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.

New Equipment Now in my Kit

To better serve my clients and there productions: I have added a Sound Devices 702T to my kit This powerful 2 channel 24bit 96k recorder with timecode capibilites for all HD and SD formats including the New RED Camera. Will allow me to better serve all my clients

Kit Recommendations

Been to busy will try to write more. Someone emailed me for advice on a basic starter kit.  Don’t buy anything really cheap or crappy it will fail you. Especially when trying to get your foot in the door you only get one shot to do a good job so don’t risk it with bad or substandard gear here is my take:

Sound Devices 302 with mixer bag

(2) Senneheiser G2 wireless ( buy one system with plug on tx)

(2) Countryman EMW lav microphones (Cheap good upgrade to provided lav)

Ktek Avalon boompole internally cabled

At 8415 Shockmount

Rode NTG2 Shotgun microphone with Rycote Softee

Cables, adapters etc…..

Under $5000.00

Don’t go any cheaper than this!!!!

Reality Show set politics

Will try and post more just been very very busy. I just talked with a fellow sound mixer friend of mine who doesn’t do much reality tv work but is very experienced in news and doc work. He called asking me for some advice on his upcoming gig.  First some background on the gig it is a pilot and a nightshoot. These is the worst combination there is a pilot (no budget high stress) night shooting (which is always no fun). The only good thing about most reality shows is despite being difficult and taxing they have a good size budget to rent the right gear and hire the right team. The other reason I hate pilots is they only usually want to rent a 3 channel package 2 lav and boom. Which is never enough most of the shows I do I have 4 wireless or more. So my friend said that they wanted a wireless camera link but that the producer stated she didn’t want the camera op to listen. If using a wireless hop the camera op MUST ALWAYS LISTEN. Since that is the only way to make sure the audio is being recorded correctly. He explained this to the producer who said “It is your job as the sound mixer to listen to the audio”. This is the classic sign of a stupid producer your hired as the audio expert so they should listen to you. Remember that you need to stand your ground and do what it takes to get good audio

Tips When using a Zaxcom Wireless Camera Link

I think wireless camera links are the best advance in technology to happen to the location sound mixer because it gives you the freedom to do your job the best way you can, I have rarely had an issue with my zaxcom system but here is a list of things to do before shooting and a list of possible problems you may run into:

SETUP:

1. Make sure your camera man is always listening to the wireless feed via his camera headphone jack since you have no way of knowing what it sounds like.

2. Make sure all attennas and power cables are secure to the unit. The only issues I have ever had it a lose power cable or attenna.

3. Make sure the unit is secure in a saddle bag or BEC box. I have mine wrapped in velcro, which keeps them extra tight in the saddle bag or BEC box.

4. Have extra cables and attennas in case something breaks.

PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS:

1. Unit will not power on: Check power cables are tight by removing them and reinserting them. Check batteries if your using them. Check Power Switch.

2. Unit is on but Camera Op hears no audio: Check headphone volume knob on camera, check transmitter in your audio bag, make sure camera is set up to recieve audio correctly.

3. Poor Range: Check to make sure tx and rx attennas are tight and secure, Make sure they are in good condition. Scan for new clear frequency.

With these simple tips and tricks your Zaxcom should preform well for you and make your job much easier.

Countryman B6 Lav you can hide it in plain sight

The Countryman B6 has always amazed me with the quality of audio it can provide for such a small microphone. It has become a life saver as an example. My go to lav microphone is usually a Countryman EMW because I usually fond it the easiest to hide and the best sounding. When I need to avoid noisy clothing or have a women wearing something very sheer I will use a Sanken Cos-11 since it is is a top element lav I can just peak it out the top of wardrobe. But for impossible wardrobe and noisy mens dress shirts I use the countryman B6 I just peak it out a button hole and bam you can hide it in plain site. It also has a variety of different color caps so you can match the cap to the shirt color. So everyone should have atleast 1.

Sound Devices Wave Agent A great program

As someone who does only Location Sound for a living. I normally don’t deal with files much except for when I need to FTP a transcript or a last minute voice over to a client. I have a small protools system which is more for me to just play around with and do my own personal work with. Occasionally I will do some simple editing on a low budget film or something but thats it. The other day I recorded some polyphonic wave files for a client, which I then burned to DVD for them for post. Well I get a call that they are having issues opening them (Trying to import them into a older version of AVID) and all they really wanted was the best channel of audio. I told them that even though the talent was wired the boom sounded good for the whole shoot. So I used Wave agent to quickly batch and exact track 1 of all my poly wave files. It worked quickly and allowed me to upload the files to my client within minutes. For a free download it is a great Mac and PC based program so check it out it may help you one day soon.