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A Recording Day at Downton

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

It was one of the more unusual jobs I have been booked for. The studio needed to record interviews with members of the Downtown team. After the final series the costumes were to go on display across America and a selection of interviews were needed in order to put together a presentation to go with the event.......

.....The only problem here was all contributors had to be recorded on site, in-between takes and "We really need it to sound as good as a studio". A few challenges there, we decided to take a studio mic, digital recorder and back up iPad to record. We connected the iPad to a small lapel mic and used the main mic with the recorder.

Having looked at photos online we came to the conclusion that if we could find a small corner with lots of furnishings or a cupboard then we could build a mini studio out of whatever was around. Liasing with the production crew we were told access would be pretty free and easy, it really was - with a badge on just go where you like, and that they would do everything the could to find the right location. Well that right location was just up the main staircase and on the left !

We were shown to a big, empty rambly room, rundown and very ramshackle not the Downtown you see on the telly. After hunting around we found a walk in cupboard, inside was audio recording gold. Three rugs, five upholstered wedding chairs, a bookcase and a box of deep red velvet curtains. Having politely ask if we may be able to move some items around we set to work. Mic just in front of the full book case so the books would absorb sound. Chairs spread around close to the mic with rugs clumsy strewn over them. On the hunt for a few more bits there was an ironing board, well that was perfect, hang a rug on it and pull it close behind the contributor opposite the bookcase.

We recorded several people from the show. We also needed 40 minutes with the head costume designer. We were told this would be tricky, Dame Maggie Smith was on set this day and on those occasions costume was always flat out - we were told.

In the end all was okay, a lovely generous team allowing us to watch recording from the gallery set up in the main hallway to the house. Friendly people and it really felt like being part of television history - it had already been confirmed it was the last season. Anyway back to the point and what did we end up with? Well after much nervousness our incredible unglamorous studio has yeilded incredible results. A damp, clean studio sound - incredible. The recording from the studio mic was useable and sounded just perfect. Audio was supplied and everybody was happy. All this from the most unglamorous part of Downtown Abbey - up the stairs and just on the left!

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