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Hey guys,

 

I'm a film composer and new to jwsound and have enjoyed the site a lot.  It's great to get the perspective on production that a lot of you guys share.  Hopefully some of you here can offer some suggestions for an experiment we'd like to try...

 

Our next project we're scoring might benefit from recording the instruments outdoors in an open area.  

We did a test recording with a single fiddle player a few weeks ago and ran into lots of issues that many of you guys probably face daily... wind, planes, unwanted wildlife (my hat is off to any on-set sound recordist!)

 

We used a SM57 as a close mic on the violin with a makeshift foam windscreen which was OK as long as the wind wasn't too abusive.  We also setup a Scheops CMIT5 with a fuzzy Rycote that was about 15 feet away pointing at the violin.  We also setup a Sennheiser MKH800 in figure 8 at a similar spot the CMIT was.  The violin also had pickups that ran to an amp that was about 75 feet away and mic'd with another 57.  The amp was pointed at the player or slightly off axis to him.

 

We are recording in the santa monica mountains area in Malibu.  The winds can get pretty strong.

 

The close mic'd 57 was pretty good overall but the actual sound of the violin wasn't great.  We are going to try a Beyer160 next time.

 

The Scheops was the best with wind because of the fuzzy windshield but still disturbed by wind on bigger gusts.  I have since ordered a Rycote 4 kit zeppelin for it.  That should give us a big advantage with the CMIT5.

 

The Senmheiser mkh800 sounded great but was easily abused by wind noise.  We only had a simple foam windscreen supplied with the mic.

 

The amp 57 was OK in general.

 

We are getting ready to try out a Sanken WSM-5 surround mic with a zeppelin.  The idea is to have this in between the instruments and any amps (along with the close solo mics).  I'm hoping this does the trick.

 

Since we don't have a camera to worry about are there any tricks you guys may have picked up over the years to help shield from wind?  We still want the openness of recording outdoor without any sort of room sound.

 

For the tests we've been recording to a MOTU 896HD that was modified by BlackLion Audio into Digital Performer on a laptop.

 

Sorry for the long post.  Any advice or brainstorming would be greatly appreciated!  

 

Thanks,

Buck Sanders

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>Since we don't have a camera to worry about are there any tricks you guys may have picked up over the years to help shield from wind?

Go inside to a nice quiet space and do your recording.

Acoustic instruments are pretty dry outside, I prefer them in good sounding rooms.

I like big expensive German mics for strings.

al

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Sounds like an interesting experiment/idea. The wind is a wicked thing on mics as you found out. Good protection is a must and you can rent proper ones at Trew, Location, and other rental houses here in LA. I'd suggest recording early in the morning when the wind is usually the calmest. Or well after sunset which is when the wind is usually the strongest. Stay out of the flight paths which is hard to do in SoCal. Crickets & Coyotes are out of your hands but they will sell the great wide open. I'd think a Scheops 41 as your closer mic would sound good, the CMIT5 might be a better match this way. Depending on the amp and its volume the 57 may work ok, I'd do a DI from the violin as well. Love to hear what you come up with.

CrewC

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Are you recording outside for vibe reasons?  Or because you don't have a dead space to record in?  You are making your life a lot harder if there isn't a great reason to be outside, like you are shooting a video of this recording etc..  Instruments recorded outside, with no room to help them, often don't sound like themselves, what we're used to.  To use most mics outdoors you need very serious wind protection, which is expensive, bulky and affects the sound.  Backing the mic off will only help you if the area is really quiet.  

 

philp

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Before getting into production sound, I was a recording studio engineer and also got to do a lot of orchestral recordings. That said, here's my opinion:

 

Half of the sound from any acoustic instrument is the room it is placed in.

 

If you are recording strings, this is especially true. That being said, if you are looking to record outdoors, go for it. But have in mind that the sound will be completely different, outside from dealing with the issues you already mentioned (wind, planes, and other noise factors). Is there any specific reason why this recording might benefit from doing it outdoors?

 

In a typical orchestral recording, I would have a main system: spaced pair, ORTF, MS, or my favorite for big ensembles, the Decca tree. I would then carefully place spot mics in certain instruments and/or sections to help emphasize them in the main mix.

 

The issue with utilizing this method, is that your main system usually has wide pick-up patterns (Decca tree uses three omnis; spaced pair has two), which is great for recording the acoustic space, but horrible for outdoors where there is no acoustics, but lots of noise. Your best bet, would be to pick the least windy and noisy day, and record then. Buy we all know how difficult it is to predict weather correctly...

 

Anyway, best of luck with this! I would be interested in hearing how it all ends up like!

