While the Shure MV88 digital stereo condenser microphone has many uses, from recording your band rehearsals, to recording audio for video, today we’ll explore the MV88 as a perfect accompaniment for Field Recording.
Candice Weaver is currently studying for a Postgraduate Diploma in Sound for Design Theatre at RADA (The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art). She has taken the time to record some abstract sounds within the main building itself – from fly bars to a crosscut saw, via duct tape and theatre announcements.
She kindly took a bit of time out to talk to us….
What are your first memories of sound? / Did you come from a musical family?
There was always music around when I was growing up. My earliest memories are of my older brothers tinkering around with bits and pieces of equipment; I was always intrigued as to what they were doing and gradually became more and more into sound as I grew up.
What has been your musical path to date, so to speak?
I went to study Music Technology for a year at LIPA (The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts) during secondary school. This was the first time I had been in a recording studio. After finishing A Levels (none of which were music related), I missed music so much that I wanted a way back in. I ended up doing a degree in Commercial Music at the University of Westminster, during which time I focused on Recording Music, Music Business etc. It was during this course that I found Sound Design, and this quickly became my main passion. It was initially Sound Design for film that drew me in.
I have just completed my first year at RADA. Steve Mayo (Head of Sound at RADA) is keen that we become good Sound Engineers before we embark on too much Sound Design work. So, I’ve spent plenty of time with both analogue and digital desks, rigging speakers, and with various microphones in different show roles honing my skills.
You have very kindly recorded some sounds for us at RADA. How have you found the MV88?
It has been a cracking little tool if I am honest. It is so useful. For example, actors don’t always have time to get out of rehearsal rooms to come and spend an hour with me in a recording studio. The MV88 has given me the power and flexibility to get something down in five minutes. I’ve ended up using plenty of these types of recordings in shows, and to be honest, for the most part you can’t really tell I haven’t used a studio, such is the quality of sound from the MV88.
It has been great for sound effects also, meaning I don’t always have to source my sound effects online anymore from the likes of Freesound or Soundsnap.
I think the main thing I’ve learnt in putting these sounds together is that I’m more aware and conscious of the sounds around me. For example, if someone cracked a paper cup around me previously that was all I heard, as you’d expect. Now, I instantly think of how I might be able to use that sound, like it could be used for something falling onto concrete, or be blended into other sounds for a gun shot.
What departments and sounds did you record for us?
The fly bars in RADA’s Vanbrugh Theatre, the equipment in the construction department like the Morticer and Crosscut Saw, and even portable mini dimmers in the lighting department to name a few.
Anything else you’d like to mention?
I really enjoyed using the Motiv App with the MV88. For me that is what sets it apart. The ability to change polar patterns, adjust the stereo width and make use of the built in EQ and Limiter make this more than just a portable recording device.
I know you have a preference for Theatre Sound over Film Sound, hence the course you are on. Can you explain why?
For me the needs for Theatre Sound changes every day, even within the same show. If we had a four week long show for example the sound design we used on the first day would no doubt have changed by the end of the run. With Theatre Sound you are putting trust in other people as there are so many variables, whereas with film you are committing.
This doesn’t mean I don’t pay attention to sound design in films of course. For me, the film Gravity totally changed the way I think about sound for film. The crazy thing about sound design is that if you are good then you are effectively invisible. The aim for us is to create a sound that completely fits with what the audience are seeing so that they never question it; even if in reality they are seeing something being crushed – it is actually me recording the sound of a watermelon being dropped on the floor!
Below are some of the sounds Candice recorded at RADA. None of the sounds have been mastered or tampered with – these are recordings directly from the MV88…