Recent Job: Billy Graham Funeral

Working for NBC News for many years has afforded me a front row seat at many events some good and some bad. This past week I had a front row seat to the week leading up to Billy Grahams’ funeral including his son Franklin Grahams’ first interview after his fathers passing. The whole Graham Family and organization were gracious and kind during our time with them.

When working live on high profile interviews there is no room for error and things must be right the first time every time. The best way to make sure we have no audio issues is to hard wire everything. In this case a hardwired Sanken Cos-11  with a Schoeps Mini CMIT over top for back up and a hardwired Audio Implements ear piece. Photo below shows me getting Franklin all set up before we went live. I had Comtek IFB which are wireless for me to listen in on the IFB feed and for our producers IMG_9384

Eneloop Pro AAA ( Black Label)

I have been an avid user of rechargeable AA and 9V for many years however with so few things needing AAA I haven’t taken the rechargeable plunge. However recently in an effort to be more green I have recently added some Eneloop Pro AAA for our Mozegear sync boxes and head lamps. We decided to go with the Eneloop Pro which have been flawless the last 3 months. They also have very low self discharge and have been lasting just as long or longer as there alkaline brothers. They have been a great addition to our package

Protecting yourself and your gear from the weather

Nothing is worse than shooting in the rain, snow or sleet. But like the Post Office we must deliver. Here is how I protect my gear:

I own a Motu Sound Slick which is a large poncho well made with a clear area allow you to see your bag to mix it works well but is large and hard to carry around. But it works well and I have been in gail force winds with heavy rain and wind, and it kept me and my gear dry it also allows you to protect your boompole as well. , however if time permits I like to add a 2nd level of protection.

I usually wear a rain suit under my sound poncho or just the rain suit pants since your legs can still get damp. It will also help keep you warm in cold wet weather.

If the weather looks clear for the day I will leave all the rain gear at home. I always keep a $0.99 emergency poncho inside my sound bag in the event of an unexpected shower I can cover myself quickly.  With this rain gear you and your gear should stay dry!!!!

Sound Supervisor or Audio Supervisor: What does it mean?

I got an email from someone asking what a Sound Supervisor or Audio Supervisor does on a Reality tv shoot does? Well that answer is it depends on the show. On most medium to smaller reality shoot 3-4 camera shoots. The audio supervisor is in charge of building the equipment packages either out of his own inventory of gear ot arranging the rental of whatever gear is needed or required. He works with the production company regarding budget, required equipment and hiring of other mixers or Audio techs sometimes refered to as a A1 or A2. If you have a fair budget for all of this and a production company that listens to your input your job is fairly easy it is just about getting the right gear and operators in place.  Alot of mixer (Like myself)  own multiple audio packages. I own 3 so for alot of jobs I do I can provide all the gear as well, which makes my life much easier since it is my gear and I already own it. It gets challenging when your budget isn’t enough to get all the gear you want or your in an area of the country with no local sound houses and everything has to be shipped in from out of state. But that is all part of the job. On larger shows the supervisor may just supervise and help with any issues that may arrise or they may be in the control room of the show assissting in the final field mix. It really all depends on the size of the show and the size of the budget.

Keeping Gear Safe in its cases when flying

Buying a Pelican or Storm Case is a great 1st step to protecting your equipment, however it is not the only step that needs to be taken:

1. Make sure your name and phone number is clearly written on the case, on a luggage tag and inside the case. All my pelican cases have the custom name plates and I have each case numbered as well S1, S2, etc… I just use a sharpie and write in on the outside of each case. I do not write sound equipment or what is in each case on the outside that is asking for theft. Inside each case I have a sheet of paper with My name, phone number and hotel address on it. I then inside my suitcase have sheets with my home address which are printed on bright orange paper and laminated since I reuse them.

2. I do not use locks on my cases anymore I had a bunch of nice and expensive TSA approved Pelican locks/ Well they have all since been cut off or lost by TSA. So now I use bright colored zip ties. I buy the brightest and wildest color ones I can find. I usually use two different color ties on each case too. This allows me to see if anyone has opened the case. If you use the standard zip ties it isn’t easy to tell. I also gaffer tape extra zip ties to the outside of the case so if TSA does open it they can hopefully re tie it though they usually don’t. I sometimes will Lock a case too but usually don’t

3.  On my Iphone I have pictures and the size of each case I also only buy bright colored cases easier to find.

4. Make sure you have a serial number and replacement value inventory sheet with you in your carry on when traveling so that when you file a police report if the item is stolen you have your info ready.

Hopefully your gear will travel safely.

Back Up Recorder Options

Despite the reliabilty of current hard disk recorders from Zaxcom and Sound Devices even the best machine that is perfectly maintained can have an unexpected failure. Minimizing downtown and data loss is the hallmark of a professional audio person. This can be accomplished fairly cheaply and easily as well on any budget. As with most back up equipment it doesn’t have to be as good as your primary piece of gear it just had to work. As an example if you have a Sound Devices recorder then a Tascam HD-P2 is an excellant low cost option. Or if you already have a computer and audio interface then a low cost program such as Boom Recorder may be the best option for you. It all depends on budget and your needs, which is why dealing with a professional audio retailer instead of a big box store is always better. They are an invaluable resource to you in problem solving and purchasing advice.

Recording a Double System Backup

It is never a bad idea to record a backup when doing single system work directly to camera. Having a high quality direct copy available for post can sometimes save productions. It is always higher quality because I am recording at 24 bit 48khz and the preamps in a sound devices, deva or fostex recorder are and will always be much higher quality.  Some people may question why record at 24/48 instead of 16/44.1 if this is only a backup. Well with my new 702T and a 32gb Compact Flash (CF) card I have about 31 hours of record time so I don’t have to worry about running out oof space. I usually copy the CF card every 2 days at night while sleeping. Since I have a 500gb drive I just keep the back ups until the drive is full and then replace older back ups. If a client ever wants a back up I charge them to copy it over and then sent it. It has only happened once but I am always ready if it happens again. On commercials and non reality jobs I usually mirror to the dvd-ram drive and provide the client with the back up everyday, which is standard practice.  I firmly believe whenever possible it is my job to safe guard the audio and make sure we have all of it. Doing a back up recording ensures this.