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Interesting that you asked about this, when I just wanted to repeat my question that I posted long ago on another pro audio forum... the question about the great live music recordings in the films of Tony Gatlif, Latcho Drom and Vengo specifically... I wonder how they did it - it sounds great and no mics visible in wide shots of course, but also very dynamic close shots - fingers and musicians movement synced perfectly, music is partly improvised and very complex so there is hardly a way they would perform to playback... 

Sound recordist for Latcho Drom was Nicolas Naegelen... so if anyone knows him or knows how they recorded those scenes any info would be more than welcome and probably beneficial to the OP, too. 

 

Check:

 

Latcho Drom -  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wv1y5PNqsm4  (this is just amazing - check the numerous superbly recorded outside performances)

 

Vengo - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huwGeNUK6Os

 

           - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QMBfLn9nKY

 

           - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YzYJeelx5Y  (check the singer and guitarist Tomatito interaction from 5:30 on... and how good this is recording for a live set - this could not be overdubbed to be synced so perfectly... IMO)

 

How? 

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As others have stated, recording outdoors without serious wind protection is pointless.  The mildest breeze can render a shotgun useless without wind pro.

I would approach this like a single mic group recording.  Put everyone as close together as possible, then while listening, move the musicians and their amps to locations that balance their sound with everyone else.  Mixing by placement.

When recording outdoors, you do a lot of waiting.  Waiting for planes, trains, cars, lawn mowers, the kid down the street that won't stop crying, sirens, you name it, if it makes noise, we wait for it.  Pick a location outside that has infrequent noise issues, and hopefully some acoustic character.  Canyons, forest, hils, they all sound different, so use your ears before you start recording, and choose a location you like the sound of.

DPA makes some great sounding small mics that may be easier, or at least less expensive to protect from the wind.  You may consider trying them as close mics for some of the instruments and use them to augment an overhead stereo / surround pair. 

I would recommend renting for this project, it will be a lot cheaper than buying wind pro for all your mics.  If it works out and you really like it, then start investing.

Have fun.  Post a sample when you get it done.

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I would approach it with an MS stereo pair (Sennheiser MKH40 & 30 or similar) inside a windshield or some other pair (Schoeps, DPA) with slightly enhanced high end - or maybe the new compact preamp for DPA4011 could fit a pair of those excellent mics in ORTF configuration inside a stereo zeppelin?  And add spot mics like Schoeps MK41 (with wind protection) a bit closer - you would get a nice overall stereo atmosphere and you can pull in the solo instruments for more focus... They must have done similar in those Tony Gatlif movies, but I wonder how they managed to do it so well with all the cameras and crew... and where did they hide the mics - maybe just outside the frame or maybe they even used the DPA4060 or similar lavaliers that sound good on instruments up close... I bet 4060 on a violin would be a better "extreme" close mic than 57 for the overall tone... But I would prefer MK41 a bit further away - 50cm - 1m as a close mic. And at the right position for the instrument...

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Thanks for all the replies!  That Latcho Drom film is amazing.  

 

I should have stated the artistic reasons for wanting to record outside.  It is for Tommy Lee Jones' new film The Homesman which is set in the Nebraska territory in the 1860s.  Bascially its about a group of women who go crazy and need to be taken back east to be cured.  The film is about the harshness of the environment and it's barrenness.  There is nothing romantic about it.  A part of the challenge of finding the right sound for the score is that it's a film about the lack of things like music.  I realize it's a challenge and that the instruments will be bone-dry but that's what we're shooting for.  To have the sound of the instruments dissipate into the air.  I should receive my Rycote Zep for the CMIT5 tomorrow and plan to re-amp the close mic from the trail violin session we had for some more tests.  I'm curious about the Scheops 41 as a close mic.  Would the MK41V or the CCM41 be a better match for the CMIT5?

 

If all this fails we do have a studio where we can record and shoot for a more traditional dry studio recording process but I'm excited to get outside!  I'll probably never want to do it again but it's worth a shot.

 

Would love further input if you guys think of anything!  Thanks again

 

Buck

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Hi, and welcome...

" might benefit from recording the instruments outdoors in an open area.   We did a test recording with a single fiddle player a few weeks ago and ran into lots of issues "

the potential benefits outweigh the certain issues..?

(your explanation doesn't sell it!)

 

" We used a SM57 as a close mic on the violin "

the venerable SM-57 is neither a violin mic, nor an outdoors mic.

 

close mic placement is mostly all about signal to noise ratio

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Hi, and welcome...

" might benefit from recording the instruments outdoors in an open area.   We did a test recording with a single fiddle player a few weeks ago and ran into lots of issues "

the potential benefits outweigh the certain issues..?

(your explanation doesn't sell it!)

 

" We used a SM57 as a close mic on the violin "

the venerable SM-57 is neither a violin mic, nor an outdoors mic.

