Something strange I noticed on "The Voice."
TheLateNight
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#1
7th May 2013
Old 7th May 2013
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Something strange I noticed on "The Voice."

After a battle with my girlfriend over this topic (She's a die hard The Voice fan) I've decided to hopefully further prove my case here.

This is about the head to head battle rounds on the voice where two singers sing a duet piece. I am thoroughly convinced the music, including the singing of course, is ALL done in post. First of all, the singers in this round have NO monitors in front of them. No in ear monitors either. So how are they hearing themselves so well for what sounds like a nearly flawless performance? Rather fishy if you ask me... As a performer who sings live on occasion, you don't sound that good in front of such a big crowd if you have no monitoring what-so-ever.

Nextly, I hear no breath pops on the Bs or Ps, everything is pristine and super clean. That being said, I am sure they recorded the takes in a studio setting and then dubbed those takes over a (probably far less superior) performance for the audience we see on TV and judges reactions.

Also, a part of me is saying they definitely used some light pitch correction on the performances being aired because I don't hear one bum note in the harmonies or ANYTHING at all! I'd love to be an audience member for a "The Voice" battle round and hear what's really going on. (If anything at all, the conspiracy theory part of me wants to say the whole show is fake and scripted)

So who is with me? Am I being paranoid or is there a lot of deception going on with this show like I believe. It blows my mind how many people (My GF included) think that the performances we see on TV are being aired "in the raw."
#2
7th May 2013
Old 7th May 2013
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maybe post a clip of a specific segment you'd like discussed?
TheLateNight
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7th May 2013
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#4
7th May 2013
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Monitors from above?
#5
7th May 2013
Old 7th May 2013
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I agree with your girlfriend.

When they run around they are clearly out of breath - there was one contestant last week who did quite a bit of it during his battle round, and he ended up losing because his voice quality suffered so bad from all the audience hype he was trying to get going.

I often pray they would use some light pitch correction, but they clearly don't, even in the clips you posted there's some super pitch clunkers. Overall the talent level on the voice is significantly higher than on say Idol though, so the performances are much closer to professional and may be what leading you to think they're "flawless" (which they definitely are not).

As for the breaths, plosives and monitoring, I would guess there are probably side-fills hanging above the set, and overall I would bet that the stage and studio volume are actually pretty low during performances and then additional audience noise etc is piped in during the mix to fill it back out and make it feel big and loud.

As someone who works quite frequently on big concert movies and who's job it is to make singers who lip sync look like they're singing on camera, this is definitely live performance. Faking it ain't easy with that many close-ups. If they're lip syncing (or re-dubbing later), they're already better at it than some of the biggest pop stars in the world.
TheLateNight
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#6
7th May 2013
Old 7th May 2013
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That's a good point to make. However, I don't understand the overhead or side monitoring; wouldn't that run a high risk of feedback and bleeding into the mic? And I still find it hard to believe they'd get such a high quality, bleeded-noiseless take from a live show with that much animation to it. They be using the live takes but I'm guessing some post work had to have been done. Also, on the zoomed out shot at the beginning of the clips I do not see any overhead or side monitors.
#7
7th May 2013
Old 7th May 2013
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Hi,

I mix the French-Belgian version of The Voice, so I can only give you some insight on how it's done over here. But the show is supposed to be more or less the same in every country that has it. And while I was in LA two weeks ago, I watched an episode of The Voice US and it is not so different.

The recordings are multitracked live on stage. The singers don't come in for second or third takes. Nothing is dubbed.
These recordings are then mixed in the studio (not by me, by the music mixer in a music studio) and in this stage it is possible that the engineer might edit out distracting plosives and breaths and such.. Its an entertainment show, the audiences needs to be locked in and entertained from start to finish and not distracted from the performance.

The changes to the original performance can't be too drastic because during my mix, I have the mixed music + the audience/ambience mics, the mics of all the judges where the original has bled into. so if I bring any of those up during the performance it has to sound natural.

As for the monitoring, I'm not 100% sure, but I think they have monitors right above the stage, on the lighting rig above the ring. Also there isn't that much noise coming from the audience. The audience isn't as big as it sounds. So the volume of the monitoring doesn't have to be ridiculously high.
#8
7th May 2013
Old 7th May 2013
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It's TV, not a live concert. Don't think of it as how would it would work sonically at a club or theater venue somewhere, it's a TV studio with a very very controlled sound environment. I have no knowledge of what they're actually doing, but as I said before I'd imagine it's a much lower-volume thing in person and then is sweetened and mixed to sound more like a big rock concert later. That square center array hanging above the ring is definitely within range of putting some small fill monitors where they could be heard but not bleed if you think about more of a karaoke bar kinda volume instead of a rock concert.

