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Amber_tron
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7th February 2013
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Recording a School Performance

Hi there, this is the first time I've had a lurk in this forum, please forgive me if I come across a bit noobish. There's a few things I would like to get my head around, and I think this is the right place to ask, as I'll be recording in various school halls.

I've recently become involved with potential work from local schools, with the intention of recording and filming end of term performances. In the UK we call them assemblies, and usually happen at the end of a term or during festive periods. What I'm asking is: what is the best way to go about recording something like this?

It will involve people running about stages, so vibrations and distance are my first concerns, and also points where the is one student singing or thirty students singing, plus music going... It's starting to look like quite a complicated task, but I want to be able to deliver the best possible product to schools and hopefully get my name about the place for further work.

I'm currently already in possession of a full mobile recording set up with a low end but varied selection of microphones. I expect to be able to recording something like this well, boundary or shotgun style mics may be preferred, which I will look into getting soon. Filming will be done by a friend also working with me, and the video and audio will be matched in Logic.

If anyone can offer suggestions or point me in the right direction, I'd be very grateful.

Thanks.
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7th February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amber_tron View Post
Hi there, this is the first time I've had a lurk in this forum, please forgive me if I come across a bit noobish. There's a few things I would like to get my head around, and I think this is the right place to ask, as I'll be recording in various school halls.

I've recently become involved with potential work from local schools, with the intention of recording and filming end of term performances. In the UK we call them assemblies, and usually happen at the end of a term or during festive periods. What I'm asking is: what is the best way to go about recording something like this?
I have done a couple of these before. The experience could be less than pleasant.

First, expect chaos. Second, don't expect your gear to be respected.

Now that you know what you could be up against, make sure that the schools know what you are doing and what kind of cooperation you need from them.

I have done 3 mics for wide stage and an NOS for a not-so-wide stage. Keep everything as simple as possible and tape down all cables and put sandbags on your mic stands. Use the best shockmounts you can afford. And pray that noone is going run into your mic stand.

Once the job is done, cut a CD/DVD/Blu-ray with fancy graphics. Parents will be happy to have something that is better than what they can capture on their iDevices.
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7th February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amber_tron View Post
Hi there, this is the first time I've had a lurk in this forum, please forgive me if I come across a bit noobish. There's a few things I would like to get my head around, and I think this is the right place to ask, as I'll be recording in various school halls.

I've recently become involved with potential work from local schools, with the intention of recording and filming end of term performances. In the UK we call them assemblies, and usually happen at the end of a term or during festive periods. What I'm asking is: what is the best way to go about recording something like this?

It will involve people running about stages, so vibrations and distance are my first concerns, and also points where the is one student singing or thirty students singing, plus music going... It's starting to look like quite a complicated task, but I want to be able to deliver the best possible product to schools and hopefully get my name about the place for further work.

I'm currently already in possession of a full mobile recording set up with a low end but varied selection of microphones. I expect to be able to recording something like this well, boundary or shotgun style mics may be preferred, which I will look into getting soon. Filming will be done by a friend also working with me, and the video and audio will be matched in Logic.

If anyone can offer suggestions or point me in the right direction, I'd be very grateful.

Thanks.
There's a thread here about live opera recording techniques that will definitely give you some thoughts:

Opera Recording Techniques
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7th February 2013
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Originally Posted by polytope View Post
I have done a couple of these before. The experience could be less than pleasant.

First, expect chaos. Second, don't expect your gear to be respected.

Now that you know what you could be up against, make sure that the schools know what you are doing and what kind of cooperation you need from them.

I have done 3 mics for wide stage and an NOS for a not-so-wide stage. Keep everything as simple as possible and tape down all cables and put sandbags on your mic stands. Use the best shockmounts you can afford. And pray that noone is going run into your mic stand.

Once the job is done, cut a CD/DVD/Blu-ray with fancy graphics. Parents will be happy to have something that is better than what they can capture on their iDevices.
Thanks for the reply. Luckily for me I've already established a few connections with the leading authorities in some of the schools, I'm not expecting my gear to be at much of a risk. That said, I was hoping to keep the setup as minimalistic as possible so what is being used for capturing the audio isn't obscuring the line of sight too much. That, and there being less equipment to get messed up. What I will be sure to do is write up an agreement with the school I'll be working in, maybe damages can be covered in some way.

