At the end of a boom pole on a film set is probably the last place you’d expect to find a microphone designed for close miking toms and snare. Yet thanks to some ingenuity from Production Sound Mixer Mark LeBlanc, that is exactly where you’ll find the Earthworks DP30/C.
So, how did a drum microphone end up as 25 year industry veteran LeBlanc’s microphone of choice on set? After meeting with an Earthworks representative to discuss the challenges faced on movie sets, LeBlanc zeroed in on the DP30/C.
“I selected the DP30/C because it would address a possible need to have a mic that could easily be hidden because of its non-standard shape,” LeBlanc explains. “Until that day I never considered using an Earthworks mic because the literature showed it to be a studio mic.”
While shotgun microphones are a more traditional choice for location recording, LeBlanc found the DP30/C provided a number of benefits that made it a clear choice for location recording despite its non-traditional shape.
“The DP30/C rejects sound coming from the rear as good as, if not better than, some shotgun mics specifically designed to reject sound,” explains LeBlanc. “It’s extremely low vertical footprint allows me to use it in scenes that otherwise a microphone would not be able to get in.”
“The very first film I used the DP30/C on was a SyFy original movie called MonsterWolf. I was in a large government office building and was having trouble with some of the other mics I had in my kit at the time. I threw the DP30/C on the pole as a last ditch measure and was blown away by the results. Since then, the DP30/C has made an appearance in every movie I’ve mixed since.”
“All interior scenes for the award winning movie Beasts of the Southern Wild were recorded using the DP30/C. Additionally, the horror movie MaskMaker used the DP30/C for all interior and some exterior scenes. We just wrapped up the movie The Outsider staring Craig Fairbrass and James Caan, which features a scene in a large office building that used the DP30/C on an 18 foot boom pole.”
“It’s one of the most natural sounding mics I’ve ever used,” LeBlanc says. “Very little coloration of the sound as presented to the mic. It gives you a very good feel for the room as it was on the day of shooting. The photograph that the DP30/C makes an appearance in for Beasts of the Southern Wild is a perfect example. We were in a remote location, in a very confined set and when you watch that scene, it really draws you into that moment!”
While on set for Beasts of the Southern Wild, the DP30/C’s 150dB SPL handling came in handy. “Being a drum mic, it can handle high decibels, which young actress Quvenzhané Wallis had a lot of. It was the only mic in my kit that did not get overloaded!”
With budget and timeline restrictions, the DP30/C has a hand in saving time and money on set. “The speed at which we can deploy the DP30 in car rigs is certainly a plus,” says LeBlanc. “My boom operator, Matt Champagne, knows exactly where I like them placed and has become quite adept at hiding cables and such. These days, we can generally rig a car for a scene in under 10 minutes.”
LeBlanc shares his final thoughts on the DP30/C’s presence on his film sets. “As a production sound mixer, we strive to capture the highest quality audio possible on set,” concludes LeBlanc. “A vast majority of ADR needed is due to factors beyond my control, planes, trains and dump trucks lumbering by in the middle of the take. What the DP30/C has given me is a tool that is extremely useful in high reflective areas such as large office building where a normal shotgun mic would struggle with the reflections. The DP30/C simply captures the dialog in a very natural way.”