KLOVER MiK® Parabolic Microphones solve unique interactive theatre challenge Final approved Version 7-7-21 Steven B. Cohen Industry Principal, M&E North America HCL America
When I began work as an audio and film technician in Hollywood 40 years ago, 70mm film was an immersive experience. To make the audio fade in, we needed to manually scrape magnetic track from celluloid film. But over the last 40 years in Hollywood, I transitioned from a technician to a technologist. I supported the digital revolution of the movie industry and helped introduce many new technologies and workflows, such as non-linear picture and sound editing, digital dailies, digital projection and satellite and terrestrial content distribution.
Last year, I had the pleasure of working with MetaMedia, a company that is working to complete the movie industry’s digital revolution through the world’s first global, cloud-based digital network for cinemas. MetaMedia launched in March 2020 just as the COVID-19 pandemic started to spread around the world. The virus forced MetaMedia to pivot to helping clients in the movie industry adapt to social distancing and other preventive actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19. One case involved helping colleges and universities address social- and physical-distancing issues, as many students attending remote classes suffered from bandwidth problems or in-home distractions. In this instance, MetaMedia worked with the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) to convert a Cinemark Theater in Pflugerville, Texas into an innovative classroom environment. With this project, I worked with Shai Priyadarshi, MetaMedia’s chief technology officer (CTO), to research and identify the technology required to facilitate communication between 100 students socially distanced in movie theater seats, a teacher at their home or classroom and guests from another location.
Converting the cinema to a classroom required navigating several challenges. The cinema was 150 feet long, 60 feet wide and had around 200 seats in a stadium seating configuration. The university needed a modular audio system that could be installed, changed, or removed for each class – as Cinemark did not want the equipment to affect customary movie showings. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, students could not physically pass a hand-held microphone around and the university needed another way to allow the students to ask questions and interact with teachers and guests.
For one media communications class, UT Austin Professor Mark Bunting wanted to virtually host a leading executive from a prominent Madison Avenue advertising agency. To overcome this challenge, we installed two KLOVER MiK 16 Parabolic microphone kits, which picked up sound throughout the auditorium with tremendous precision and clarity.
As a former sound effects recording specialist, I often worked with various shotgun microphones to capture natural sounds for movies and television. These microphones typically have a very tight response sensitivity and reasonable reach. For the media communications class at UT Austin, adequate coverage of the auditorium required the placement of many such microphones with advanced sound processing to balance the mics and allow any student to be heard from their seat.
Therefore, a search and review was made of a variety of parabolic microphone systems that would allow fewer microphones and easier sound mixing while still being able to pick-up any student’s voice from their seat – maintaining COVID-19 prevention protocols required by UT and Cinemark.
I was thoroughly impressed with the Klover microphone kits. Used often in sports, KLOVER MiKs are durable enough to travel from game to game where they are often set up and packed every week. Paul Terpstra, founder of Klover Products, discussed the challenges with our team and recommended the KLOVER MiK 16 with a Countryman B4 phantom-powered lavaliere microphone (Klover KMEQ Equalized Mic). Mounting was not a problem since Klover has a 90-degree hard mount and experience with the Manfrotto Swivel Umbrella Adapter. This combination enabled us to position the mic on top of a nine-foot light stand on each side of the screen aimed at the center of the room and cover 50 percent of the cinema with a single mic. Therefore, with just 2 of Klover’s 16-inch parabolic kits, we were able to cover the entire auditorium.
To complete the full job, we had to direct the audio signal from the front of the cinema to the projection booth, but this was not easy. This involved installing cables that could be changed for each class. As a solution, we used the Comica CVM-WM-100 diversity system of dual UHF transmitters for each mic with spaced frequencies, connecting the audio transmitters to the mics and receivers in the projection booth.
As a result of this successful setup, we will continue to use the KLOVER MiK Parabolic microphone kits in remote classroom systems and future interactive cinema deployments for years to come.
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