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I just got kicked out for using the wrong mics. What did I do wrong?
  • Today, I was getting together my standard gear set. Boom, Senn MKH 416s, Sound Devices recorder, and some other things.

    I was with a high end production studio who'd done quite a few shoots with this set up and said they had flawless results. They kept telling me it was "the industry standard."

    However, upon arriving at the client's studio (A beverage company I will not name), the producer and director asked us what mics we were using. We hadn't started recording yet.

    We already told their office earlier we were bringing MKH 416's since it's an exterior shoot and confirmed this with their secretary. However, when we repeated this to them at the set, THEY FLIPPED OUT.

    They said:

    "Why would you bring that ancient mic to a professional shoot? I had my secretary look up that mic and she told me it was over 40 YEARS OLD. She managed to find a better version of it called the MKH 60 within 5 minutes. WHY WOULDN'T YOU BRING THAT? YOU HAVE THE NERVE TO CALL YOURSELF A PROFESSIONAL STUDIO AND YOU CAN'T EVEN ADAPT TO THE NEW INDUSTRY STANDARD?"

    He kept going on and ON about how bad it was and how we should have known better. He terminated our contract and now my boss is saying we might sue him.

    I don't understand what I did wrong. Is the 416 really that bad and out of date now? We'd never lost a gig because of our equipment, but if the 416s are old news, should we just replace all of ours with MKH 60s?

  • 25 Replies sorted by
  • I think he just did you a big favour, most likely he would have been trouble for you further into the contract/shoot. Do you really want to work for people like that?

  • Very strange way of phrasing the situation, you described later, in the thread title... anyways you did wrong same everybody else, be born. From what you describe, and I am absolutely no connoisseur, the guy is a black hole fucking deep abysm of shitty energy waiting for some fresh light to nurture on. I have a boom pole friend, very funny and skillfull guy - ahá... - and that mic is what he would normally use in the circumstances you describe. So leave the soulless and troubled turds to get rotten and eaten by flies over time or sniffed by layers • peace bro =)

  • rambo is correct, he did you guys a favour. sue him for shits and giggles and move on =) the "secretary" did sign off on it.

    im sure he wouldnt know tit for arse if he was to listen to audio from one or the other.

  • They didn't have the money to pay you. They tried to be clever and obviously succeeded. What a shame. No worries, that mic is still a standard. Move on.

  • DITTO for @Rambo. And @gameb made a very good point.

  • If they think the 416 is out of date then yep, you are better off and I would sue for breach of contract. It's STILL a studio and production standard out here in LA. Two of the last three shoots I was on were using them for exteriors and the 3rd wished they were. So yes, they literally did you a favor. What town is this in?

  • It could be anything really. Not about the mikes at all. They might not have liked the way you walked, the color of your shirt, or they may have recently lost a contract themselves. Some “important” people don’t like being bothered with technical details, so checking and double checking, which is important to us, may be seen as a sign of insecurity to them. And they may HATE insecurity! They may have been testing you. Intimidation may be their only real skill. Money doesn’t make the world go around, psychopaths do, unfortunately! If you Harvey Weinsteined them back, went ballistic and nuked them to ashes psychologically, reminded them they are insignificant nobodies without you, they might even respect that. A fighter just like them. Or they could have killed you!

    Maybe their brother in law was waiting outside to do the job, with a $10 Chinese shotgun and they needed to ditch you pronto! Anywho, it can drive people nuts trying to figure it out, so the best thing maybe is, don’t bother trying to figure it out! Although shrinks do make a good living with this stuff!

    The MK416 is still listed by Sennheiser and is described as “venerable”

    venerable |ˈvenərəbəl, ˈvenrə-| adjective accorded a great deal of respect, esp. because of age, wisdom, or character:

  • Update. Just got off the phone with my boss and they're saying we were trying to rip them off. Since the contract didn't stipulate specifics microphones, they're saying it was our obligation to bring the best and we're at fault. He said he's already got another company lined up and he called me "an idiot" numerous times.

    Boss is talking to a lawyer now. How are they allowed to say that about us? I'm still green to the field but I didn't know this could happen.

    I'm terrified I could lose my job over this because I'm the one who chose the 416s.

  • @acuriousman

    I'll tell you right now you did nothing wrong. The contract doesn't need to state what equipment specifically is being brought unless there is a clause in there that states specific equipment is required to be listed.

    Your company was hired for it's service to create a product using the equipment they saw fit to complete the project the best way they thought.

    If the person who hired you knew what he was talking about he wouldn't have hired a production company to do the shoot for him.

    You're in the clear as far as I know so don't worry brother!

    There is no standard for videographers to always bring THE BEST equipment because they were hired.

    They are being hired to do the project using whatever equipment is going to do the job they were hired to do. If the client isn't happy with the final product, THEN they can choose not to pay for the final product but they still are required to pay whatever deposit was agreed upon.

    Best of luck!

  • And during the soundtrack recording he fired the violinist who had the temerity to show up for the session with an outdated clunker called a Stradivari-something...

