When tasked with recording audio for a critical live video shoot, Polish sound engineer Bartek Kurkowski knew there was only one microphone that could handle the intricacies of the job – a DPA d:fine 4188 Slim Headset Microphone.
“The most important challenge this project presented was recording high quality vocals and eliminating crosstalk from vocal shots,” Kurkowski explains. “From the beginning I was committed to using DPA d:fine 4188 Slim Headset Microphones because they guarantee excellent vocal quality and, thanks to their cardioid characteristics, they eliminate crosstalk. As far as I was concerned, the success of the project was entirely dependent on using d:fine headsets, therefore it was my first and only choice of microphone.”
The video in question was for the single Początek, performed by the Męskie Granie Orchestra 2018. Męskie Granie is an annual all-Polish concert tour, founded and sponsored by the Żywiec brewery. The aim of the tour is to present the creative side of the Polish music scene and to encourage audiences to listen to musical experiments, such as jazz musicians playing with rappers. Major Polish artists participate in the tour and this year was no exception.
As a respected studio and live sound engineer, Bartek Kurkowski has worked with many top Polish artists including the SOFA band, Kayah, Monika Brodka, Artur Rojek and the Ørganek band. Since acquiring a Waves LV1 system, he has become adept at livestream realisation and one of the most important livestream events he has undertaken was mixing the HEY band’s 2017 farewell concert in Spodek, Katowice.
Kurkowski was asked to capture the audio for the Początek live video shoot by solo artist Krzysztof Zalewski, who wrote the song and performs in the video with keyboard player and vocalist Dawid Podsiadło, guitarist and vocalist Kortez Gitara and drummer Kuba Staruszkiewicz.
“It was an incredibly challenging project because Krzysztof wanted it to be recorded 100% live,” Kurkowski explains. “Shooting took place in a 120-meter movie house in Służewiec, Warsaw, that had a ridiculously long and adverse reverb. All of the artists in the video play instruments so there was no chance of using hand-held microphones. Plus, part of the band was performing in a separate glass and concrete rotunda that was 70 meters away, and all of the artists had to move around the whole length of the hall during filming. Once the details of the project became apparent, I realised that my only chance of success was to choose the best possible tools for the task and count on the fact that some unfavourable factors could be eliminated.”
Despite initial reluctance from those responsible for the visual side of the shoot, Kurkowski secured permission to use d:fine Headset Microphones and says the results exceeded his expectations.
“We recorded really great-sounding vocals in a very extreme situation,” he says. “Apart from muting the artists’ breathing when they were off camera, we didn’t make any corrections, dubs or edits.”
Once the audio was recorded, it was passed on to Los Angeles-based producer and sound director Rafał Smoleń who was responsible for mixing.
“The tracks from the movie set came to me for the mix, just as they were performed by the artists on set,” Smoleń explains. “The concept of a clip recording was a big challenge because it was supposed to be a master shoot, uninterrupted by any editing of the image or the sound. For the purpose of the clip the song was performed live and no elements of the song were played separately in the recording studio. Thanks to Bartek’s work the audio quality was great, but my attention was especially captured by the vocal tracks, which sounded exceptional. At that point I didn’t know they have been recorded using DPA microphones, but when I got the video file and saw the headsets everything became clear. Mixing audio of such great quality is a pleasure because I can focus on sound creation instead of having to save the audio using plug-ins.”
Kurkowski adds that the skill of the artists shouldn’t be underestimated as this was a key factor in the project’s success. “Hats off to the artists because what they did was near impossible,” he says. “The video was recorded around 2am and the vocalists played the whole song right through while running around the hall with their instruments, and with no corrections. Although I was there and recorded the whole scene, I still don’t know how they did it – it didn’t seem physically possible.”
To watch the final video, please follow this link:
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