The idea is to recording and edit the performances and then take orders from the school to sort out how many copies of the DVDs are required. So far, some schools are also just wanting the shows to be recorded for the sake of having it at hand.

What sort of microphones did you find most effective here?
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7th February 2013
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Originally Posted by king2070lplaya View Post
There's a thread here about live opera recording techniques that will definitely give you some thoughts:

Opera Recording Techniques
I shall have a look at this now, thank you for posting the link. I was a little worried this sort of thing would have been mentioned on here before, but I suppose my circumstances might be slightly unusual.
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7th February 2013
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Originally Posted by Amber_tron View Post
The idea is to recording and edit the performances and then take orders from the school to sort out how many copies of the DVDs are required. So far, some schools are also just wanting the shows to be recorded for the sake of having it at hand.

What sort of microphones did you find most effective here?
I have used Rode NT5 (the 3-mic one).

Have used AT4041 for sound reinforcement for the other one but ended up recording with Line Audio CM3s.

I think cardioids would do.
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7th February 2013
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I have used Rode NT5 (the 3-mic one).

Have used AT4041 for sound reinforcement for the other one but ended up recording with Line Audio CM3s.

I think cardioids would do.
If I could get away with a stereo pair, that would be ideal. Although and LCR set up would be better, I can only imagine it would obstruct the camera view. A lot of the time, these kinds of performances involve a lot of speaking too... This will most likely cause problems due to the spaced mics.

I don't think the heads of these schools understand how complicated this is to get brilliant results
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7th February 2013
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Originally Posted by Amber_tron View Post
I don't think the heads of these schools understand how complicated this is to get brilliant results
Nobody knows unless you tell them how much they need to pay you for a good job.
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7th February 2013
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Nobody knows unless you tell them how much they need to pay you for a good job.
I think they're aware that anything slightly more advanced than a phone or webcam is going to be a worthy upgrade to what some of them have been using. I'm trying to figure out what can be seen as a far price for this service. As much as I need to keep paying the bills, there is a lot of issues going on with education in the UK and less money available than ever before.
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7th February 2013
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I'm assuming the performance will involve mics running into a soundboard, going into a PA system for the audience to hear.

If that's the case I would consider recording the main mix off the soundboard. Maybe even have a stereo mic out in the audience so you could blend the two.

Sent from my Nexus S 4G
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7th February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amber_tron View Post
Hi there, this is the first time I've had a lurk in this forum, please forgive me if I come across a bit noobish. There's a few things I would like to get my head around, and I think this is the right place to ask, as I'll be recording in various school halls.

I've recently become involved with potential work from local schools, with the intention of recording and filming end of term performances. In the UK we call them assemblies, and usually happen at the end of a term or during festive periods. What I'm asking is: what is the best way to go about recording something like this?

It will involve people running about stages, so vibrations and distance are my first concerns, and also points where the is one student singing or thirty students singing, plus music going... It's starting to look like quite a complicated task, but I want to be able to deliver the best possible product to schools and hopefully get my name about the place for further work.

I'm currently already in possession of a full mobile recording set up with a low end but varied selection of microphones. I expect to be able to recording something like this well, boundary or shotgun style mics may be preferred, which I will look into getting soon. Filming will be done by a friend also working with me, and the video and audio will be matched in Logic.

If anyone can offer suggestions or point me in the right direction, I'd be very grateful.

Thanks.
Steer clear of shotguns and PZM's. Often they are used for sound reinforcement, because of rejection, well certainly in the case of shotguns. At the top end of the market they tend not to go this route these days and radio's are much the order of the day, however, this is going to be well beyond your budget.

4 cardioid mic's across the front are a good start for general pick-up and if they are using a backing track or a piano you will probably be best off recording this to seperate tracks (using microphones for the piano, taking a DI for backing tracks).

It's highly unlikey to make "demo" quality for you, but it will probably do for a video soundtrack for the kids and their parents.

To achieve high quality results for this type of show, costs money, i.e. several camera positions, decent camera's with skilled operators, and surprisingly complicated sound set-up with radio's to mic soloists and principles along with general stage microphones and audience, mic's.

