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Production Sound

Production Sound Lee Strosnider Career Retrospective Post Production Hardware Sounding Out Vietnam by Robert Kennedy

Lee Strosnider

Career Retrospective

Post Production

Hardware

Lee Strosnider Career Retrospective Post Production Hardware Sounding Out Vietnam by Robert Kennedy Software Tech Tips

Sounding Out Vietnam

by Robert Kennedy

Production Hardware Sounding Out Vietnam by Robert Kennedy Software Tech Tips Interviews News Sound Devices CL8

Software

Tech Tips

Interviews

News

Sound Devices CL8

Portable Audio Mixer

Tips Interviews News Sound Devices CL8 Portable Audio Mixer Solice Audio Mixer The New 8 Channel

Solice Audio Mixer

The New 8 Channel Mixer from PSC

THE

VOLUME 20 | ISSUE 3 | 2008 www.coffeysound.com

COFFEY AUDIO FILES

| ISSUE 3 | 2008 www.coffeysound.com COFFEY AUDIO FILES Michael Stock Sound Mixer for Dr. Phil

Michael Stock

Sound Mixer for Dr. Phil & NFL on FOX

Michael Stock Sound Mixer for Dr. Phil & NFL on FOX ALSO IN THIS ISSUE: Eli

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE:

Mixer for Dr. Phil & NFL on FOX ALSO IN THIS ISSUE: Eli Stone Nicholas Allen,

Eli Stone

Nicholas Allen, talks about his ap- proach to record- ing the popular ABC show.

about his ap- proach to record- ing the popular ABC show. Will Hansen discusses his travels

Will Hansen

discusses his travels to Poland while recording audio.

discusses his travels to Poland while recording audio. Blow Out Jim Tanenbaum revisits the 1981 soundman

Blow Out

Jim Tanenbaum revisits the 1981 soundman thriller directed by Brian De Palma

the 1981 soundman thriller directed by Brian De Palma Body of Lies Richard Van Dyke takes

Body of Lies

Richard Van Dyke takes us behind the scenes of director Ridley Scott’s new film.

by Brian De Palma Body of Lies Richard Van Dyke takes us behind the scenes of
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The Coffey Audio Files

2008

Volume 20, Issue 3

President:

John Coffey, C.A.S.

Editor in Chief:

Steven Wolstrup

Advertising Inquiries:

Contact Steven Wolstrup at (323) 876-7525 or via email at steven@coffeysound.com

Publishing:

The Coffey Audio Files is published with postage paid in the State of California. This publication may not be quoted, reproduced or reprinted in any form without the express written consent of Coffey Sound, LLC. Printed in the USA. All images are copyright of their respective owners.

Coffey Audio Files Online:

Visit us online at coffeysound.com and download the free PDF copy of this and other issues of “The Coffey Au- dio Files” magazine. This PDF may be freely distributed, but may not be quoted, reproduced or reprinted in any form without the express written consent of Coffey Sound, LLC.

Interested in Contributing? Please contact us via email at steven@coffeysound.com or by telephone at (323) 876-7525.

Table of Contents

IN THIS ISSUE

21

The Sound of Eli Stone by Nicholas Allen C.A.S.

03

Coffey’s Brew

A Message from the President.

25

Blow Out

Jim Tanenbaum

04

06

11

15

20th Anniversary Party

Photos from our 20 year Anniversary party held at John Coffey’s home.

31

Body of Lies Richard Van Dyke

Michael Stock:

Sound Mixer for NFL on FOX & Dr. Phil Cover Story!

Will Hansen

On Location in Poland

Lee Strosnider

Career Retrospective

37

Sounding Out Vietnam Robert Kennedy

Tech Zone:

41

PSC Solice Audio Mixer The New 8 Channel Mixer from PSC!

41 PSC Solice Audio Mixer The New 8 Channel Mixer from PSC! 43 Product Highlight 43
41 PSC Solice Audio Mixer The New 8 Channel Mixer from PSC! 43 Product Highlight 43
41 PSC Solice Audio Mixer The New 8 Channel Mixer from PSC! 43 Product Highlight 43
41 PSC Solice Audio Mixer The New 8 Channel Mixer from PSC! 43 Product Highlight 43
41 PSC Solice Audio Mixer The New 8 Channel Mixer from PSC! 43 Product Highlight 43

43

Product Highlight

43

Schoeps CMD 2u Digital Mic

43

Sennheiser MKE-1 Lavalier

45

Audio Glossary (M-N)

Sennheiser MKE-1 Lavalier 45 Audio Glossary (M-N) Product Highlight: 44 Sound Devices CL-8 Controller for 788T

Product Highlight:

44

Sound Devices CL-8 Controller for 788T

Product Highlight: 44 Sound Devices CL-8 Controller for 788T THE COFFEY AUDIO FILES Phone: (323) 876-7525

THE COFFEY AUDIO FILES

Phone: (323) 876-7525 | Fax: (323) 876-4775 3325 Cahuenga Blvd W | Los Angeles, CA 90068

THE COFFEY AUDIO FILES

Phone: (323) 876-7525 | Fax: (323) 876-4775

COFFEY’S BREW: A Letter From The President

COFFEY’S BREW: A Letter From The President 1988 20 YEARS AGO! That’s when I first filled

1988 20 YEARS AGO! That’s when I first filled out

that government form to begin doing real business as Coffey Sound. Here’s my story:

There’s not enough space here to talk about the years before that, when I was staying up half the night to load gear into lockers I built along the side of my house for the next day’s driver’s pick-ups. I wish I could say that we were an overnight success, but I’d be lying. So cut to 20+ years later, how did we ever get to here (and how did I get this old)? Well, the first reason we made it was that I had another job for 18 of those last 20 years. Otherwise, I would have gone broke many times while expanding and trying to keep the doors open. In fact, buying the properties to place the business in turned out to be way more profitable than the business itself. It all started with me renting a little extra gear to my sister and some other mixer friends on the side. I wasn’t making much money at it and definitely had to keep mixing to pay my house pay- ment (something that never changed). Then, in 1992, I was mixing a 15 week mini-series in Kansas City called Burden of Proof, when someone from my local audio store called me and told me I was cut off, that my account was closed. After begging him to reconsider, to no avail, I put down the phone in shock. How was I going to get what I needed to do my current job in the Midwest? I was panicking. Remember, this was distant location before cell phones and the in- ternet. It was almost impossible to call from your hotel room during working hours. My very fine boom operator back then, Beau Baker, calmed me down and I survived that mini-series by having my sister go in there to buy what I needed sent to me….until she was cut off too, near the end of my show. So, I then decided to open my own store. It all happened by accident. I really did it because I felt forced into it.

I looked over at my local 3rd person, Buck Robinson, and asked him if he wanted to move to California. He was fresh out of Nebraska University and planned to marry his girlfriend soon. So,

life wrecker that I was, I told Buck that if he drove out to California,

I would give him a job running Coffey Sound and he could sleep on

the couch (which he did for one year) and bring his girl out later. To show you how little I knew, I thought I would just call all the manufacturers and they would be overjoyed to open me as an-

other dealer in this territory. Was I ever wrong! In fact you could say that I was completely naïve about the audio sales business in general.

I used the products as a sound mixer and knew all the reps personal-

ly, but they were not going to open me until hell froze over. So now

I had opened a store with nothing to sell. It went on like this until I

got an incredible break when the main local audio dealer in LA had some legal problems. It was like a miracle happened, and overnight I had the manufacturers lined up at my door to open me up. Of course we all know that those issues at my competitor soon disappeared, but by then, I finally had the dealerships I needed. Sounds good, right? Wrong. My own problems were about to begin. Now I needed to buy enough inventory to carry minimums of shelved stock. That would take a small fortune. All my money was tied up in rent and paying my one employee, so I couldn’t afford to carry much inven- tory. It was a huge cash flow problem for any small business owner. So for the next ten years, I plodded along, sinking every nickel I made as a production mixer back into the business. Several people offered to partner with me along the way, but I did one thing right, I said no. I knew that partners rarely make it because there is no pie to split up during the long growth period. It takes years of starving, so most partners wind up hating each other in the end. I answered to

no one and took no money out of the business for the first ten years. That allowed me to slowly get to the point where I could afford to hire enough employees to service our customers properly. After about fifteen years in business, I finally had enough em-

ployees to open a separate sales, accounting, inventory, rental and repair departments. Still, the remaining problem was always there. We couldn’t make enough money to afford carrying sufficient inventory, until I finally sold the business a couple years ago. That’s when our real growth began to happen fast. The new owners infused cash into the business. We could

now say “yes” almost every time anyone needed anything.

afford to pay and keep better qualified employees and compete heads up with every audio company in the country. Since then, I now, I spend 99% of my time as the President of Coffey Sound. It’s a title I enjoy much more than ‘owner’. I sleep better and I work on sets only a few days a year now, just to pick up my minimum union hours (I changed my classifica- tion to third person). So 20 years have passed and I reminisce: Who will fill Andy Cooper’s void? We’ll always miss our good industry friends like Mike Denecke, Neal Stone, David Ronne and Keith Wester. Boy, have we ever seen a lot of changes in our years? Just look at how we record sound now. In the previous 20 years, we barely saw any change as we cruised blissfully through the Nagra years. Recording two tracks of stereo on tape was once considered groundbreaking. When we added time code…oh my, wasn’t that a big deal? Then, in the last few years, technological change kicked into high gear. We went from analog tape recorders to DAT tape recorders to tape-less digital recorders in a very short time. Now, even the most expen- sive recorders are really the best deals in years considering that back in the ‘90s, a new time-code Nagra IV STC sold for around $16,000. However, the rental rates we received were much better then than they are today. (The poor studios can’t afford to pay those kinds of rental rates to mixers anymore because they need 15 producers on every show.) So my good old Nagra is now a boat anchor, ah, I mean collector’s item. Let me state here and now that Coffey Sound would never have been able to succeed without the trusted assistance of Buck Robinson and Fabi Allen. Fabiola and I have now been teaming together for over eleven years. She handles the day to day chaos of the office like a maestro work- ing an orchestra, which allows me to schmooze with you. Fabi is very special to me and I respect her immensely. I also want to thank my wife Nina for putting up with a workaholic. More thanks to Fuzzy Anderson, Lisa Barcela, Noise Barnaclo, Sean Buckley, Juan Cisneros, Cosette Copperfield, Bradley Craig, Gary Day, Steve Eagle, Sherrie Esposito, Mike Evans, Vinnie Fatato, David Fisk, Forrest Forbes, Sherrie Gal, Dan Garza, Bryan Golder, Jeny Gonza- lez, Jeff Haley, John Harnois, Jon Hicks, Chuck Homyak, Jaime Ignacio, Brian James, Robert Kennedy, Carla Kent, Mary Dixie Kirkpatrick, Mar- garite Maldonado, Matt McGowan, Jeff Melendez, Pablo Moleno, Kristie Moran, Richard Parissi, Jennifer Paro, Jeff Patrick, Thomas Popp, Chris Silverman, Matt Toungate, Brian Wittle, Alan Wolstrup, Steve Wolstrup and all the many other fine current and ex-employees of Coffey Sound. I don’t compete with mixers for jobs anymore, but I still enjoy visiting you on sets and working a few hours as a third person because I like to stay in touch and pursue my new goal… to become the Kevin Bacon of Sound. I also want you to know that I’ve always strived for the excellence that I knew could be achieved. It just took 20 years to get to here and I promise to keep improving Coffey Sound every day for you as we head into the future. Most of all, I want to thank you and all the many others who passed through the doors of Coffey Sound over the last 20 years.

We also could

Sincerely, John Coffey, President of Coffey Sound

COFFEY SOUND’S 20th ANNIVERSARY! 1988-2008 The Coffey Audio Files | Issue 03 2008 4
COFFEY SOUND’S 20th ANNIVERSARY! 1988-2008 The Coffey Audio Files | Issue 03 2008 4
COFFEY SOUND’S 20th ANNIVERSARY! 1988-2008 The Coffey Audio Files | Issue 03 2008 4
COFFEY SOUND’S 20th ANNIVERSARY! 1988-2008 The Coffey Audio Files | Issue 03 2008 4
COFFEY SOUND’S 20th ANNIVERSARY! 1988-2008 The Coffey Audio Files | Issue 03 2008 4
COFFEY SOUND’S 20th ANNIVERSARY! 1988-2008
COFFEY SOUND’S 20th ANNIVERSARY! 1988-2008
COFFEY SOUND’S 20th ANNIVERSARY! 1988-2008 The Coffey Audio Files | Issue 03 2008 4
COFFEY SOUND’S 20th ANNIVERSARY! 1988-2008 The Coffey Audio Files | Issue 03 2008 4

COVER STORY

Michael Stock

Live Sound Mixer for NFL on FOX & The Dr. Phil Show

By Robert Kennedy

John Coffey and I recently visited Michael Stock, live sound mixer extraordinaire at work. Most of his schedule is taken up on the sets of Dr. Phil, The Doctors and Fox Sports. Michael is the A mixer on both shows and he gave us a great tour of the sets and the tools of his trade.

