The recent UK tour of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas involved screening the full movie with dialogue and sound effects from its soundtrack, and adding music performed live. Audio engineer Paul Bevan has been working with the score’s composer Danny Elfman on his live projects for five years. This outing brought change, with violinist Sandy Cameron using a new miking technique thanks to Point Source Audio’s EmbraceEO-8WL earmount microphone – an he on-ear, as opposed to on-instrument mounting.

Sandy Cameron and Danny Elfman‘As an entr’acte before the beginning of the second half of the film, Elfman arranged a medley of songs from the film, for solo violin, accordion, saxophone and upright bass, to mimic the street band featured in the movie,’ Bevan explains.

‘Sandy Cameron, who Danny has a long relationship with, leads this ensemble. Previously we had used a clip-on microphone into a wireless pack and anyone who has used a clip-on mic understands the compromise inherent in this approach.

‘Because it is attached to the instrument, it tends to have a slightly unnatural sound, with too much body and too much zing from the strings. I wanted to find an approach that would give a more natural sound.’

To achieve this natural sound, Bevan opted for the EO-8WL from Point Source Audio’s Embrace family – engineered for concealment but with a mounting system that keeps the mic placement consistent. This delivers the best of lightweight and low-profile lavs combined with the consistent placement of earmounted microphones. It was an approach he had tried before when using the technique for the first time with violinist Joshua Bell for a TV show which presented similar challenges of natural sound while looking good on camera, so he was confident it would also work for the tour.

‘The microphone is placed on top of the left ear, so during performance, it is sitting right over the violin, but the extra distance from the instrument gives a much more natural sound, with more air. I was anxious to try this approach with Sandy and she was keen to try something that would more accurately represent what she herself was hearing from the instrument.’

Reflecting on the tour, both Bevan and Cameron have been highly impressed with the technique. ‘It sounded much more natural to her and I had to do almost no EQing to get it to sound just like the acoustic instrument,’ says Bevan. ’There was so much gain before feedback that we were never close to ringing – even in arenas, with huge PA systems and a full monitor system. An added bonus was that as the microphone was attached to Sandy, and not the violin, she could put it down and walk away. After a few years of using a clip-on, it took her a while to remember that she had this freedom. Also, because the microphone was hidden by her hair, it was completely invisible to the audience, even on tight camera shots. The clip-on with attached cable always looked untidy.

‘This will be a permanent change to our approach for Sandy’s performances during Danny’s concerts,’ Bevan adds. ‘I highly endorse it for any application where a violinist has to be miked and still have the freedom of movement.’

More: www.point-sourceaudio.com

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