It may not be the coolest bit of Rock and Roll or Hip Hop, but the work of Simon Hayes and the team who worked on Les Miserables deserves applauding. The traditional way of recording musicals for film is simply to track the entire work in a studio and then have the cast sing to playback. There are, of course, good reasons for that - you get to control the recording of the voices, choose mics, pre-amps and a huge desk, like any other top album.
So when a Director wants to record it all live, then you have a new set of challenges. How do you get playback to the actors without that spilling into their mics? How do you get a great sounding voice with a limited microphone choice and indeed a limited microphone position? How do you keep it all in time?
The video above outlines some of the background to this challenge.
You can read more about how Simon Hayes and the team took on the challenge and about the microphones used here.
Love or hate musicals, Les Miserables is a technical achievement that the whole audio production community should applaud - granted the results may not be as perfect as the team may have wanted, but given the challenges, the team deserve an Oscar. The critics will say “I would have done it better” but the answer to that is a simple one “yes, but you didn’t”.