I recently invested in some white, tan and grey EMW, B6 and Cos-11 lav’s. which have saved me alot in the past season of my Reality tv show. A number of the cast members wear very thin tank tops and retro style T-Shirts which show the standard black microphone wire, However the white lav wire is easier to hide and makes my job much easier. So in the future consider adding some colored lav microphones to your kit. It may help you too.
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.
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.
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.
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.