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Audio for Oscar-nominated Les Misérables captured by DPA

Adam Savage
Audio for Oscar-nominated Les Misérables captured by DPA

DPA Microphones played an integral part in recording the audio for the highly acclaimed film Les Misérables.

With a cast featuring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Samantha Barks and Sacha Baron Cohen, Les Misérables 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.

Production sound mixer Simon Hayes – responsible for capturing the film’s entire audio content – believes it would not have been possible without the microphones used, in particular DPA's 4071 lavalier mics.

”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 said. ”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 filming, all of which were supplied by Richmond Film Services in conjunction with DPA’s UK distributor Sound Network.

“Normally when I am recording a film I prioritise boom mics – especially if the scene is being shot with a single camera – but with Les Misérables, Tom wanted all the angles covered from all sides to capture the perfect performance," Hayes recalled. "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, and they were impressed with the results, according to Hayes.

“We tested various models and found the DPAs were clearly the best," he said. “They are the only lavaliers that could cope with what we were trying to do. Apart from their exceptional audio quality and dynamic range, they were also incredibly durable and gave us no problems."

Hayes is one of a long list of sound mixers and editors nominated for a 2013 Academy Award.

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Tags: dpa microphones, dpa, academy awards, oscars, microphones, post production, abbey road, richmond film services, lavalier microphones, Sound Network, les miserables, hugh jackman, russell crowe, anne hathaway, samantha barks, sacha baron cohen, recording vocals, simon hayes

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