And it's definitely feasible that they'd do some touch-up tuning work in post, but since they let very out-of-tune performances go to air, if they're doing it, they're not too egregious about it.
#9
7th May 2013
Old 7th May 2013
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They've got some pretty serious talent there. (Not everyone though, just a few) Can you imagine the backlash if they were tuning SOME of the vocals and not others on a competition show? They'd be sued instantly by the "losers". And so....why are some almost dead on perfect, and others suckingly bad during the show? Plus, there's no way they are going to get some 17 y/o amateur to lip sync that good. There WOULD be goofs, and multiple takes.
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7th May 2013
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X factorUK got into big trouble a couple of years back when the public realised that auto tunr was being used even at audition stage. Seemed like some contestants were being groomed for the finals
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7th May 2013
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One must realise that IF there is any tuning, it doesn't affect the contestants ability to go to the next rounds as they are chosen by the judges who hear it there and then.
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7th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie Mac View Post
One must realise that IF there is any tuning, it doesn't affect the contestants ability to go to the next rounds as they are chosen by the judges who hear it there and then.
It would still be agents the is law. No cheating or fixing anything on game shows in the US. Law started when the gong show was giving answers to contestants. I've worked on a ton of game shows in the US and they are all totally real.
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7th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brandoncross View Post
It would still be agents the is law. No cheating or fixing anything on game shows in the US. Law started when the gong show was giving answers to contestants. I've worked on a ton of game shows in the US and they are all totally real.
Tuning isn't cheating in the sense that it doesn't create an advantage for the tuned artist. It would be done after the actual contest, just for the benefit of the audience. Purely for the entertainment value.

Still not saying that they do it.
TheLateNight
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#14
8th May 2013
Old 8th May 2013
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Could someone point out one of the bum notes in the VEDO video? I didn't hear any. From what I gather from some reliable sources that posted in this topic, it looks like they are actually using the real takes and sweetening them up. It was a good point to say that it is in a rather controlled, TV studio environment so monitoring may not be that hard and the audience can be directed of course to make noise and do certain things at parts.

As for the tuning, I'm still thinking they probably fixed some notes in post at least for the harmonies. I agree with what others said, it is not giving them any advantages because the judges make the choice at that point in the show, and they'd be hearing the raw vocals. You could certainly have an issue on your hands though if they tuned the performances where the public has to vote.
#15
8th May 2013
Old 8th May 2013
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:22 his "heart on the line" is out

:51 her "you make me feel like" is out

1:14 his "for to loh-ooh-oh-ooh-ong" is out

1:22 his high note is a little loose, he finally gets there but it's pitchy

1:38 his "you make me feel like" is out

1:40 his run on "heaven" is all over the place

1:51 when she comes in on top of his high note she's a little out for that first phrase

1:55 her "heaven" is off

That's just a quick pass, there were a few more but it's being extremely picky. None of those would I personally fix as I don't like super-tight tuning, but if you put them in a tuner those and a couple more would probably show up. Overall IMHO it's just a really good performance by 2 very good singers who are both singing a song in their style and range and they crushed it.
#16
8th May 2013
Old 8th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheLateNight View Post
First of all, the singers in this round have NO monitors in front of them. No in ear monitors either. So how are they hearing themselves so well for what sounds like a nearly flawless performance? Rather fishy if you ask me... As a performer who sings live on occasion, you don't sound that good in front of such a big crowd if you have no monitoring what-so-ever.
They are using ear-buds; look closely. And I hear LOTS of flaws, and some truly mediocre performances.

You sing on occasion. I spent 20+ years as a working musician, and professional singers who perform four, five, even six nights a week sound great on a regular basis.

And I've performed often with side-fills (Carnagie Hall, the Beacon Theatre and the Meadowlands, to name just three) and overhead monitors; I've even had floor monitors under a grill so that they weren't visible to the audience. Great gear and professional sound crews can accomplish amazing things.

I do agree that they probably use lots of processed background vocalists and maybe even a touch of Auto-Tune when they perform those production numbers as teams.
#17
9th May 2013
Old 9th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Bob View Post
I do agree that they probably use lots of processed background vocalists and maybe even a touch of Auto-Tune when they perform those production numbers as teams.
There's been enough scandals with American Idol, The Voice, X Factor, and similar shows that I think the producers are extremely aware of the scrutiny they're under, and they won't use any Auto-Tune or playback vocals during the actual competition. If it's an opening group number that's not judged per se, that might be pre-recorded and/or tweaked. And if it's a live show, there's not a lot of opportunity to do a lot of tweaking.

It has been revealed that some of the shows are "fixed" in terms of the producers favoring certain contestants over others. For example, one PA revealed that a major show occasionally would just turn off the 800 number for votes for a contestant they wanted to lose. The next night, they could truthfully report that "Contestant A got the most votes, and Contestant B lost..." which would happen if Contestant B's phone number was only activated for an hour.
#18
9th May 2013
Old 9th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicTrax View Post
There's been enough scandals with American Idol, The Voice, X Factor, and similar shows that I think the producers are extremely aware of the scrutiny they're under, and they won't use any Auto-Tune or playback vocals during the actual competition. If it's an opening group number that's not judged per se, that might be pre-recorded and/or tweaked. And if it's a live show, there's not a lot of opportunity to do a lot of tweaking.

It has been revealed that some of the shows are "fixed" in terms of the producers favoring certain contestants over others. For example, one PA revealed that a major show occasionally would just turn off the 800 number for votes for a contestant they wanted to lose. The next night, they could truthfully report that "Contestant A got the most votes, and Contestant B lost..." which would happen if Contestant B's phone number was only activated for an hour.
It's illegal to fix game shows in the US.
TheLateNight
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#19
9th May 2013
Old 9th May 2013
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Also in those knockout round videos, VEDO is clearly NOT wearing any earbuds. Still puzzled on monitoring because I don't see any side or over hang ones either.
#20
9th May 2013
Old 9th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheLateNight View Post
Also in those knockout round videos, VEDO is clearly NOT wearing any earbuds. Still puzzled on monitoring because I don't see any side or over hang ones either.
On shows like these you normally have them built into the stage with grills on top.
Have a director who has done this one or two times and you won't see the monitoring in TV.
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