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Round table discussion with 11 participants


chrisP
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For an upcoming job I will have to record a discussion with 11 participants. It will be filmed with 2 cameras with Timecode-Sync. It is not a live production - so there will be a real post production. Therefore I will deliver a multitrack recording.
I have offered two versions:
1. the two main speakers will wear lavaliers (dpa4060) , the rest of the people will be covered with the sound boom (MKH50).

2. the two main speakers will wear a lavalier, the rest of the people will be recorded with table microphones (1 Sennheiser ME36 with small gooseneck per 2 people).

Are these acceptable solutions, or which solution would you choose?

 

Thanx for your advices

chrisP

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This makes no sense.
I'm an editor, not a sound guy. If you say: 'there will be a real post production', how much time does post get? Is it only video post, or is there sound post as well? If no sound post, do include a GOOD mixdown (mono!), as your precious multitrack probably will not be used. (There is simply no time.)
I know what I'm talking about, I've been given 6 hours of footage to make a 'flashy exiting compilation of the best parts' an I got 2 hours to do the entire piece, without ANY notes on what the footage should / could include. Just 'footage'.

 

Without further information, do whatever you think is best to get a good mono mix. (A boom is always too late, a gooseneck per 2 people is always aimed at the wrong person, pick your poison.)

 

 

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I did something similar some time ago and had only three lavs plus an MK41. It was a horrifying job and post was happy but not *very* happy. It was quite difficult to cover a 2-person-discussion between people far apart from each other.

PZM on the table sounded great, but wasn't a good option cause the table was touched a lot by the participants.

 

These days I would rent as many wireless lavaliers as there are talents, a Scorpio or 688 (maybe cheaper), a CL12, record ISOs and let Dugan help me delivering a proper mixdown for director and scratch track.

You don't need to rent expensive film gear, there are several rack-mounted multichannel wireless systems available for the stage. If the lavs can be visible (as I understand because you consider goosenecks), Shure systems maybe a reliable and affordable option. Or Sennheiser, Sony ...

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+1 for covering everybody with lav mics. It'll make your job easier and will give you a balanced sound among all participants.

Swinging a boom in this scenario sounds horrifying, swinging a MKH50 even more (I really love my MKH50, but fast boom movements are nothing I am looking forward to with this microphone).

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46 minutes ago, Bouke said:

I've been given 6 hours of footage to make a 'flashy exiting compilation of the best parts' an I got 2 hours to do the entire piece, without ANY notes on what the footage should / could include


Let me elaborate on that.
What I did was (this was tape era) ffwd trough the footage looking where people were making large gestures. In that case, I hit play (or play 1.5, I forgot, but I can listen faster than RT), and used parts of sentences that I could understand, instead of fuzzy jargon. (I had no clue about what they were talking about, and I'm well educated, but still, not my line of work...)
I did get compliments on 'how well I had covered the event', this was one of the first events when I made a decision about the rest of my life. (Note, this was the same company that asked me to edit a visual piece based on a sound track without images. 'Here is the voice -over, there is a caption studio, here are 4 bottles, make 20 exciting thrilling minutes of unbelievable video. (Having a cuts only U-matic system, and a caption cam.)

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1 hour ago, Mungo said:

 

You don't need to rent expensive film gear, there are several rack-mounted multichannel wireless systems available for the stage. If the lavs can be visible (as I understand because you consider goosenecks), Shure systems maybe a reliable and affordable option. Or Sennheiser, Sony ...

I agree, personally I'd go for Shure ULX-D but you could easily go as low end as Shure QLX-D or even Shure SLX-D wireless (but not Shure SLX! That's something different and older). That will be very capable and sound great. 

 

Then exposed lavs clipped to everyone, or even better have headsets for everyone. Then a rented 688 or even better a rented 833/888/Scorpio (but if you get an 833, check first if it has the +4 plugin!) together with any control surface. 

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Thank you for your answers and advice. To clarify why I come to my proposed solutions:
- the discussion round will only last an hour at most
- before the discussion round, the participants will hardly be available for miking. The photo session is just before the panel.

Final question:
Is one PZM microphone in the center of the table better than several gooseneck microphones ? Or both ?

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Sounds like you need to let them be aware the schedule needs a little bit of time available for audio, and/or getting an assistant to help with lav-ing. 

 

Otherwise, prepare yourself for fairly bad sounding audio. (then again, maybe it will still be "good enough" for what the client needs, some have very low expectations)

 

10 minutes ago, chrisP said:

Is one PZM microphone in the center of the table better than several gooseneck microphones ? Or both ?

As Bouke said: 

2 hours ago, Bouke said:

(A boom is always too late, a gooseneck per 2 people is always aimed at the wrong person, pick your poison.)

