Juan Dieguez (right) and Eric Williamson loading all possible necessary gear into their car for the 50 Cent session at the hotel room
Photos: Mojo Working
As Hurricane Katrina moved toward Miami, Manhattan Transfer Miami (www.mtmiami.com) was expecting 50 Cent (who was in town for the MTV Video Awards) for an ADR session to replace 40 lines in his new movie, Get Rich or Die Tryin'. But then the hurricane hit and the studio lost all power. However, nearby hotel Ritz Carlton (where the movie's director, Jim Sheridan, was staying) still had its lights on, so senior audio engineer Eric Williamson and audio engineer Juan Dieguez took the session to Sheridan's hotel suite and set up shop.
“Juan and I simply packed everything we needed or thought we would need into his SUV: headphones, spare headphones, mic stands, DATs, cables, preamps — everything,” remembered Williamson. “With the power being 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, so we raced over to the Ritz Carlton and unloaded all the gear.
Jim Sheridan’s hotel room. Note the two-mic setup for 50 Cent.
“Of course, we were not in the best controlled environment and we had no idea what ambient sound we would be exposed to,” he continued, “so I decided to dual-mike 50 Cent because we wanted the intimate ‘voice-over’ 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 60's timbre wasn't ideal, but its hypercardoid pickup pattern rejects pretty much any sound except what it's pointed at. So I decided to run both mics simultaneously.”
The crew also used a Tube-Tech MP-1A preamp to accentuate that “voice-over quality we were striving for,” said Williamson, who also brought in two DAT machines: one as the master and one to run a simultaneous backup copy. “We set it all up in Jim Sheridan's hotel room and decided to have 50 Cent sit on the couch. This was not only for the sake of 50's comfort, but also because the couch had a high back, heavy drapes to the right and a plush bed on the left — ideal acoustics, as far as hotel room recordings go! During the actual recording, lady luck finally came to our side as not only were the ‘neighbors’ quiet, but there was also very little foot traffic in the outside hall. The only big noise problem 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 EQ.
“All in all, I think we got pretty lucky.”