hsr/ny recording engineers Jeff Hinton (left) and Fernando Ascani with former president Bill Clinton
hsr/ny recording engineers Fernando Ascani and Jeff Hinton had a rare opportunity to record former President Bill Clinton in his own home in New York’s Westchester County for a short orientation film that plays in a small theater at the Clinton Presidential Center, which opened in Little Rock, Ark., in mid-November.
“We didn’t know what to expect, going to the President’s house,” says Ascani, who, with his colleague, Hinton, ended up recording the President at his desk in his office. “We weren’t exactly certain what it was for and what we were trying to match. So we figured we should go with the [Sennheiser] Neumann U87. And we realized, from doing previous remotes, that the Sennheiser 421 just seemed to do a great job, especially when you don’t know your surroundings.”
The two engineers were engaged by Mozark Productions of Studio City, Calif., to record the voice-over, but as hsr/ny would not be mixing the film, says Ascani, the challenge was to provide the best possible recording that would fit with the rest of the material planned for the film.
“We do remotes, and we do a good job, but usually we have a little more background,” he continues. “We figured, we’re going to go to DAT machine, so we have two inputs, so we’ll double-mike it. Later, they’ll have the flexibility when they mix it.”
The pair also took an additional recorder. “We ended up also going to Pro Tools and taking an M-box over there. We figured with the mics, it was the best of both worlds. A shotgun would have been great, but you’re at someone’s house. I don’t think he would have wanted to stand on-mic. We had a feeling he’d be moving around a lot. That’s where the 421 came in. And, with the U87, you could hear a little more of the room as he moved around.”
Returning to hsr/ny’s Manhattan studios, Ascani and Hinton listened back to the recordings before shipping the separate takes, labeled by mic type, to California for mixing. “So many times when you do a remote session, you’re disappointed with the sound later on,” Ascani reports. “You’re very critical. Unbelievably, we were very happy with this. Hopefully, they were, too!”