Mike usually mixes from over 50 microphone and Line signals, at any one time together, in order to craft his final mix. Dr. Phil wears a wireless Sennheiser SK5012 with MKE2 capsule. His wife Robin, wears the same transmitter but with a Voice Technologies lavalier. Two wireless booms constantly roam the audience to pick up

comments from audience members. Up to sixteen guest members wear Sennheiser wireless and a dozen microphones hang over their heads for audience reaction and applause. There are four satellite feeds and five telephone lines using Innkeeper PBX Systems. Mike mixes all of these down to a stereo mix. The isos and video are recorded to their server; 16 stereo channels of audio accompany each video feed. Everyone on the production crew treats the show as a live broadcast, though it goes to tape. There are some instant pick-ups at the end of show, then Dr. Phil is finished for the day once the primary taping is over. So the crew has to be sure to get it right the first time. Mike’s objective is to

COVER STORY

make sure the line cut (done live) will go to air with little or no tweaks. The mix is accomplished using a Studer Vista

8 board. The show previously used Euphonix but Mike

sought additonal flexibility in this Studer board. He now has 40 assignable knobs and a touch screen for each chan- nel. To the left of the board they recently replaced their

“Instant Replay” 360 Systems with an Enco which Mike uses for musical cueing. He operates both units with natural ease. He used to monitor his mix via two Mackie HR824’s and two Yamaha NS-10M studio monitors, but upgraded

this year to a JBL Professional LSR 6328 fed by AES.

was amazing to watch Mike have the ability to do his job while conversing with co-workers under pressure as a team. He can even expand that to visitors like us. With a gigan- tic mix panel, that’s layers deep with signal, and multiple monitors and IFBs barraging the senses, Mike doesn’t miss a beat. His fingers seem to magically find their way to the correct faders as he tells us about what’s going on around him. He will occasionally pause conversation to play a musical cue while performing multiple fades. He also has attention left to watch the show and consider its subject matter. The day we were with him Dr. Phil was covering deadly antibiotic bacterial infec-

It

tions contracted during hospital stays. Mike said the show is truly like a therapy session. Sometimes they go long because the doctor still has work to do. A guest may spend an hour-and-a-half on the couch sharing private details and un-containable emotion. Mike expressed immense respect for the work done on Dr. Phil’s couch. Mike’s technical mastery seems essential to his abil- ity to mix without letting his blood pressure rise. Spending nearly every day in front of one panel or another, the mix suite is more like an extension of his being. Digital mix panels must have been invented for Mike. He never has to roll his chair down a long row to tweak a setting; he simply calls it up on his Studer. He has to lean occasionally, but for the most part his arms and hands do all the work. Located in a state of the art building on the FOX lot in West Los Angeles, the Built Ford Tough FOX NFL FOOTBALL SUNDAY studio is a bit of a frenzy. Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, Jimmy Johnson and Michael Strahan are the current studio analysts alongside host Curt Menefee. Each of the talent wear two Sennheiser MKE2 lavaliers and two Sennheiser 5000 series transmitters to ensure they can always be heard if one unit fails. The tal- ent never seems to stop talking about football. The only

COVER STORY

COVER STORY John Coffey discusses mixing for Fox NFL Football Sunday with Michael Stock. way you

John Coffey discusses mixing for Fox NFL Football Sunday with Michael Stock.

way you can tell whether they are on the air (besides the On-Air sign) is by their posture. There’s the same banter seen live across the US taking place in the buildings, green room or the rooftop, where people may occasionally puff a cigar. This isn’t surprising given the number of games be- ing shown simultaneously on large flat-panels and embed- ded in the talent’s shared desk. The atmosphere is often

his myriad of flat-panels and between his speakers, but the best view is through a wall of tinted glass that reveals the room’s complexity and sophistication worthy of NASA. Mike’s mixing panel is once again the Studer Vista 8. It’s silver and blue design looks worthy of alien technology. It’s connected to a rack-mounted proprietary computer via fiber optics inputs and outputs are on panels

“Mike usually mixes from over 50 microphone and line signals, at any one time together, in order to craft his final mix.

interrupted by the AD announcing that they will be live and starting the countdown. The writers do their best to finish explaining what they’ve written on the sheet of paper they leave with the talent. The crew is professionally calm and the atmosphere on a Sunday afternoon is relaxed, profes- sional and fun. The control room makes movie sets of newsrooms look slow moving. There are countless rows of flat-panel monitors and running timecode. The room is dark and silhouettes of people wearing IFB headsets are very busy. Mike has his own window into the control room beneath

also connected to rack mounts. Outdated equipment is nowhere to be seen. The engineers at Fox Sports have managed to rid themselves of tape this year which tripled the number of playback sources available. This technol- ogy allows them to call up stored footage more quickly and en mass. Luckily, Mike doesn’t have to deal with triple the playback sources as the system exceeds their requirements, at least for now. It’s not the only data-based video/audio system on hand either. There is also a system affectionately referred to as Elvis. The best explanation for Elvis is that it is basically a professional Tivo™. Fol-

COVER STORY

John Coffey on the set of “The Best Damn Sports Show Period.”

lowing the wires would likely lead to a server farm holding incredible amounts of football games and highlights ready at a moments notice to be called up and played for the world.

Mike has screens labeled LZR-1 through LZR-8 which show all of the games they are following that day. The digital board is now fully utilized instead of connected to analog, It’s a true AES facility providing a stereo mix- down.

Richard Becker is the sound effects wizard mem- ber of the Fox Sports Net audio team. He has a well-

mem- ber of the Fox Sports Net audio team. He has a well- Fox Sports Sound

Fox Sports Sound Effects: Richard Becker.

adorned mini-studio in the back of the mix suite on the Fox Lot. With a computer, a Yamaha DM1000, a midi control- ler (standard piano keyboard) and a terabyte of categorized sound effects, Richard works in a unique world of his own creation. His product is a stereo sound effects mix to ac- company replays, which he creates in real-time as it goes to broadcast. Richard literally plays the football game in sync on his piano-style keyboard which has game-specific sound effects, recorded and pre-mapped before the live broadcast. Richard starts playing along with an instant replay

Richard starts playing along with an instant replay The Studer Vista 8 9 The Coffey Audio

The Studer Vista 8

COVER STORY

“Rich mashes a series of keys that trigger various sounds heard when 2 tons (literally) of human meat covered in pads collide.”

by holding a key to introduce a crowd loop that sets the mood, perhaps “anticipation.” He has several loops to keep things fresh and represent the reactions of the crowd. When the football players spring from the scrim- mage line, Rich mashes a series of keys that trigger various sounds heard when 2 tons (literally) of human meat covered in pads collide. Crunch, thud, growl, yelling, helmet hits and countless other sounds result from Rich’s key-mash and the result is lush. The sounds of running and catch- ing the ball and a particularly punishing 3-on-1 tackle follow closely in time.

Just listen to the next big game and you may even hear a subtle “ping” when the football hits the goalpost. I would swear I heard the ball hit that goal post, even though I know it was really Richard Becker at his keyboard playing the game we think we hear! Robert Uhland 2nd Mixer FOX Sports Audio Team:

Robert controls all of the music playback and all “real time” video playback. The show could not be done without his contribution. This is truly a 3 man team.

Will Hansen on Location in Poland

Earlier this summer I found myself in an interview with the owners of Kid Film, a production company based in Warsaw, Poland. Originally I went into the interview thinking that it was with a director that I had worked with a few years prior. Much to my surprise it was two com- pletely different people who had gotten in contact with me through him. Thanks Lukas Karwowski for the referral. Check out his movie called “Mala Wieka Milosc”, a nice romantic comedy. The next thing you know, we’ve negoti- ated a contract for me, Will Hansen and my boomy Mike Luce to come out to Poland for a summer adventure. Hell yeah!

The film takes place earlier in the century with three young children, living by themselves, in Russia, un- der a train station. Then one day they decide that it’s time to run away to Poland for a better life. Slowly they make their way to the promised land and have many experiences. Eventually they run into a policeman who holds them as refugees and hopes that they get amnesty. Unfortunately they are so young that they don’t know to ask for it and are sent back to Russia. A wonderfully shot movie from my perspective, and it went a little something like this.

I had to figure out just what I wanted to bring with me. At first I wanted to go small and all high tech; A mini

Cooper with a 788t and the WB VR Field Unit with FM transmitters. But I couldn’t find anywhere to rent, as that’s what I do these days, but that story is for a whole other

article. Short story

After pondering all the variables I decided to take a famil-

iar approach: Cooper 106, Deva 5.8, 4 411a’s in a rack unit and a Comtek BST-25. I powered the Cooper and the Deva via two 32 amp hour batteries courtesy of Panavision Pol- ska. Thanks Panavision for that, they worked perfectly. A BDS power system powered the rack and the Comtek base station. I run with Sanken COS-11s,CS3Es, Schoeps and Nuemann KMR 82i’s(which held the brunt of this exterior film)

Then it was on to sending the equipment over which I had never done, so I called around to find out what to do. I came up with using a carnet(a government bond against the value of the equipment) and a shipping com- pany with the power of attorney to handle the equipment. Thanks to Scott Stolz for pointing me to Ron Judkins who pointed me to Ivan Sharrock. Thanks to those guys, I then

my equipment got stolen. So I rent.

knew exactly what to do. After Ivan told me what’s up with the wireless equipment over the pond I decided that I needed to talk to a Lectro rep for more tips. I then found how to list my carnet. No problems in or out. Next we traveled to our location in the North- eastern end of Poland next to the Russian border, a land called Burniszki. There we shot most of the film. It was all beautiful countryside with loads of lakes and hills and

I had just about convinced myself that there wasn’t that much loss. Yeah right! The range of everything transmitted was ridiculous. I think I changed the IFB frequency once for fun because I wasn’t using them. That’s my PL line for the wireless boom. The boys were easy to wire since we established a wiring routine that to them became SOP. A funny side note; when I was in the interview I asked if the script was in English. They said yes and it made more

We jammed the camera straight off of the Deva at every battery change and used no slate

trees. It was quite the backdrop for Dorota Kedzierzawska (director) and Arthur Reinhart (DP) to make their movie. We shot the film on the Red camera (which is awesome by the way), running at 25 frames. We jammed the cam- era straight off of the Deva at every battery change and used no slate. I know, no slate….because the children in the film were not actors and it was thought that the slate would have served as a distraction to their pureness. I ran at 25fps-48k-24bit Poly-FAT32 and burned all the info to two external drives. I had decided to wire everyone all the time, so I was getting about 7 to 10GB a day for 43 days. That was way way more than I ever ended up with before. Once we started filming I found everything to go quite smoothly from my end. It was so quiet between the planes, tractors, horses, cows, pigs, trains, cars, construc- tion (power saws), phones, chatter, motorcycles, and helicopters, that I went with the boom on a wire. It had been about 2 years since I had done that and you know,

had been about 2 years since I had done that and you know, Utility Man Rafal,

Utility Man Rafal, Boom Op Mike Luce and Mixer Will Hanson.

sense to me that they would want to bring me all the way out to Poland. Turns out that, like a lot of things over the summer, something got lost in translation and the script was in Russian and Polish (they would get me an English version). Cool thing about that is, not being able to com- prehend what I was hearing, I found myself not distracted at all by the dialogue. For the first time I feel like my ears tuned to a completely different place. With the quietness of the locations and the script in another language, I noticed myself concentrating big time on the background noise and mic placement. I realized what type of movie I was involved with one day when we were shooting by a lake and we spent a great deal of time placing flowers in the foreground for composition. When I would look at the monitor from my cart, I constantly found myself thinking how good the lighting looked. And for one of the first times I didn’t feel like the red-headed sound step child on set. If Mike

feel like the red-headed sound step child on set. If Mike Will Hanson and his cart

Will Hanson and his cart overlooking a beautiful Polish landscape.