Do it for fun, keep it simple, but a viable business it isn't.
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7th February 2013
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Originally Posted by Sir Chris View Post
I'm assuming the performance will involve mics running into a soundboard, going into a PA system for the audience to hear.

If that's the case I would consider recording the main mix off the soundboard. Maybe even have a stereo mic out in the audience so you could blend the two.

Sent from my Nexus S 4G
In most cases PAs aren't really used, we're talking schools with mostly under 300 pupils. Class sizes are generally around 30-35 and the audience isn't ever that big. As long as what's going on on stage is captured, the schools are happy. If I'm dealing with a larger and more equipped school, I'd be doing exactly what you've said.
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Originally Posted by Roland View Post
Do it for fun, keep it simple, but a viable business it isn't.
Agreed. I'd much rather do weddings.
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7th February 2013
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Steer clear of shotguns and PZM's. Often they are used for sound reinforcement, because of rejection, well certainly in the case of shotguns. At the top end of the market they tend not to go this route these days and radio's are much the order of the day, however, this is going to be well beyond your budget.

4 cardioid mic's across the front are a good start for general pick-up and if they are using a backing track or a piano you will probably be best off recording this to seperate tracks (using microphones for the piano, taking a DI for backing tracks).

It's highly unlikey to make "demo" quality for you, but it will probably do for a video soundtrack for the kids and their parents.

To achieve high quality results for this type of show, costs money, i.e. several camera positions, decent camera's with skilled operators, and surprisingly complicated sound set-up with radio's to mic soloists and principles along with general stage microphones and audience, mic's.

Do it for fun, keep it simple, but a viable business it isn't.
I appreciate your response, and yes, the finished product will be mainly for the kids and their parents. I'm not expecting to pull amazing results, but I've been made aware that this is something a lot of schools are after and it'd be silly to turn down when I'm being pretty much handed the tasks.

I have been part of larger school productions, both in the bands and as sound & lighting crew, so I've had to deal with radio mics and the problems that come with youngsters and fancy recording gadgets. I'm working with a skilled camera man though, even though he'll mostly be capturing whats going on across the whole stage with the occasional zoom in for significant parts.

This isn't being looked at as the only business, it's an extension onto my existing studio and production work. For a couple of weeks a year, it could be a good little earner in addition to things. I imagine it'd get very boring rather quickly on it's own.
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7th February 2013
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Agreed. I'd much rather do weddings.
Something I'm also looking into, but the whole opportunity to do this in schools has literally been thrown at me. I'm sure recording weddings would be pretty interesting too, depending on what's actually happening at the ceremony and reception.
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7th February 2013
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I recorded a school cd last year with 14 choirs
It was so popular they used it for their christmas show
My answer to you is pre record and do the show to playback.
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For this recording of a performance at a public school, (1) is there reason to have permission from the parents to record their minor children and (2) is some sort of license/permission required to record the school's performance of what is probably someone else's copyrighted work? I'm assuming this isn't the original work of the students...
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For this recording of a performance at a public school, (1) is there reason to have permission from the parents to record their minor children and (2) is some sort of license/permission required to record the school's performance of what is probably someone else's copyrighted work? I'm assuming this isn't the original work of the students...
You do need proper clearance/permissions (at least that was what I needed). But I assume the school assumes those responsibilities if one is hired by the school to record.
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You don't need permissions to record. You do need permissions to publish though, but that will be up to the responsibility of the customer as long as you are not going to do that on your own.
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That's sort of what I thought, but does one ask the school if they are handling the permissions just to make sure?

I suppose it also makes a difference to the OP whether the recording is given to the school for it to distribute versus the OP making and distributing the recording directly to students in exchange for payment directly by them.
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8th February 2013
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That's sort of what I thought, but does one ask the school if they are handling the permissions just to make sure?

I suppose it also makes a difference to the OP whether the recording is given to the school for it to distribute versus the OP making and distributing the recording directly to students in exchange for payment directly by them.
Technically, anyone involved in a production (not obigated by contract) can "nix" the selling of a product, however, in practice, all the parents want a copy of their little Johnny/Susie singing in the school production (at least in theory).

Mechanicals should be paid on the sale of any CD/DVD/tape/mp3, etc, that contains copyright music. This is usually calculated as a percentage of the total running time.
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Dont forget the minefield of 'child protection' certification
It pays to have the PTA involved so they can chaperone and act as runners
The school will be stretched in this wrangling department
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That's sort of what I thought, but does one ask the school if they are handling the permissions just to make sure?

