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mic technique for animation vocal reccording Condenser Microphones
Old 28th November 2009
  #1
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mic technique for animation vocal reccording

I notice that when I see actors recording voices for animated shows, the mic seems pretty far away and above them a lot of the time (it always seems to be either a u87 or a u67 for some reason)

can someone explain why the mic is so far away and how the voice is still recorded without too much room sound?
Old 28th November 2009
  #2
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TVPostSound's Avatar
In plain language, its done to remove any indication it was done in a booth, that technique gives it more of a production shoot sound. The room must be very well treated and large to use this method.

I did some recording for a major game company. It was a larger room,. The angles and treatment made it feel almost anechoic.
Old 28th November 2009
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVPostSound View Post
In plain language, its done to remove any indication it was done in a booth, that technique gives it more of a production shoot sound.
Just to expand a little bit, the reason they are so far away from the mic is to avoid that obvious Voice Over sound. The technical term for sound you get when you record very closely to the mic is "Proximity Effect" which is very artificial sounding for dialog work.

Pricey large diaphragm mics are very sensitive (I use the TLM-103 and the 414B/ULS which are mid-price range), have great frequency range and are very "smooth" sounding.
Old 28th November 2009
  #4
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what about in unplain language???

I kid I kid,

thanks for the info guys, makes sense
Old 29th November 2009
  #5
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In my opinion, that's a mock setup for the camera. I highly doubt they are recording a few feet out, no matter how good the room is.
Old 29th November 2009
  #6
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Originally Posted by santacore View Post
I highly doubt they are recording a few feet out, no matter how good the room is.
Well, when I was doing sound FX work on an animated series for 4Kids/FOX they were doing the voices in the room next door and they were mostly 12" to 24" off of the mic.
Old 29th November 2009
  #7
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Quote:
Well, when I was doing sound FX work on an animated series for 4Kids/FOX they were doing the voices in the room next door and they were mostly 12" to 24" off of the mic.
That surprises me, but hey, if it works and sounds good, that's great. In my experience, the only time I would mic out 12" or more would be for screams or group. The quality of the voice just doesn't sound right that far out for normal dialog.
Old 29th November 2009
  #8
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Always wondered that myself. I understand the proximity effect... for reality TV vo's most of my clients demand it!

On a side not, having 2 young kids I watch a lot (a LOT) of kids TV. Shows like Imagination Movers, Curious George, Sid the Science Kid, Dora the Explorer and a multitude of others. I must say, listening closely, I am really impressed with the sound design and music on these shows. If anyone here actually works on any of them, kudos to you. A job well done.
Old 29th November 2009
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by santacore View Post
That surprises me, but hey, if it works and sounds good, that's great. In my experience, the only time I would mic out 12" or more would be for screams or group. The quality of the voice just doesn't sound right that far out for normal dialog.
It all depends upon the gear you use. A $3.5k mic into a $4k mic pre does a nice job. You also have to keep in mind that proper mic technique by the talent is also a big factor.
Old 29th November 2009
  #10
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TVPostSound's Avatar
Quote:
In my opinion, that's a mock setup for the camera. I highly doubt they are recording a few feet out, no matter how good the room is.
John,
You're correct about a few feet.
But the OP never mentioned distance.
I always had the mic up to 12", and above..... for video game audio.
Old 29th November 2009
  #11
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Quote:
You're correct about a few feet.
But the OP never mentioned distance.
You're right, the OP was not specific. I was commenting more on many of the "making of" type clips I have seen. They all seem to be setup for the camera, and not actual recording.

