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Doug Osborn

"Secret Weapon" For Rooms With Reverb?

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I've been using a Schoeps cmc641 and a Schoeps cmit5u as my "go to" mic's for the past four years.  Great sound and happy clients.  This week I've had two back-to-back jobs with rooms with lots of echo.  One was a large storefront with concrete flooring, 24-foot high metal ceiling, and all glass windows at the front.  It sounded like a cavern.  I hung half of my sound blankets and put the other half on the floor and ended up using a DPA 4061 lav for most of the shoot, then used the cmit5u and DPA 4061 lav for one segment.   Today I had an interior shoot in a house with 9 foot ceilings and hardwood floors.  I got to hang a few sound blankets but could not place any sound blankets on the floor due to the wide shots.  I tried both the cmit5u and the cmc641, but both were too "boomy" for the producer.   He had a Sennheiser   MKH 60 on hand so I threw it up and I was surprised at how much of the ambient room noise was tamed.  

 

I know there are no easy answers for this situation but does anyone have experience with particular mic's that have helped out on interior shoots with excessive ambient noise and echo? I've researched as much in the forum as I could locate as well as contacting some trusted colleagues.  I'm really not in the market for another mic. I'm a firm believer in not buying anything until I need it.  But If I had to pull the trigger on a mic today--if it would help in this sort of environment--it would likely be a Sennheiser MKH 50 if it performs as well (or better) as the MKH 60 performed on the shoot today.  Would like to hear of any mic's that have performed well for others in this situation.

 

 

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I own a cmit and although it is very good indoors and out, I have heard from a number of reliable folks that the CS3e can out match the cmit in some aspects, so I would say that it is worth a listen. 

 

The cmc641 and MKH50 are both SUPER cardioids, but not all mics are created equally. I own a 50 and can say with confidence that it is my preferred indoor mic (and my boom ops!), though I would love a cmc641 to add to the family!

 

Lately my go-to's have been the 50 for indoors and an MKH70 for outdoor use. Could just be the projects Ive been working on, but a regular short shotgun hasn't suited any recent situation. Anyways, enough of my rambling. Do a shootout between the 50 and the cmc641 (and possibly the 60) and see for yourself!

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Sound blankets and carpets. Everywhere (especially in corners). If the camera "see" a big space then will be sounded as big space. I have worked in spaces with 4s reverb. With sound blankets and carpets (two layer "wall") we reduced the reverb time to 1.5 - 2s (with naked ears). Microphones was Sennheiser MKH 60 and DPA 4061 with Sennheiser G3. With the natural reverb now we matched the sound to image. I asked the actors to reduce the level of their voices.

 

Maybe with the Sennheiser MKH 50 or Schoeps CMC6 / MK41 we would have better results, but this belong to the history. "Next scene is..."

 

:)

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I have always been a fan of "sound perspective". If you want to have a wide shot of the talent walking and talking in a big empty room, that's what it should sound like. The producer doesn't like the echo in that shot? That is a location issue in that you cant change the laws of physics. Fly a boom, lav them up and get post to dial in in just right.

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Sometimes the best way to tame a highly reverberant space is to seek some assistance from the director.

 

A little reverberation does not harm the sound; it's a natural consequence of working in a large or hard-walled space. But when the reflections pile up, one upon the other, the result is babel.

 

If the players can hold their responses just a beat, the echo of one line can decay before the next line is spoken. This maintains intelligibility. It's not usually necessary to hold delivery until the echo has decayed completely; it's enough if the pause avoids overlap on the primary echo. So, it's not necessary to completely alter the pace of the performance; only a moment of hesitation before a response line can work.

 

This costs nothing and requires no special equipment. It does require a consultation with the director but directors will often cooperate when they perceive how how little adjustment is necessary to keep the lines in the clear.

 

David

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Sounds as though you've done what you can with treating the room. I picked up a stack of two foot square acoustic foam some years back to use in addition to the stack of furniture blankets and the combination of the two makes a difference in acoustically challenged environments.

 

More importantly is to use the MKH-50 instead of MKH-60. My 50 really does minimize the echo when indoors in comparison to my 60. Then again, the 60 has a better reach when outside. There is a clear and distinct difference between the two when shooting indoors or out.

 

Also, if possible how about a Sanken COS-11 hidden as high as possible? Iso the boom and lav and beyond that, with treating the room, you've done as much as that choice of location will allow!

