LOS ANGELES - When production started on the film adaptation of the Tony Award-winning musical Jersey Boys, set to hit the big screen this Friday, June 20, crew members knew they would need to capture all audio, music and vocals live without any pre-recordings. As instrument miking was not available during the 1950s to 1970s era of the film, the production team also needed to conceal the musicians’ mics on set. To address these unique challenges, they turned to DPA Microphones.
Tim Boot, production music mixer for Jersey Boys, relied primarily on DPA’s d:vote™ 4099 Instrument Microphones and d:screet™ 4061 Omnidirectional Miniature Microphones to capture the live instruments on set. Easy to conceal during filming, these mics provided a very natural sound quality and proved to be the perfect complement to the era of the film. Further keeping with the film’s theme, the crew used vintage instruments, such as Fender guitars and Ludwig drums, to maintain a classic sound, while the mics allowed them to record discreetly.
“You always have to be prepared when you have live music on set,” says Boot. “DPA was my hero when it came to miking the drums. I couldn’t use prop mics, so I bought myself a kit of DPA d:vote 4099 and d:screet 4061 mics. Depending on the setup, we buried five to 12 microphones on the drum kit. You don’t see the mics on camera, but each element of the kit was individually miked, just as you would do in the studio.”
Boot achieved the studio-recording results by placing the d:screet 4061 under the cymbals and in other areas that were more challenging to conceal. He relied on the d:vote for the snare and kick drums. “When you’re looking to hide a microphone, you need a lot of options,” he continues. “The d:vote’s ability to handle the kick and snare drums is absolutely amazing. It has no distortion and is very natural. The type of sound we were looking for is not a produced rock sound; it’s a natural sound. We were trying to capture the sound of the instrument, not over-produce it. The d:vote achieves that.”
In one of the film’s biggest musical numbers, featuring Frankie Valli (played by John Lloyd Young) and The Four Seasons, the audio crew faced their biggest miking challenge. The performance employed a live guitar, bass, drums and a keyboard, accompanied by a big band of five saxophones, trumpets and trombones, an acrylic drum set, a grand piano and an upright bass, which were revealed behind the curtain on stage where the group was performing.
“The whole reveal was done live and everybody was miked,” continues Boot. “If you look at performances from the 1970s, there were only a few mics on stage and they were usually for the vocalists. It’s only been in the last 20 years or so that we’ve been able to mic everything individually. This production was such a stickler for accuracy that we couldn’t violate that.”
To achieve the big stage number, Boot placed a d:screet 4061 on the stand of every sax, trombone and reed instrument. The drum set, which for this scene had a transparent body, posed an even bigger challenge for masking the mics, which again included a combination of d:votes and d:screets. The scene was recorded with a total of 47 inputs, each of which was concealed.
“We pushed the limits of hiding the mics,” explains Boot. “It just goes back to the d:vote and d:screet being such tiny mics with even tinier capsules and just being so amazingly musical sounding. You just don’t get that with other brands. No one else can do it. I’ve used DPA for years and I think the d:screet 4061 is especially the most musical lavalier microphone ever made. I think it’s the only lav mic I would ever feel comfortable putting on an instrument to get a musical sound. It was a no-brainer to put it on the musical instruments that required masked microphones.”
In addition to using the d:screets for the main band members during the big band number, Boot also relied on the mics to complement the flute for that scene. “We had a flautist playing live and, even though it looked liked it was miked through a vocal mic, we used the d:screet, which made it much more musical.”
In addition to Boot, production sound mixer Walt Martin and music playback mixer Mark Agostino played vital roles in the audio production of the film. “Between the three of us, we created this totally new way of doing music,” says Boot. “It was amazing to be on the set of Jersey Boys, because even great session players perform a little bit differently every time. Even though the guitarist may have been off camera at times, it felt as if he was right there. They were all in the space playing together, and that’s the way this music was recorded back in the 1950s, so it was really cool.”
Tim Boot has recorded and edited music for film for over 20 years. Additionally, he has recorded and mixed live music in some of the world’s greatest venues with world-renowned artists. He also operates a consulting firm at which he designs high-end audio and video systems for performing arts venues around the world.
Directed by Clint Eastwood, Jersey Boys is based on the true-life story of The Four Seasons, comprised of Frankie Valli (John Lloyd Young), Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen), Tommy DeVito (Vincent Piazza) and Nick Massi (Michael Lomenda). The group rose to fame in the 1960s, known for hit songs including “Sherry”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Walk Like a Man.” Young previously earned a Tony Award for his depiction of Valli on Broadway. Christopher Walken also stars in the film as Angelo “Gyp” DeCarlo, a mobster and friend of Frank Sinatra, who played a big role in helping The Four Seasons achieve fame.
DPA Microphones is the leading Danish Professional Audio manufacturer of high-quality condenser microphone solutions for professional applications. DPA’s ultimate goal is to always provide its customers with the absolute finest possible microphone solutions for all its markets, which include live sound, installation, recording, theatre and broadcast. When it comes to the design process, DPA takes no shortcuts. Nor does the company compromise on its manufacturing process, which is done at the DPA factory in Denmark. As a result, DPA’s products are globally praised for their exceptional clarity and transparency, unparalleled specifications, supreme reliability and, above all, pure, uncolored and undistorted sound.
For more information on DPA Microphones, please visit www.dpamicrophones.com.