HBO series Treme relies on Audio-Technica

Robert C. Bigelow, music recordist for HBO’s hit TV series Treme, has revealed that he consistently relies on equipment from Audio-Technica to capture the show’s sound of street musicians, parades and club shows.

For the past three seasons of Treme, Bigelow has recorded the show’s musical scenes on site as they are shot, as opposed to dubbing the music in post-production, offering the show a unique authenticity. And for these scenes, Bigelow utilises a selection of equipment from Audio-Technica. “The big challenge for Treme is that the music you hear on the show is what we film live on location,” he explained. “Most television shows will shoot to pre-recorded music and mix it in later; on this show, we record the musicians playing live in front of the camera, so you’re hearing the real thing. This really sets Treme apart from any other drama on television.”

Bigelow also claims that Audio-Technica offers him what no other microphone manufacturer can: the ability to capture a vast range of sound using just a few key microphones. He uses the A-T BP4027 and BP4029 Stereo Shotgun Microphones to create the ambient sound foundation for the show’s music. “They give me the big picture and context for the music, and we build the package on them,” he stated.

Meanwhile, A-T’s ATM350 Cardioid Condenser Clip-on Microphones are used for the brass instruments in parades and club scenes. “They’re incredibly versatile and I’ll use them on instruments from a trombone to a piano,” he said. “They’re very easy to hide – unlike other clip-on mics, I can just take the capsule of the 350 and attach it to the horn, yet they still give me full-range sound.” One particular trick Bigelow has developed is to tape the 350 to the back of a shirt collar of a musician in a marching band to record the sound of the horns that are behind him.

Furthermore, Bigelow utilises several microphones from the company’s Artist Elite wireless Series, including the AE5100 Cardioid Condenser Instrument Microphone and AE4100 Cardioid Dynamic Handheld Microphone on both vocals and instruments, and the ATM450 Cardioid Condenser Instrument Microphone for the micing of guitar amps and pianos, as well as overheads for drum kits. “The 450 has a really low profile so it’s great for capturing a little guitar amp on a street corner, and on drum overheads it’s got a pristine high end with absolutely no sibilance – crisp highs with no shrillness,” he added. “The real beauty of this is that I’m able to capture the entire range of music for this show with just a few key microphones. You don’t need a big microphone closet to do this show.”

In addition to his work on Treme, Bigelow also relies on A-T equipment for his role as head of a mentoring programme in audio recording for film/TV at the University of New Orleans, helping the school to further develop its film/TV production programme. “One of the nice things about A-T microphones when it comes to teaching is that A-T mics are a great value without giving up any performance, so they’re the microphones that students can build their own tool kits with affordably, and those microphones will stay with them for the rest of their careers,” he explained. “And it’s great that I’m able to teach using the very same microphones that I’m using on a multi-million-dollar film production. These are really the only microphones that can truly do it all.”

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