Mike Luce and Will Hanson. ever ran into any issues Arthur would always say “Well

Mike Luce and Will Hanson.

ever ran into any issues Arthur would always say “Well we can change the shot”! This of course never happened because Mike just changed his position, but the gesture reflected everyone’s approach to caring about anything sound related on set. I was given all kinds of freedom to do things that I had never really done before. Many times we would go out before or after work and record all kinds of wild tracks. And on set, if I called for wild lines, we would actually do them. Once, when we were out recording wild tracks, we were down by a stream trying to get the sound of the bushes being pushed aside to peer through. As Mike was doing his Foley artistry he got a little too up close and personal with the electric fence and got shocked. It was sooo funny. All was quiet, with the stream slowly trick- ling and a little bush noise then all of a sudden “AHHH- HHH!!!!”. I hadn’t laughed so hard in a long time. It was even funnier than the time someone on a different set cut the cheese during room tone. I think right around that time I had two of the best days ever on set. We were filming right next to this huge beauti- ful lake and so at lunch we would eat as fast as possible, so that when we were done we could all go out to the lake and go swimming. For two days I was working in my

swimsuit waiting for lunch to come around. It was so pleas- ant. It’s definitely not everyday that you get to do things like this. What a wonderful experience. Thanks to everyone on the crew for taking such good care of us. I miss you already. Next we moved to a place called Bialystock for a few weeks. We shot a lot of the forest footage there. By this time we were all tight and things were going very well. I got to spend one of my days off there goofing around with the boys by the pool and tennis courts. Some of my fondest memories of my time there involved the boys. They loved us and we loved them. The day by the pool, we were play fighting with Petia (the youngest). And we taught him the old karate chop and he loved it. In fact so much that, a few days later there was a scene where he was watching his brothers fight. And in this moment he was emulating what they were doing in a comical matter and he busted out the old karate chop action. Ohh so funny, and Dorota loved it! Shortly thereafter we moved to a town called Ciechocinek. It was a place where people over the age of 50 go to have a vacation so they can go to spas and relax. Everything there would shut down at 10pm, including the clubs, so imagine putting a film crew in this kind of environment. They didn’t know what to do with us. Here I began to realize that things were coming to an end, so I was really trying to get the most out of my days. That and my 30th birthday was approaching fast! I found that Rafal,

my 30th birthday was approaching fast! I found that Rafal, Mike Luce ankle deep in a

Mike Luce ankle deep in a Polish stream.

our utility man, could fix just about anything. I took to calling him the Mad Scientist. He was great. Luckily not much went wrong with the equipment out there. Smooth sailing, just how I like it. Then the day of my birthday arrived. Man the big 30. I was happy to say goodbye to my twenties in a different country. I didn’t even miss

my friends and family

the crew making me feel like they were my replacement friends and family. We took over one of the local parks in this retirement community and jammed. It was awe- some. If you ever get a chance to drink vodka all night on your birthday with a bunch of Poles I would highly recommend doing it. Check out http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=jKLflianpMM if you would like to see footage of the crew singing Happy Birthday to me. Just a few weeks after my birthday I found myself doing inventory and packing the gear. Saying goodbye is never easy and I would certainly jump at the opportunity to come back out to the EU to film. It was an amazing experi- ence that changed my life. It’s funny how serendipitous things are at times.

much.

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Career Retrospective

Lee Strosnider

Since I can first remember, I have wanted to work in motion pictures. I was born on a farm in Indiana during the depression. I went to a “little red schoolhouse” with 8 grades in that room. My father ran a small country store on my grandfather’s farm. We were poor but we did not go hungry thanks to the farm. When I was about 10 my father

lost his store and my baby sister died before she was a year old. My father had a nervous breakdown and my mother who had retired when I was born returned to teaching to make ends meet. I was a happy child and was not old enough to realize what my parents were going through. I accepted the fact that there were things I couldn’t have be- cause all my friends were in the same situation. I had more than some who had to come to school in raged clothes and sometimes without shoes. The depression was ending and my father was re- covering. One of the few luxuries we had was going to the movies. Not often, but enough to reinforce my desire to be a part of them. For a poor farm boy in the depression, it was a far cry to think of going to California and becoming

part of the movie business.

By the time I was out of high

school the depression had ended, my father was working and they could afford to send me to college. I spent 2 years at Indiana State University in Terre Haute Indiana studying theatre and radio. I did a lot of stage work during this time. Terre Haute had 8 active stages and I worked them all. I learned a great deal which I could later apply to motion picture work. I came to California in 1951 to study film at UCLA. My father paid my $50 a semester tuition and I earned a little money taking actor photographs and doing some commercial photography. I had learned photography while in high school. I worked at the Post Office on my first Christmas vacation and earned enough money to buy a professional camera. I also became photographer for the theatre dept at UCLA, photographing all their plays. I worked on some little theatre stage shows in Hollywood. With my training and experience in Terre Haute, I knew my way around a stage. I could do lighting, sound, and stagecraft. Two of my friends at UCLA were Carol Burnett and James Dean. Carol lived just a couple blocks from me and was as poor as I and Jimmy was little better.

Through some mutual friends I met Ruth Roberts who was a producer on the Loretta Young television show. She gave me my first professional job doing routine pol- ishing and reading scripts for the show. That summer in Calif. I worked on my first film. It was an educational film made by a teacher and some students from UCLA. I met Austin McKinney on that show. He was a cameraman and later also became a sound mixer. We later worked together quit at bit and have been life long friends. In the summer of 1954, along with some friends from school, I shot a short dramatic film. I photographed it in southern California and got some impressive photog- raphy. The film was never finished but I used the footage to get my next job. This involved making promotional films for a company in Atlanta Georgia. I traveled all over the country and made industrial and promotional films. I learned the basics of film making. I wrote, directed, photographed and organized the films with one assistant. It taught me a lot about organization. I worked there for about 3 years. I made $150 a week from which I also had to pay my expenses. I returned to Hollywood in 1956 just as low low budget independent films were getting started. 1956 to 57 was the worst period of my life. I had a serious operation with a long recovery. My father died and I was barely able to make my rent of $75 a month. I was making a little money editing. I was good at laying up A and B rolls in

16 mm, so the main money I made during this period was from that. My still photography business was very lean. My first theatrical film was “The Beast of Yucca Flats” in 1958. I photographed much of it and was the only technical person on it. It has something of a cult reputation as being the worst film of all time, a dubious distinction. It was my first opportunity to shoot 35mm. followed this with “The Sky Divers” and several others of the same ilk. I returned to Atlanta to do a couple more films there. One day in 1962 a group of people came to ask me to record sound on their picture. They had a camera- man, a newcomer named Vilmos Zsigmond, who became a good friend. Also involved was another cameraman Laslo Kovaks. I had no film sound experience, but had worked in radio in Ind. and knew the basic principles. The picture was “The Incredibly Strange Creatures who Stopped Liv- ing and Became Mixed Up Zombies”, followed By “Thrill Killers” for the same group. I recorded the sound on both. I followed up with “Spider Baby.” Word was getting around that I was a non union sound man and calls started coming in. Independent pictures were getting better, we were learning our craft. I liked recording sound because it was possible to get better sound than it was to get good photography with the condi- tions under which we had to work. In 1965, beach pictures were all the rage and we

I

get good photography with the condi- tions under which we had to work. In 1965, beach

“Since I can first remember, I have wanted to work in motion pictures.”

all did our share. The most notable I did was “Beach Ball” which had the distinction of being the first picture for new groups called The Supremes, The Righteous Brothers and The Four Seasons. Ed Burns and Chris Noel were the stars.

In 1965 I also worked on several of the Disney short animal and nature films which were so popular at the time. I was hired to do the sound on a feature length film called “Charley the Lonesome Cougar”. It was shot in the Logging country of Idaho. They had very little sound and asked me to double on 3rd camera. Two of the Disney nature cameramen were on the film. It was quite an expe- rience, as we were working with loggers in quite rugged country and a quite temperamental cougar. The people in the area were quite friendly and I enjoyed the experience though it was one of my most physically difficult shoots. The film was quite successful and played Gruman’s Chi- nese.

Producing my own pictures was a goal and I started buying equipment to that end. I had some editing equipment and bought a 35 Arri. Friends started renting my film gear. This escalated until I rented a second apart- ment for the equipment and I hired my friends to help out when I was working on a film. I added a transfer service and soon had 4 people working full time and was renting and selling equipment to many of young independent film makers. As soon as I was supporting myself with film work I stopped doing commercial still photography and did photography for pleasure. I took 2 seminars with Ansel Adams, which greatly improved my work. I have ben- efited from his influence to this day. A Disney animator named T. Hee, head of the mo- tion picture department at Choinnard Art Institute, (later changed to Cal Arts) asked me to teach a production class

changed to Cal Arts) asked me to teach a production class Lee Strosnider and his cart

Lee Strosnider and his cart in extreme weather. Left: Lee Strosnider & Bob Hope

cart in extreme weather. Left: Lee Strosnider & Bob Hope John Coffey, Lee Strosnider and Bill

John Coffey, Lee Strosnider and Bill Gocke on a M.O.W.

on Saturdays, when I was not working. This was a satisfy- ing experience and soon the word got around and UCLA asked me to teach a night class there. This was followed later by film classes at USC, Art Center, and City College. One of my interesting jobs during this period was working for Timothy Carey. Tim was a notorious charac- ter actor who was one of the most colorful people I have met. He had a fierce personality and subsequent problems on many of his films. He was a good actor and a very interesting person. He produced a film called “The Worlds Greatest Sinner” which was one of the most outrageous films ever made. I did some editing work on the film. I liked Tim a lot. He has fabulous stories. Stanley Kubrick liked him and put him in several of his films, notably “Paths of Glory” and “The Killing”. Work was very lean in the independent field in 1962 and I took a job making films for a company called Librascope. They made computer systems for the military, primarily the Navy. I worked there for 3 years and was able to get ahead financially. In 1968 my mother passed away. It was a heavy loss. She had been spending the winters with me . We were closer than we had been for some years. I inherited the farm. I still have it today and enjoy spending a couple months a year there. I have friends from school who still live in the area and we get together often. While I was

working, it was good to get back there for a rest. It is a totally different life from the one I live here. “It brings out the farm in the boy”. After Leaving Librascope the independent busi- ness was growing rapidly. I did four independents with

Laslo Kovaks and one with Vilmos Zsigmond.

ing a lot of commercials, documentaries and educationals between features. The introduction of the Eclair NPR opened up the

I was do-

The Coffey Audio Files | Issue 03 2008

18

Cinema Vierte field and we were suddenly doing a lot of walking around with hand

Cinema Vierte field and we were suddenly doing a lot of walking around with hand held equipment. I worked for Charles Googenheim on political films for Pat Brown, Ronald Reagan, Bobby Kennedy, George McGovern, Nor- ton Simon, Alan Cranston and the like. It was an education on its own. I also worked with Haskall Wexler quite a bit during this time My rental business expanded rapidly and in 1971 I moved into a business location on La Brea Ave. I made a lot of friends who later went on to bigger things. In 1969 A friend of mine, Dick Compton, along with some of his friends were producing a low budget film and I was doing the sound transfer. When the first day’s dailies arrived there was no sync pulse and the dialog was distorted. I called Dick and told him about the problem. Very shortly, the mixer arrived. I had seen him around but didn’t know him. His name was Jim Tanenbaum. Jim, one of the producers, had been doing special effects and was not familiar with sound. I told him the problems. He had rented the gear from another company and they had told him how to set it up. They gave him the wrong informa- tion on the sync pulse and the wrong power supply for the mikes. If you know Jim you know that he immediately un- derstood the problem. I fixed him up with what he needed

and there were no further problems. This was the start of a lifelong relationship. Jim has been a great help to me over the years and I value him as one of my closest friends. Having worked on so many independents, I decided I wanted to produce one. With my college buddy Austin McKinney who was making a name as cameraman, we decided to make a film. We had both worked for Roger Corman on many of his films. He financed our stock car racing picture called “Pit Stop”. We had Ellen Bursten, Richard Davelos, and Brian Donlevy as the stars. It was quite an experience and we learned a lot. It was a decent picture but I realized that I did not want to be a producer any more. Roger was starting an ambitious project called “Battle Beyond the Stars”. Austin went to work for him

doing special

effects. He worked with James Cameron

on that and several other films for Corman. Austin later worked with Cameron on 4 films, ending with “The Termi- nator”.

Since my work in the South, I have been interest- ed in Steamboats. In 1972 I made a series of promotional

films for the Delta Queen, a steamboat, on the Mississippi.

I spent a lot of time on the boat traveling on the Missis-

sippi over 3 years. It was a great experience. My business was growing faster than I could keep up with it. In 1977 we moved to larger facilities on Syca- more Ave. In 1979 I was taken into the union and things opened up for me. I worked at Disney Paramount, Fox and Universal but it was at the The Burbank Studios that I found a home. I worked for Warners, and Columbia for a number of years. I worked with some fine directors at the time, Sam Peckinpaw, Andy McLaglin, Don Siegel, Delbert Mann, Steven Spielberg, Joseph Von Sternberg and the like. I also had the pleasure of working with some fine actors during this time. Notable were Jimmy Stewart, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Jayne Mansfield, Henry Fonda, Jack Lemon, Ron Howard, George Burns, Joan Baez, and Lucile Ball. In 1978, there was a big change at TBS and we

regulars were out looking for independents again, this time

it was union pictures though, and things were much better.

