I may be supervising a film being shot next year which has conflicts between two armies.

I'm thinking of new and interesting ways to utilize tools to add an artistic touch to the mix starting with the recording.

I thought of using warmer mics for the "good guys" and colder, darker and a bit edgier mics for the "bad guys". I know this could be done with EQ and all, but I was thinking maybe capturing the original timbre differently from both sides could a) make it easier to know when we are with the bad guys and b) artistically separate the two sides c) add a dynamic to the mix which isn't possible to add with post production tools.

Further, does a certain type of genre or motif of a film determine which mics and techniques you use for let's say, foley and field recording? i.e. different positions and mics for a romantic comedy as opposed to a thriller? Or do you always invariably record those footsteps and cloth rustles and things with the exact same mic and exact same position?

Do you think I'm splitting hairs here? Or is it good to always be thinking of new ways to forward the film's motif?

3 Answers 3


While normally I'm all for pushing the envelope and experimenting, this is a slightly different scenario with a few things to consider.

The first and most important one is that you're on location and you only have one chance at this. A lot of time, money and effort are going into this scenario on more than your own behalf. It's not really the best time to be experimenting unless it's very well thought out, encourage by the director and there's a tried and tested method for how to undertake this experiment.

Sure, it sounds great in theory, but it's typically better to get the best and cleanest signal you can and leave those types of creative decisions for post production. There are a lot of reasons why certain techniques are more prevalent... and that's because they've been proven to work. And to be realistic, I can't really think of anything that can't be done in the post-production realm. Maybe that's just because I don't limit my imagination and am a "I'll find a way" type of person though.

If you really want to do this, I suggest getting some friends together and doing some trial runs with different mic's and different placements, etc. and then determine with the director if that's something you want to permanently impose on the recording or not.

While on one hand you're imposing a decisive artistic limitation on the recordings and that can be sort of cool (like working with a limited set of tools on purpose), you're also closing it off to versatility and it's potential usability by gambling on whether it will be an asset or detriment to the end result.

  • I think that it is a good point when you say "it's not the time to be experimenting because you only have one shot." The trial runs sound imperative if you are going through with it.
    – Chris
    Mar 2, 2011 at 5:50
  • Thanks - great answer. Basically, I am being looked at as being brought on from Pre-Production on and this idea came to me. It's mainly for dialogue that I was thinking of. Like a mic like the MK41 for one side and a MKH50 for the other. Just a thought.
    – Utopia
    Mar 2, 2011 at 6:07
  • You could always double mic everything to an additional track/recorder if you can swing it. That way you'll have an option/backup. I'd make sure my standard/clean recording takes priority though. Mar 2, 2011 at 6:47
  • Meh. Might be too much hastle to begin with.
    – Utopia
    Mar 2, 2011 at 6:54

I think it's an interesting idea in theory, but there are too many risks involved. Lets say you capture the dialogue using different mics to differentiate between the two armies. Then you get to post and the director turns round and says, 'nah this ain't working, lets have all the dialogue sounding the same'. You've given yourself a real headache.

A less risky option would be, as Syndicate Synthetique has said, to double mic all dialogue using your chosen mics, giving you the flexibility to experiment, but this would also create more work. Another option would be to look at using different ambiances that could play the role of differentiating between the goodies and the baddies.

Whatever you chose to do, testing and experimentation are going to be key.


Do you think I'm splitting hairs here? Or is it good to always be thinking of new ways to forward the film's motif?

It may be a little of both.

I usually let utility dictate my mic choice, so for example if I'm recording something that's very quiet in a studio I'll tend to go to the AT 4050s, and if I'm out in the world trying to isolate a sound from its environment I'll go to the MKH 60 or 70. In between those extremes we have more ability to try different things and be successful.

I'd say you haven't really given enough info to get a useful answer yet though. What are you talking about using the different styles of mics for? Production sound? foley? sfx recording? ambiances? all of the above?

Also, which specific mics are you looking to employ for one side vs the other? There may not be a world of difference between a "warm" lav and a "colder" one if that's the application. Side address condensers are where you'll probably find the greatest differentials from mic to mic, but again I don't know the specifics of the application yet.

  • I was thinking mainly dialogue, and then thought of expanding to the other types of recording.
    – Utopia
    Mar 2, 2011 at 6:09

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