No fewer than 24 Audio-Technica U853R multi-element condenser microphones were recently used to capture audio in and around the Geordie Shore house, the location for MTV’s record-breaking ‘hyper-reality’ show based in Newcastle.
The challenge of providing the programme’s broadcast audio fell to sound supervisor Stuart Bruce and his team from Sabsound Ltd, an outfit with more than 12 years experience of providing production sound for film and television. In preparation for the show, Stuart auditioned microphones from eight brands before opting for the U853R, supplied by EAV Pro Audio (www.e-av.co.uk) in Nuneaton, Warwickshire.
Discretion And Dynamics
“Alongside our wireless installation we used 24 Audio-Technica U853Rs installed around the house and garden,” explains Stuart, “The producers needed to hear everything that was going on and at any time – wherever the cast were – which meant delivering audio around the clock.
“That in itself was a challenge, as was the fact that Geordie Shore was shot using a combination of fixed and portable cameras, so we couldn’t restrict any of the camera angles because of mics being in shot. That meant we had to go for very discreet mic placement.
“We knew the mics would need to be discreet enough to be placed in vision without being detected, yet have the sensitivity and dynamic range to deliver everything from the secretive whispers to the drunken screams of the cast – and all that in addition to complimenting the sound from the show’s radio mics. Throughout all of our tests, we found ourselves coming back to the U853R – they just kept on delivering.”
EAV Pro Audio’s Jonathan Coates played a key role in helping Bruce arrive at the perfect mics for the task in hand. “We worked closely with Stuart in the initial stages to make sure he was going to pick the right microphone for the job,” he says. “We supplied Stuart with a selection of Audio-Technica mics to start with and the U853R was the one he thought was best. We also looked at the different capsules and which ones would provide the best pickup for his needs – as always, Audio-Technica were extremely helpful with providing demo gear and technical help.”
The U853R microphones represented the beginning of a signal chain that had to cope with delivering round-the-clock audio in trying conditions.
“We ran the U853Rs into our Focusrite OctoPre MkII preamps utilising the built in compressors,” Bruce says, “and the analogue line outputs were plugged direct into JoeCo recorders so that we had a safe isolated track of each mic.
“The OctoPre simultaneously fed line outputs via lightpipe into a Yamaha 02R desk to allow us to monitor mics and send selected Aux feeds to a producer monitor post. Considering we were delivering audio 24 hours a day, seven days a week for six weeks it was an incredibly stable set-up. It’s a great testament to the microphones and to the rest of the gear.”
“Key to the U853R’s success in the Geordie Shore house was versatility. Having the ability to choose and change capsules between omnidirectional, cardioid and hypercardioid gave us the flexibility to tailor each mic placement, especially when the placement was less than ideal. Couple that with a great sounding mic whose output is way larger than its diminutive size and it’s easy to see why I considered it such a success for the show.”
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