 

 

And a mic on the table itself will be very prone to possible hands/papers/etc noise that's rattling and rustling on the table itself. Plus even if I did go this approach, I wouldn't use only one on the table for covering eleven people. 

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1 hour ago, chrisP said:

Is one PZM microphone in the center of the table better than several gooseneck microphones ? Or both ?

 

PZM will only work in silent environments with perfect acoustics and people MUSTN'T touch the table. So not really an option.

 

If you live in the German part of Switzerland, you probably remember that show:

csm_roche_boehmermann_3_30f8b93e90.jpg

 

They had problems with rumble noise as far as I remember. But on the other hand it sounded very good, I guess they had excellent preamps.

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We did a similar shoot for a network piece(not live): 11 subjects(2 being the hosts), 5 cameras.  Everyone was lav’d(ISO’s recorded in mixer, 2 ch mix sent to cams, everything TC’d).  This is the way.  Not enough time to mic everyone is not your problem.  It’s the productions and they need to make time, if they care about audio and what is being said.

 

Also, you should have an A2 to help mic everyone, etc.

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2 hours ago, Mungo said:

 

PZM will only work in silent environments with perfect acoustics and people MUSTN'T touch the table. So not really an option.

 

If you live in the German part of Switzerland, you probably remember that show:

csm_roche_boehmermann_3_30f8b93e90.jpg

 

They had problems with rumble noise as far as I remember. But on the other hand it sounded very good, I guess they had excellent preamps.

The mics in the picture look like the Sennheiser MD-441. I had one of those from my music recording days (daze).  It had very low sensitivity and required  lots of gain for a low SPL sources. I tried it on a narration session once and did not like it for that at all. It did have multi-level LP and HP filter switches  though and  was impressive looking.

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I'll bet those 441s sounded great.  But that setup is not an option for the average soundie--very few producers want to see a lot of mics on the table, the talent will not be careful about touching them, they are far too expensive and hard to find in that number as rentals in the USA and you still have the "Dugan problem" of too many mics open hearing the room when the speaker they are in front of isn't speaking.  I covered many discussions like this by having the "leader" or maybe 2 'leaders" on lavs and booming everyone else from overhead, but the leaders kept control of the conversation so I generally knew who of the others was going to speak next a few seconds in advance.  For a truly unscripted free-for-all you need to lav everyone, and a Dugan equipped mixer will be your friend.  You must exercise your diplomatic skills to convince the producers that the film they are hearing in their mind (that they saw someone else make) was done this way, since it is really the only way.  And, yes: small lavs well-rigged on the outside of the clothing, "TV-style".

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I have done round table recordings like this a few times.  Lav'ing everyone is the way to go.  And don't even ask if the mics have to be hidden.

Swinging a boom over non-actors can be distracting for them and shadows will almost certainly be a problem,

and table mics lose their effectiveness when a participant decides to lean way 

back in their chair and mumble while speaking.  Exposed lavs can be mounted quickly as we know.

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I’ve done this using boom ops and lavs. Lavs are the definitely the way to go. No matter how good a boom op, they are always a little too slow on the draw to get in position to get the mic over the person’s head. Also if it’s a multi cam, the boom ops will be working really hard to get in to a position that is workable for them and stay out of camera range. Hard wiring lavs is ideal, but the way things go, just when you are “set” someone wants to Change the shot, then you or your A2 is scrambling to wrangle cables as the participants are getting up and forgetting they are wired; pull the mics off etc, cross cables etc.

Demand plenty of time to set up and fax things out. You are just as important as the cam ops. If they are real professionals, your Production people will work with you. Bill accordingly. 

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After reading all your advice I decided to do the discussion with 8 table microphones (Sennheiser ME36 gooseneck) and a wireless lavalier for the keynote speaker and leave out the boom. The recorder would have been my SD 833 (with Dougan Automix). This was mainly for the following reasons:
- little time to mic people before the discussion / no assistant to help with miking.
- my journey by public transport: only as much equipment as I can carry.
- no distraction of the speakers by the boom

I would have loved to tell you about the rest of this job, but the job was cancelled/postponed 4 days before the event. I will charge 25% of the quote.


 

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If it is a tight frame, at minimum get a boom operator to help cover the participants that are not miced up. I’d personally mic (and rent out said gear) for as many people as you can and then get a very skilled boom op to handle the rest and float around the room.

If not, my next bet would be either one mixer with a full cart set up and 12 channels of recording (a hefty rental package for sure) along with an A2 that can help tag team with you to wire people up. Personally I think this is the more ambitious route since with so much wireless coordination, who knows what will happen.

Regardless of what you decide, this is 100% a two person job at a minimum. Don’t be a hero and try and do it alone!

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