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January 2013, Week 4


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"Larsson, Donald F" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 23 Jan 2013 15:03:11 +0000
text/plain (102 lines)
There are some nice (but techno-jargon-laden) clips and information bits on the recording/filming processes for the film at

But see especially this quote from production sound mixer Simon Hayes:

“But with Les Misérables, Tom [Hooper] wanted all the angles covered from all sides to capture the perfect performance. 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 lavaliere microphones our priority.”

The singers had piano accompaniment on the set fed into earpieces, and the orchestral score was added in post-production.  (Sort of the opposite of what happened with Beyonce's "Star Spangled Banner" at the Inauguration, apparently.)  Some reports claim that a scene might have had up to 21 takes, but it is not clear that the director chose to mix-and-match clips from the sequential takes rather than just from the multiple cameras recording one single take.

In spite of the fact that I don't really care for this kind of musical, I thought that Les Miz pulled it off much better than the arguably more technically polished singing in such things as the film version of the Phantom of the Opera musical.

Don Larsson

"I don't deduce.  I observe."
--Roger O Thornhill

Donald F. Larsson, Professor
English Department, Minnesota State University, Mankato
Email: [log in to unmask]

From: Film and TV Studies Discussion List [[log in to unmask]] on behalf of Hansen, Christopher J. [[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 8:24 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [SCREEN-L] Les Miz -- a technical question


I believe your last paragraph sums it up well.  It's not that they were
trying to create an undoctored record of the singing, but rather that they
were recording live on set rather than recording the music in a studio and
lip-synching later.  So yes, in the editing process, they would have had
to choose which sound to use - from which live recording on the set for
any given take - but nonetheless, they are using audio recorded during the
shooting and not prerecorded in a studio.

Chris Hansen
Associate Professor and Director,
Film & Digital Media Division

On 1/21/13 1:28 PM, "Frank, Michael" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>with the usual apologies for duplication
>perhaps someone conversant with the technical side of filmmaking can
>address this:
>according to the PR for the new hooper "Les Miz," one of the
>distinguishing features of this film is that the singing was recorded
>live, that the performers sang as they acted their roles and that what we
>see is a record of that singing, even though the orchestral background
>[and presumably many sound effects and ambient noises] were added in
>post-production . . .
>yet in many of the song sequences there were cuts in mid song and even
>mid phrase, cuts that clearly required very different camera set-ups . .
>. . one would expect that at such points in the visual track there would
>have to be a new start in the audio track as well, and yet in the audio
>track the sound, sometimes a single note, continued seamlessly from shot
>to shot . . . is there some way this can be done without post-dubbing??
>. . .  [i realize that this problem can be avoided by using multiple
>cameras, as is the practice in telecasts of live opera productions . . .
>but the visual evidence of this film makes it highly unlikely that that
>was the case here]
>i'm guessing that the singers actually sang "live," but that during
>post-production the sound track was doctored to create a seamlessness
>that -- i surmise -- would have been impossible if the actor/singer were
>required to start the phrase again from the point that the previous shot
>ended . . . which, in short, means that what we hear on the sound track
>is not an accurate representation of what the undoctored singing was like
>For past messages, visit the Screen-L Archives:

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