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What is a good mic for picking up stage noise, but not audience noise?

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Matthew DaviesWhat is a good mic for picking up stage noise, but not audience noise?
by on Jul 22, 2012 at 5:43:19 am

I am looking at possibly filming a show in a theater. I need to be able to pick up the noise on the stage, but not the audience noise. What is a good mic for doing this? I am by no means a sound person, and I need a good low budget requirement, as I may have to purchase two of the recommended mics.


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Richard CrowleyRe: What is a good mic for picking up stage noise, but not audience noise?
by on Jul 22, 2012 at 7:56:12 am

What kind of "stage noise" are you talking about? How big is the stage? Does the "stage noise" include dialog? What is your budget? What level of quality are you expecting? How much "audience noise" are you expecting?


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Bill DavisRe: What is a good mic for picking up stage noise, but not audience noise?
by on Jul 23, 2012 at 1:36:31 am

One idea that might help you understand this is to realize that the more distance there is between any microphone and a sound source the more difficult it will be to record a clean signal.

This is always true and inescapable.

Distance (beyond a foot or two in common circumstances) rapidly degrades quality with all microphones, regardless of their quality or cost.

This being true, it's easy to understand why a typical so-called "stick mic" favored by reporters for decades are so useful. They position the mic element close to the source of speech.

With a stage play, the very size of the stage works against you.

On a 20' wide stage, even a mic positioned at the exact center will be at LEAST 10 feet away from someone speaking at far stage right or far stage left. Physics decrees that the same mic will generate a signal that's 100 times stronger from an actor at center stage compared to one 10 feet away on either side.

That's a serious problem.

In professional theatre, the standard is to mic each performer Individually with their own wireless mic, so each can be heard distinctly and clearly.

Any thing else will be more or less a compromise.

The best you can typically do without spending a fortune, is to perhaps start with a pair of mics placed on stands at the procenium (if placed on the stage itself foot vibrations are often an issue) - each at approximately 1/3 of the stage width directed at the cast (who will typically be projecting their voices toward the audience.) is a decent place to start.

That's about all I can advise except this...

Enjoy your shoot and don't worry if it's not perfect. That you're preserving the hard work of so many on-stage, back stage and far behind the scenes planners and performance supporters is far more important than achieving perfection.

So have fun.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Connor


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Matthew DaviesRe: What is a good mic for picking up stage noise, but not audience noise?
by on Jul 23, 2012 at 3:42:27 am

Thanks for all the good advice. I will have all the lines miked by lav mics. This mic/these mics will only be used to record other noise (see my other response). In regards to placement, I can't exactly put mics on the procenium. Foot vibration will probably be a problem and a mic on a short stand would be noticeable both in the video and from the audience. Like I said in my other response, I will probably put them in front of the stage (not the procenium, but on the floor in front of the stage behind a large ramp) or hanging from the trusses above the stage. Do you have any specific mic recommendations?


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Matthew DaviesRe: What is a good mic for picking up stage noise, but not audience noise?
by on Jul 23, 2012 at 3:37:49 am

Stage noise as in general noise, anything that isn't picked up by a lav mic. This last show included a small crowd at a high school rally. I would need a mic that would pick up the crowd noise. We also have tambourines in our shows. I need that noise as well. I won't have to pick up anything really soft, but it still needs to be picked up well.

How big is stage? Eh...I will have to get back to you on that one.

Stage noise does not include dialog. Dialog will be miked.

Budget...I don't know that I want to spend more than a couple hundred dollars on a mic/mics. However, we would get paid for this, so that may increase our budget.

I'm not expecting stellar audio quality. However, I do need something that's half decent. One of the main things I want to avoid is the echoey sound. The person before me that did these recordings had a very bad echoey sound to his videos. Now, I do realize that this is a theater and will have some of the echoey sound, but I'd like to eliminate that as much as possible. I also will be placing my mic(s) much closer than he did; he had his up in the balcony, I'll try to place mine in front of the stage or hanging above the stage if possible.

I am not expecting a ton of audience noise. I do realize that the mic will pick up audience noise, but I don't need the noise. (the camera's audio will suffice for the little bit that I need)


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Peter GroomRe: What is a good mic for picking up stage noise, but not audience noise?
by on Jul 23, 2012 at 8:52:50 am

HI
although the stage content is important , dont forget the audience. When they applaud, laugh, boo, cheer, gasp etc etc youll want to hear them as much as the stage generated content. Its a theatre and the audience are contributors too.

Consider hanging 2 or 3 rifle mics over the stage down as low as you dare go. I think any directional mic will be better than none, but I think to buy QUALITY rifle mics, you need to not use the word budget. they cost many hundreds each (£782 UKP on a quick google) and youd need at least 2 better 3 or 4. Plus power.
Cant you hire in some decent gear.
Peter

Post Production Dubbing Mixer


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Matthew DaviesRe: What is a good mic for picking up stage noise, but not audience noise?
by on Jul 29, 2012 at 4:05:15 am

Yes I understand that. I am going to be mixing in camera audio for that. I was keeping that in mind, but thanks a ton for reminding me!

Rifle mics? Are you referring to shotgun mics? I don't have the money to be spending $1K on a single mic. :-) I don't think I can hire in gear. I've looked for local places and I can't find any.


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