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I'm curious to what mics and what positions you would use for this situation:

Multicast audiobook that will have full musical score and sound effects.

5 actors,

1 narrator, 4 character actors.

The character actors will play at least 3 different characters in the story.

The narrator usually just plays the "narrator" with a soft god-voice.

Looking forward to the answers,

  • Ryan
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5 Answers 5

I'm not involved personally but we're doing a multi-mic voice record for an animated series at the moment. The room is setup in a big U shape with all the actors facing into the middle, there a TV screen there linked to a webcam in the control room (there's also webcams on the actor's music stands being fed into the control room). Each actor has a Neumann 103 with a pop guard. Nice and simple.

Ian

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You want to go with them all in one big room so they can face each other. There will be some extra complications with Mic cross over and some careful editing needed when the actors step on each others lines. But these things are made up for big time in the quality of the performances you will get when getting a bunch of talented actors working together and off of each other. My experience is with records for animations rather then Audiobooks but I think the same principles will apply. The performances will have an extra dimension, a little more energy going this route then recording them all individually.

Leave as much space as the room can afford between the actors. Try to match the mics as best you can so all the voices have the same quality. Another good trick is to throw an extra mic up for the director. Since all the actors are facing each other this means a couple of them will have their back to the window into the control room, by throwing the director in the room with the actors they can always be communicating visually with everyone as the recordings are happening. Of coarse you need to make sure the director is capable of being as quiet as possible or you will have to pull them out.

Keep it as lose as you can while still keeping a good pace through the material.

One thing I have a hard time finding is the sweet spot with regards to when to break. Audio books are long and you can not push the actors too hard or they start aurally losing energy, but at the same time once they hit their stride you gotta let them do as much as possible because they might not get it back after a break.

Good Luck.

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I might take a different approach, having done radio production for may years.

I'd agree that if scheduling allows, have everyone together in one room if it is big enough. By that I mean that it should be acoustically absorbent enough so that reflections should not be a problem.

Mic choices will will be important, first for polar pattern, then for matching the sonic qualities of the mic to each voice.

My first plan would be to use figure 8 mics since they have near total rejection from the sides. I'd then place the actors in a very wide arc, so as no two are facing each other. Alternatively, I would choose either cardioid or hypercardioid mics matching their off-axis rejection angles to the actor's positioning for maximum rejection.

The narrator should be able to see everyone, and they him or her.

I would record multitrack, one for each actor, so you can adjust each actor's level, EQ, dynamics, etc. independently in the final mix. It also makes alternate takes by individual actors easier.

Marty

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If scheduling works out (and you have the space), I would put all of the actor voices in a room together, each with a decent cardiod mic that has a reasonable rejection of off-axis material. Let them feed off of each other, you'll get more interesting deliveries out of them that way. Then just capture some room tone afterwards/beforehand to make your life easier in editing.

I would say the narrator can be recorded by him/herself if narration is all they will be doing. Otherwise, you might want to think about putting them in the room as well.

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Avoiding the obvious (and expensive) choices, I'd say the Earthworks SR series or a Neumann TLM 103 are both very nice. Granted, they're not all that cheap (both can be found for somewhere around $1k). We've got a number of AudioTechnica AT4050's and I've always been impressed with their versatility. You can find those for cheaper (around $700). The Neumann TLM 102 is comparably priced, but I've never worked with one, maybe someone else here has. –  Shaun Farley Aug 6 '10 at 17:03
    
@Ryan - yeah. i'd say those qualify as decent cardiods. lol –  Shaun Farley Aug 8 '10 at 3:32
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This sounds rather close to radio-drama production to me.. If budget (or the thought of mixing separate actor mics) is of concern, a single stereo microphone in a large-enough studio space, together with some clever scene planning, can get you a very long way (i.e. you negate the room but use acting and distance re voice dynamics&properties).

Of course, in this I am assuming you plan to direct your actors and they play together.

The narrator you can record separately with a nice full-on neumann mic. worked on a project like this some time ago and it felt straightforward..

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Great. What project was this? I'm afraid my room will sound too echoey and will be death on a voice if he's more than 2 feet from the mic. –  Utopia Aug 6 '10 at 16:42
    
student project produced by a BBC producer who worked it v.smoothly. re echo: curtains on walls? –  georgi Aug 7 '10 at 9:07
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