Quote Tom Ballinger:
ok so it was even more rushed than i thought it would be because they had allot to rehearse so i just had to hit record and hope for a good full run through of a song.
Location recording ad hoc events usually is more rushed than ideal. It's a natural part of the challenge that encourages an efficient minimalist approach focusing on what you really need to achieve a useable result, rather than what would be nice to have. You really do have to make sure you get it right there and then, and not hope you an fix it in the mix. A learning experience, but that's what you were there for.
Lots of paper sounds as they had no music stands and didn't know the words. People kept talking at the end not letting the reverb tail finish so iv had to cut it short.
These kinds of things can completely ruin otherwise great recordings, as you've discovered. It can happen when recording live concerts with the LSO and symphony chrous just as easily as an amateur choir in a village church. The solution is about taking active control over your recording, rather than being entirely passive.
It's well worth taking a couple of minutes to talk to the choir and choirmaster just before you are going to record, and really emphasise the importance of staying quiet or ten seconds (or whatever is necessary) at the end, and of turning pages as quietly as possible. Usually, if you make them aware of the issues and how they will spoil the recording, and you ask nicely, they will so what you ask.
In the end i went for the soundfield as an M/S with two flanking Omnis and an ORFT (SE2s) well back past the critical distance. Sounds rather distant compared to other choral/organ recording iv heard but for the purpose of university i think it came out alright.
I found the organ sounded quite acceptable with a nice acoustic and perspective, but the choir is, as you say, too distant and low level, with inprecise diction. The main mic needed to be closer. However, this would also have revealed the inadequacies and poor internal balance of the choir... I've heard worse being broadcast before now, and you've clearly analysed the strengths and weaknesses yourself already, which is a good thing. Knowing where you went wrong is essential for doing it better next time, and if you already knew how to do it perfectly you wouldn't need to be on the course!
As far as the abrupt end is concerned, again, sometimes you are forced into having to do something like this. As EW says, the neatest way of coming up with a presentable product is to try to match the reverb character with an artificial reverb, and add that to the end.
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound