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Laurence T

Recording from nightclub House AV - any tips?

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I have just received a very vague call sheet for a shoot i’m on tomorrow. It’s a nightclub with 6 performers - I reached out to the associate producer and explained I was a little confused as to what I will actually be doing and was told I may just be recording the performances from the house AV (or desk, I do not know!). I am a little frustrated about the complete lack of communication up until this point.

 

Anyway, I expect this would be a case of recording direct outs from the desk/system - or is there something more that I’m perhaps missing? Should I ask for line up tone from the Del in order to calibrate my recorder (zoom F8) or just match meters? I apologise if this sounds very amateur but this is my first gig dealing with house AV and it hasn’t been sprung on me!

 

Many thanks.

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Good you mention you use the F8; most front of house desks will give you a line level feed (from the desk, or routed via a stage box), so be sure to have trs jack cables/jumpers with you, since the F8 only accepts line level via trs.

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Thanks, the F8 certainly does have some indiosyncrosies!

 

So you reccommend I take just some standard mono trs jack to trs jack cables? Or XLR to trs? 

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Oh yikes!  That's it for information about recording a 6-piece band on location?

 

Good luck.  No seriously, good luck!

 

Take a 2-track mix from the FOH guy and call it good.

 

Stereo mic pair in the room and record what come out of the PA?

 

XLRs or TRS, who the heck would know?

 

If it were me, I'd cancel the job.  "I've come down with the flu."   Not being bitter here, just wouldn't want to be responsible for something that I had such poor prepro on.

 

Inexcusable on the part of production; so little time and so little help.

 

D.

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Can you get in touch with the FOH guy or gal today (or depending on the call time, tomorrow AM)? Just as springing this on you doesn't help, if you show up without advanced warning, he/she might not have the time and/or inclination to help you. I've been on both sides of that. Uh, this assumes there is a human FOH person...

 

And "six performers"? So it's all singers or comedians or something? Or open mic? Or a band with instruments? All instruments mic'd or just vocals and then let the backline rip it up?

 

Anyway, as others here said, cover yourself. A feed from the desk or whatever would be good. But also a room mic or stereo pair  seems like a good idea in case not everything's going through the desk. Even a little handheld recorder somewhere... Just don't know enough about what you'll be doing (condolences since production hasn't told you).

 

Geez; good luck. Let us know how it goes down.

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23 minutes ago, tourtelot said:

Oh yikes!  That's it for information about recording a 6-piece band on location?

 

Good luck.  No seriously, good luck!

 

Take a 2-track mix from the FOH guy and call it good.

 

Stereo mic pair in the room and record what come out of the PA?

 

XLRs or TRS, who the heck would know?

 

If it were me, I'd cancel the job.  "I've come down with the flu."   Not being bitter here, just wouldn't want to be responsible for something that I had such poor prepro on.

 

Inexcusable on the part of production; so little time and so little help.

 

D.

Indeed - seriously considering it. It’s the night before and I have not had a single conversation with the producer about what I’m doing. I do not enjoy cancelling and do not want to leave a crew without a sound guy but this is unacceptable.

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I've done plenty of these gigs so i wouldn't be afraid to take the job without a proper briefing (about all the time it was like that with me, with A class acts from all around the world, then it helps I have a music background) but I can understand you're since you never did a job like this before.

Take plenty of jumper cables/connectors with you, be prepared to mic some yourself (lav on a singer/guitarist goes a long way, some extra on mic stands stand by), indeed a stereo mic or even a mono boom somewhere to get ambience (perfect in the mix). 

 

Years ago I did this job with ZERO prep work. 4 mics and the feed from a board and 15 minutes setup time. Live to 2 track, not even ISO.

 

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Make the effort to get in touch with either the house FOH mixer or the house production mgr., that due diligence can at best get you some real cooperation, clean feeds and power, a reserved spot to set up in, a scheduled load in time and a real schedule of the performances and probably info about factors neither you or or your client are aware of.  At worst you will be rebuffed or blown off, and that is important info too.  FOH people who work the same venue all the time often don't want to talk to anyone involved with a specific show until close before the date--they are too busy with the preceding shows until then.  But persistence in trying to find someone to talk to from the venue has really paid off for me, and quite frequently made me the best-informed person on our crew about what was really going to go down.   Yes--all the adapters and trafos etc etc, but the most important factor is human contact.