Quote:
I always had the mic up to 12", and above..... for video game audio.
I agree, that's the way I usually setup for games and animation.
Old 29th November 2009
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Bob View Post
It all depends upon the gear you use. A $3.5k mic into a $4k mic pre does a nice job. You also have to keep in mind that proper mic technique by the talent is also a big factor.
While gear is important(this is gearslutz!), in my experience the talent and room are much more important.
Old 29th November 2009
  #13
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TVPostSound's Avatar
Quote:
While gear is important(this is gearslutz!), in my experience the talent and room are much more important.
Did you ever use the room at Vivendi Universal? Off the 405 at Fox Hills??
Awesome sound!!
Old 29th November 2009
  #14
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Quote:
Did you ever use the room at Vivendi Universal? Off the 405 at Fox Hills??
Awesome sound!!
No, I wish, that would be a great location for me.
Old 29th November 2009
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by santacore View Post
While gear is important (this is gearslutz!), in my experience the talent and room are much more important.
I agree 100%. The OP wanted an explanation of why "the mic seems pretty far away and above them a lot of the time." Most of the major facilities have the phenomenal gear to make it possible, and are working with top flight experienced talent. The "budget" facilities usually have neither the room nor the gear.
Old 29th November 2009
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Bob View Post
Well, when I was doing sound FX work on an animated series for 4Kids/FOX they were doing the voices in the room next door and they were mostly 12" to 24" off of the mic.
Out of curiosity, did you mean that most their voices were recorded at LEAST 12'' off the mic (and up to as much as 24")?

Also, in a case like that, when they record VO at as far as 24'' away of the mic, is it only for the loudest passages or not necessarily (could it be that they want less of a "anouncer" type of audio?
Old 29th November 2009
  #17
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I think this really depends on the voice, and also the type of show.

Since in animation you don't have to match production, you can mic closer to get a very neutral sound, just not so close that you pick up proximity effect and mouth movement.

Some voices you have to mic pretty close, and others you can't. When I was working with James Earl Jones, I could move the mic back 6' and it still sounded like he was right on top of it. He had built in proximity effect. A soft female voice would be the exact opposite.

For ADR, I used to mic as far away and as far off mic as I had to in order to get a good match. That could be several feet away and fairly off mic in the case of matching boom mics, or about 8" below the chin and a few inches from the chest, pointing up with some cloth thrown over the mic for for lavaliers.
Old 29th November 2009
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mark007 View Post
Out of curiosity, did you mean that most their voices were recorded at LEAST 12'' off the mic (and up to as much as 24")?

Also, in a case like that, when they record VO at as far as 24'' away of the mic, is it only for the loudest passages or not necessarily (could it be that they want less of a "anouncer" type of audio?
VO is completely different than recording dialog for animation, both of which are completely different than doing ADR/looping work. Each requires it's own specific techniques.

The 1/2 hour show (about 19 minutes real time) on which I worked had all of the talent at least 12" off of the mic. The very large booth was quite dead sonically. The female voice talent was always closest (they were doing mostly little girl and boy voices), the male talent was usually further away. As far as I know the distance was never changed to accommodate louder dialog passages.

All of the dialog - recording, editing, pre-mix - was done in two days. I had six hours the evening after the dialog was completed for the sound FX. I spent over 18 hours on each of the first three shows until I had built up a basic library for eye blinks, footsteps and other commonly recurring sounds. After that it was cookie-cutter sound FX for 60% - 70% of the show which took about an 1.5 hours and I was then able to spend more time on episode specific sounds and building the library. The composer delivered the score for spotting the following morning. Changes/tweaks were done by the supervising sound editor that day and the mix was done that same night.
Old 29th November 2009
  #19
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YouTube - G-Force Recording Session


those guys seem to be relatively far off the mic... maybe a foot and half on average and probably over 2 feet when he's screaming (see @ 35 seconds)...

ps: Uncle Bob - thanks for answering my question, much appreciated.
Old 30th November 2009
  #20
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If your working with kids, be careful of them kicking stools/rustling - try keep them as calm as possible - had a show with 6 kids doing all the voices and vo clean-up was a nightmare - once their tired/fed up you take what you've got! For that reason they were kept within 12" of the mic. Directionality/off-axis sensitivity of the mic is also a factor. Also if the VO director is in the room with them to 'call and repeat', its often more comfortable than leaving them alone in a booth with headphones
D
Old 30th November 2009
  #21
For what it's worth, I have a friend that works for Disney Character Voices and records all the voices for all their animated movies and video games (The Incredibles, 102 Dalmations, Jungle Book, etc).

