DPA helps record in-car audio for American Honey

Production sound mixer and sound recordist Rashad Omar has been using DPA d:screet miniature microphones and d:dicate recording microphones to capture dialogue for a number of high-profile feature films including American Honey, which recently won the 2016 Jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

Directed by Andrea Arnold and starring Sasha Lane, Shia LaBeouf and Riley Keough, the film is set in the American Midwest and tells the story of a teenage girl who joins a travelling magazine sales crew. As their journey progresses, she gets caught up in a whirlwind of ‘hard partying, law bending and young love.’

Much of the film’s action takes place inside an American passenger van with up to 15 characters in it at any one time. For much of the time the characters were also listening to music played through the van’s sound system, which incorporated an exceptionally loud sub-woofer.

“The van was being driven for real, so it was obvious from the start that I had to place mics around to try and cover all parts of it. We also had to ensure that all mics and cables were hidden because it was possible to see any part of the van at any time,” said Omar.

d:screet 4060 and 4061 Omnidirectional miniature microphones were perfectly suited because they were small enough to be hidden, yet capable of delivering the clarity Omar needed for dialogue.

“I always like to keep things as real as possible during these type of scenes, so I relied on a selection of d:screet microphones because they sound equally good on dialogue and music,” he explained. “I decided that the best solution was to take out the whole head-lining moulding of the van and rig cables behind it so I could get mics inside the air vents in the van’s roof. This meant I had to modify the vents so they no longer worked, and by taking them out and stretching black lycra over them, I was able to stick the d:screet microphones behind the lycra where they couldn’t be seen.”

The difference in sensitivity between the two d:screet variants was especially useful as Omar was able to use lo-sensitivity d:screet 4061s at the front of the van where the music was the loudest and high-sensitivity d:screet 4060s further back.

“As all the cables in the roof were rigged with XLR connectors, I could swap to compact, side cabled d:dicate 4018 Supercardioid Microphones whenever I needed a fuller and more isolated sound,” he noted. “Thanks to the side cable mic pre-amp, I was able to use them for other car scenes because I could rig them above and around sun visors. They are now my new favourite for dialogue in cars!”

Given the complexity of the car scenes Omar was recording, he was delighted to have such a wide range of microphone solutions at his disposal. “These situations call for a bit of everything because you can’t rely on one thing to work all the time,” he said.

Omar has used DPA d:screet miniature microphones on many other movies, including The Lady in the Van, Rush and Bridget Jones’s Baby, which is released later this year.

“My collection of DPA microphones allows me to do things I wouldn’t have been able to do in the past and this really improves the overall sound quality for feature films,” he concluded.