I spent the next 10 years traveling all over the country on an assortment of films good and bad. One of the biggest

I worked on was a Mini Series for Paramount called Top

Of The Hill. It was shot in Northern Canada in the Winter and was very cold. It had Wayne Rogers, Elke Summer, Mel Ferer, Sonny Bono and Adrienne Barbeau. It was quite a challenge working well below zero. Austin was working with Jim Cameron so I didn’t have a chance to work with him very often. In 1980, I had become so busy with film work that I sold most of my film rental company. I kept some of the equipment, which I rented out of my house, mainly to old customers who were my friends. I still have some equipment which I rent to

were my friends. I still have some equipment which I rent to A young Lee Strosnider

A young Lee Strosnider behind the camera

Lee Strosnider working with Bing Crosby. friends. In that year, I recorded sound on a

Lee Strosnider working with Bing Crosby.

friends.

In that year, I recorded sound on a film called “To Find My Son”. I had not met my third man before. His name was John Coffey. The boom man was Bill Gocke. John and I got along very well. He did an excellent job. We became friends, which has lasted through the years. John started renting walkie talkies and I occasionally sub-rented from him. He started adding other equipment and developed his rental company. He sub-rented from me quite a bit. He originally operated from his home but soon got a building on Cahuenga. I was not far from him and he was still sub renting from me. When John finally got his dealerships, I started buying gear and sub-renting from

him too. Soon we had people going back and forth with equipment. I am very happy for his success and consider him one of my close friends. Things seem to have raced along until I retired in

1989. IMDB lists 70 features and TV shows along with a

variety of other things. There are many others which are not listed. I had a long a varied career and enjoyed every minute of it. I didn’t realize at the time how much fun I was having. I miss working very much but wouldn’t be able to handle it physically now. I have been fortunate to have had many treasured friendships over the years. I am happy so many still exist. I wish I could start and do it all over again.

I am happy so many still exist. I wish I could start and do it all

The Sound of Eli Stone

by Nicholas Allen C.A.S.

Ronald Wright, Nicholas Allen and Charles Homyak

I spent many years booming feature films and subsequently transitioned to production mixing in network television. I now find myself in a happy place where they both collide, the one-hour episodic “Eli Stone”. “Eli Stone” is created and produced by Greg Berlanti (“Brothers and Sisters”, “Everwood”) and Marc Guggenheim (“Jack and Bobby”, “Law & Order”, “The Practice”) for ABC/Disney Television. It stars Jonny Lee Miller as Eli Stone, Victor Garber as Jordan Wethersby, Natasha Henstridge as Taylor Wethersby, Loretta Devine as Patti, Sam Jaeger as Matt Dowd, James Saito as Dr. Chen, Matt Letscher as Nathan Stone, Julie Gonzalo as Maggie Dekker and Jason George as Keith Bennett. The second season premiers on the 14th of October, Tuesday night at 10:00pm on ABC. Eli Stone is a San Francisco attorney from a suc- cessful law firm who finds spirituality through a series of hallucinations and events, seemingly brought on by a brain aneurism. Eli transitions from the church of capitalism to defending what is morally right. Eli challenges corporate

impropriety by following his visions, interpreted by Dr. Chen as coming from a higher power. These visions

include, but are not limited to, famous pop stars singing, elaborate musical dance numbers, blazing battlefields, and flying dragons. For a TV show, “Eli Stone” captures what I’ve

seen take months to achieve on a feature.

day on Eli Stone can involve seven or eight pages of dialogue, a production dance number, and two company moves all of which can easily take a week on a feature. Amid all of this we capture intelligible, balanced, and solid dialogue. All of the on and off camera dialogue is recorded at all times, nothing is missed and the technol- ogy allows us to maximize the set-up and move time. I am fortunate to have a solid crew, Ronald Wright (microphone boom operator) and Charles Ho- myak (Utility/2nd boom), who can deliver what is needed for this challenging project. They are invaluable assets to the department. They deal with wide and tight, loud and soft, differing personalities and unruly locations

A typical

with our main goal always primary: acquiring story driv- ing sound while integrating smoothly with the other crafts and artists. At the sound cart I capture (in a two track-Nagra sense) all inputs matrixed to two tracks. No track is pri- mary, handles for dialogue editing determine A or B track placement (and isn’t always perfect). Dailies are printed sum mono for DVD output. The show edits on Avid HD, which has four tracks available. Transfer separates the ‘A’ and ‘B’ tracks and when there is music playback it is sent line level to the 744T and printed to the ‘C’ and ‘D’ tracks. The music is played back from an M-Box Pro with Pro- Tools 7.4LE. The Pro-Tools is externally clocked from the Apogee/744T via SPDIF chain and stays in perfect frame sync. No more time-code needed for playback and it is sample accurate. The two track is recorded on a Sound Devices 744T which sent AES from an Apogee Rosetta 200 (the A to D is done in the Apogee). Individual pre-fader out isolated tracks are recorded into Gallery Metacorder. Time code is sent from the 744T to Metacorder via an M-Audio transit USB interface. The separate time code interface is needed to preserve the incoming code if we need to speed vary the master tracks (pull up/pull down). I have run Metacorder on a MAC mini PPC for the last four years through an RME Fireface 400 without a glitch. Also, a

years through an RME Fireface 400 without a glitch. Also, a Nicholas Allen’s Sound Cart On

Nicholas Allen’s Sound Cart

400 without a glitch. Also, a Nicholas Allen’s Sound Cart On Location in Pasadena, CA two-track

On Location in Pasadena, CA

two-track stream via SPDF (from the Rosetta 200) is im- bedded as tracks one and two in the multitrack. The SPDF

provides digital frame reference to the RME and the entire chain is word clocked together. Although Optical media and hard drives can record virtually unlimited durations, tight scheduling and adherence to the old Fostex DV-40 specs has us breaking

a minimum of three times daily to ensure on time delivery.

I am getting 12 tracks of real time mirror out of the MAC

mini’s on board DVD-RAM drive so all recorded media is an eject button away allowing film breaks and reloads to be virtually instant. Another Intel MAC Mini is networked to the first and shares the main drive (Raided Terabyte) Drive that the Metacorder writes to. This second computer runs Pro-Tools for playback and analysis, Signalscope for real time digital metering (such as simulating LM-100 specs) and Windows XP (in Parallels) for BWF Widget Pro. This MAC also handles all extra network delivery duties. This year I am trying to advance the “Digital Sound Cart” thing by connecting to a server space dedicat- ed for Production Sound needs on the Disney lot network. Bob Kellogg at Disney Sound editorial is setting this up. It is the first step to eventually eliminating all media and de- livery costs for production sound. I record as many of the show’s audio promos and voice-overs as possible and the

Boom Op Ronald Wright picture editors will call for specific pulls from the multi- tracks.

Boom Op Ronald Wright

picture editors will call for specific pulls from the multi- tracks. Since I keep the whole season on my drives I can upload any of these right to the server. The cost savings are already apparent in that all of the extra tracks go up to the server now and never see a transfer house or a drop of gas to deliver the disks. Editorial can deliver set playback tracks to me via the server and any quality control issues that arise I can reprint right to the server and an editor can load quickly it into the Avid or Pro-Tools. Soon, I hope to deliver it all electronically. The only obstacle I see is the Telecine/Tranfer companies.

The only obstacle I see is the Telecine/Tranfer companies. Utility/2nd Boom Charles Homyak Until they get

Utility/2nd Boom Charles Homyak

Until they get on board, find a way to charge for server space or are eliminated from the chain all together, production sound will be stuck handing legacy format, limited track count disks that another human must deal with (and presumably charge for). New technology is changing the way media is transferred between the film set and editorial. Quality control as we knew it has changed and been replaced by word clocks and where your local wi-fi connect is. Mod- ern audio capture is a fast developing and challenging profession. No longer can we argue whether the change

is coming, we must now figure out where we fit into it and how we can remain important to the quality of the process we call production sound mixing. I am personally up for the challenge and look forward to my kids’ toys, hopefully they will let me play!

forward to my kids’ toys, hopefully they will let me play! Nicholas Allen C.A.S. with his

Nicholas Allen C.A.S. with his extraordinary cart.

they will let me play! Nicholas Allen C.A.S. with his extraordinary cart. The Coffey Audio Files

I

wore two hats on Brian De Palma’s “Blow Out”, the sec-

THE PRODUCTION MIXER’S CUT

by Jim Tanenbaum

ond of 5 features I recorded for him (before he left the U.S. permanently to work overseas); or rather one hat and a pair

of headphones. In addition to being the production mixer,

I was also the technical consultant. However, I chose to

remain an uncredited consultant because… “Blow Out” was shot from November 1980 to March 1981, starting in Philadelphia and finishing in L.A. It stars John Travolta, playing a low-budget sound editor who was recording effects for an exploitation picture when

he inadvertently captured the sounds of an assassination of

a presidential candidate. Realizing what he has, he syncs

his track to a silent Zapruder-style film of the car “accident” that supposedly was the cause of death. Hearing a “bang” before the sound of the tire blowout, he discovers a frame with a faint muzzle flash visible in the roadside bushes. Now he and the only other witness (Nancy Allen; still married to De Palma at the time) are fighting the authori- ties’ cover-up, and trying to get their evidence to the public before the killer (John Lithgow) murders them too. One of the first scenes we shot involved Travolta cutting effects for a rainstorm scene, and shuttling a large Ampex reel-to-reel deck back and forth, his fingers flying over the buttons in a fraction of a second. “What is he cueing: ant farts?” I asked Brian. “Thunder is this long (spreading my hands a yard and a half apart) at 15 IPS.” The director scowled. “Well, it looks good, and I like it. I don’t care what the truth is. If it’s not exciting, if it’s not visual, if it’s not dramatic, I can’t use it.” That set the tone for the show, although it didn’t stop De Palma from asking me question after question until (and after) we wrapped. Next, we filmed the scene where two actresses were trying to have their screams recorded to replace the pro- duction track of a coed being stabbed to death in a school shower room. The prop person had placed a mike on a floor stand inside the heavily-padded isolation booth set, but it kept the actresses from getting close enough to the glass window to properly light their faces. Brian came over to my sound cart. “Jim, can I place the mike overhead?” “You can place it anywhere you want, or lose it altogether.” He looked puzzled for a moment, then, “Oh, I get it. ‘Ant Farts’. They wouldn’t be in a padded sound booth, would they?” “Right. On an ‘el cheapo’ production like this, they’d probably go into a real bathroom to record the screams. Or at least a hallway.” But he shot the scene in the booth nevertheless. “Ant Farts” became my standard answer to all his questions. Such as Travolta recording sound effects of wind in trees (in the scene where he records the assassination)

Far Left: Jim Tanenbaum CAS, Center crouching Rimas Tumasonis, Standing with arms folded Brian De

Far Left: Jim Tanenbaum CAS, Center crouching Rimas Tumasonis, Standing with arms folded Brian De Palma, crouching behind Rimas is Vilma Szigmund.

with a bare 815; not even a foam sleeve. Brian thought it looked more “sexy” that way. And later, when John ad- libbed and threw the mike in the river, the look of horror on my face greatly amused the prop guys, until they pointed down to the “shotgun mike”, still floating on the surface of the water. John had arranged the gag in advance, and had props substitute a wooden dowel wrapped in aluminized Mylar. But Travolta got his, a week or two later. Apparently, Travolta had not been happy with the photography on his previous movie. The very first day of our shoot he asked the D.P., Vilmos Zsigmond, “Now, you won’t make my nose look like a potato, will you?” Vilmos reassured him, but John kept asking, day after day. Several weeks into the show, Travolta was called to the set to “confer with the director”. He fought his way through the crew to the front, where Brian and Nancy were huddled together. She turned around, and was wearing a hollowed-out potato skin over her nose, strapped to her face with an elastic band. John started to laugh and turned away, only to be confronted with a sea of potato-noses – the entire crew was wearing the handiwork of our camera assistant, Ken Nishino. Brian had on a potato the size of a feed bag. But Travolta took it very well. When he stopped laughing, we shot a scene for the gag reel, with both Nancy and John

wearing potato noses, and when the mike dipped in frame, it had a potato skin windscreen. He never asked Vilmos about potatoes again. Brian had the production company buy a brand- new Nagra IS for Travolta’s character to use, but then decided it looked too “snazzy” for such a poor guy to have, so they obtained a well-used Nagra III for the show instead. But the Nagra IS mysteriously disappeared – perhaps incor- porated into Brian’s home hi-fi system. De Palma is fairly knowledgeable about sound, but he did blow it once. He wanted to shoot closeups of the Nagra III’s modulometer to be used when Travolta was recording various sound effects. “How are we going to do this, Jim?” he asked me one day. “Do we need to bring in a stuntman for the stabbing victim’s body fall?” It took me a moment to realize he was serious. Then I pointed to the meter on my 4.2, and opened the slate mike. “Thud,” I said, “bounce, bounce. Drip…drip… drip…drip.” It took Brian even longer to get it. Then he managed a hearty laugh. We had a good caterer, and the crew broke for the usual half hour, but when we were shooting days, Brian, Vilmos, and our producer disappeared for almost 2 hours. I thought they were watching dailies and eating take-out.

