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Manhattan Transfer Miami Finds Power for 50 Cent

The hotel room setup for 50 Cent

Manhattan Transfer Miami’s audio department met with some rare challenges on the night Hurricane Katrina hit Miami.

The night before the MTV Video Awards, Hurricane Katrina hit Miami, leaving most of the city—including post-production facility Manhattan Transfer Miami’s Coconut Grove headquarters—without power. To further complicate matters, they had hip hop celebrity 50 Cent, in town for the awards, booked for an ADR session to replace some 40 lines of dialog for his new movie Get Rich or Die Tryin’.

It just so happened that the movie’s director, Jim Sheridan, did have power at his nearby Ritz Carlton hotel room, so senior audio engineer Eric Williamson along with MTM audio engineer Juan Diegeuz took the session to Sheridan’s suite. “Juan and I simply packed everything we needed or thought we would need into his SUV—headphones, spare headphones, mic stands, DATs, cables, pre-amps, everything,” says Williamson. “With the power out in most places and no guarantee that the rest of Miami wouldn’t soon follow, and because 50 Cent only had so much time, the clock was really ticking.

“Of course, we were not in the best controlled environment and we had no idea what ambient sound we would be exposed to,” he continues, “so I decided to dual-mic 50 Cent, because we wanted the intimate “voiceover” sound quality of the Neumann U87, but the rejection quality of the Sennheiser MKH 60 shotgun. Basically, the U87 had the sound we were looking for, but not the pickup pattern: any unwanted noises would be picked up as well. The MKH 60s timbre wasn’t ideal, but its hyper-cardoid pickup pattern rejects pretty much any sound except what it’s pointed at. So, I decided to run both mics simultaneously.

“We also used a Tube-Tech MP-1 A preamplifier to further accentuate that voiceover quality we were striving for. Last but not least we brought two DAT machines, one as the master, one to run a simultaneous backup copy.

“The only big noise problem (ironically!) was that we had a VMA party outside, nine floors down! Luckily, most of the sound bleed was of lower-volume and in the lower frequency range, so it can be filtered out by means of EQ.”

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