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Mistresses Has a Love Affair with DPA Microphones
ABC’s Mistresses is a primetime soap opera starring Alyssa Milano that is based on the lives of four girlfriends living in Hollywood who are involved in an array of illicit and complex relationships, but it is the show’s miking solution that is far from complicated. A longtime DPA Microphones user, Sound Mixer Joe Michalski relies on the company’s d:dicate 4017 Shotgun Mic in conjunction with several d:screet 4071 Omnidirectional Miniature Mics to achieve a pristine sound that requires almost no editing in post.
Used primarily for wide-angle outdoor shots, the d:dicate 4017 was recently put to the test on a motorcycle scene during which Milano was the passenger. Unlike many situations for which a shotgun mic would be used, the boom operator was not able to be positioned behind the actors, on the back of the trailer that was towing the bike. Having to use both arms to hold the boom, the operator was unable to secure himself in the moving trailer, which resulted in several safety concerns.
"In order to record the two pieces of dialogue that we needed for that scene, we took the 4017, placed it in a Rycote Zeppelin windscreen and then mounted that off the handlebars," explains Michalski. "From there, we were able to split the audio between Alyssa’s character and the male actor driving the motorcycle. It was just a sick position. Normally, you have to deal with the sounds of the trailer, the truck that’s pulling it and the other motorcycles in the shot, but the mic was more parallel to the ground with the position it was in, so all of the noise was rejected. It sounded almost like we were on stage shooting off a green screen."
For this shoot, Michalski had 20dB spread between the noise and the dialogue. Once it goes to post production, the only thing they’ll need to do is add the motorcycle sounds because they’ll have a clean voice recording with no background sounds. As a backup, Michalski also outfitted both actors with the d:screet 4071, which provided him with an additional, clean track. "With the signal noise being so far above the noise, with either my shotgun or my lavs, it’s a perfect world for the post team because they can play with the scene later," adds Michalski. "They can add more background or take it out."
These characteristics are also being noticed by the actors, who prefer not to go back to the studio for ADR. Due to its compact size, the d:screet 4071s are ideal in situations when a boom isn’t, including shots on-location at a pizza restaurant with noisy ovens or out on the street across from a rowdy outdoor bar, where ambient noise can’t be controlled, no matter the position of the shotgun.
"We’ve been applying lavs to all of those scenes and going without a boom," says Michalski. "Alyssa was also a little concerned with the background noise at some of the restaurants, because she isn’t going to have time to ADR, so we suggested using the d:screet. Generally, actors and costume designers are not fond of lavalier microphones because the wires are obtrusive, especially on Mistresses, where the outfits seem almost painted on. But, the DPA mics have the thinnest cable of any microphone out there and the wardrobe assistants can place it into the costume or directly onto the skin. Whereas you can typically see the competitors’ cables under tight costumes like those used in Mistresses, DPA can be easily hidden along a seam line. The actors are definitely much more receptive to this."
Michalski has used several microphone brands over the years, but it is DPA Microphones that caught his eye. Having recently purchased his second d:dicate 4017B, he currently owns a total of 10 DPA mics, which he says will now serve as his primary microphone offerings for productions. "I’ve heard a lot of competitor mics and DPA mics just sound more natural," concludes Michalski. "You don’t have to worry about any of the problems you see with other brands because DPA has such solid mics, even the sheer physical difference is noticeable."
Kansas City born Michalski has worked as a boom operator and sound production mixer on various projects for the more than 20 years. His recent work includes, Jane By Design, Sons of Anarchy, Suburgatory, The Mindy Project, Without a Trace, Shameless and Grey’s Anatomy.
17th September 2014
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