One thing every film sound recordist worth his salt knows, is that dialogue must be recorded clean. If the dialogue is muddied up with background or movement sounds, it’s unusable. And in worse case scenarios, the scene may need to be reshot, costing the production time and money, also ensuring future unemployment for yourself.
Where this becomes a serious challenge, is when you’re faced with recording dialogue that’s taking place during car chases, fighting and shoot outs. This was where French sound engineer Stéphane Bucher found himself when shooting the third installment of the Liam Neeson trilogy, Taken 3.
“I knew we had a lot of dialogue taking place in difficult conditions where using a boom mic just wasn’t going to work, so there was only one thing for it,” he says. “I reached for my stock of DPA d:screet 4060 miniature microphones and asked the wardrobe team to help me figure out where we could hide them.”
We’ve previously written about Bucher’s use of the 4060 miniature mics, last year on the Luc Besson film Lucy, starring Scarlett Johansson (you can read about that, here). For that film, he organised wardrobe to sew one of the mic’s into the seams of Scarlett’s t-shirt.
“When we were filming Lucy, Luc Besson only used one camera so we did have the option of using a boom mic for some scenes,” Bucher says.
“The big difference with Taken 3 was that Olivier Megaton [the director] used three cameras at the same time so that he could capture numerous different angles. In tight situations, such as inside the police station where Forest Whitaker had five pages of dialogue to record, we couldn’t use only a boom because of the wide and tight angles. That was when the [miniature] mics became so indispensable. Their sound matched perfectly when the boom couldn’t be used. We recorded fantastic audio that came across loud and clear in the mix. By the end of the film I’d say that 80% of the audio was recorded using these mics.”
Before principal photography began in the USA, Bucher spent four days with wardrobe staff working out the best places to hide the miniature mics.
“Unlike Lucy where the action took place over a very short timeframe, this film spans a longer stretch of time so there were more costume changes to content with,” he explains.
“Hiding microphones in clothing only works if you can avoid scratching or chaffing noises. We did pretty well with most of the costumes until we came up against a waterproof jacket that Liam wore in a few scenes. This was made from really noisy fabric, so the wardrobe department put a noiseless soft tissue into the jacket to prevent the mic from picking up the crackling of the cloth. Luckily the 4060 was sufficiently sensitive to be able to pick up the sound we did want without any problems.”
For the car chase scenes, he used the DPA d:dicate MMC4018-ES supercardioid microphones with MMP-ES active cables with side cable.
“They were great,” he says. “I used them for the first time and for one particular car chase where Liam Neeson is driving very fast on the highway. I needed a very small mic to put into the car’s sun visor. We bought two new sun visors, opened them up and put the 4018 mics inside. This was possible because the cable comes out of the side of the mic and it worked perfectly that way. We also tested them on a much simpler car scene, in which Forest Whitaker is driving and talking, and they worked great for that, too.”
Bucher work as a film sound engineer has taken him all over the world and recording some of the most famous voices heard on screen, such as Morgan Freeman, Pierce Brosnan and Guy Pearce. In his spare time, he owns and manages the Paris-based rental company, A4Audio, which supplies audio equipment to film and television.
Taken 3 is currently playing in cinemas across the world.
For more info, check: www.dpamicrophones.com
Excerpts from Press Release