DPA Microphones have turned up in some unusual places, but inside Scarlett Johansson’s t-shirt has to be one of the brand’s more exotic locations.
Three of the company’s d:screet 4060 miniature microphones were used to capture Johansson’s performance during the making of Lucy, a new film directed by Luc Besson that was just released on July 25.
According to French sound engineer Stéphane Bucher, the d:screet 4060s were absolutely perfect for this role because they offered exceptional audio quality.
As an internationally acclaimed 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.
“The DPA d:screet 4060 mics are very small, but that isn’t the reason I chose to use them,” Bucher explains. “It was all about their audio fidelity. When it comes to sound quality, the DPA 4060s are much better than other lavalier mics on the market.
“During the filming of Lucy, it was important to adhere to Luc’s directing style. He knows exactly what he wants; he shoots very fast and wants the actors ready to go when they come to set. Once the actors are here, it is too late; you won’t have the time to put a lavalier on anyone. This is not the easiest approach, but I was really happy to work with him.”
Fortunately, the film’s costume designer Olivier Beriot completely understood Bucher’s concerns and was able to work with him to devise a way of permanently attaching a microphone to Johansson’s main costume.
“Olivier is the best costume designer I have ever worked with and I have huge respect for him,” Bucher says. “Scarlett’s main costume was a white, half translucent t-shirt, so we used a white d:screet 4060 microphone, which was inserted into the seam of the t-shirt by the dressmaker. We had three t-shirts ready at all times and the solution worked perfectly, giving us great audio but without any visibility issues.”
Bucher adds that this wasn’t the first time he’d used DPA mics. In fact, he first started using them many years ago when he was recording classical music.
“Like every other sound mixer, my equipment is really important and I’m constantly looking for the best microphones, mixers, recorders, etc.,” he continues. “When I started working in film and TV, I was using the same lavalier microphones as everyone else because I didn’t really have a choice.
“Now, I do have a choice and I can use the best mics available for cinema sound, which happen to be DPA. I originally chose them because I was tired of going to the cinema and hearing that recognizable sound you get with other lavalier mics. DPA’s sound is really translucent and clear – to the point where sometimes I can’t tell if I’m listening to the boom or the 4060.”
Since completing Lucy, Bucher has been in the U.S. working with director Olivier Megaton on the film Taken 3, which stars Liam Neeson and Forest Whitaker. As the film requires audio to be recorded inside a car, DPA’s French distributor, Audio2, equipped him with a number of d:dicate 4018 Supercardioid Microphones, which are ideally suited to this type of location work.
“The 4018s were great,” he adds. “I used them for one particular car chase where Liam is driving very fast on the highway. I needed a very small mic that could fit into the car’s sun visor. We bought two new sun visors, opened them up and put the 4018 mics inside, which worked perfectly. We also tested the mics on a much simpler car scene, in which Forest is driving and talking. They worked great for that, too.”
Bucher is now in France preparing for his next film project, which will undoubtedly feature DPA in a starring role. “I’ve always been really happy with the audio quality that DPA mics deliver,” he says. “And that’s why I keep going back to them.”