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M-S mic arrangement

How beneficial is the M-S mic arrangement to the Film makers as it is to Musicians? If it is beneficial then what are the post production necessities and methods to mix the recorded audio in the best manner possible? When to use cardioid and when to use omni?

Also tell me which is the best software available when it comes to Audio Editing and which combination of video and audio editing software would yield the best results?
Unless you are recording stereo sound beds (ambient tracks), then Mid-Side is not going to be of much use in film making. Dialog is your first and most important project in production sound, and it is a mono source and should thus be recorded that way. Recording it in stereo is just going to give you terrible headaches in post.

The general "beginner's rule" as far as mic patterns is that shotguns are used outdoors and hypercardioids indoors. This is a starter rule, and is intended to keep you from hosing yourself. Shotguns can be used indoors, but it takes the right environment and, more importantly, the proper placement and handling. In other words, until you know the rule and how/why it works, you really shouldn't try to break it.

Omni is going to be of little use as well, unless it's a lav. Omnis pick up way too much, and won't allow you to "zero in" on the source. With a lavaliere, a cardioid pattern is actually pretty useless and an omnidirectional is going to give you what you're looking for.

As for software... well, do you know what you're doing? ProTools is the main post-production standard in the US and many other countries. If you have an NLE that can export OMF or AAF, such as AVID or Premiere Pro or FCP 7 (FCP X can't without a 3rd-party app that's marginal at best), then you can easily move your project to ProTools for further editing and mixing. But audio post is not to be entered into lightly... if you don't know what you're doing and you start tossing all sorts of plug-ins at your audio, you'll do much more harm than good. Plus, if you don't have a treated listening space and a good set of monitors, you're going to have a hard time getting an accurate mix.

If you don't know audio post, it's best to find some one who does and who has the tools necessary to get the job done.

Alcove Audio

Business Member
M/S recording has always been hotly debated by the sound-for-picture community for quite a while. As far as I can tell, never having dealt with M/S myself, is that although it sounds great the technical issues can be a problem. The biggest problem is that most playback systems are not properly set up properly so the listener does not appreciate the M/S experience, and, in fact, poor system set-up may lead to phase cancellation and/or combing issues. M/S does sound fantastic in headphones, though.

You may want to check out the following articles:



There has also been a lot of interesting discussion about M/S recording on the GearSlutz Post Production forum and on Jeff Wexlers web site.
What I've got right now is Audio Technical AT2020 that I borrowed from my brother, he was using it to for vocals. Sounds good but problem is that this is the only mic that I have used and I don't know if there are any better mics of the same range as AT2020. The boom mics I see around are long and 'pipe' shaped, but this one looks more like a traditional microphone. Shall I just go with it, or look for something even better?
I've heard of pro tools, but haven' t used it. Are there any good tutorials on the web which helps me get started?

Alcove Audio

Business Member
Okay, there is no such thing as a "Boom Mic." Almost any mic can be hung on the end of a boom-pole. There are a number of mics that are preferred for production sound, such as shotgun (lobar) mics and hypercardioids (hypers). Professional boom-ops use primarily shotguns, but less experienced folks should use a hyper indoors to somewhat mitigate the hollow, echoey roomy sound so prevalent in indie productions. Lavalieres (lavs) are another subset of microphones used for production sound, usually in conjunction with wireless systems.

The AT2020 is much too cumbersome and much too sensitive to even the mildest of wind to be useful as a production sound mic, it is also very difficult to aim properly. A boom-op "swings" the mic on the end of the boom-pole from actor to actor as they say their lines. The diaphragm should be pointed at the notch at the base of the throat/top of the breast-bone. Even these small motions will create a "breeze" that will be picked up by an LDC (Large Diaphragm Condenser) mic like the AT2020, and the diaphragm of an LDC, because of the weight of the mic, could never be properly aimed. It could possibly be used - but I most definitely do not suggest it - as a plant mic.

Pro Tools is a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) that was originally designed for audio post production purposes. In the last decade or so PT has also become very popular with music folks as well. Full blown PT systems are very "deep" and extremely expensive. For audio post PT hardware currently comes in four flavors - SE starts at about $150, LE starts at about $1,000, PT Native starts at about $4,000, and PT HD core systems start at about $6,000 and can easily go up to five figures. This does not include control surfaces. PT software can also be used with other interfaces, although not quite as seamlessly as with AVID/PT hardware/interfaces.

Other DAWs (Nuendo, Logic, Cubase, Digital Performer, to name a few) can be used for audio post, and although they do not have the extreme depth and versatility of Pro Tools, will work just fine for indie productions.
I used to use MS recording quite a bit as it has a number of potential advantages, especially in the days of stereo TV with mono compatibility requirements. But you have to be very careful with it and really know what you are doing because there are a number of potential pitfalls depending on how and where your films are going to be distributed. My advice is to use more straight forward stereo mic'ing techniques (XY or AB pairs) for recording sound FX/ambiances, etc. As AcousticAl states, you don't want to be using any stereo mic'ing technique to record dialogue though.

Pro Tools is a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) that was originally designed for audio post production purposes. In the last decade or so PT has also become very popular with music folks as well.

A bit off topic but actually this isn't quite correct. ProTools started as professional audio recording/editing/mixing software at a time when all the other computer based programs were MIDI sequencers without audio (or very poor audio) capabilities. ProTools was mainly used for designing SFX and by the (recorded) music industry, it wasn't until a decade or so ago that it really started dominating audio post as a whole. At roughly the same time, they introduced cheap versions of ProTools and targeted the rapidly growing pro-sumer music market and PT became a mass market DAW rather than just being limited to the more exclusive music studios... Just a "by the way"!


Alcove Audio

Business Member
Sure. It was originally designed to edit sounds for E-Mu samplers (remember the ads? "Play A Turkey!"). It was actually launched off of the Deck platform if I remember correctly. All I meant was that when PT became commercially available it was primarily used by the audio post crowd long before music engineers started using it; digital was just too cold and clinical, especially for rock music. What I always found fascinating was how, with the evolution of the "digital age," tube technology re-emerged in an effort to "warm" everything up.
Maybe it was a bit different in the USA compared to the UK. The first time I started to see ProTools being used was in the big music studios in London in the mid 90's. They were still recording on 2" tape or Sony DASH machines, bouncing to ProTools, just to edit and then bouncing back again to mix. At the time, the post crowd were using AKAI S1100s, Tascam DA88s, timecoded DATs, film dubbers and AMS Audiofile, mixing on Harrisons, SSLs and AMS DFCs. It wasn't until around 2000 that ProTools really started taking off with the post crowd in the UK.