Then one day, De Palma invited me to come along so he could talk to me. I discovered that the bigwigs had been going to various fancy restaurants for gourmet lunches. Fortunately, Vilmos took a liking to me, and I became a permanent member of the Fine Dining Club. (Since I was with the director and the D.P., I didn’t have to worry about the company starting to shoot before I got back.) Philadelphia in the winter was not the most pleasant location to shoot exteriors, particularly the many night ones, but my boom operator, Rimas Tumasonis, managed to get the long takes even though his fingers sometimes froze to the fishpole. (Aluminum – no carbon-fiber back then.) And he had brought along his Boilermaker 32’ pole – great for the crowd scenes, but hell on his back and arms. The interiors were either practical, usually up 4 flights of narrow, winding stairs (it’s amazing how much Rimas and I managed to lighten my cart when the grips were too busy to carry it up for us), or sets, built in the new-but-never-occupied Port of History Maritime Museum building (now the Independence Seaport Museum) with its beautiful marble floors, marble walls, marble ceilings… But the producer loved the museum, since the City had let him use it for free, even though we couldn’t drill holes in, or even glue stuff to, any of the surfaces. This was a real challenge for acoustic treatment (which the producer didn’t think we needed, until I had him come down and try to talk to me from ten feet away). Finally given the green light, our construction crew produced a miracle in short order:

1½ inches of plywood on the floor, 2”x4” open-frame walls fastened to it on the bottom, and two improvised “wall- spreaders” on the top, and then everything tented in with Insul-Quilt batting hung over cables tied off to the marble

Insul-Quilt batting hung over cables tied off to the marble columns. The Sound Dept had its

columns. The Sound Dept had its own office in the museum, equipped with free-standing shelves and workbench, and… heat. Wonderful, glorious heat. Many of our exteriors were shot in or near Penn’s Landing, close to the museum, so we could pop in occasionally to thaw out (with the excuse that we needed to “dry out the equipment” or “warm up the bat- teries”).

But cold sound cart batteries really were a prob- lem – one that surrounding with hand warmers didn’t fix. (This was before lithium batteries.) I took to plugging in to AC and running the chargers whenever possible to keep

the batteries warm – then they would last for 3-4 hours after

I unplugged. In those days, I had only 20 Amp-hours of

12-volt batteries on the cart; to run 5 Vega diversity radio mike receivers, a multicoupler, two antenna amps, and work lights. My recorder was a Nagra 4.2, and I was using a Sela mixer which ran on the recorder’s internal 4 AH Ni-Cad batteries, but I had to keep them on charge, too. In the sub- freezing weather, the Nagra drew a lot more current, even though I had it lubricated with special light-weight winter- izing grease. The Sela had four mike inputs, and the Nagra two more, and I mixed these down to mono. Production mixers really had to mix in the “good old days”. (Occasionally, I cheated and iso’ed some tracks to my back-up 4.2, and the company’s III when it wasn’t on camera.) Back then, most actors were good about not overlapping when they were off- camera, but there were still limits to how many “layers” of sound you could get on a mono track, and “Blow Out” had lots of them. (I bought a stereo IV-S and an 8-channel Satt mixer after the shoot – having seen/heard the advantages of multi-tracking.) One night, Brian decided to shoot only two shots:

a closeup of an owl turning its head; and a frog croak- ing. These shots certainly seemed to me to be 2nd unit, and could have been done on our “stage” in front of some greens (and MOS to boot), but our director wanted to do it himself, and with a full crew. We were driven for an hour or so, to a wooded area up the Wissahickon River (a creek, actually), and spent the next four hours photographing the owl. Then we were supposed to break for “lunch”, but Brian didn’t want to lose the three hours it would take (to drive to town, where the caterer was set up, and back), so we went on meal penalty for the rest of the night, and sub- sisted on Philly cheesesteak sandwiches that were brought in. The frog was next. The handler placed it on a rock, but it didn’t move, let alone croak. Someone pointed out that being cold-blooded, it probably needed to be warmed up (as did we all). A 1K was moved in, but as the minutes passed, the hero amphibian remained motionless. After half an hour, the smell of roasted frog legs assaulted our noses, and it became obvious that the frog had “croaked” a long time ago, when it froze to death.

Working all night without a meal break became S.O.P., and we made thousands of dollars

Working all night without a meal break became S.O.P., and we made thousands of dollars in penalties. An- other night, we were working on the scene where Travolta rescues Nancy from the submerged car. We set up under a large bridge that spanned the Schuylkill River (don’t even think about trying to pronounce it if you’re not from Philly). The 3-hour lighting setup was incredibly complex, but Rimas’ skill and experience enabled him to find the one good spot for his boom that avoided both shadows and reflections. (Visual reflections that is; the acoustic reflec- tions off the curved underside of the bridge were another challenge.) By then, the air temperature had fallen to 20°, and the water temperature was 32.001°. (If the river slowed down, it would freeze solid.) At this point, Travolta absolutely refused to go into the water, producing a chorus of “sissy” catcalls. Then the stunt double, wearing a wetsuit under his wardrobe, jumped in so at least we could shoot the wide shots. Five minutes later, he had to be rescued when all his muscles cramped up from the cold. No one made fun of John after that. (We wound up building a full-scale set of the bridge abutment and riverbank, using the tank on Stage 15 at Warner Bros when we came back to L.A., one of the many reasons our 10-week schedule became 20.) “Blow Out” was the first show I worked on where sound had its own vehicle: a beautiful black cube van with hardwood paneling, a carpeted floor, and catalytic heaters. On the one hand, the drivers would move heaven and earth to get the camera truck closest to the set, but the sound van was usually the farthest. On the other hand, it was roomy and warm. But on the third hand, all the teamsters hung

out in there, and smoked incredibly stinky cigars while they played cards. Our mixed-blessing sound vehicle didn’t last out the show, however. As the schedule and budget grew at an alarming rate, the producer decided to economize by replac- ing the multitude of smaller trucks with a few gargantuan ones: camera and sound, grip and lighting, and wardrobe and makeup. The other departments had to find such space on these trucks as they could. The now-superfluous teamsters, mostly from (New) Jersey, were not happy when they were laid off. The next morning, the crew waited for pickup at their various hotels, and waited, and waited… Seems there now weren’t enough drivers for the cast and crew vans – something about need- ing “two drivers and a helper” for each of the big rigs. The producer wound up having to re-hire all the teamsters, but then most of them had nothing to do except sit around play cards, because he couldn’t afford another day to change back to the small trucks. We were stuck with the big semis, even though they often couldn’t get anywhere near the prac- tical locations. (To be fair, the drivers were nice guys. And gals – my favorite was Olivia, a cheerful, slightly-plump woman who wore thickly-insulated dayglo-orange overalls, earning her the nickname “The Pumpkin”.) Trouble came from beneath the streets as well. For the scene on a subway platform, the City of Philadelphia gave us an abandoned station. We scouted it a week in ad- vance. Brian loved it: filthy, covered in graffiti, rust stained walls… I loved this location too – it was far enough away from the active tunnels that I could record usable dialog there. And of course, the producer loved it – it was free.

But on the day, we arrived to find a sparkling-clean, freshly- painted and deodorized station, courtesy of the City’s Public Image Dept. The cast and crew waited out the many hours it took our Art Dept to restore its former appearance. We had several massive scenes to shoot. The (facti- tious) “Liberty Day” parade scene involved 5,000 extras (no CGI), multiple marching bands (no CGI), full-size helium figure balloons (no CGI), and closing down all the streets around City Hall (no CGI). Brian wanted sound recorded from several widely-spaced locations at the same time – but he didn’t let me know until the night before. I told Rimas and Susie Varney (my cable person; the first of four who worked on the show), that I would give each of them a Na- gra, and send them off tomorrow on their own. Susie was so worried she spent most of the night on the phone with her husband back in L.A. (re-recording mixer Bill Varney), asking him for advice. But the next day, she produced many excellent recordings. In addition to sync tracks of the Philadelphia Mum- mers (fancy marching bands), I wanted to get wild tracks of them with various perspectives for later use as ambience in the parade scene. Brian agreed, and said I could take them somewhere quiet for an hour or so after the company wrapped. (Directors never lie.) But at wrap, the musicians immediately began removing their instruments and the A.D. didn’t care what Brian had said; everyone had to leave now. I managed to prevail upon the Fralinger String Band

to go into a nearby alley, which was fairly quiet half-way in, and play several of their numbers (without march- ing). I recorded some of the music standing close to the band, then walked past them (which avoided the tramp of many feet) for a moving perspective, and finally made my way to the end of the alley as they continued playing, the reverberation enhancing what would otherwise have been an insufficient distance. Another huge setup was the 30th Street train/sub- way station. The scene we shot in there covered the entire area, and my radio mikes (unlike those in the movie that sent a perfect signal across town from someone wearing one in the subway) had limited range, particularly in the crowds of extras. I had to put two transmitters on each actor, and hide the receivers near opposite ends of the station. (No frequency-agile units in 1980.) I used every 3-pin cable and most of the 5-pin I had (about 2,000 feet) to connect them, and every foot of cable had to be taped down because the station was open to the public. When we finally wrapped out of there, the pulled-up grip tape made a ball 18” in diameter. While I wish I really did have radio mikes that worked as well as ones in the movie, the scene where one of the units supposedly shorted out and burned a hole into the stoolie’s stomach caused a problem for me after “Blow Out” was released: a number of actors I worked with re- fused to let me put radios on them.

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Opportunity Calls, Production Mixing “Body of Lies”

By Richard Van Dyke

Like everyone who works in the film business we all dream of working with the top professionals in the business. Unfortunately, the reality is that usually we work with whomever will have us. Dream jobs are few and far between, I’ve been lucky enough to have worked on a couple of “dream jobs”. First was “American Beauty” an

amazing amalgam of talents both in front of the camera and behind it, then came “Crash” an interesting look at Los An- geles and it’s peoples with a terrific ensemble cast, and now

a chance to work with a real master, Ridley Scott on “Body of Lies.”

I was already on another film when I got the call to see if I was interested in working on Ridley’s film, “Body of Lies.” My one stipulation was that I would be doing the

entire film, including the distant location work in Morocco. I carefully maneuvered my way out of the previous film, “Step Up2, the Streets,” which the talented Jim Stuebe replaced me on. I was excited and scared to death at the same time. I had read postings on the internet by William Sarokin in regard to his experiences working with Ridley on “American Gangster” and the challenges that he faced on a day by day basis. So I kind of knew going in that this would probably be the challenge of my professional career.

I not only wanted to succeed, but I wanted to impress Rid- ley Scott. I had always held Ridley in high esteem as a direc-

tor of movies with exceptional sound tracks. After all, three of his films have won Best Sound Academy Awards, “Blade Runner,” “Gladiator,” and of course my personal fa- vorite sound track was for “Black Hawk Down.” I had two weeks of prep in Washington, DC and the first days were spent sitting in my hotel room thinking, “What have you gotten yourself into!” After reading the script I felt a little more comfortable. What a great picture to impress Ridley with my skills. The story was mostly about two characters, Roger Ferris (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), and Ed Hoff- man (played by Russell Crowe) and the majority of their scenes together involved telephone conversations. There was only one scene that had more than three speaking parts in it, I thought this was going to be a very simple job for me.