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Sorry to be so curmudgeonly.  That is no way to run a railroad and I truly feel sorry for those of us who need to struggle though such absurdity for whatever reason that we feel we must.  Sometimes I just have to thank my lucky stars it ain't me.

 

D.

1 hour ago, Vincent R. said:

I've done plenty of these gigs 

 

So what happens when you show up, with no information to help plan and without vital pieces of equipment to properly do the job?

 

I have a music recording BG as well and if someone had asked me to do this, I'd show up with a trailer full of expensive gear and a chest of top-tier mics.

 

And I'd charge them $1200/day to do it.  

 

It's the only way I'd feel comfortable accepting such a job.

 

The OP's situation is nuts and ripe for disaster!  Who's going to get blamed when it doesn't work?

 

D.

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 "I reached out to the associate producer and explained I was a little confused as to what I will actually be doing and was told I may just be recording the performances from the house AV (or desk, I do not know!)."

 

I would...

Communicate as best you can, prod a bit more for info, introduce yourself to the FOH and monitor guys or gals and let them know what has been asked of you and for permission to simply get a feed. They should be nice enough to help you out. 

 

Show up, take a feed from the house into your recorder..L and R..  Bring other mics, a stereo mic or set up to record a house mix from the PA, a crowd mic pointed back at the crowd and do what you see fit once you get there.. Play it by ear... they said probably take a board feed, run with that, anything you can do other than that is a bonus for them..

Yes, bring your bag of connectors, cables and anything else you may THINK you will need. I am sure there is a staging area... better to have stuff on site than not.

You'll be fine..

You'll probably learn something, there's value in that too...

 

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1 hour ago, Philip Perkins said:

 Yes--all the adapters and trafos etc etc, but the most important factor is human contact.

 

And why should the OP stay up all night trying to make this work?  It's really not his job to production manage the job, is it?

 

D.

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"And why should the OP stay up all night trying to make this work?  It's really not his job to production manage the job, is it?"

 

He shouldn't, he should sleep well, show up .. do the job, go home, cash the check.  It's not that big of a deal.

 

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1 hour ago, tourtelot said:

So what happens when you show up, with no information to help plan and without vital pieces of equipment to properly do the job?

 

Indeed a bag of tools is needed for this but not that much, your confidence is worth the most. Completely blind is a far stretch I would say, the briefing would be in the lines like OP wrote (6 performers and FOH option in his case). Some examples I did in the past; Adele (briefing; Guitar and vocals, in a hotelroom, turned out a keyboard player was there as well), Esperanza Spalding, (briefing: "hey tomorrow Spalding, we have an hour during rehearsal in the concert hall with full band. FOH feed available), Jamie Cullum (briefing; The 02 theatre London, 15 minutes soundcheck, 15 minutes rehearsal shooting, FOH available, at least grand piano). The one video I linked above was like that too. So really basic info nothing much, and most even less info.

For these gigs I brought a big Portabrace bag with mics, cables, jumpers, and a mixer + recorder, all battery powered. most of the time I roll at 2/4 tracks max, a lot of summing. I did a lot in 2005/2009, so keep in mind the gear at the time. For mics, I had a couple of big condensers, 4 pencils, lavs (great for quickly taping somewhere, if easier wireless) and a stereo mic. Maybe like 5/8 mics. But most of the times when I was doing it in combo with FOH feeds I just run max 4 channels of my own, so a stereo mic and 2 extra somewhere.  Again the one in the video was 4 mics plus the FOH/mixer, straight to 2 track because there was no time for audio post. I had a stagebox with me to make it convenient because I knew I had to be quick, and mic stands. All my gear was so compact I could theoretically bring it with public transport. On all the gigs above I was in and out in an hour, because the o -so-precious time of the A artist you know, that's all we got. 

