Capturing high quality audio for a blockbuster film is always crucial as dialogue between the actors must be heard if the story is to be understood. But when the sound crew also has to contend with action-packed scenes featuring car chases and shoot outs, recording comprehensible audio becomes an even more complex challenge.
This was the situation French sound engineer Stéphane Bucher found himself in when he started working on Taken 3, the third and final instalment of the Taken film trilogy starring Liam Neeson, Forest Whitaker and Maggie Grace.
"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."
Bucher is no stranger to the versatility and exceptional sound quality afforded by these tiny DPA mics as he used them to great effect last year on the Luc Besson film Lucy, which starred Scarlett Johansson. On that occasion they were sewn into the seams of Scarlett's t-shirt and delivered great audio without any visibility issues.
"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 DPA 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."
Internationally acclaimed as a sound engineer, Bucher has worked with numerous famous actors and directors including Morgan Freeman, Pierce Brosnan and Kevin Costner. In recent years many of the projects he has undertaken have come via major feature film producers such as EuropaCorp. He also owns and manages the Paris-based rental company, A4Audio, which supplies audio equipment to film and TV clients.
Bucher believes that good preparation was key to the success of the audio in Taken 3. Before shooting started in the USA, he spent four days with wardrobe staff figuring out the best places to hide the DPA d:screet 4060 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 scenes where the action took place within a car, Bucher used DPA d:dicate™ MMC4018-ES supercardioid microphones with MMP-ES active cables with side cable, which were supplied by DPA's French distributor Audio2.
"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 adds that he is so impressed with the results he has achieved when using tiny DPA microphones that he now wants to use DPA mics on a boom.
"I've got some new film projects coming up and I think one of them will be ideal for this," he says "It's going to be shot in Denmark later this year, so what could be better than using Danish DPA mics? I have no doubt that I'll get great audio quality if I do use them because this is what DPA is renowned for – really translucent, clear, natural sound."
DPA Microphones is the leading Danish Professional Audio manufacturer of high quality condenser microphone solutions for professional applications. DPA’s ultimate goal is to provide you – whether you’re in live sound, recording, theater or broadcast – with the absolute finest possible microphone solutions for your tasks. DPA takes no shortcuts in the design processes nor makes any compromises in manufacturing, which is all done at the DPA factory in Denmark. As a result, DPA’s products are globally praised for their exceptional clarity and transparency, unparalleled specifications, supreme reliability, and above all, pure, uncolored and undistorted sound.
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