He does a LOT of different things so it's hard to say "this" or "that" is what he does. It really all depends on the voice he is recording at the moment. You should see their mic collection too, it's amazing. You would think that recording voice would only require a couple mics. But no, they have everything from 416s to Manley Gold Ref mics and everything in between.

As for placement, sometimes he sets the mic a few feet away, sometimes only a few inches. Sometimes it's really high above the actor, sometimes it's not. Sometimes he sets up two microphones (one for loud passages and one for soft). And so on and so forth... There's no one "thing" he does. He uses his ears and adjusts accordingly.

One thing to note though... the rooms that he works out of are fairly large and very dead. Gobos are more to stop the bleed of other actors performing simultaneously in the room rather than to control reflections around the room.
Old 1st December 2009
  #22
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From FAMILY GUY. Mics are Neumann TLM-193. Fairly close mic'ed.

YouTube - Family Guy Recording
Old 1st December 2009
  #23
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Quote:
Gobos are more to stop the bleed of other actors performing simultaneously in the room rather than to control reflections around the room.
Of course, GOBO is an acronym for Go Betweenheh
Old 1st December 2009
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mark007 View Post
I was hoping it was the G-Force cartoon with Casey Casam as 'Mark'.
Old 1st December 2009
  #25
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As Derek points out, there are no hard fast rules. Mic placement and choice will depend on a number of factors including room size. For example I have worked in rooms that were 40 x 50 feet with the mic a good distance away. My personal use ADR room is a much smaller 20 x 8 feet, so a different mic technic must be used due to room size.
Old 1st December 2009
  #26
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I have done recording for animated TV shows for the past 15 years. The actors usually stay away from the mic because they like to gesture when recording. Most of them act out the scene and move their arms around a lot. I just try to get it sounding as good as possible depending on what they are doing. The use of a U87 is because it is a studio standard. A lot of times the actor will record lines in many different studios, so using a standard mic is useful to get the same tone.
Old 2nd December 2009
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by E Baxter Put View Post
I have done recording for animated TV shows for the past 15 years. The actors usually stay away from the mic because they like to gesture when recording. Most of them act out the scene and move their arms around a lot. I just try to get it sounding as good as possible depending on what they are doing. The use of a U87 is because it is a studio standard. A lot of times the actor will record lines in many different studios, so using a standard mic is useful to get the same tone.
I was going to mention this. Some voice actors are fairly 'animated' (bad pun intended). They like to have a little room. Also, depending on the sensitivity of the mic you might want some space to avoid overloading the capsule if they scream.
Old 2nd December 2009
  #28
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I used 2 MKH40s for James Mardsen on Cats and Dogs 2:

one 12" away, and one 36" away per the voice director's request. We actually marked the floor and measured the mics before hand. No pop screens.

Sounded very good.

For video games I tend to have two AT4050s set up on a parallel plane about 6" in front of the actor with the 10db pad engaged on mic2 and one giant popscreen that covers both mics hung from a third mic stand.

Mic 1 is talking and whispers, mic 2 is yelling - matches very well.

We did Borderlands that way, as well as the last two Brothers In arms.
Old 3rd December 2009
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Bob View Post
It all depends upon the gear you use. A $3.5k mic into a $4k mic pre does a nice job. You also have to keep in mind that proper mic technique by the talent is also a big factor.
If you have 10k microphone and Pre set-up and a fantastic Room but the talent is rubbish it's still going to sound like rubbish.
Old 3rd December 2009
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGBANGBUZZ View Post
If you have 10k microphone and Pre set-up and a fantastic Room but the talent is rubbish it's still going to sound like rubbish.
Yes, but good sounding rubbish.
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