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DPA Captures Pre-Recorded Materials For DWTS

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Capturing pre-recorded materials for a fast-paced reality production, like the 20th anniversary season of Dancing With the Stars (DWTS), is never short of challenging.

When Production Sound Mixer/Supervisor Daniel McCoy, CAS, owner of California-based audio production company ToneMesa, Inc., was given the task, he turned to DPA Microphones. Calling on 28 Heavy Duty d:screet 4060 Omnidirectional Miniature Microphones, one of the first applications in the U.S., and his tried and trusted d:dicate 4017B Shotgun Microphones, McCoy utilized the mics to record the audio seamlessly amidst the contestants' frenetic pace during rehearsals, a critical component of the show's broadcast, which ended its season on 20 May.

Based on the British BBC series Strictly Come Dancing, DWTS is a popular competition-style show that pairs celebrities with professional ballroom dancers. Each week, the show challenges the celebrities to learn various dances, such as the fox trot, samba and waltz, in six-day’s time. The contestants then perform these dances live before a panel of judges. Tom Bergeron and former contestant Erin Andrews host, while Carrie Ann Inoba, Len Goodman, Julianne Hough and Bruno Tonioli were this season’s judges.

Due to the physicality of the routines, whenever the celebrities and professional dancers were rehearsing off the lot, the audio equipment would frequently be handled by both the cast members and audio crew. "Throughout the entire season, which began in February, we had zero 'loss and damage' for any of the DPA 4060s," said McCoy. "Not a single record of any damage at all."

For previous seasons, McCoy was provided with a competitor microphone for the production and can recall having mic heads pop off and connectors break, which ultimately led to audio cable failure. Often, the crew was left with up to 40 percent of the mics being destroyed.

McCoy also says that during this season period he noticed much better fidelity to his ear while using the mics. "I thought that DWTS was a really good demonstration of the DPA d:screet 4060’s ability and consistency," he explained. "There are often things that you can’t control. A lot of the time, I couldn’t personally be present for every contestant rehearsal, so I had producers and talent mic'ing themselves. That’s always a red flag and prediction for disaster. In this case, with the steel housing jacket of the DPA 4060s, the production was flawless."

Another reason McCoy chose the 4060s was that the output impedance of the mics has a higher sensitivity.

In addition to the 28 d:screet 4060s, which were supplied direct from DPA’s Denmark HQ through collaboration with Location Sound Corporation, McCoy also used his DPA 4017B Shotgun Microphones with CMB amplifiers to capture the "behind-the-scenes" action and interviews. All materials were recorded using Sound Devices’ 633 and 688 Production Sound Mixers.
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