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Recording The Unique Film Sound Of Les Miserables With DPA

Award-winning Production Sound Mixer Simon Hayes discusses how he used DPA 4071 Lavalier Microphones to capture live audio for this innovative film.

By PSW Staff January 14, 2013

Production Sound Mixer Simon Hayes on set with the sound crew.

DPA Microphones played an integral part in recording the audio for the film version of the hit musical Les Miserables, which features an all-star cast including Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Samantha Barks and Sacha Baron Cohen.

Nominated for nine BAFTA Awards, including one for Sound, Les Miserables used an innovative technique that involved recording vocals live on set with the cast singing to a live piano accompaniment played to them through earpieces.  The orchestra was recorded later in post-production, with the musicians taking their lead from the performances of the cast.

This break with tradition enabled the director Tom Hooper to create a truly emotive experience for audiences watching the film. Production Sound Mixer Simon Hayes, who was responsible for capturing the film’s entire audio content, says it was a truly unique way of working and one that would not have been possible without exceptional microphones, in particular DPA 4071 lavalier microphones.

”When judging different lavaliers I had always considered the differences in sound between various brands of lavalier to be a matter of taste rather than a clear cut situation of one brand being superior,” Hayes says. ”That was until I listened to a DPA up against the competition. In my opinion the DPA is better, more open sounding, less chesty and sounds more like a boom mic than any other lavaliers I have heard.”

Hayes had 50 DPA 4071 lavalier microphones at his disposal during the filming of Les Miserables, all of which were supplied by Richmond Films in conjunction with DPA’s UK distributor Sound Network.

“Normally when I am recording a film I prioritize boom mics, especially if the scene is being shot with a single camera. But with Les Miserables, Tom wanted all the angles covered from all sides to capture the perfect performance.

“This meant we couldn’t rely so heavily on the booms because the wider angle coverage would stop them getting close enough. Our solution was to come at the recording from a different angle and make lavalier microphones our priority.”

Abbey Road engineers checked the sound quality of the DPA 4071 lavaliers to make sure they were the best choice for vocals. Hayes says they were impressed with the results.


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