DPA mics Mistresses

Sound mixer Joe Michalski relies on DPA’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 for ABC’s Mistresses, a primetime soap opera.

Used primarily for wide-angle outdoor shots, the d:dicate 4017 was recently put to the test on a motorcycle scene. 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 [Milano]’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.”

The actors, who prefer not to go back to the studio for ADR, are also noticing these characteristics. 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.”