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An interesting example of miking for TV

If you're recording in the studio, you can put your mics anywhere you like. But for TV, it's a little different...

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I had the opportunity once to talk to a television director about microphones in shot. He didn't like them. In fact he was quite specific. He would rather not see them at all, but if they had to be in shot, then they had to be black, as small as possible, and should not be positioned above the performers' head height.

Who would be a sound guy for TV then with all these restrictions? Well actually, I've heard a lot of excellent sound done for TV. Sometimes getting around a few problems can make for a higher standard of creativity.

Here's an interesting example from the BBC's Andrew Marr Show. The band is Noah and the Whale, performing Lifetime from their album Heart of Nowhere.

What we can see here is that the mics are indeed black. Well this is much more common than it used to be a couple of decades or more ago when a bare metal finish was the norm.

But the sound engineer has opted to position the mic stands behind the violin and viola players, rather than in front. This keeps the players in full view of the camera and positions the microphones where they would often be placed anyway.

This is a fairly small point in the grand scheme of things, but details matter.

One more thing - these girls can play! Often you will see string players on TV in a performance to playback, where they are not actually being heard. They can hold the instrument, they can bow parallel to the bridge, but the stiff, nervy vibrato shows that they probably gave up learning their instruments around about the Grade V level. I guess it must be cheaper to hire people who can't play than people who can. And the ability at least to hold an instrument properly would certainly be another string to any background performer's bow!

By David Mellor Thursday May 30, 2013
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