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November 10, 2005

Manhattan Transfer Miami’s Coconut Grove headquarters was left in the dark after the storm, so senior audio engineer Eric Williamson and audio engineer Juan Diegeuz went to the Ritz Carlton, where director Jim Sheridan was staying, to record some 40 lines of dialogue for use in the film.

According to Williamson, “Juan and I simply packed everything we needed, or thought we would need, into his SUV – headphones, spare headphones, mic stands, DATs, cables, pre-amps, everything. And because 50 Cent only had so much time, the clock was really ticking. So, we raced over to the Ritz Carlton and unloaded all the gear.”

The team set up in Sheridan's hotel room and had 50 Cent sit on a couch. Its high back and the room’s heavy drapery and plush bed helped deaden the room’s acoustics. Prior to 50 arriving, the air conditioning was set on high so that it could be turned off during the recording session, helping to keep noise to a minimum.

“Of course, we were not in the best controlled environment and we had no idea what ambient sound we would be exposed to, so I decided to dual-mic 50 Cent, because we wanted the intimate voiceover sound quality of the Neumann U87, but the rejection quality of the Sennheiser MKH 60 shotgun,” Williamson recalls. “Basically, the U87 had the sound we were looking for, but not the pickup pattern: any unwanted noises would be picked up as well. The MKH 60's timbre wasn't ideal, but its hyper-cardoid pickup pattern rejects pretty much any sound except what it's pointed at. So, I decided to run both mics simultaneously.”

The team also used a Tube-Tech MP-1 A pre-amplifier to further accentuate the voiceover quality they were striving for. Two DAT machines were used for recording - one as the master and the other to run a simultaneous backup copy.

“All in all,” says Williamson, “I think we got pretty lucky.”

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