You don't want to know how long it took me to think of that title, I'm not a pro-titlemaker. If you can think of something better, please, entertain me. As I was saying, every now and then I'm asked to mix location sound on a Musical film or commercial. Musicals can be real fun and exciting to work on; they're so much different from standard genres particularly logistically. What I often notice, though, is hiring managers on low budget musicals sometimes expect a 1-man-band sound person to also run playback. That thought is as silly as Pierce Brosnan's musical number "S.O.S." in Mamma Mia! Seriously, it's bad
Just because music is sound, does not mean it is the responsibility of the Sound Department, let alone the Sound Mixer. With that logic, ask the Steadicam Op to choreograph and pull ropes for stunts during the scene he is shooting because it's visual. This is the Music Department. If you want to put the Playback Operator on the call sheet under Sound Department, I won't attest, but my point is, when there's playback, there needs to be a Playback Operator. The Sound Mixer is far too busy to coordinate the songs, beats, metronomes and all playback with the Director and Choreographer while mixing and recording the scene. And to think I've been asked to do this all while booming myself. People make a living out of playback.
|Our friendly Playback Operator (Not Really)|
When mixing musicals, for microphones, I like to use Neumann on the boom with DPA 4071 (used in Les Miserables) as my lav mic for vocals to help catch the full range of the voice whether it's loud belching or whispers. Neumann is fantastic for baritone and the choice for Beyonce, Celine Dion and The Beatles. For instruments and band-like scenes I may use stereo microphones, usually cardioid, or a DPA 4061 or 4071 on a string instrument.