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    Live Event Production Sound
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    Deals in Lead PerroneFord's Avatar
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    First, let me say that I am deeply humbled and thrilled to have a venue like this where I can lean on so many experienced sound people. I have learned SO MUCH in such a short period of time.

    Ok, on to my question.

    I have an upcoming live event I am taping. Hotel Ballroom, about 500-800 participants. Two lecturers on stage. I need to come home with "decent" video and "good" audio. What does that mean? Well it means that the the final output will probably be web based, so it needs to be intelligible and I need to keep the active speaker in the frame!

    I am a one-man band for this gig. Lighting, audio, and video. Not too bad really because it's a static setup.

    My camera has 2 quality inputs, and I am taking a 4-track digital recorder also. I did some experimenting with PZM mics last week based on something else I read about getting live sound on a stage and I was AMAZED at what I got off those PZM mics. So my thoughts are these:

    I've got 6 channels so I might as well use them all. The two lecturers will have Lavs on, and I plan on sending those to 2 of my 4 channels on the 4 track which will be recording in 24bit/48khz. I was also thinking of placing 4 PZM mics evenly spaced along the front of the stage. The stage is intentionally small at 16'x12'. I should be able to get excellent coverage with 4 PZMs in that kind of space, no matter which way the speakers are facing.

    My intent is to set up my sound mix creating a "far left", "left center", "right center", "far right" kind of soundstage with the lavs providing the real punch and the PZms providing a little air. I am also paranoid about having issues with the audio because of past problems with this conference and the poor audio that was captured (not by me).

    So my questions are these:

    1. In a settinng such as this, with a 16x12 stage, should I reasonably expect the PZMs to give me usable audio? And I don't mean primary audio, but enough usable audio shhould the lavs fail, or enough usable audio to provide some "air" to the mix?

    2. Perhaps my bigger question. The Lavs will necessarily be wireless. My thought was to put the reciever either on the backs of the chairs, or behind the stage out of sight, and run cables to my camera position. I will be 10ft in front of the stage in a self-made "gallery". I requested that space be left vacant and roped off for my use as I will have lights, video, and audio gear in that space.

    Should I worry about this? Or should I simply have the recievers with me at the camera location? I was trying to keep the recievers as close to the talent as possible.

    3. House Sound. I know there will be sound reinforcement for this event. I do not know how it will be done. I am somewhat worried about the PZMs picking up this sound, and secondly, I am not sure how they will try to mic the talent. The lecturers may end up with two lavs on! Based on past experiences, I am unwilling to patch into house sound and rely on that for my primary recording. The last time I did that, the sound guy actually unknowingly dropped my fader during the show so I got ZERO audio.

    Should I be worried about the PZMs picking up house sound? Ideally, where should the PA speakers be to minimize the problem? Also, is there any reason to worry about having two lavs on each lecturer? I'd love to avoid this, but I don't know if I can have one transmitter feed 2 recievers on the same frequency. Seems like it should work just fine, but this is new to me.


    Thanks for your time and thoughts.
    Don't be a BillyBob...


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    I'll only attempt a couple of your questions since I haven't worked with PZMs.

    I'd keep the receivers at the camera position rather than running cable from backstage to the camera. If your wireless can't make it 10 feet without trouble you need new wireless Running cable increases the trip hazard and puts the receivers out of reach if you need to make a quick adjustment during the program. Depending on whether the receiver outputs are balanced or unbalanced, you might find that the chances of noise creeping in on that much cable are much higher than those of an RF hit affecting the signal going to a receiver at the camera position.

    As to your stereo positioning for the various mics, think of the perspective of someone watching the video rather than someone sitting in the audience. Having the sound of the speech moving around in the soundstage (which extends left and right beyond the edges of the screen) will get very distracting. The camera will pan to follow the speaker and keep them more or less in the center of the viewer's field of vision, right?, so do the same with the sound and keep the dialog centered on the screen. Reserve any stereo effects for ambience only.

    Make sure your all your mics are behind the PA speakers to minimize bleed. That means the speakers should be on either side of the front of the stage aimed at the audience.

    One transmitter can feed 2 or more receivers just fine - does a broadcaster's signal deteriorate as more listeners tune in? You'd have problems going the other way though, trying to feed 1 single-channel receiver with 2 transmitters - that one won't work.


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    Senior Member Captain Pierce's Avatar
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    As many receivers as you want can pick up the signal from one transmitter, but only (at least AFAIK) if they're the same brand--I don't think a Shure receiver, for example, could pick up a Sennheiser transmitter, even if the frequencies did happen to match up.

    I'm pretty sure the PZM's will pick up the house, and pretty much regardless of where the speakers are. (Especially if, as is often the case in hotel ballrooms, the house system is ceiling speakers.) I would still think that audio from them would be usable, though.

    Personally, in this situation, I would have the wireless receivers with me next to the camera; I don't know why, but I hate having the receivers out of my sight. I don't think ten feet is going to have a noticeable effect on your RF signal strength.
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    Deals in Lead PerroneFord's Avatar
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    Excellent post Steve. When I had originally thought about running cables, I thought I'd be much further from the stage like I usually am. Generally 30ft or more. This is a luxury for me being so close. However, I am not using my wireless. It's part of a bid contract. And frankly, I have zero confidence in their gear. Their company has produced 2 of the last three of these and in both cases there was no audio that made it to tape despite the lavs being on the talent. And when I say no audio, I don't mean bad audio. I mean digital zero audio. Nada.

    Good point on the stereo imaging. I keep running back to my music background where there is no picture. I have GOT to remember that audio supports the picture and not the other way around.

    I'll try to work with the house sound guys on speaker positioning, but I know it's been a problem at other venues in the past. They tend to get the speakers up high, but not so close to the front row. Understandable, but makes for mic issues.

    I may try to see if the bid winner can put one transmitter on the talent, and feed that signal to both me and the house on the same frequency. That would make things a lot simpler.
    Don't be a BillyBob...


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    Quote Originally Posted by PerroneFord View Post
    ...
    Good point on the stereo imaging. I keep running back to my music background where there is no picture. I have GOT to remember that audio supports the picture and not the other way around.

    ....
    Not so sure I'd agree 100% that picture is more important than audio but think of this ... if you pan the speaker as he moves about the stage his voice will move around in a space extending from the viewer's left periphery all the way over to his right periphery. But the IMAGE of the speaker will always be dead-centre in viewer's field of vision and the focus of his attention, even in a long shot. Psychologically the voice will appear to have detached itself from the speaker and be moving around like a phantasm in the viewer's room if you pan it much away from screen centre.


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