  • Dude, chill. If that's their stance you all are good. There's pages and pages of preoffesionals in Hollywood and around the world that still rely on that mic.

    BTW, they CAN say anything they's America. It's just what happens after is what counts :)

    Might be best to just walk away. You all will never work for them again. And again, what city is this in?

  • I would guess you'll be fine. Sounds like guy who flipped out is being erratic. For starters, who asks a secretary to google "best mics" and then trusts her idea over the sound experts they've hired. Secondly, if contract didn't stipulate which mics, that goes in your companies favor as selection would be left to your company...and in no way seems to legally imply/require "the best mic" to be used.

    I think this is just a case of an erratic guy either flipping out as he's under pressure, or as others have said, some kind of oddball way of him trying to get out of the contract he signed with your company. This happens occasionally in all businesses. You've done nothing wrong, and as many with professional experience have said in this thread, that particular mic is a standard used in professional work.

  • Sennheiser still makes those mics to date, you can buy them brand new at Sweetwater for crying out loud. I've been in audio for the last 10 years and that mic setup is worlds more than is necessary to get good location sound. What did he expect, a pair of Neumann U-87's on booms? It sounds to me like you just got spared working for an elitist asshole that can't tell shit from brownies.

  • U-87, are you crazy? Those pre-date Woodstock! Who in their right mind would still use those?

  • So funny topic :-)

    Life is a game, play it. Don't be upset about it.

    If you happen to go to this place next time be sure to check building age, this guys age, their suites age and about 20 other, and tell them it all direct. How dare they can invite you using so outdated stuff ?

  • First of all, if you have not encountered total freaks in the business before, consider yourself lucky. Most ppl are cool to work with, some are totally picky, and some are just impossible. As others have noted, you are better off, way better off, to just walk away from the crazies.

    Having said that, I always buy mics in threes, and I always bring a bag of mics to a gig. There's no one perfect mic, some are good in some locations, some are good in others. The third mic is the matching spare, in case something happens to the main pair, or any pairs of spots.

    Just forget about it--there is no point in pushing it, through a lawyer or otherwise.

  • @vicharris ''BTW, they CAN say anything they's America'' - (Sorry, but I didn't get this one. Last time I heard something like that was from Sarah Palin.) I think @acuriousman was very understandably right to be upset/worried/confused.

  • I think they were looking just for a reason to back away from the deal; maybe from their point of view they got a "better offer" and believe me if it wasn't the Mic it would be something else. It was the best thing that could happen, rather sooner than later. The My Secretary crap was just BS, both idiots work for a Studio an they don't even "know" basic equipment information.

    I knew a professional photographer who has a lot of experience and also a lot of equipment and he takes all kinds of jobs, but he told me that he chooses the equipment based on the salary of the job. He always make the customers sign a letter agreeing to the equipment that he will use before the shoot-out... of course his customers complain a lot because they argue that he has better equipment and that they saw his website, portfolio etc etc and that he's not using it only because he doesn't want to and that it cost him nothing to use it if he already has it =/.

    BTW - I would always choose a guy with a 20, 30, 40yr old microphone who knows every little detail about it and has the best experience with it ,than someone with a High-End Mic $$$$$ just released.

  • I had my secretary look up that mic

    He's probably right: we should probably turn up with kit that's exclusively just been googled by the client's secretary. I propose that the secretary's-googling benchmark should become the hallmark of quality.

  • I would assume it's what @jleo said

    I've seen this game before in my early days, as in actually been on a productions (as a DP or DIT) where they pulled this on someone because they either had someone cheaper, or realized they didn't need the person but didn't release them the night before.

    Once you get to a certain level, you're less likely to witness it because Producers have a list of people they use ritually, and never really go outside of that bubble.

    You're fine, but I could see how it would be a really unsettling experience. If you're new to this, welcome.

  • As mentioned, unless the contract covered specific gear, this is just a power tripper of the worst kind and the contractual obligations have been broken by the client, not the other way around. You are fortunate to have dodged a bullet of having to work with this person, it would have only become more nightmarish as the project went on. I'm sorry you had to deal with that. Your gear is totally fine, better than fine, it's great for most situations. Don't feel bad, this is not your fault, this is a control freak who saw you as a target. It's good your boss is talking to a lawyer, but I would recommend not wasting too much energy on this person - it's likely they welcome confrontation and would love a new nemesis - don't get dragged into their twisted world - just make sure your asses are legally covered and move on to the next project!

  • Don't know about the mic, but I think the phrase "I had my secretary look up that mic" (on Google I presume) says it all ...

  • MKH 416 not good enough for them? maybe they are just no good for you I say! ;) and i do agree that recording a stradivarius with a U-87 is just plain outdated and should be avoided if you work professionally !?! btw the secretary bit of the story seems like a monthy python sketch!!! :)

  • U-87 not my favorite mic for Stradivarius, but it depends on the Strad. Some are brighter than others. But this is not about mics, it is the fact that there are some difficult clients. You can make a good recording with an SM 57.

    No one that I know would argue that the 416 is not a fine mic, it is a fine mic.