The art of capturing a live audience in surround.

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by gary f. baldassari

The Janaury 2001 Pay Per View of Eminem with D12 and Dr. Dre at Santa Monica�s Barker Hanger posed several challenges to the audio design crew. Executive producers Lori Berglund and Terry White wanted a soundtrack that could be audio postproduced for compatible mono, stereo, Dolby Surround for broadcast, and, at the same time, a 5.1 mix for a future DVD (release date: Dec. �01).

Our Microphone Design In the front, and on the wide left and right front corners, we selected two DPA 4035�s and placed them about 65 feet apart. Why a headset mic design? The 4035 is the same capsule as the 4007 analyzer element. It�s mounted on a telescopic tone arm and pivots on its built-on clamp. We attached the 4035 to the bottom straps of the V-DOSC Front-of-House cabinets, about six feet from the stage deck. What other mic in the world could handle the SPL of rap, hung on the FOH without distorting, and stay completely attached without the need of shock mounting? The unique capsule design characteristics of the 4035 makes this sort of performance possible.

The 4007 and all of its derivatives are my favorite �live� ambience mics. They are immune to shock of any kind; when you hit one, the only sound you hear is the sound of whatever hit it. The result is a natural early reflection reverb component along with a whole lot of high-definition audience. These mics were powered and leveled by the Millennia Media HV3 remote mic preamplifier and sent to the Neve in the All Mobile recording truck via line level.

For our rear mics, we selected the mid-audience lighting truss as our spot and not the rear of the Barker Hanger. Our plan was to seat you at home in the middle of the good seats. This approach also helped reduce the back slap of the building. On the truss we hung two 4053 compact DPA microphones with UA0777 nose cones, also about 65 feet apart. We powered them remotely and leveled them with an Aphex 1788 remote mic preamplifier. The Aphex 1788 was also flown in the mid-audience lighting grid. The UA0777 nose cones were selected for their near-perfect omni characteristics. They were pointed straight down with their brilliance peak directly on the audience about 25 feet above their heads. We lowered the 4035�s on their own Mogami cable to a point only three feet above the cut-off of the V-DOSC cabinet. This also was necessary to clear the high shots of the jib camera. You cannot see the 4035�s in the back camera shot, but they are always there. The near-invisibility of the DPA compacts is something that video directors always find desirable, and I sometimes �sell� their use that way. The rear 4053 DPA microphones coupled completely with the front 4035 and formed the �capture box.� The angle of elevation from front to back was about 45 degrees, with the back mics being the higher ones. Try this, and you�ll be astonished by the feeling of �being there� that you can capture with a huge rear ambiance.

The lighting director, John Peters, allowed the audio dept. to have several hang points that we deemed necessary to capture the event as Bruno White Entertainment, the producers of the show, requested. Thanks go to John for yielding the center and sides of his lighting truss for audience microphones. At an Eminem concert, the audience is a large portion of the show. In between songs, the audience responds to �M� strongly, and the audio team grabbed every nuance of the return banter, even though the language was questionable. We treated the audience as if it was an dysfunctional orchestra.

Now that we produced the high-resolution �capture box� that encompassed the audience, what could we do to enhance the details of the inside audience sound? At this event we decided to place a DPA 3529-A stereo kit on the edges of the �ego� thrust as spaced omni�s. We installed two APE 50B acoustic pressure equalizers, that come with the kit, over the standard silver grids and pointed the pair upwards at 60 degrees to eliminate the �one or two� voices on-axis in the audience response mix. This smoothed out the audience field while intensifying the central area perspective of the audience as a group. The off-axis response of all DPA microphones is very smooth, and the omnis lacked only the brilliance peak off-axis.

The 3529-A pair, powered by a remote mic pre, was sent line level to the Neve in the All Mobile remote truck. The pair was panned to the exact center for the Pay Per View Dolby Surround show. It�s our hope that this technique places the viewer at the front edge of the ego thrust. The panning was hard left, hard right, and equal front and back.

Focusing on the Front

There were many active audience participants who were captured by a pair of DPA 4011 cardioids. They were powered and leveled by an Aphex 1100 thermionics preamp. Again, they were pointed up at 60 degrees to stop the brilliance peak of the mic from becoming activated by one or two voices. We panned them at 10 and 2 o�clock. This concludes the front. Only six DPA microphones were used.


Let�s go back up to the mid-audience lighting grid: In the center, we placed two DPA 4021 cardioids in XY configuration, using the DPA XY adapter pointed straight down at the audience. Why did we do that? Didn�t we know about ORTF? Well, yes, but we had to deliver mono also, and XY always does that, without any comb filtering.

In the Pay Per View remix for Dolby Surround, you�ll be hearing XY 4021�s summed to mono with limited frequency response and compression. But, because the DPA microphone sound has greater resolution in depth at all standards, we captured wide response XY and mixed the rear corner DPA 4053�s (with nose cones) down a bit.

When you hear the DVD, the center XY should be reduced and the wide 4053�s should be pushed. This over/under technique works very well for a project where you must deliver audio material for multiformat remixing.

The delivered result is that you are able to feel the sound wave of the V-DOSC pass through your body just as it did at the �live� event. We went out to capture the real thing, and this is what the DPA microphones let us do. Eminem sent Steve King, his studio producer/engineer, to supervise the mix, and he concurred that we had grabbed something special. The post mixer was Rob Reinbolt.

For more character sound we selected four Sennheiser 816 shotguns. We powered and leveled them with the flying Aphex 1788 remote mic pre. These mics were pointed down into zones of capture and fadered into the mix between songs to intensify the audience response to �M.� They were panned artistically by Rob Reinbolt as needed. They could not be used in the mix during the performance because the high SPL of the event was more than their capsule design could handle: they smeared. In between songs, however, when the audience yelled their politically incorrect responses, they were very usable. �M� himself was recorded on a custom-made chromed Sennheiser SK 5000, that looks likes it came out of Detroit in the mid-�50s. We leveled him to tape with a brand new Summit TLA 100 A leveling amplifier. The line-cut two mix was polished with a TC Electronic DBMAX, which was also brought in to broadcast master the final mix. TASCAM DA 88�s were used to multitrack the event. Next time it will be a hard drive system.

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