Widening stereo field of audio from live band video shoot: Ozone 5, other?
Old 6th May 2012
  #1
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Widening stereo field of audio from live band video shoot: Ozone 5, other?

I have just started a new adventure shooting videos of live band club performances. I record audio with an external stereo mic.........doing a full setup to mic individual instruments is just not practical in most of these small club situations. Afterwards in the studio, I edit the video in Final Cut Pro X. I detach the audio and export it to Pro Tools where I can process it as needed (usually EQ, Limiter).

I have a pretty good camcorder (Canon XF100) and external stereo mic (Rode Stereo VideoMic Pro). The quality of the audio is much better than I expected, really pretty good. But, it is very narrow.

I know most of you don't like stereo wideners, but in this case it seems there is little choice. I have had some success playing with Ozone 5, using the Stereoizer at a delay of 1.0. When I like what I hear, a lot of the field is bouncing around outside of the 45 degree lines so there is much out-of-phase. Mono is indeed somewhat weaker (though not that bad), but in stereo it sounds much more like you are really in the club.

I have also started to play with M/S processing in Ozone 5, although I need to figure out how to use it for this purpose.

Questions:
(1) Can anyone give me some advice on using Ozone 5 for this purpose......widening and/or M/S processing?
(2) Is there another plug-in that is better at this specific task than Ozone 5?
Old 7th May 2012
  #2
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M/S widening will collapse the center image. Wideners work by changing the ratio of side to center, it isn't something you can get around. Playing with the channel delays in Ozone is a very dangerous thing, as you say the center gets weaker and you create phase problems. I'd avoid both.

Why is there 'no choice', though? Most club PA mixes are basically mono. Why would you expect a wide stereo recording of a basically mono source? The sense of envelopment in a club comes from reflections from the side and rear walls, and an XY mic setup won't really capture that information. If you really want to have that sense of energy coming from the sides, you should probably fake it. Create an aux with a very, very sparse reverb (ideally something where early reflections and the tail are separately controllable, and totally kill the tail). Put a stereo widener after the reverb, and crank it up so the reverb is mostly out of phase (or use a mono reverb, split to stereo, and flip the phase on one channel). Then, mix the aux in very, very low. Just a tiny bit can give you some stereo information without throwing the center off.

This is somewhat similar to how Bob Katz' K-Stereo processor works. If you can get your hands on one, or are willing to drop the $$$ on the Algorithmix plug-in version, that would be my first choice to do what you are asking for (but I'd probably leave it as-is, and rethink my mic technique for the next gig).
Old 7th May 2012
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MAzevedo View Post
Playing with the channel delays in Ozone is a very dangerous thing, as you say the center gets weaker and you create phase problems. I'd avoid both.
For my information, what exactly is the danger?
I can switch back and forth between stereo and mono on my mixer as I am adjusting Ozone 5, so I can hear what mono sounds like with any settings. Yes, it is somewhat weaker, but it is not bad at the settings I have been using. And the stereo is greatly improved.

What else is the danger other than weaker mono? What will the "phase problems" cause? I'm just asking, that's all, to understand exactly what problems I can cause that I can't hear in the mix (and see on the Ozone 5 meters).

Quote:
Originally Posted by MAzevedo View Post
Why is there 'no choice', though? Most club PA mixes are basically mono. Why would you expect a wide stereo recording of a basically mono source? The sense of envelopment in a club comes from reflections from the side and rear walls, and an XY mic setup won't really capture that information. If you really want to have that sense of energy coming from the sides, you should probably fake it. Create an aux with a very, very sparse reverb (ideally something where early reflections and the tail are separately controllable, and totally kill the tail). Put a stereo widener after the reverb, and crank it up so the reverb is mostly out of phase (or use a mono reverb, split to stereo, and flip the phase on one channel). Then, mix the aux in very, very low. Just a tiny bit can give you some stereo information without throwing the center off.
OK, good information.
BTW, I'm not arguing that PA systems give you a wide stereo image. I'm simply trying to create the most enjoyable live performance that I can. I am not after "realism", not necessarily trying to re-create exactly what I heard in that particular club. Some of the boards and PA systems in these small clubs are a real mess. The person who will watch the videos doesn't care if it is realistic, he/she wants it to sound great and feel like a super club experience. I am trying to improve on it as much as I can.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MAzevedo View Post
(but I'd probably leave it as-is, and rethink my mic technique for the next gig).
Like I said, there are no instrument mics. In most cases, the musicians come rolling in, plug in to the board, make a quick check, and they are off to the races. Getting these guys to come in an hour early to set up individual mics would be a real laugher, unless they know the gig will go to a live CD.

The mic is a single stereo mic mounted on top of the camcorder, period. We deal with what we have to in the live band situation.
Old 7th May 2012
  #4
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I'm not saying to mic the instruments, I'm saying to mic the room differently. Blumlein or MS mic'ing will give you more ambient information than the XY setup you are using, especially considering you are recording a mostly mono soundfield. I've been playing with a Soundfeild mic lately, and something like that would be pretty great here too.

The danger with playing with channel delays is that it takes very, very little time difference for the precedence effect to start throwing the image to whichever side is earlier. Think about the size of your head: even if a source is 90ยบ off axis, there is only a 1 ms-ish difference between the arrival time at your ears. Just shifting one side 1 ms already creates the maximum inter-aural time difference that occurs naturally. Listening on speakers, the effect is less pronounced because both ears are actually hearing both speakers, but on headphones (and can anyone really afford it ignore headphone presentation at this point) I think you'll find that even a 1 ms shift creates a large, and in my experience unpleasant, change in the imaging.
Old 7th May 2012
  #5
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Another mic technique I've used in this sort of case is a Blumlein pair with mics with a variable pickup pattern. That way, you can tweak the size of the rear lobe to get the right balance between rear ambience and front signal.
Old 7th May 2012
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike H View Post
Questions:
(1) Can anyone give me some advice on using Ozone 5 for this purpose......widening and/or M/S processing?
(2) Is there another plug-in that is better at this specific task than Ozone 5?
1) Since your MS signal is very weak to start with, amplifiying it to get a wider image will be quite unnatural, so I'd avoid simple MS widening.

2) You'll have to look at plugins that do more then just standard MS processing, but can offer upmixing or similar things. I know of at least one such plugin
Old 7th May 2012
  #7
t_d
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one thing i've done in the past to enhance a live recording is add a very small amount of reverb to it. i typically use Altiverb with an IR similar to the space it was recorded in and set the wet/dry setting to like 5% +/-. it really adds some life to the recording and may give you a bit more "stereo" sound.. while still keeping your phase and the general feel of the actual recording.
Old 7th May 2012
  #8
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I will 'echo' what some others have said. If you are going for an effect, use some subtle early reflections. I would go for an algorithmic verb over a static impulse... my choice would probably be VSS3.
I wouldn't bother with much if any second tail. That's just going to cloud things up.

EQing the return will also help. Cut a fair amount of low end out of the return, and roll off the highs a bit. This will allow you to dial in a bit more reflection without it sounding 'obvious' and should stay pretty unobtrusive.
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