I suppose it also makes a difference to the OP whether the recording is given to the school for it to distribute versus the OP making and distributing the recording directly to students in exchange for payment directly by them.
You ask the school this and they will just get frightened off and take the easy option which is to say no. All schools are (as far as I'm aware) licensed for public performance and prs. If you record a performance of a modern piece (anything where the composer was alive in the last 70 years), it attacts mechanicals (MCPS), that are paid as a percentage of the selling price, divided as a percentage the individual track constitutes of the running time of the recording. e.g. a 60 min total time recording, with a copyright controlled track lasting 6 mins will constitute 10% of the retail rate which is as I recall 8.5%.
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10th February 2013
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This thread has gone a little off topic, but information I hadn't even touched has come up. I've been away for a few days, so that might explain it.

I'm getting CRB checks sorted out in the next few weeks. I'm aware that schools don't require the same PRS license as other places, but MCPS is still something that is taken into consideration. It will only be small amounts, as we're not intending to charge high prices for the service or cost of the product.
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The simpler setup you can come up with the better off you will be. Normally for this type of recording a simple X-Y or ORTF or NOS set up is what I normally use. You could also go M-S and adjust the width in the post production process depending on how large a group you are recording. As others have said get you stands and cables secured well and don't dismiss the mechanical licenses as you can get sued.

Best of luck and let us know how it wall comes out.
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10th February 2013
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The simpler setup you can come up with the better off you will be. Normally for this type of recording a simple X-Y or ORTF or NOS set up is what I normally use. You could also go M-S and adjust the width in the post production process depending on how large a group you are recording. As others have said get you stands and cables secured well and don't dismiss the mechanical licenses as you can get sued.

Best of luck and let us know how it wall comes out.
Thanks for the straight up response. It's still a tricky one because of the positioning/trying to keep the camera view free. If I could get away with a wide stereo pair I will do. The problem with this is, There will be a great loss of depth, as a lot of things going on will be taking place in the center.

What sort of mics would you recommended for the mid-side? My experience with M/S doesn't go much further than 414s (which I was thinking would be good for this application in the schools), or e606s on guitar cabs.
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11th February 2013
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Thanks for the straight up response. It's still a tricky one because of the positioning/trying to keep the camera view free. If I could get away with a wide stereo pair I will do. The problem with this is, There will be a great loss of depth, as a lot of things going on will be taking place in the center.

What sort of mics would you recommended for the mid-side? My experience with M/S doesn't go much further than 414s (which I was thinking would be good for this application in the schools), or e606s on guitar cabs.
I am not too impressed with the current crop of C-414s. I liked the older ones with the Amphenol connectors but that is just me. Ideally you will be recording with the best mics available and if that is two C414s then you have to go with what you have. As to having the mic stand in the picture...we do it all the time and try and minimize the stand by using a black stand, black micropnones and black mic cords and not having anything shiny on the stand to reflect light. One microphone stand in the middle of the picture is not a game ender for most people. Using spaced microphone is NOT going to give you very good sound and after all that is what you are trying to give the performers and the video should be less important IMHO.

Best of luck and let us know how things turn out.
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12th February 2013
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I am not too impressed with the current crop of C-414s. I liked the older ones with the Amphenol connectors but that is just me. Ideally you will be recording with the best mics available and if that is two C414s then you have to go with what you have. As to having the mic stand in the picture...we do it all the time and try and minimize the stand by using a black stand, black micropnones and black mic cords and not having anything shiny on the stand to reflect light. One microphone stand in the middle of the picture is not a game ender for most people. Using spaced microphone is NOT going to give you very good sound and after all that is what you are trying to give the performers and the video should be less important IMHO.

Best of luck and let us know how things turn out.
It's quite a new business adventure, so getting high end mics isn't an option just yet. I will be keeping in mind what you've put forward about the reflective qualities. An LCR configuration might be the best option for me.
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12th February 2013
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It's quite a new business adventure, so getting high end mics isn't an option just yet. I will be keeping in mind what you've put forward about the reflective qualities. An LCR configuration might be the best option for me.
Which mics do you have?
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