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.

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.

A Review of Lav Microphones

Sorry for the lack of posting I have been working like a dog the past few weeks and with barely enough time to sleep I haven’t had a chance to blog at all. Today I wanted to revisit something I have talked about before “Lav Microphone Choice”. I own the following Lav’s now:

Countryman B6, Countryman EMW, Sanken Cos-11, TRAM, Mk2, And the free Lectro M-150. Never did I think I would need such a selection of Lav’s in my kit but everyone has its own purpose and I will tell you what I prefer .

Countryman EMW I own six of these for reality tv I feel there is no better lav for most all around situations. They are cheap $180.00 or so each wired for Lectro they are water and sweat proof. They are also very rugged  some of mine have been dragged stepped on and keep on going. I find them very easy to hide most of the time if the talent is wearing non noisy fabric. With a piece of moleskin I can lav someone in under 30 seconds for the day. The only time the EMW doesn’t work well is noisy cloths and people wearing not enough cloths.

Countryman B6: I own 3 of these they are great for people wearing very little clothing and people wearing noisy cloths because they are easily hidden in close to plain sight. I don’t like how fragile they are and that they aren’t waterproof without the protective cap on then and at $310.00 each are more expensive but I love having them.

Sanken Cos-11. I own two of these I think they are the best sounding lav and work great hidden using a hush lav sleve and some transpore tape. They also are very wind resistant when using the metal windscreen. They are expensive though at $340.00 each and I don’t like them in Reality tv situations because I find the best way to hide them is to tape them to the talents body using the method above and I think that is distracting to the talent on a reality tv show and that it is ok for a film since they are actors. I will use one on a reality shoot though if I feel it is the only way to get good audio.

TRAM: I own 3 of these 1 which is hardwired (1) Black one and (1) White one. At $240.00 they are at a decent price point. I bought the Hardwired one used for very cheap and it is mostly for a few times a year I have a client insist on a hardwired lav. I think they are the best at dealing with very high wind in a news situation (Hurricane, Live shot etc) So I usually only use it in those situations. I have the white one for sitdown interviews which the talent is wearing white I don’t use it much but it is nice to have.

M-150 and Mk2- Both of these types came for free with my Lectro and G2 lav purchases. I keep them for spares and dangerous situations for equipment but that is about it.

So if you can only buy one lav to start with I’d go with Countryman EMW then I’d add a Countryman B6. After that it is all a personal choice

Wireless Camera Link/Hop Options

Someone email me today and asked me what I thought about the New Lectrosonics SR receiver. I have seen the unit in person but have not used it in actually field production.  It looks great, however  I do not like the fact that the antennas’ are fixed and not remove able and that you cannot put batteries in it. I have been a zaxcom wireless hop user for a few years and the unit always does an amazing job with no issues. I also like the fact that the transmitter is small and easily fits into my bag. I just don’t like having to carry two tx, 9v battery eliminators, and a bunch of cables. The only advantage to using the lectro camera hop is that if you need extra wireless for talent you can cable yourself to the camera but I have used my zaxcom as a talent tx once as well with no issue. I also have about $5000,00 invested in my Zaxcom Hop when you figure all the cables I have for it, The BEC box and mounting plates. Camera man also like how it is a worry free piece of gear that always works. Now if I didn’t own a camera hop I may consider the Lectrosonics SR but since I own a zaxcom I will stick with it. Neither one is a bad choice

Doing Sound While in Paris

Well Guys I am on Day 3 of 7 on my documentary shoot in Paris. So far everything is going great. My Block 27 Lectros have worked everywhere little difficulty and only had to retune a few times (All shooting has taken place near downtown Paris). Overall it has been a great and very easy shoot. We are doing mostly sitdown interviews in private residences and a tiny bit of of walk and talk mixed in with B-Roll around the town most days 8 hours or less. So my 302 mixer with (2) 211 and my Mkh-416 on my K-tek Ke-89cc which fits inside my backpack perfectly. I haven’t really used the boom at all though since it is so loud outside. The French people we have encountered are all very nice and the language difference hasn’t really caused any major issues at all. The only thing this trip has really reminded me is how much I hate rolling around a light kit. We don’t have a P.A so part of my job when we are not shooting is to roll the Softbank kit around. But hey as sound jobs go I am having a great time going out at night and eating great food

K-tek K-Zep Wind System

Someone emailed me yesterday asking if the K-Zep was a good lower cost alternative to the industry standard Rycote Zeppelin. If your unfamiliar with this product check it out HERE. I have owned one for about a year and use it regularly. It is well built and is $300.00 less than the Rycote one. It also is easy to take apart and is much more durable because it isn’t made of 100 percent plastic like the rycote one. I also like that its end caps are foam so they are quickly and easily removed and transported. I find the K-zep and Rycote both provide the same amount of wind protection as well. So check one out if you need a lower cost wind protection system.

The Reliability of the Tascam HD-P2 Hard Disk Recorder

A Fellow Sound Mixer recently had a major failure while recording which appears to be caused by the Compact Flash Card failing. You can view his posting HERE. It is important to realize that media failures are a major concern and often happen without warning. In this case the CF card failed not the unit. I always try and use high grade CF cards like Sandisk Ultra II cards. While they are a little more expensive I think they are worth the money but others may disagree.  I have never had my Tascam Recorder fail on me in any situation and for the price of $700.00 it is tough to beat. SO if your looking for a recorder at this price point buy the tascam hd-p2 it will serve you well.