New York, NY (December 8, 2004)–Presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to record former President Bill Clinton in his own home, hsr/ny recording engineers Fernando Ascani and Jeff Hinton had only one question–what microphone to take? Walking into an unknown environment and presented with only a narrow window of opportunity to record the voiceover, the pair chose a Neumann U87 and a Sennheiser MD421.
“We didn’t know what to expect, going to the President’s house,” said Ascani, who, with his colleague, Hinton, ended up recording the President at his desk in his office. “We weren’t exactly certain what it was for and what we were trying to match. So we figured we should definitely go with the Neumann U87. And we realized, from doing previous remotes, that the Sennheiser 421 just seemed to do a great job, especially when you don’t know your surroundings.”
The two engineers were engaged by Mozark Productions of Studio City, CA to record Clinton’s voiceover at his home in New York’s Westchester County for a short orientation film that plays in a small theater at the Clinton Presidential Center, which opened in Little Rock, Arkansas in mid-November. But since hsr/ny would not be mixing the film, said Ascani, the challenge was to provide the best possible recording that would fit with the rest of the material planned for the film.
hsr/ny recording engineers (l-r) Jeff Hinton and Fernando Ascani used a Neumann U87 and Sennheiser MD421 to remotely record former President Clinton’s voiceover for the orientation film shown at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas.
“We do remotes, and we do a good job, but usually we have a little more background,” he continued. “We figured, we’re going to go to DAT machine, so we have two inputs, so we’ll double-mic it. Later, they’ll have the flexibility when they mix it.”
In fact, to be absolutely certain, the pair took an additional recorder. “We ended up also going to Pro Tools and taking an Mbox over there. We figured, with the mics, it was the best of both worlds. A shotgun would have been great, but you’re at someone’s house. I don’t think he would have wanted to stand on-mike. We had a feeling he’d be moving around a lot. That’s where the 421 came in. And, with the U87, you could hear a little more of the room as he moved around.”
In fact, the setup produced an unexpected benefit. Ascani, who monitored the two-channel DAT machine, explained, “We just rolled the DAT as a backup, but for some reason we couldn’t split out from the Mbox into the DAT, so I ended up getting both mics, which made an interesting sound. It’s almost like a third mic–like a voiceover mic with some room in it.”
Returning to hsr/ny’s Manhattan studios, Ascani and Hinton listened back to the recordings before shipping the separate takes, labeled by mic type, to California for mixing. “It turned out beautifully,” Ascani reported. “So many times, when you do a remote session, you’re disappointed with the sound later on. You’re very critical. Unbelievably, we were very happy with this. Hopefully they were, too.”
Indeed they were. Mozark Productions executive producer Harry Thomason stated, “What a great group! They did a sensational job on very short notice. They are true professionals.”