What We Take To Interview Shure Artists
I love doing artist interviews. It’s not just sitting down and picking the brains of our endorsers that I find engaging. In a way, it’s a bit like doing live sound. We Artist Relations guys often function as interviewer, camera operator, and audio engineer when we go out and shoot interviews. There is a rush in getting everything set up quickly and making sure it all looks and sounds decent for those ten to fifteen minutes you’re hosting artists. It has been a learning process for me – much of what I’ve come to know has been through trial and error. Like live sound we have our good and bad days. Fortunately we’ve gotten some new production tools that have made things easy.
Shure has added quite a few broadcast production tools in the last two years and it’s been fun for me to get to know them in this capacity. They’ve sure made my job easier. Here’s a rundown on the gear we take to the gigs.
VP89M medium shotgun
RPM89S short shotgun cartridge
WL51B or MX150 lavalier mic
My first go-to for a mic is the VP89M. I just love it. I’ll engage the low-frequency roll-off because we’re working with human voices. The mic sits in the A89M-PG pistol grip mount, made by Rycote. In the event we find ourselves in a small space where I’m very near multiple subjects I will swap out the medium shotgun tube for the short one. This gives a wider pickup pattern. Lavalier mics come in handy for very noisy environments. Some on our team prefer them over the shotgun mic. I’ll use them if I have to, but I’ve had interviews where some unpredictable element has caused me headaches. People move lapels, scratch necks, shake their heads vigorously, wear noisy jewelry…trying to plan for those unknowns takes time I’d rather spend getting to know the interviewee, conversing, finding a good starting point for the interview. Of course, the most dead-simple thing to do is put the UR3 plug-on transmitter right in to the back of a mic, and for that having a dynamic mic is handy. However, it is really only for single subject interviews and, like the lavalier, I’m dependent on the subject’s behavior.
UR3 plug-on transmitter
UR5 portable diversity receiver
Most of the time I’m using the UR3 and the UR5 together. The UR3 fits right at the bottom of the A89M-PG pistol grip holding the VP89M shotgun mic. The UR5 has a shoe mount and fits our HD DV video camera and our photographer’s DSLR for when he’s shooting video. The best practice is to turn on the UR3 with the RF off. We do an on-site scan with the UR5 receiver to find an open frequency, then sync the transmitter and turn the transmitter’s RF on. This is to avoid stepping on anything that the show might be using at the moment. In the event we prefer to use lavalier mics, we’ll have a bodypack transmitter in the kit.
SE earphones (interviewer’s preference)
If I’m flying solo I’ll just do my monitoring from the camera with my SE425-CL earphones. I use those most of the time. We also have a set of SE315-K earphones in the kit in the event that we left our personal earphones at home. Earphones are not for everybody, so if we’re going to have Paul Natkin shoot the interviews on his DSLR we know to bring some headphones. Those are usually SRH240A or SRH440. Those take up much more space in an audio kit than earphones though.
The goal is to be set up and ready to go inside of five minutes if need-be. The options available in our audio kit have been honed over time, though I expect that new situations will cause further changes over time. Right now the main concerns are finding some place with decent lighting, enough space to get a tripod set up, and an area where the artist will be comfortable. That’s very important. If you’re going to go for great lighting but there is no place to sit or elbow room to move it’s likely that information sought will be in shorter supply. I try to remain empathetic and listen for a natural point to start and end the interview. Having the tools to execute the technical side of the interview without too much effort allow for the human side to show itself. Hopefully that’s reflected in the finished interview.