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Super CMIT. I had a shoot in a mildly reverberating photo studio and the reverb was inaudible in the end result. Because there where also other noises (like rain on roof) I used setting 2... I wish there was a setting between 1 and 2. 2 is rather extreme but 1 has not so much effect in comparison to the unprocessed signal. I haven't tried it yet in an extremely reverberating room.

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Thanks to all for the great input.  I've had both the MKH 50 and the cs-3e on my short list for the past five years and I decided to pull the trigger on an MKH 50 today.  Next purchase will be additional sound blankets and room treatment options.

 

David, thanks for the suggestion of the talent giving themselves a beat in-between lines.  Duly noted.

 

Much appreciated guys!

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FWIW, we now have two different plugins in post that can actually tame reverb. They rely on neural networking to determine what's the direct sound and what's the reverb, and the effect is much better than previous downward expansion techniques.

 

So the recipe is now: parametric to lower room resonances, followed by pass of de-reverb plugs (usually a combination of both the Zynaptiq and the Izotope, since their internal recipes are slightly different), and then expansion only if needed for other elements.

 

But please don't tell producers that these tools exist. Or else they'll start using camera mics. With ALC turned on.

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I once shot with a Director who asked me how the sound acoustics were.... I said you will never notice once they add in the bagpipe music....

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The MKH50 and 60 are terrific mics, but I think they're unpredictable in terms of how close you can get to the performer and how bad the acoustics are. The 50 has been my go-to mic for years for situations like this, but I'll generally try to back it up with wireless lavs depending on the circumstances.

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On 9/3/2014 at 9:28 PM, Marc Wielage said:

The MKH50 and 60 are terrific mics, but I think they're unpredictable in terms of how close you can get to the performer and how bad the acoustics are. The 50 has been my go-to mic for years for situations like this, but I'll generally try to back it up with wireless lavs depending on the circumstances.

Im kind of a huge fan of digging up old these older posts to get that much further clarification on issues like these. Marc, I was interested in your comment... Are you saying that you use lavs because they reduce echo better than MKH 50?  

 

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Just because I like the previous post so much:

I was recently filming in the various parts of a most esteemed wine cellar and our first I/V was in an empty rotunda with a curiously baroque reverb, despite the neo-renaissance setting. I placed a cos-11 as near to source as convention would allow but in comparison to a CS3e (operated at the edge of frame) it was clear the cos-11 was little more than an esoteric brooch. 

Please enjoy a glass or 2 of an 1870 Château Lafite Rothschild at your own expense or if you don't have $400,000 for a double magnum here's a photograph for you to reflect on :-) 

IMG_4676.JPG

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On 4/27/2016 at 11:23 AM, AdamAslan said:

Im kind of a huge fan of digging up old these older posts to get that much further clarification on issues like these. Marc, I was interested in your comment... Are you saying that you use lavs because they reduce echo better than MKH 50?  

It depends on the room and where I can get the mic, but that's often true for me. In a perfect world, you'd control the echo with blankets and/or flags and use a boom to control reflections on the walls and floor, but it's not always possible for various reasons.

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On 8/31/2014 at 5:45 AM, VAS said:

 I asked the actors to reduce the level of their voices.

 

In dramatic and/or comedy stuff the above referenced quote is key, particularly when they are yelling or screaming. The problems I indicate to Directors are:

A) the reverb or reflections are making the dialogue difficult to understand.

B) and/or the lines are garbled because there is so much wind coming through the actor's mouth, that their teeth, tongue and everything else in that area is overpowered and lagging behind, thus screwing up pronunciation.

The solution: C) all I need to hear is the intended context and emotional texture of the lines clearly, without all the excessive volume.

 

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 I used to carry an RE-15 for situation where acoustics were terrible and proximity was not a problem.  I stopped carrying it long time ago but for some of these scenarios it might be valid option-      easy for us get into the habit of going to the same tools  for 99.9% of the shooting that we do.  Or treat acoustics more aggressively-  blankets... etc.       dynamics-- thoughts?     Maybe i should have never sold my UHF Vegas either...  

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angling the mic  towards the floor can help if you can find a sweet spot that captures talent's voice solidly, sometimes even straight down towards the floor if you're in close enough to capture. that way you're attenuating the reflections from the walls and ceiling. in most situations the most bothersome reflections are not coming from the floor.

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