Archive for January, 2012

Celebrity Wedding Planners for FIVE

Would you let two celebrities plan your wedding? I’m not sure that i would, but then i’m a sensible sort of chap.

What are the chances of getting a mic in that hair?

What are the chances of getting a mic in that hair?

I’ve recently been working on a new show for FIVE called ‘Celebrity Wedding Planners’ due to air in the new year 2012. In it, couples have their wedding organised by celebrities such as Raef and Stuart from The Apprentice, Kerry Katona, Josie Gibson, and my favourite; Jedward. I worked on the Jedward episode and throughly enjoyed myself - the wedding they planned was pretty spectacular, but i won’t give any spoilers - see it for yourself here. I also worked on the episode with Raef and Stuart from The Apprentice.

They were surprisingly complex shoots from a crew point of view as the logistics of filming a wedding on 3/4 cameras with two sound recordists (thanks and a tip of the hat to the other sound recordist on the show - Martin Evanson - for his excellence and clarity of thought under pressure) were tricky to get right. In the end we opted to share radio transmitter frequencies with each other so that either one of use could have a feed from any of the 5 or 6 guests that were mic’d up during the day. This meant that whatever the camera we were feeding was shooting, we could provide relevant audio without having to swap transmitter packs.  It went well most of the time, but was complicated by the current duality  in radio mic frequencies; myself and many other sound recordists i know have a mixture of the old channel 69 frequencies, and the newer channel 38 due to come into full effect during this year. The switchover has created unwanted extra expense and reliability issues with radio mics for those using them, but hopefully this is something that will improve during 2012. I still hold my breath slightly when using ch38 in London as the bandwidth still seems to be rather cluttered in places.

My experiences of fitting radio mics to brides and grooms for BBC3’s Don’t Tell The Bride held me in good stead. Fitting radio mics is hard enough already - it is the black art of sound recording and reliant largely upon the clothes worn by the contributor. A bit of imagination can often come in handy though - the ideal spot to fit the capsule (i use DPA 4061’s which are small enough to hide, and come with a variety of excellent fitting options) is on the forehead just under the hairline - free of clothing rustle and keeping a consistent disance from the mouth. HD makes it a bit harder to hide mics and easier for the viewer to spot (although next time you are at a musical or theatre see how many of the singers mics you can spot), and it can also be a fiddle to fit - if you have 2 mins to fit a mic to someone you have only just met, sitting them down and fitting a mic in their hair isn’t always an option, so often the mic will end up on the front of the contributor somewhere, attached to their clothes or chest. In the case of weddings, for the bride there is a trick - you must get the mic capsule fitted inside the dress before it is done up by three women all heaving at the corset straps and telling the bride to breath in. After that point, you haven’t got a hope of feeding the cable through the corset as it will be tighter than a vacuum packed ham, and finding a good place for the tx pack to hide (i use elasticated straps or equine-tape) can be difficult on figure hugging dresses , but i usually try to fit them on the leg. The capsule will usually have a good place to hide, as many wedding dresses are designed to accentuate the chest, creating a nice bit of space to hide the capsule.

The groom is usually much harder to fit - they are often wearing three piece morning suits which are simply noisy - the fabrics used (for example silk is terribly scratchy) and the nature of the outfit means they are noisy - jacket rubs against waistcoat which rubs against tie which rubs against shirt. There’s not much you can do about that, except find as good a spot as possible for the capsule and fix it firmly. Then hope the groom stands very still as much as possible.

But overall i think the shoots went well, and the couples seemed very happy with their special day. Most importantly though, both shows were great tv ;) .

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About me

I am a freelance sound recordist with over 10 years experience in tv & film. I studied location sound recording at the National Film & Television School in Beaconsfield, and have been working as a freelance sound recordist since 2004. I have my own full location recording kit, transport and a clean driving licence and am available for work across the UK and worldwide, with bases in London and Oxford.

I also teach Sound in various forms at the London Met Film School in Ealing Studios.

This site contains a blog about my work as a location sound recordist, as well as articles related to sound and film, lots of information about careers in sound and pro audio equipment, advice on filming and sound techniques, a glossary of audio terms and lots lots more. Please drop me a line and let me know what you think, or if you want to contact me for work please click on 'Contact' or call me directly on 07980 910873.

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