The first thing that I had heard from production was that Ridley wanted the actors to be able to either speak to one another “live” or have the audio from the other side of the conversation played back to them over their phone. So I first reread the script to see what types of phones we were dealing with, cell, landline or even satellite. The majority of phones used in the script were cell phones, and one pos- sible household landline. I then called my friend Sherrie Gal at Coffey Sound and asked her about “phone taps” and she directed me to the website of the JKAudio line of phone taps. My first thought was that there must be systems to do

Jason Petty with Ridley Scott this with, because talk radio uses these types of devices

Jason Petty with Ridley Scott

this with, because talk radio uses these types of devices all the time, for call in listeners. I found the taps that I wanted, the Daptor Two, the telephone handset audio tap, and the audio inline tap, Sherrie sent them out to me in Washing- ton. I went to Radio Shack and bought a standard landline phone, and I was going to use the hotel’s multiline phone as well as my own cell phone. One day, while I was learning to tap into these phone lines the maid came in unannounced to find me with phones spread all over my bed, me wear- ing a headset, and my mixing panel and recorder also in the room. She took one look at this scene and backed out of my room, I’m sure she thought that I was some internation-

my room, I’m sure she thought that I was some internation- Boom Op Kraig Kishi and

Boom Op Kraig Kishi and Third Jason Petty

al spy. So in my room I learned that you could tap into any type of phone that anyone would use, and I felt somewhat prepared. I had gotten a note that Ridley wanted to have a show and tell of the phone system and be able to hear how it would work. I was told that Russell would be in Wash- ington and Leo would call from Los Angeles and that was to be our test. On the day I sat in the lobby of our Wash- ington production office and waited for my moment. After four hours and some change I was finally informed that Leo was in Hawaii and would not be available to do the test. I next waited for the usually mandatory produc- tion meeting, where we usually go through the script page

Leonardo DiCaprio and Ridley Scott meet with the Script Supervisor

“So I kind of knew going in that this would probably be the challenge of my professional career. I not only wanted to succeed, but I wanted to impress Ridley Scott.”

by page and discuss with all departments our needs and

desires. I was to find out shortly thereafter that there was to be no production meeting. My first thought was, “How’m

I gonna get my heart out of my throat!” I went back for the

fourth time and reread the script, this time really focusing hard on any possible needs for the sound recording aspect of this film. The other potential issue was working in Morocco, where a phone call to Coffey Sound for supplies would not be quite as quickly resolved as it would be in the states. So I had to make sure that we had everything we would need before we left for Morocco. My crew was to be Kraig Kishi on boom, and

a local guy Jason Petty as our third in Washington and

Baltimore. The production couldn’t see through to bring- ing Jason with us to Morocco, and so we had a local hire in Morocco, Brahim Ait Belkas. My recording package was what it has been for some time, my trusty Cooper 108+1 mixer recording to my Deva IV, and a simultaneous record- ing on my Deva II. Microphones were Sennheiser MKH 70’s for exteriors and interiors were done with a Schoeps hyper cardiod microphone, Sanken Cos-11’s are my lavalier microphone of choice and I use the Lectrosonics Digital Hybrid wireless microphone systems, I use their “six pack” multicoupler. As usual I didn’t sleep very well the night before production began, thoughts of multiple cameras danced around my mind all night long. The first day of production we were scheduled to film the sequence know as the “Am- sterdam Market bombing.” No scripted dialogue but plenty of sound effects to record in sync, and some adlibs thrown

in. It became apparent immediately that this would be like no other film experience I had ever had. Ridley came and explained to everyone where the cameras would be and what we were going to start with. Having never met Ridley I took the opportunity to introduce myself to him after the first rehearsal, it went something like this, “Hello Ridley, I’m Rich Van Dyke and I’ll be your production mixer on the film.” extending my hand to be shaken, Ridley replied, “God help you….” and walked away. I was a little taken

aback to say the least, but it was a busy day with lots to ac- complish and he was being pulled in all directions.

I stumbled back to the cart and spoke with my

crew as to how we would attack this first of many chal- lenging scenes. I had been thinking to myself how best to handle the issue of working with the multiple cameras that are a trademark of Ridley, and his brother Tony’s, style of shooting. I decided that what I was going to do was to put wireless mics on all of the speaking actors in our film. My thinking behind this was that there would be one sound track that would cut together from camera to camera, and still maintain the same sound quality. Now some people might say that the word “quality” does not belong in the same sentence as “radio mics.” But, my feeling is that radio mic technology has improved tremendously since I

started mixing, some thirty years ago, along with some very good quality lavalier microphones, the Sanken Cos -11’s.

I also decided to go with two wireless booms, this

was necessitated by the fact that I had been asked by the editor, Pietro Scalia, if I could please supply them with sev- eral different “mixes” for the various cameras. This would

help them in post to deal with syncing which “mix” went with what camera. Being wireless enabled us to keep up with the camera crews in working quickly and efficiently. I didn’t think we would ever be able to keep up if we had to spend time wrapping up cables after each set up, or laying cables through the shot of one of the cameras. In the past, they the editors, would have to find individual tracks and make their own “mixes” for the im- age that they were working with. This was yet another challenge that I had been asked to achieve. There was a necessary reason for this in that Ridley frequently shoots in both directions at once. So there is a different track, or “mix,” that each camera “sees” and here Deva IV with it’s eight tracks available worked terrifically. I would label my tracks, A camera mix, BC camera mix, and so on. The editors loved this and were very pleased that I was able to deliver this for them. I also was sending the wireless mics to separate tracks as isolated unaltered tracks when we used the radios, and also the playback track when we were in phone call situations. Each day seemed to start about the same, you were driven to the location and you would set up and our assis- tant director, Peter Kohn, would give us a general idea of what we would be doing. Then Ridley would arrive and you could just feel everyone rise up and be ready to deliver their best work ever. Someone like Ridley expects the peo- ple around him to know what they’re doing and be ready to do it at a very high level. Is that too much to expect? I don’t think so, and I was really up for the challenge to see if I could do this job and succeed on this level. This is why there was no production meeting, Ridley had thoroughly checked everyone out and figured that they all knew what they were doing, including myself. Ridley had contacted the rerecording mixer Scott Millan, who mixed “Gladiator” and had mixed my film “American Beauty.” Fortunately for me Scott gave me a glowing review and that’s how I got the job on “Body of Lies.” We filmed two spectacular bombing sequences in America, one in Washington, DC and the other in Balti-

in America, one in Washington, DC and the other in Balti- Leonardo DiCaprio on the set

Leonardo DiCaprio on the set of “Body of Lies”

more. I had recorded explosions before but these were truly epic special effects explosions. The first one the “Amsterdam Market Bombing” we were set up one block away and when they blew the car up with the bomb, we were showered with safety glass from the windows of the Range Rover parked next to it, spectacular. The next was the “Manchester Row House Bombing” and this was just as spectacular, if not more. The whole front of a row type house was blown across the street and stunt men and cars were thrown about. I like to use a dynamic microphone close to the explosion, or gun fire, I have two mics that I like to use - one is a Shure SM58, and the other is a Beyer M58. Both are traditionally used as handheld mics for either singing or interviews. I then use another mic, usually one of the Sennheiser MKH70’s pointed in the opposite direction to add a little echo or reverb to the effect. Most of the time these tracks are used just for the editorial process and are replaced by the sound editing team, with bigger louder and wilder explosions. We had great success with recording some of the automatic weapons in the desert, and they may have used our sound for these effects. By the end of the first week I really felt like we were holding our own by turning in good tracks and provid- ing the editors with their different “mixes” for each cam- era. To say that Ridley shoots fast is an understatement, usually using no less than three cameras with one setup he gets a master and either a medium shot or close up, or two close ups. He averages five to six takes per setup, and then moves on. The actors have to adjust to the fact that they must give their best performance for each take. The first day we filmed with Russell Crowe, we shot two scenes and wrapped before lunch. The scenes were Ed Hoffman dropping off his son at school and speaking to Ferris on the phone, and Hoffman also speaking to Ferris at his son’s soccer game. Master and all coverage, all shot at the same time and no more than seven takes of each set up. Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio are two of the most professional actors I have ever had the pleasure of working with. I had worked with Russell previously on

of working with. I had worked with Russell previously on Richard Van Dyke on location. The

Richard Van Dyke on location. The Coffey Audio Files | Issue 03 2008

34

“3:10 to Yuma” so I knew that he preferred to have his set costumer, Michael “Mickey” Castellano, do the wiring of him and have it done before coming to set. Russell’s attitude is I’m wearing it if you need it and if you don’t fine, but don’t bother me once I’m on set. Leo was dif- ferent in that he was fine stopping by the sound cart and having Kraig wire him up. I must say that Kraig Kishi is one of the better boom operators at positioning lavaliers and making them quiet. His frustration came in the form of the costume designer. Apparently none of the wardrobe had been approved before shooting, and so when each actor arrived on set before Kraig could get to them he had to wait for the outfit to be approved by Ridley. This was a nightmare for Kraig who would attack the first actor who came in to get them wired up before the next one came in, only to be yelled at for messing up the wardrobe before it had been approved. Very frustrating for Kraig, but he’s a patient man. The phone calls actually went extremely well, I used my Blackberry to send the audio to the practical cell phones used by the actors. One amazing scene was one where Leo’s character was called by his estranged wife. The actress playing Leo’s wife was in Amsterdam, we were in Rabat the capital city of Morocco, and we all had to call the United States so we could conference in all three phones. The one the actress was on was the one that Leo would answer her call on and the third was mine that

Leo would answer her call on and the third was mine that I would pull the

I would pull the audio off of. Very nervous time for me,

as it had been arranged that way as per my request, but

Ridley loved the quality of her voice through the phone and Leo heard a real actress give him a performance, rather than a script supervisor reading off camera lines. We recorded Russell’s side of the phone calls first. Most of Russell’s phone calls were done with the assistance of his longtime dialogue coach, Judy Dickerson. Judy would call Russell on a practical cell phone and we would record Russell’s acting. Then when shooting Leo’s side of the call, we would playback Russell’s side to Leo over the cell phones, my Blackberry to his practical cell phone. The only problem with this was that Leo liked to improvise, and as I was doing the cueing of the play- back, it caused me to have a couple of false starts while doing the scenes with him, but all in all it worked quite well. I usually did the playback from a small Sony digi- tal mini-disc recorder/player, I find these easy to use and cue from. I also used two computer programs, Courtney Goodin’s BWF Widget, and Sony’s Sound Forge. I used these programs so that I could “see” the track and be ready to cue it when Leo was done adlibbing. There were also some scenes that Leo liked to have his dialogue coach, Tim Monich, call him and do the other side of the call with him. This all worked very well except for one time when we were deep in the Atlas Mountains of the Southeastern Sahara Desert and away from cell service. This was a call to Russell where Leo is trying to get him to send the “predator” observational aircraft away. About half way through production Ridley started giving us very kind praise of our hard work. Many times during the nightly dailies viewing Ridley would mention that we were giving him the best production sound he had ever heard. Now this is very high praise from someone like Ridley. Usually I’d check my rear end for smoke after

a comment like that, but coming from Ridley he was hon-

estly sincere and I was truly humbled. The show was stressful for us on several levels, Kraig had gotten sick from eating the local food, and though weak still came to work every day without com- plaint. (Thank you Kraig for your diligence and all of your hard work and great effort). We also had to work with two novice sound assistants. Jason Petty we had worked with on our previous film in Baltimore, was an electrician who wanted to transition into sound work. A great guy and very hard worker Jason was thrown into the mix every day working with a wireless boom and capturing whatever his camera saw. In Morocco, Kraig and I met by our sound assis- tant during our week of prep there. Our man Brahim was great, although I swear there were some days when he was tired that he didn’t understand our English as well as he did on other days. Kraig and I did most of the work and tried to give Brahim lesser tasks to perform, although he

too would boom many shots for the multiple camera setups. Having survived the production Ridley was once again very complimentary to Kraig and I, saying that he thought our sound was “too good”. He was concerned that there wasn’t enough of the background in the sound track, and I had told him that the sound editors will add whatever he likes, and that it was best to start with good clean dia- logue and then bury it beneath whatever sounds he wanted to add.

I also always love to record wild tracks while on location, and this show was no different. I would get up early on my days off, 5:00 AM to go and record the “call to prayer” from the towers of the local mosques. I also gath- ered wallas in market places, called medinas, and traffic at intersections, traffic from a second floor room, and source music found in the many shops in the medina. I enjoy do- ing this. An interesting note about this was that our film is supposed to take place in Iraq, and apparently there is a difference between the Arabic spoken in Iraq and the Arabic spoken in Morocco. Now whether or not the audience will notice this, remains to be seen. I had a great time on this film looking back, while

in the middle of it I was very stressed out by the pressure I was putting on myself to deliver a high quality product every day for every shot, and provide the sub mixes for the different cameras. As for all of us, the best compliment comes in the form of a return invitation to work again for the same, pro-

ducer, or director. Mine came this year in the form of an in- vitation to work with Ridley on his next film “Nottingham.” Unfortunately, the film has been pushed to springtime of

2009. Hopefully the invitation will still be there, and I’ll be

available. Opportunity called and the challenge was thrown down and I truly believe that Kraig and I stood up to the challenge and overcame all of the obstacles presented to us. But you be the judge, listen to “Body of Lies” and you decide whether or not we succeeded or failed.

