The Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions in the Steinhardt School at NYU recently conducted the seventh annual NYU/ASCAP "Foundation Film Scoring Workshop in Memory of Buddy Baker." For 10 days, student composers and working professionals immersed themselves in the film scoring process.
Each participant composed his or her own orchestral score to a professionally filmed cue, and NYU provided talented orchestrators, musicians, recording engineers and scoring mixers to help the participants bring their scores to life. Dr. Ron Sadoff, director of scoring for film and multimedia within the department, directed the event. NYU's permanent and summer faculty members—including Mark Snow, Ira Newborn, Deniz Hughes, Sonny Kompanek, David Spear, Michael Patterson, David Matthews, Pat Irwin and Alex Steyermark—provided guidance.
The recording sessions were engineered by 30-year veteran Jim Anderson, chair of the Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music at NYU. Although Anderson tracked all of the microphones separately, he created stereo mixes on the fly so that the participants could marry their score with dialog and sound effects the next day. The stellar acoustics of NYU's Loewe Theater provided a rich backdrop for the recordings.
Anderson opted for a Decca Tree comprised of Neumann M 150 Tubes for the main orchestral pickup. "The Neumann M 150 Tube is the gold standard. Its progenitor, the M 50, was the microphone the Decca engineers used in the Tree when the technique was first created. The unique polar pattern of the M 150 Tube—omni in the low end and progressively more directional in the high end—gives it that beautiful low-end bloom. If you're looking for a professional sound, the M 150 Tube is the mic to use."
"The Neumann M 150 Tubes give a score a huge, rich, analog sound that's hard to get any other way," Dr. Sadoff adds. "It's a real filmic sound—it's the sound of a professional score."
In addition to the M 150 Tubes, Anderson filled out the mix using spot mics. He used Schoeps CCM4 cardioids on the strings, AKG C-414s on the percussion, Neumann U87s on the brass and Neumann KM 140s on the woodwinds.
All-discrete API 3124+ 4-channel mic pres provided the only processing before A/D conversion on the department's Sony console. "API gave the tracks a noticeably warm sound, which is always what I'm looking for," Anderson says. "Other preamps sound antiseptic and brittle by comparison. On top of the sound, the 3124+ is remarkably easy to use because the metering is so clear."