 

close mic placement is mostly all about signal to noise ratio

If we want to do it we have to give it a proper shot and since we never record outside it's a huge learning curve.  For the initial test we used what we had on hand and for the most part it was unusable but we did like the vibe.  Hopefully the next time we try with better suited equipment the results will be what we're shooting for. 

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Thanks for all the replies! That Latcho Drom film is amazing.

I should have stated the artistic reasons for wanting to record outside. It is for Tommy Lee Jones' new film The Homesman which is set in the Nebraska territory in the 1860s. Bascially its about a group of women who go crazy and need to be taken back east to be cured. The film is about the harshness of the environment and it's barrenness. There is nothing romantic about it. A part of the challenge of finding the right sound for the score is that it's a film about the lack of things like music. I realize it's a challenge and that the instruments will be bone-dry but that's what we're shooting for. To have the sound of the instruments dissipate into the air. I should receive my Rycote Zep for the CMIT5 tomorrow and plan to re-amp the close mic from the trail violin session we had for some more tests. I'm curious about the Scheops 41 as a close mic. Would the MK41V or the CCM41 be a better match for the CMIT5?

If all this fails we do have a studio where we can record and shoot for a more traditional dry studio recording process but I'm excited to get outside! I'll probably never want to do it again but it's worth a shot.

Would love further input if you guys think of anything! Thanks again

Buck

Sounds like a cool idea. If it gets you the sound you are going for, then go for it.

I think you will find the mk41 and ccm41 to be very similar, and both will work well with the cmit.

One more thing you have to consider outdoors more than in a studio is the background. Consider what those highly directional mics are pointing at behind you when you setup your group. As always, listen and choose the background that fits the best.

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Thanks for all the replies!  That Latcho Drom film is amazing.  

 

I should have stated the artistic reasons for wanting to record outside.  It is for Tommy Lee Jones' new film The Homesman which is set in the Nebraska territory in the 1860s.  Bascially its about a group of women who go crazy and need to be taken back east to be cured.  The film is about the harshness of the environment and it's barrenness.  There is nothing romantic about it.  A part of the challenge of finding the right sound for the score is that it's a film about the lack of things like music.  I realize it's a challenge and that the instruments will be bone-dry but that's what we're shooting for.  To have the sound of the instruments dissipate into the air.  I should receive my Rycote Zep for the CMIT5 tomorrow and plan to re-amp the close mic from the trail violin session we had for some more tests.  I'm curious about the Scheops 41 as a close mic.  Would the MK41V or the CCM41 be a better match for the CMIT5?

 

If all this fails we do have a studio where we can record and shoot for a more traditional dry studio recording process but I'm excited to get outside!  I'll probably never want to do it again but it's worth a shot.

 

Would love further input if you guys think of anything!  Thanks again

 

Buck

 

I still think that doing the recording in an acoustical space is best, and it also seems to me that you are trying to "design" the sound of music, which may be a job best left to the sound designers and re-recording mixers.

 

But if it is the sound you are going for, then I say definitely try it. Definitely continue to run tests, even if with smaller ensembles, before bringing in everyone for the actual session, this will allow you to set the right expectations for your session. For example, if you are going to be recording early morning, a test during the same time under similar (if not the same) conditions would be ideal, and it will give you the best representation of what the actual session will be like. I would also monitor the weather conditions constantly, to make sure that wind speeds are low and conditions are generally calm leading up to and the day of the session.

 

As it was mentioned above, both the mk41 and the ccm41 will work well together with the CMIT.

 

Best of luck! Please do post samples, as I'm extremely curious as to how it will sound.

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" might benefit from recording the instruments outdoors in an open area "

seems to me to be an exercise in style over substance

If it doesn't work it doesn't work.  I'm just trying to figure out the right way to attempt it.  Happy to record inside if it doesn't benefit the score.  

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I'd just like to point out that session players are expensive, and waiting for planes and wind will run you a ton of money, and just as you're ready to get the perfect take, they have to take a mandatory break. Like a lot of the guys here have already said, your best bet would be to record indoors in a controlled environment.

 

However, if you do it outdoors anyway, will you please post us a sample to hear how it turned out with a run down on what you did/used? Thanks!

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Since you are recording outside where there is little to no room acoustic, I would try close micing each instrument

and mixing.  You could add a stereo mic ( your choice ) to add some ensemble feel.

 

Hello,

 

I would recommend the same thing and perhaps even suggest something more extreme to counter the background noise: having a lav on the violin, a closed up stereo mic and a further one if you can. I encounter these situation often, but the performers are filmed so it's not exactly the same problems.

 

It's a interesting idea but i believe it's even more interesting if you take in consideration the background noise and have to deal with it in a musical way. But again, that's not what you're looking for.

 

In any last ressort, perhaps the studio is the safest choice.

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