Recording in shared spaces

school hall

When you are setting out to record on location, one of the prime considerations is the venue which you are planning to use for your recording session.   When we record at schools there are a variety of locations which are generally considered.

Recording at School

For the vast majority of Primary School recordings that we engage in, the recording venue will generally be the school hall.  There are a number of good reasons for this, not least the amount of available space.

Space

When it comes to space there are two things to consider. Firstly we need a bit of room to put up a number of microphones on quite tall stands.  Even if we put the microphones up right at the front of your school hall the front row of the class or group being recorded wil be at least 10 feet back from the end wall.

As well as this we need to find somewhere to put up our engineering table. We bring our own table which is approximately 4 feet by 2 feet, on which we place the computers and other hardware for actually capturing the recording.

Most importantly of course we need space for your pupils. Even if we are only recording a number of small groups (10-20 children at a time) it’s still best to have lots of space.  Obviously if we are recording the entire school together then often the school hall is the only space which will be suitable for this. 

Dealing with others

If you are recording in a school hall, then it is worth giving consideration to other users of the space.  One of the most common issues arises in primary schools who use the hall as a dining room at lunch time.  This generally means that the kitchen is located next to the hall usually through a metal shutter.  For the purpose of serving school lunches this is of course eminently sensible.  When you are using the hall as a recording studio there are a few things to consider.

Kitchen Staff

If you plan to use your school hall as a recording space and it is next to the school kitchens it is worth letting the kitchen staff know.  People talking and radios playing are the biggest issue for us as we cannot remove that from the recording.   Basically if you can hear it, so can the microphones!

Passing traffic

Often School halls have more than one exit and people use the hall as a means of getting from one side of the school to the other.  Our job on location is to be as least disruptive to your school day as possible. However people opening and closing doors and walking through the middle of the recording space will be picked up on the recording so if there is any way of asking your pupils and staff to find another route whilst we are recording this will make the final product even better.

Recording on location

Whilst it is generally a lot easier to record at school, sometimes the logistics and challenges of using a space in school outweigh the challenge of moving pupils around.  Generally speaking it is only smaller groups or choirs that we have recorded elsewhere.

If you aren’t recording at school then the most common venues to use are local churches or local church halls.   If we are recording several classes then it is generally most sensible to use somewhere within walking distance.  We have done this a few times and have always been impressed with the military precision involved in moving the children around!

If you are just recording your school choir (usually this will be a secondary school) and there is nowhere suitable in school then it’s a bit easier to use an external location such as a church as you will only have one group to transport.  We recently recorded the Girls motet choir of Tonbridge Grammar School on location in a church some 10 miles from the school.  The girls were bought in by coach and the church proved to be an ideal location for their recording.  There was also the fact that some of their pieces had organ accompaniment!

Summary

Regardless of the location you choose for your recording, it is always worth giving consideration to other users of the space, or people who will be in the immediate vicinity.  Even if you are using an external venue do make sure other people are not likely to walk in during your recording.   It has been known that choirs have hired a church hall only to find there is a dance class going on in the adjacent room and all we could hear was the noise of people jumping up and down and the beat of their music!


To find out more about our recording services for Schools and Choirs, please give us a call on 01225 302143 or click here to email us

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