Thanks again to Sherrie in sales and to Coffey Sound’s rental department for all of their support in the making of this film.

rental department for all of their support in the making of this film. The Coffey Audio
rental department for all of their support in the making of this film. The Coffey Audio
rental department for all of their support in the making of this film. The Coffey Audio
rental department for all of their support in the making of this film. The Coffey Audio
rental department for all of their support in the making of this film. The Coffey Audio
ROBERT KENNEDY TRAVELS TO VIETNAM WITH THE ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURE ARTS AND SCIENCES I

ROBERT KENNEDY TRAVELS TO VIETNAM WITH THE ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURE ARTS AND SCIENCES

I recently had the privilege of traveling to Hanoi, Vietnam with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) on a goodwill mission. Don Rogers, Don Hall, Clay Davis and I spent two weeks teaching the principles of production sound mixing to 29 sound pro- fessionals working in various aspects of Vietnam’s film industry. We spent full humid days lecturing and running hands-on exercises with the help of 3 wonderful interpret- ers. A number of days were devoted to traveling to pro- duction houses to see the state of the industry with regards to sound. We also managed to carve out a few days for seeing the country accompanied the entire time by Don Rogers’ gracious and entertaining wife, Liz. Two weeks after being introduced to Don Rog- ers by John Coffey (thank you, John!) I found myself in North Vietnam. After flying for 17 or so hours we passed through customs in Hanoi. Diu-Anh, the VIP assistant to the head of the communist government-run film depart- ment, Michael DeGregio of the Ford Foundation and Van Ahn, our local assistant hired by Ellen at AMPAS met us at the airport. We had previously had concerns about

importing all of our equipment without hassle, but in their hands we simply walked through without so much as a sideways glance. Michael had led the search for appropri- ate students and told us about the background and current position of our students as we stepped outside into a wall of heat and humidity. We loaded up into taxis and my jaw soon dropped to the floor. The flow of traffic and the rules of the road are drastically different from the US. Motorbikes form the majority of travelers and right of way seems to be determined by who has the most nerve. Drivers maneuver like schools of fish around obstacles and road rage doesn’t seem to exist. Horns fill every roadway and are used to

signify the driver’s intent to do

taxi driver honked about 5 times per minute. Weeks ear- lier we had laughed when we heard the locals complained about Vietnam being “too noisy” to record production sound. Now we understood. Aside from the loud motorbikes and constant horns there we other impediments to recording clean tracks. Humidity. Serious heat and humidity. The climate of Vietnam could have been designed by a mad scientist to

well… anything. Our

From left to right: Robert Kennedy, Donald C Rogers, Nguyen Thi Van Anh (VEG), Elizabeth

From left to right: Robert Kennedy, Donald C Rogers, Nguyen Thi Van Anh (VEG), Elizabeth Rogers, Clay Davis, Donald Hall, and Chuck Searcy (VEG).

cause problems with electronics. One of our first destina- tions was the government documentary film center. We drove for about 30 minutes down circuitous roads to a beige colored complex that appeared deserted. The lot in front of the building had no cars, just overgrowth and we seemed to get funny looks from street vendors as we made our entrance. Our host brought us to the room he thought most appropriate for our classes and it floored all of us. The room had no windows, only large holes and curtains where windows might go. It had a long table with a rag- tag bunch of chairs around a table circa-1960. A small blackboard was half obscured by the bust of Ho Chi Minh. We were too shocked to laugh. It was as though we had stepped into a Viet Cong general’s meeting room in Apocalypse Now. We entered a nearby door and got our first dose of the situation on the ground. There were two studios

available for use, both with fogged up doors. The first was

a small ADR/Foley stage which was being used at that

moment. It was more of an edit bay than a mix stage and Clay made an enduring observation. “It looks right, but it’s not,” Clay concluded after tapping the wall and clap- ping his hands. The room had visible treatment, but not the kind that it needed for a post-sound mixer to perform their work with confidence. After touring the facility and a few edit bays we came upon a 200+ seat movie theatre. We immediately called it home. A bust of Uncle Ho graced this stage as well, but the room was decades ahead of their initial suggestion. A projector and screen were already set up so I went to work hooking in Don H’s Mac for his open- ing PowerPoint presentation. The fact that the projection

booth had water literally dripping from the ceiling barely phased me. I removed my shoes before entering the room in accordance with custom (the floor was far too gone for

it to be a practical effort) and set to work patching into

their Mackie in anticipation of the following day where we would be introduced to our students. Patching stereo audio through the booth gave a

great example of the culture we had entered.

I left the booth, the Vietnamese technicians would change

the settings back to where they had been. On that day I was on my own without any interpreter and it took some time to understand what was happening. They must have been taught one way to set the system up and assumed I was mistaken whenever I turned random knobs. That was the “right way” and I was challenging that ten minutes into our introduction. Don Rogers had some sort of zen ability to understand where everyone was coming from and formed a schedule for the coming two weeks. Don Hall lectured first with a Power Point pre- sentation in true stereo. He played clips from The French Connection, on which he was the Supervising Sound Edi- tor, and clips from about ten other movies to demonstrate the power of sound in filmmaking. He covered subjects from ambience to voice-overs especially dialogue editing, diagenic music, score, room tone and sound effects. He brought his decades of experience as a Supervising Sound Editor, Post—Production Supervisor and teacher at USC

to this group of sound professionals in a flurry of sight and sound punctuated with firsthand stories. The English speakers of the group had a hearty laugh when an audi- ence question about the punching sound effects in Raging Bull was translated. “How did you record the man being punched so well?” Don H assured them that the actor was not actually beaten; a beef steak was hit and recorded at close range. After Don’s came my presentation of the equip- ment on which we would be training the group. I had brought a sampling production audio equipment including

a portable sync sound package and a straight-to-camera

budget package. I presented all of the microphones, boom poles, accessories, the ENG-style mixers, UHF wireless,

a Denecke slate, a Sound Devices 744T and even a Sony

Whenever

Denecke slate, a Sound Devices 744T and even a Sony Whenever Nguyen Trinh Thi (Interpreter, Director

Nguyen Trinh Thi (Interpreter, Director of Love Man Love Woman), Robert Kennedy and Don Rogers’ Oscar™ enjoy lunch.

Robert Kennedy in Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO world heritage site. Pictured behind him are

Robert Kennedy in Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO world heritage site. Pictured behind him are a few of the 1,969 islets.

HDV camera. The best received piece of equipment was the rubber mount RM-11 for the Sanken COS-11 lavalier. Every student wanted to buy it. I started my lecture and demonstrated the proper use of each item. I focused on signal-to-noise ratio as a central concept elucidated by drawings and demonstration. After a couple of days I had explained the important func- tions of each unit, demonstrated how to boom and pro- vided a basic theory of recording dialogue. I tired out two of our translators in the process, not surprising given that my sentences took longer to say in Vietnamese. Using the information I had just presented, I assembled the sync sound package and then challenged them to do the same. Students from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) jumped first at the opportunity to assemble the sound package so I put five minutes on the clock. These young men were more bold and outgoing than any others in the class and had occupied the front row. I took care to flip every switch and turn every dial to a random position but the students managed to set the mixer up quite well. With all 20+ students looking on I went through the setup and explained to them any mistakes in their setup. It was usually an errant line/mic switch or engaging phantom power when it wasn’t necessary. Each successive group performed the task with increasing accuracy and made us very proud. Our students were absorbing the material and rose to our challenge. Our next exercise was to make a recording on location. The students warned us that the city was too loud to record so we tested that theory. With one sync sound package (with wireless) and one boom-to-mixer- to-camera package we set a scene on the street. Each group took turns recording a scene. Don Hall directed the boom/mixer/beta snake setup and I directed the sync sound setup. The air was stifling, the traffic loud and the coaching constant, but each group made recordings. We took them back to the theatre and played back the footage so they could hear their work on real speakers. The mixes were rough, too low and the boom was almost always in the shot, but we could hear the volunteer “actors” loud and clear. The students were impressed.

We continued hands-on exercises the second

week. Each group had the opportunity to boom an interior scene. They also were challenged to mix lavs and a boom together. Don Rogers mixed while I boomed for a dem- onstration and we managed a take with no boom-shadows or other issues. Each group did the same then we played back these results which elicited jeers and cheers. Our final exercise was a simple crossfade. We designed a scenario in which an actor would travel from coverage on one boom mic to a second over the course of a scene. The scene was our friendly volunteer “ac-

tor” counting to ten. Students came up one by one and

attempted to crossfade between two pre-positioned mics.

There were wildly varying levels of success. I stood over each mixer’s shoulder and helped them understand how to do each mix. Some got a good mix on their first effort while others managed something passable on their third.

The

best mix in the class was done by a younger woman

who

was embarrassed to even try.

The end of each of our final days were devoted to Clay Davis’ lecturing and question answering. When Clay hit the stage he was bombarded with questions. The excellent reputation of Todd-AO (Clay is a co-founder) must have permeated this far because students thought Clay could answer the unanswerable. “How can I record

the sound of someone’s thoughts?” “Digital isn’t worth the hassle, is it?” “Please teach us everything about post-pro- duction too!” Clay deferred creative questions to the two Dons and did his best to understand what was truly being asked. He lamented the lack of a proper facility in which to teach post-production and also our diminishing time. He reiterated the importance of signal-to-noise ratio and covered digital audio theory in greater depth We found time for many other activites including two press conferences, meetings with the government film department, and visits to numerous government-run and independent film. We traveled to Ho Chi Minhh city for a day to see government and private facilities. One of the

mix stages we visited resembled a museum more than a

functioning studio. Back in Hanoi we found the gentleman who mixes

studio. Back in Hanoi we found the gentleman who mixes AMPAS hosted farewell dinner for Vietnamese

AMPAS hosted farewell dinner for Vietnamese Cinema Department and interpreters.

the majority of films, private and governmental, in Viet- nam. He still operated his analog board though a new Digidesign Icon was set up and ready to go. His mix stage lacked proper speaker placement and EQ, but he seemed to be carrying the weight of the post-sound needs for the whole of Vietnam. He was pleased that we thought so highly of him as, like many sound professionals, he was under appreciated. He informed us that he performed his final mix in Thailand on a proper stage. Perhaps most im- portantly we learned that directors were speaking through- out takes rendering even a scratch track useless. The business of our trip finished with heartfelt goodbyes. We took our hosts to lunch as they did for us the following day. We presented our students with cer- tificates of attendance and they offered us nice gifts. I received a great tie, a hand-embroidered table cloth and a plaque from a temple we had visited. Our students took us out for a final lunch at which the beer flowed freely. The skepticism of our intentions had passed thanks to Don Rogers’ explanation of AMPAS and it’s mission. Their thanks was sincere and moving. We managed some time for leisure throughout the trip which I will spare the details. We traveled to Ha Long Bay and enjoyed the local wisdom of our tour guide, “Rex.” He affirmed Clay’s belief that we shouldn’t try to speak Vietnamese because we are more likely to put

our foot in our mouths than communicate. We went to markets and temples. Liz was wonderfully entertaining, as was Don Rogers and his stories garnered from decades working on the best films. We gathered each morning for breakfast and each evening for dinner. Our discussions were always engaging and I was honored to be welcomed into their world. The Academy cared for our needs and their local organizer, Van Anh, was incredible. I was espe- cially fortunate to have Tran Quang, Van Anh’s colleague, bring me around Hanoi on a motorbike for some night life. I couldn’t resist bringing my MKH50 and the 744T for some sound gathering on my final evening. Weeks later we met at the Academy to share our experience with the international committee. Don Hall did a wonderful job recounting our efforts. The commit- tee applauded our efforts and several members offered personal thanks. Don Rogers’ written report explained the situation on the ground and the considerable effort remain- ing to get the Vietnam film industry to a point where they can sell their films to foreign markets. Their poor sound- tracks were not solely a lack of good production sound. The Academy, the Ford Foundation and the Vietnamese government were finally on the same page so that more work can begin. The trip was a great success and we look forward to the day when Vietnam produces feature films with production dialogue intact.

was a great success and we look forward to the day when Vietnam produces feature films

Tech Zone

Cheat Sheets | PSC Solice Audio Mixer

PSC Solice Audio Mixer

By Jennifer Paro

Solice Audio Mixer PSC Solice Audio Mixer By Jennifer Paro The new Solice Audio Mixer from

The new Solice Audio Mixer from Professional Sound Corp has been designed to fulfill the need for a por- table field mixer with extensive signal routing capabilities. This new mixer offers eight input channels along with eight mixing busses and a compliment of outputs. The mixer also includes eight channels of output metering, four separate stereo headphone feeds with many source selec- tions, built in private line, a full duplex boom communica- tion system, slate microphone, reference tone oscillator, iPod input, basic remote recorder roll controls and more. The Solice Mixer’s input channels feature extreme flexibility in signal routing for use in today’s demanding applications. Each input channel includes super low-noise microphone pre-amplifiers with fully variable gain struc- ture, 12T and 48PH mic powering, continuously variable

high pass filters and a responsive limiter.

channel also features a direct line output, which can be

operated either pre-fader or post-fader and includes a sepa-

rate level control.

signals to the remaining 8 mix busses and main outputs via a flexible switch matrix. Each and every routing option can be accomplish either as pre-fader or post fader for maximum flexibility. The Solice Mixer is built in a rugged, laser cut air- craft aluminum housing and features, elegant milled billet aluminum side panels. The Housing is finished in envi- ronmentally friendly and durable powder coat paint. All of the silkscreen lettering is printed sub-surface on Lexan

overlays for years of heavy use. Only the finest electronic components are used in the construction of the Solice

Each input

There is also the ability to route audio

Mixer. This includes NKK switches, Penny & Giles Fad-

ers and Neutrik connectors.

cover is included to protect the entire panel. An AC power supply is included.

