Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Recorded with DPA Microphones


Company's tiny lavalier microphones allowed production sound mixer Simon Hayes to capture original dialogue at the point of shooting

Last Updated: October 21, 2014 11:28 pm GMT
(London, UK--October 21, 2014) Oscar-winning production sound mixer Simon Hayes relied on DPA Microphones to record Marvel’s film adaptation of Guardians of the Galaxy, directed by James Gunn. Hayes, who first used DPA lavalier microphones as production sound mixer for the film adaptation of MAMMA MIA! in 2008, has turned to DPA’s d:screet™ 4061 and 4071 Omnidirectional Miniature Microphones on every film he’s worked on since then, including Les Miserables and upcoming releases Tarzan, directed by David Yates and Kingsman: The Secret Service, directed by Matthew Vaughan.

Hayes chose DPA’s d:screet 4061 and 4071 mics for Guardians of the Galaxy so that he could capture original dialogue, right at the point of shooting. Given that Director James Gunn’s vision for the film was to preserve the authenticity and emotion of the actors’ performances, he felt this was the best way to serve the film and its creative team.

“It was clear from the first meeting with James Gunn that he wanted to capture original performances, which of course isn’t always easy when you’re talking about large budget special effects and action-driven visual effects type movies,” says Hayes. “We knew that we were going to be shooting three or four cameras at all times so the DPA mics took precedence over the booms on a lot of scenes. This meant that in the final mix at least 75 percent of the dialogue that made its way into the movie was recorded on DPA’s d:screet 4061s and 4071s.”

In addition, leading man Chris Pratt was fitted with the DPA d:screet 4061. “We felt that the 4061 added a little something extra in the bass region for his voice, which was quite exciting,” continues Hayes. “All of the other characters used 4071s on their chest rigs and if we were rigging microphones in their hair or in their helmets, we used 4061s to increase the bass.”

As the title suggests, the sets for Guardians of the Galaxy were not small. Set designer Charlie Woods had sets housed in old Ministry of Defence buildings to allow for enough space. This provided Hayes with a few hurdles to overcome, sound-wise.

“That kind of environment isn’t as easy to record sound in as a sound stage, so I had a lot of background noise and a lot of reverb to contend with,” he says. “Again, the DPA mics excelled at rejecting that reverb and just capturing dry, up-front vocals for me.”

One of the things that really sets Guardians of the Galaxy apart from its kin in the superhero film genre is its esoteric 70's soundtrack, which was integral to the way the sound was mixed.

“Mixed in with the huge space sound-effects that the sound design team built for us, we really wanted close-up dry dialogue so that we could push the music and the effects harder, and that’s what the DPA mics helped us to do,” adds Hayes, who collaborated closely with Alexandra Byrne (costume designer) and Dan Grace (costume supervisor) to design the mic placements used within the actors’ costumes. “We had some really interesting rigs. For instance, Lee Pace, who plays Ronan, was wearing a helmet for his whole performance and we actually placed two 4061 mics into the helmet because the microphones were creating a tiny bulge. We wanted to have the bulge uniform, so we put one above each eyebrow, which not only gave a consistent look to the helmet, but it also gave us the opportunity to have two tracks running on Pace’s dialogue. This placement allowed more creativity in the way that he was playing Ronan and I was able to assure him that because we had the two 4061 mics on him, he could literally go from a whisper to a shout without us having any trouble whatsoever.”

Dave Bautiste, whose character Drax the Destroyer goes through the whole film topless, presented another challenge altogether, which meant finding an ingenious solution. “We collaborated with the Special Makeup FX department and were able to have a d:screet 4071 basically rigged into the special makeup effects, which was applied to his upper body so it became part of a scar in the middle of his solar plexus,” says Hayes. “This meant that even though we had a topless man through the whole movie, in every single scene we were able to have a perfectly placed d:screet 4071. DPA mics are so reliable that you can have it buried under makeup and you know that it’s going to work all day, you're not going to have any problems.”

With a run of over 18 films on which he’s used DPA microphones, Hayes concludes, “In the marketplace today there aren't any lavalier mics that sound as natural and as transparent as DPA’s. I feel that when I'm using a DPA microphone, I’m hearing actors through their performance rather than the microphone factoring it.”

After the box-office success of Guardians of the Galaxy, a sequel has already been announced, due for release in 2017.


DPA Microphones is the leading Danish Professional Audio manufacturer of high-quality condenser microphone solutions for professional applications. DPA’s ultimate goal is to always provide its customers with the absolute finest possible microphone solutions for all its markets, which include live sound, installation, recording, theatre and broadcast. When it comes to the design process, DPA takes no shortcuts. Nor does the company compromise on its manufacturing process, which is done at the DPA factory in Denmark. As a result, DPA’s products are globally praised for their exceptional clarity and transparency, unparalleled specifications, supreme reliability and, above all, pure, uncolored and undistorted sound.

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