 

1 hour ago, afewmoreyears said:

"And why should the OP stay up all night trying to make this work?  It's really not his job to production manage the job, is it?"

 

He shouldn't, he should sleep well, show up .. do the job, go home, cash the check.  It's not that big of a deal.

 

Hear hear!

 

Doing these kind of jobs are fun, bringing back the child memories of recording bands and groups from the hood on a crappy portastudio cassette 4 track 😀

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One keeps pushing for info--even to the point of doing a scout on one's own, because that is how you can get to having a well-run gig.  I don't understand any notion of this being someone else's problem--if the deal goes to shit you will be blamed.  If that's ok with you then rock on.  It's not ok with me.  I often find that extra effort put in ahead of oddball and complex gigs is the most valuable thing I bring to the party.  If the house won't talk to you in advance, which happens, then you take your lumps it is true.  But I would say that over the last 44 years the number of venue people who steadfastly and completely blew me off from advancing my jobs has been in single digits.  The great majority appreciate the effort, whenever they get around to "taking your case".

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3 hours ago, afewmoreyears said:

It's not that big of a deal.

 

Might not be.  Might be.

 

I have done loads of jobs where I wish I'd had more of this, more of that, a sound check, a scout.  Sometimes, most times, I am happy to show up an hour early so I'm not rushed, talk to the house guys, go into the catwalks and hang those mics, do a professional job.

 

That doesn't seem the case in the OP's post.  He seems being ask to put himself in a dangerous professional position needlessly.  Go for it y'all.  Take your bag of cables and adapters, and that other large bag and do your thing.  And God bless.  Really!  Just not the way it should need to be done and I guess I'm just too old and set in my ways to have my underpants pulled up to my ears.  Well maybe for $1200 a day :)

 

D,

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Most consoles have +4dB 1/4" TRS line level outputs and/or XLRs for the mains. subs, direct, matrix and aux. outputs, I would carry the proper cables or adapters for either. I also carry isolation transformers, but I frequently interface with live sound systems. The 1st generation F8 line level inputs must be 1/4", the XLRa are mic level only The F8n XLRs are mic/line switchable.

FWIW, If I were mixing it, I would prefer six pre-fader direct outs with a live stereo pair for the audience/room.

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On ‎2‎/‎13‎/‎2019 at 6:23 PM, Vincent R. said:

I've done plenty of these gigs so i wouldn't be afraid to take the job without a proper briefing (about all the time it was like that with me, with A class acts from all around the world, then it helps I have a music background) but I can understand you're since you never did a job like this before.

Take plenty of jumper cables/connectors with you, be prepared to mic some yourself (lav on a singer/guitarist goes a long way, some extra on mic stands stand by), indeed a stereo mic or even a mono boom somewhere to get ambience (perfect in the mix). 

 

Years ago I did this job with ZERO prep work. 4 mics and the feed from a board and 15 minutes setup time. Live to 2 track, not even ISO.

 

Terrific recording, really engaging both visually and aurally, that's the way it's done IMHO.

I hope the shoot went well for the OP.

I've done a few of these myself and the #1 thing is to realize that the board feed is only going to include sources that need reinforcement, if the instrument is loud enough acoustically it will likely not be miked, so for those sources and audience / ambience you have to use your own mics. these days I usually ask if the club/ venue has one of those ubiquitous  Behringer X-32 rigs or similar that allows for ISO recordings of every micpre via FW or built-in SD card. If they do your day is going to be very easy, just ask to plug your supplemental mics (audience, etc) into FOH mixer as well (without sending them to the PA of course) and record with your laptop and DAW of choice ( I prefer Reaper for this, by far the most resilient for live recording) or onto SD card. You do put your fate into the hands of the FOH soundguy somewhat but if he/ she can't get clean signals through the FOH  board then it's going to ruin the recording one way or another  anyway, either by clipping or feedback or both.

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All good advice

 

I've done a few

 

Take the feed (often mono)

 

Record the audience in stereo

 

Remember the house mix may not contain the drum kit

 

Ask the house mixer

 

mike

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