A sturdy aluminum slide-on

Individual Input Channel Signal Routing (channel assignments) Each input channel has eight (8) signal routing

switches. All eight of these switches have three physical

settings: Left, center and right.

the routing switch will feed Pre-fader audio to the mix buss for which it is labeled. When switched to its center position (Off), the signal is not routed anywhere. When

switched to its right side position, it will feed Post-fader audio to the mix buss for which it is labeled. The top left routing switch is labeled “MIX 1&2” This switch routes audio through the Pan Pot and onto the 1st and 2nd mix buses and corresponding 1st and 2nd main balanced outputs. Please note that you can use the pan control to fully assign the signal to output 1 or 2 or any- where in between. The “LINE OUT” switch routes audio to the direct line outputs located on the rear of the mixer near the cor-

responding input.

for feeding multi-track digital recorders when recording one separate track per actor. In addition to the Line Out- put switch, the signal runs through a rotary level control labeled as “Line Out”. You can use this control to adjust

your direct output signal level to your recorder. There are 6 more signal routing switches that are

When switched to the left,

These direct outputs are used primarily

labeled 3,4,5,6,7 and 8.

to those corresponding output busses and the main bal- anced outputs. Overall, you have several hundred different combinations available for your use.

These are used to route the signal

Here are but a few examples:

• Eight direct line outputs to a multi-track recorder and a stereo submix on outputs 1&2 for dailies

• Eight direct line outputs to a multi-track recorder and

four stereo mixes to feed four video cameras

• Eight direct line outputs to a multi-track recorder and Two 4 Track mixes to feed two RED cameras

• Eight direct line outputs to a multi-track, one stereo sub

mix for dailies and stereo mixes for up to 3 cameras

In addition, the Solice Mixer offers its main XLR balanced outputs repeated on a multi-pin connector for your convenience.

Features of the PSC Solice Audio Mixer:

• Super Quiet Pre-Amps with Fully Variable Gain and Precise Limiters

• Infinitely Variable High Pass Filters

• 8 Input Channels with Mic Power, Parametric EQ, Pre- Fade Listens

• All Channel Assignments Can Be Assigned Pre-Fader or

Post Fader

• Individual Line Outputs on Every Input Channel, Pre or

Post Fader Assignable

Tech Zone

Cheat Sheets | PSC Solice Audio Mixer

• Individual Channel Meters for both Pre and Post Fader Signal Levels

• 8 Mix Busses for Extreme Versatility

• 8 Balanced Outputs on Full Size XLR’s and also on a

Multi-Pin

• Sunlight Readable LED PPM Metering on all 8 Outputs

• Slate Microphone

• Remote Roll

• Private Line - provides one way communication to 2 boom operators

• Comm - provides full duplex communication to 2 boom

operators

• Speaker Output follows Mixer Headphone Selection for Playback Jobs

• Balanced Outputs available on a Multi-Pin Connector

• Operates From External 10 to 18 VDC

• Built using only the finest components including, P&G faders, NKK Sealed Switches, Neutrik Connectors

• Housing formed from 0.100” (2.5 mm) laser cut aircraft aluminum

• Dimensions: 16.5” (42 cm) Wide, 16.25” (41 cm) Deep, 2.75” (7 cm) High

• Weight: Approx. 14 Lbs

Solice pricing: US$9995.00

PSC SOLICE AUDIO MIXER CHEAT SHEET

(cut out and put in your wallet)

Overall Mixer Operation:

1. Connect mixer to an external source of power. This can be the sup-

plied AC power supply or a battery of 9 to 18VDC.

2. Turn on the mixer by pressing the “Power” button. The various

buttons will light up indicating the mixer is powered on.

3. Raise all four of the master faders to the maximum position.

4. Turn all headphone volume controls fully off (counter clock-wise)

5. Set the headphone monitor selection switches to your desired set-

tings.

6. Make sure the tape/direct push button switch is in the direct setting

(lighted green)

7. Press the reference tone oscillator switch and note that the main

output meters all read “0”.

8. Press the reference tone oscillator switch again to turn off the tone.

Individual Input Channel Operation:

1. Set the input level switch (mic or line switch) for each channel to the corresponding level that you will be connecting to that particular input.

2. Set the mic powering switch (12T, Dynamic, or 48 PH) on each

channel to the correct setting for the type of microphone you will be using.

3. With the channel faders down, adjust the level of each pre-amplifier

as you observe the input channel meter.

so that the meter just occasionally lights the “0” or top green LED.

4. Turn on the channel limiter by switching on the limiter switch.

Adjust the pre-amplifier gain

The LED will activate Green for a “0” meter reading and RED to indicate limiting. If both occur at once, the LED will glow orange.

5. Adjust the variable high pass filter to eliminate unwanted low fre- quency noise such as wind or air conditioning rumble.

6. Verify that the signal phase inversion switch is set to its normal

(facing left) position.

ence between two microphones in close proximity to each other.

Only use this when you have a phase differ-

Tech PRODUCT Zone HIGHLIGHT

Schoeps Cheat Sheets CMD | 2u Sound | Sennheiser Devices 788T MKE 1

Schoeps CMD 2u Digital Mic

By Jennifer Paro

Schoeps proudly introduces the innovative new CMD 2u AES digital mic preamp. The digital amplifier expands the Schoeps Colette modular microphone system allowing any Colette capsule to be used with it. Instead of the standard 48 Volt phantom powering, it operates with the digital phantom powering of an AES 42-type digital input. This input can be found on such devices as the Sound Devices 788T. It is sonically equal to the Schoeps’ CMC-series analog microphones, but the internal A/D conversion eliminates analog interference and signal losses either in the cable or at the inputs of analog preamps and mixers. One of the great features of the CMD 2u is the ability to hold up in any environment with no fear of condensation. The CMD 2u is priced at $1249.00. Schoeps also offers the CMD 2U “xt” – the 40 kHz Version. This version has frequency response to 40 kHz and beyond, and can be used with any Schoeps Colette capsules that are axially addressed rather than side-addressed. Special marking: the letters ”xt” engraved on the back of the connector housing. The CMD 2U was nominated in 2005 for the ”mipa” (Musik¬messe International Press Award).

for the ”mipa” (Musik¬messe International Press Award). Sennheiser MKE 1 Lavalier Mic By Jennifer Paro The

Sennheiser MKE 1 Lavalier Mic

By Jennifer Paro

Press Award). Sennheiser MKE 1 Lavalier Mic By Jennifer Paro The MKE 1 is Sennheiser’s smallest

The MKE 1 is Sennheiser’s smallest clip-on lavalier microphone - 3.3 millimeters. It is built to achieve unsurpassed sound quality in all situations. The MKE 1 is virtually invisible and designed to withstand sweat and moisture. The MKE 1 stands up better than other clip-on microphones to harsh live conditions. Its special gauze and multi- purpose cap offer additional protection from moisture so that it only picks up ideal sound. The MKE 1 is robust in every respect. The Kevlar reinforced cable with molded anti-kink sleeve minimizes handling noise and makes this a microphone you can rely upon completely.

Features

• Great strengths – small microphone

• Very small dimensions (3.3 mm capsule diameter)

• High maximum sound pressure level (142 dB)

• Very high speech intelligibility; clear, pleasant treble

• Full, natural sound with low ambient noise

• Thin (1 mm diameter) and robust cable; flexible with minimum handling noise

• Very sweat-resistant due to protective membrane

• Flexible tubes for attaching the microphone with clips or adhesive tape

Delivery Includes

• 1 MKE 1 clip-on microphone

• 1 MZC 1-1 small frequency response cap

• 1 MZC 1-2 multi-purpose cap

• 3 make-up protection caps

PRODUCT HIGHLIGHT

Cheat Sheets | Sound Devices CL-8

Sound Devices CL-8 Controller for 788T

By Jennifer Paro

The CL-8 Controller is the newest edition to the Sound Devices family. Used in combination with the 788T, the CL-8 Controller adds additional features to the 788T recorder. The CL-8 features 8 rotary fader knobs that con- trol the input fader volume on the 788T while the original input knobs on the 788T act as input trims. The CL-8 also

offers control of several input settings, including high- pass filter, limiter, polarity, and mute. Located on the side of the CL-8 is a button for slate making clear marking of tracks easy. Setting up in the field is easier with the CL-8 which allows users to quickly assign inputs to the main left and right record tracks. With a push of the input knob, users also have the ability to solo an input in headphones so they can

concentrate on a specific track within their recording.

CL-8 also allows two additional recording tracks for a total of ten tracks. These new tracks can be used to provide auxiliary sends for more comprehensive setups. Inputs can be assigned to Aux tracks pre- or post-fader. LED’s indicate when signals are present. A keyboard can also be

used with the CL-8 through the USB keyboard pass-through port. The CL-8 makes the 788T an affordable, very flexible 8-channel recorder and mixer that can be used for both por- table and cart based productions. The CL-8 is now available for $985.

CL-8 Features:

• Eight rotary faders allow recorder gain controls to function as input trims

• Quick assign to L and R tracks.

• Adds two additional tracks to the 788T (Aux 1 & Aux 2) with CL-8’s associated firmware.

• Quick assign to Aux 1 and Aux 2 track.

• Allows quick actuation of input settings such as high pass filter, limiter, polarity, mute, solo, and slate mic.

• The CL-8 can be connected to a keyboard through the controller’s USB keyboard pass-through port.

The

to a keyboard through the controller’s USB keyboard pass-through port. The The Coffey Audio Files |

Tech Zone

Audio Glossary M-N

M

Maximum power rating The maximum wattage that an audio component can de- liver/handle as a brief burst during a musical peak. Manu- facturers will often provide both an RMS and Max power rating. Typically, the given value for the maximum power rating is twice to three times that of RMS.

Memory The word most commonly used to refer to a system’s abil- ity to retain specific information, particularly; time, sta- tions,.and other preference settings that are electronically stored and governed.

Midbass Mid level bass, usually frequencies just above the sub-bass range, from around 100 - 400 Hz.

Microprocessor A multiple semiconductor IC device that can be pro- grammed to perform a variety of tasks.

MIDI Musical Instrument Digital Interface, a standard for con- trolling devices, such as synthesizers and sound cards, that produce music. At minimum, a MIDI representation of a sound includes values for the note’s pitch, length, and vol- ume, but can also include additional characteristics, such as attack and decay time.

Midrange (mids) The frequency range above bass but below treble that car- ries most of the identifying tones of music or speech. It is usually from 300 - 400 Hz to 3kHz.

Milliamps A unit of measurement of electric current equal to 1/1000th of an ampere. The milliampere is the most common unit used when measuring quiescent current drain in consumer audio electronics.

Mixer At its simplest level, an audio processing device used to add, combine or sum multiple inputs into one or two out- puts, complete with level controls on all inputs.

Mono monophonic sound. A method for reproducing sound where the signals from all directions or sources are blend- ed into a single channel.

N

Near Field Sound. Any point where the direct sound emission is measurably louder than the reflections of that sound. From a more ac- curate technical perspective, this is the point where the ve- locity of molecules emitted by the radiator is out of phase with the sound pressure wave. This is especially obvious when the listener is in close proximity to high frequency emissions.

Negative feedback The dynamic comparison of a fraction of the output signal to the input signal at the input to an amplifier in such a way that the amplifier regulates it’s output signal for maximal conformity to the input signal. Negative feedback is frequently used in designing opamp circuits and audio power amplifiers.

Noise Perceived sounds not in the original soundtrack. Such things as hiss, crackle, pops, hum, and buzz

Noise floor Normally the lowest threshold of useful signal level (al- though sometimes audible signals below the noise floor may be recovered).

Noise gate Used extensively for controlling unwanted noise, such as preventing “open” microphones and “hot” instrument pick- ups from introducing extraneous sounds into the system.

NTSC National Television System Committee. Refers to the standards used for video broadcast and playback signal parameters in the U.S. Japan and other countries. Alterna- tive systems used in Europe and some Asian countries are PAL and SECAM.