OLD LYME, CONNECTICUT: The All-Star Game decides home field advantage going into Major League Baseball's World Series, but it was an all-Sennheiser microphone lineup that brought the crack of the bat and the sound of the crowd into millions of homes this year. Viewers who tuned into the 2008 World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays on FOX heard every sound from the field and the stands thanks to an array of Sennheiser MKH 8000 series, MKH 416 shotgun and MKE 2 lavalier microphones positioned around the stadiums, embedded in the bases and the outfield wall, and mounted on the roving RF cameras.
Production mixer Joseph Carpenter reports that he typically used five of the new MKH 8000 series microphones throughout the National League game schedule this season, as well as during the post-season October Classic. "I have three of them, omni pattern, in my parabolic microphones around the home plate, for the bat crack and the glove pop. I also use a pair of them in centerfield for my main surround channels. I wish I had more - I'd use them all over the place!"
As for the front channels of the 5.1 soundfield, Carpenter has typically been using eight Sennheiser MKH 416 shotgun mics. "I have a main pair of 416s that are straight out of the booth, on either side. Depending on the stadium, they are either an XY [coincident] or a wide pattern AB [spaced stereo] pair. I also have microphones on the high first and high third camera positions. The ones in the booth are a little closer in proximity to the crowd, so I try and aim the high first and high third at the maximum distance across the stadium for a distance perspective. There's another pair of 416s that point across to the upper decks. And, depending on the stadium, the amount of noise and where it comes from, and the type of PA system they have, I have another pair at low first and low third, near the foul poles, that point more into the crowd."
The frequency response of the MKH 8000 allows Carpenter to treat the mics, which are positioned exactly 180 degrees opposite each other, very differently according to his needs. "I'm using the same microphones two completely different ways. On the infield, on the bat crack and glove pop, I'm trying to notch the crowd to get as much of the frequencies out of them as I can in terms of the glove popping and the bat cracking. I'm accentuating those crowd frequencies on the outfield mics in the rear channels. I find that these 8000s are so dynamic that they don't require much EQ as they are, but when you do want to specifically enhance or detract they're perfect, because they pick up quite a wide range," he reports.
All of the MKH 8000s are hardwired back to the broadcast production truck, as are nearly all of the MKH 416s, except for those mounted on a couple of roaming RF cameras. "We also have wireless microphones in the bases, which are MKE 2 lavaliers on SK 250 transmitters. We use SK 250s in the outfield wall, as well," Carpenter adds.
With the field now covered by so many microphones, Carpenter comments that he is making use of newer technology to automatically switch the 5.1 surround soundfield perspective with the cameras. "Sometimes subtle changes in your audio perspective give you a nuance to a sporting event, especially in baseball, which is shot from so many different angles," he says. "Once we started putting mics in the bases I really tried to bring that front forward, so that it was more of a perspective change aurally as well as visually. Now the technology has brought us to a point where camera tallies can trigger faders on a console, I figure, why not use it? I try and keep evolving and experimenting. Plus, one day everybody is going to have surround systems, so let's figure it out now."
SENNHEISER Sennheiser is a world-leading manufacturer of microphones, headphones and wireless transmission systems. Established in 1945 in Wedemark, Germany, Sennheiser is now a global brand represented in 60 countries around the world with U.S. headquarters in Old Lyme, Connecticut. Sennheiser's pioneering excellence in technology has rewarded the company with numerous awards and accolades including an Emmy, a Grammy, and the Scientific and Engineering Award of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
For more information, please visit www.sennheiserusa.com
PHOTO CAPTIONS (first image) FOX production mixer for the 2008 Major League World Series, Joe Carpenter, used a number of Sennheiser MKH 8020 and 8040 Series, MKH 416 shotgun and MKE 2 lavalier microphones, positioned around both of the stadiums, embedded in the bases and the outfield wall, and mounted on the roving RF cameras, to capture critical field and crowd coverage. (second image) Fred Ferris, aiming one of the omni-directional MKH 8020 Series in the parabolic microphone reflector around first base for bat cracks and field effects during the 2008 World Series at Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida.