Production mixer Carpenter builds World Series, regular season surround sound

At the core of the 5.1 surround-sound production of the 2008 World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays on FOX was an array of Sennheiser MKH 8000 series, MKH 416 shotgun and MKE 2 lavalier microphones positioned around the stadiums, embedded in the bases and the outfield wall, and mounted on roving RF cameras.

Production mixer Joseph Carpenter used five of the new MKH 8000 series microphones throughout the National League game schedule this season as well as during the World Series. Three were used in an omni pattern in parabolic microphones around home plate for pickup of the crack of the bat and glove pops; two were used in centerfield for the main surround channels, Carpenter said.

For the front channels of the 5.1 soundfield, Carpenter typically used eight Sennheiser MKH 416 shotgun mics. Carpenter would position a main pair straight out of the broadcast booth, positioned on either side, he said. In some stadiums, he would use them as an XY (coincident) pair; in others, he would use them as a wide pattern AB (spaced stereo) pair, he said. Additionally, Carpenter positioned the MKH 416s on the high first and high third base-side camera positions.

“The ones in the booth are a little closer in proximity to the crowd, so I try and aim the high first and high third at the maximum distance across the stadium for a distance perspective,” he said. Another pair of MKH 416s is pointed across the upper deck.

Depending upon a variety of other considerations, such as the stadium, the amount of noise, its source and the type of PA system in use, Carpenter positions another pair at low first and third base side, near the foul poles pointing more into the crowd, he said.

The frequency response of the MKH 8000 allows Carpenter to treat the mics, which are positioned exactly 180 degrees opposite each other, very differently according to his needs.

All of the MKH 8000s are hardwired to the broadcast production truck, as are the MKH 416s, with the exception of those mounted on a couple of roaming RF cameras. "We also have wireless microphones in the bases, which are MKE 2 lavaliers on SK 250 transmitters. We use SK 250s in the outfield wall, as well," Carpenter said.

Carpenter relies on newer technology to switch the 5.1 surround soundfield perspective with the cameras automatically. "Now the technology has brought us to a point where camera tallies can trigger faders on a console. I figure, why not use it? I try and keep evolving and experimenting," he said.

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