MKH50 will be trickier, but if the car is going to exceed about 30mph, I'd just mount that one on the bumper or rear wall directly as well.  You may get results by hanging a boom over the back of the vehicle and keeping the mic tight, but you'll likely end up with boom pole bumps in that scenario, so I much prefer to just mount directly to the vehicle if possible.  

 

In the engine compartment, you'll want to find the air intake, and place the other COS11 in a place that captures that without being in direct contact with the wind.  Remember, even in enclosed engine compartments there's considerable air flow, and wind protection isn't the answer there - placement for drafting is.  

 

The other major thing I'd be concerned with is mounting technique.  dont mess up that paint job!  Test your tape, use torn up t shirts as padding where needed, and mount and secure everything very well before the car goes into motion.

 

have fun and good luck!  

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My choice is:

 

A stereo mike in the vehicle

 

Dynamic mikes for exhaust and engine  because of high sound levels

 

mike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I only found out from the director that he wanted the car miced two days before it happened, so I had no time to prepare anything super special, unfortunately.

 

Mobilemike, we were travelling at less than 15 MPH/25 KPH, so the a Rycote Overcover sufficed.

 

The Immoral Mr Teas: Post sound wasn’t even brought onto the project at this point! Ah, indie filmmaking.

 

In the end, my MKH 50 clamped pointing at the firewall yielded fantastic results, after I trimmed it down properly. Meanwhile, I messed up with the COS-11D on the exhaust due to the time constraints (only two takes) and my inexperience – I only gain staged for the car when idling, so the driving audio hits the limiters and sounds 75% unusable. Had to drop the bag in the car and let it roll, without much time to adjust. Very unhappy at myself about that.

 

All in all, I think post sound will love the MKH 50 firewall audio, and find at least some use of the COS-11D exhaust audio.

 

IMG_0024.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey, we live and learn. I was astonished once recording an animal with an MKH40 - dozens of perfectly good recordings then one situation hit the roof (on transients if I remember- confined, reverberant cage). The MKH pad would have done it but no second chance. Not crucial though.

 

So long as you were just recording general ticking over and drive from there at 15-25mph there's probably plenty of library stuff to cover it. And your own stuff will be a nice new set of recordings. Let post know the situation (or the director?) so they know what works and what doesn't: if they just listen to the distorted stuff they may not bother with the good stuff - conversely, if they hear the good stuff first, they may expect the rest to be the same quality and not have time to listen properly until too late.

 

Very nice looking clamp, by the way. I'm sure it's pretty standard (for other prod sound tasks) but it's new to me. Probably too big/heavy for me to want to adopt in a kit but it looks good.

 

Cheers for the honest write-up!

 

Jez Adamson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks! I’m planning to open a dialogue with post sound, though if the director or editor would help connect us.

 

The clamp is from Stage Ninja. It makes creaking sounds when adjusted, which concerned me, but it held its form while on the car. Good plant micing solution.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×