My focus is on producing high quality audio recordings in a way that is compatible with the aesthetic demands of video. Studio microphones are quite large and once combined with the anti-shock holder and pop filter you end up obscuring quite a lot of the singer’s face. To avoid this I use high-end stage-type microphones. These are based on the same underlying technology as a studio microphone but in more compact form, and although they look like the kind of microphone you’ll find at a typical live venue they sound much better.
For instruments, as well as studio microphones being large they require the performer to stay very still which isn’t much use for a live performance. Using instrument pick-ups is easy and reliable but they simply don’t sound very good. I use miniature DPA microphones, again based on the same technology as studio mics, which clip onto the instrument allowing the performer to move more freely while still getting 80% of the performance of the studio. I have attachments suitable for guitar, violin, cello, double-bass and piano.
I have multiple Panasonic 4K capable cameras and a variety of lenses. As I normally work single-handed, one camera will be mobile in some way, and the others are fixed in position.
I have use of a small, air-conditioned studio in South East London which can fit 2 people comfortably and up to 4 people uncomfortably (and depending on instruments). It’s not the most interesting space visually but it’s the easiest for me to schedule and has access to all equipment. The studio has a 88-key weighted keyboard (with pedal board and a range of virtual instruments) which isn’t available otherwise.
If you’re happy with something visually simple but with good audio quality for social sharing or as a demonstration for booking agents, you probably want this option.
I have a man-portable setup which allows me to record up to eight channels of voice and instruments, alongside three cameras and limited lighting. This is my preferred setup for recording in London where I’ll be travelling by public transport, or where I won’t have access to mains power. This setup is suitable for: main vocals, acoustic guitar, violin, cello, double/upright bass, electric guitars (BYO-amps), piano and cajon. Not suitable for full drum kits. Keyboards are OK if they are capable of line output simultaneously with internal speakers. No live monitoring is possible. Setup and soundcheck time for this approach is around 30 minutes for solo artists and up to an hour for bands.
My bigger setup allows for up 18 channels of audio which can include a combination of: five vocals channels, five clip-on mics, four DI inputs, full drum kits. In-ear monitoring (with up to 6 individual mixes) is possible. On the video side, this can include up to five cameras and two large lights.
This arrangement is significantly more effort to move around so I do it only rarely. As it requires car transportation it is normally not suitable for locations in London. You will also need to allow a lot more setup/tear-down times which will affect venue hire costs, e.g. you’ll need to allow 3-4 hours to get everything setup and soundchecked.