28 May 2007

Track Stars: The Unseen Heroes of Movie Sound

From the boards over at jwsound.net: Track Stars-The Unseen Heroes of Movie Sound, a short film showing the foley process live along with the action.

I actually remember seeing this on cable somewhere when I was a kid; I'm sure it's at least partially responsible for inspiring my love of sound for picture.

Link to the original video. You can read its imdb listing here.

27 May 2007

Reverse Workflow

A reader recently posted an interesting question to David Bondelevitch over at dB's Blog. Snip:

It seems like sound is always piggybacked onto picture. Thus, it seems as though the sound editor does not have an opportunity to respond to the picture edit and say: "this does not work for sound." Is there much reverse motion in the work-flow and why is it that the work-flow puts sound after picture?

Well, the answer is, yes, and no.

Link to the post.

19 May 2007

Location Audio Guide

Hey there, campers.

Sorry for the dearth of posts. I've been up to my neck shooting a spec TV pilot here in Portland, Oregon called Rebels. It's a run'n'gun HD show, shooting single-system going into a Panasonic HVX-200. It's been fast, sweaty work, but a lot of fun.

Anyhoo, today's article is one from the DV Magazine archives. Entitled Location Audio: Building an Audio Toolkit, they present different field audio packages at numerous price points, along with comments from veteran mixers.

While the article is a bit dated (they mention DAT and CD-R field recorders), the general info about mics, mixers, and methodology in equipment choice is still very relevant.

Link to the article, via dv.com.

11 May 2007

Sennheiser Wireless Tutorial

Today's bit is a basic tutorial video wherein the fine folks over at DVcreators.net walk through the menu system of the Sennheiser EW100 G2 wireless mic system.

While one should always RTFM, being able to watch someone go through it certainly helps quite a bit. Occasionally, one will encounter some manuals that may read as though they were written for robots by robots.

Link to the video.

(P.S. Guy Cochran does the demo with a single mic going directly into a DV camcorder. While this is a perfectly acceptable and common practice, I highly recommend going into a mixer first. There is the added complexity and cost, but the advantages-namely better, quieter mic pre-amps and increased mic/channel flexibility and control-are well worth it in the long run.)

09 May 2007

Shotgun Shootout

Good morning, sportsfans.

Whilst perusing the internets, I came across this comparison by Bryan Beasleigh over at DVFreelancer. Entitled Shotgun Shootout, the article details how Bryan made some basic field comparisons of some of the most popular short shotgun and hypercardiod microphones on the market.


I managed to record samples of the Sanken CS-1, CS-3e, MKH 416, MKH60 and even Sennheisers top hypercardoid small condenser, the MKH50. This past week I returned and recorded some sample of the AKG Blue Line and the C480b ULS system as well. I also own an MKH60, a Schoeps MK41 a Sennheiser K6 / ME66 and two Oktava MCO-12 kits

Comparisons have been done singularly and with mics mounted in tandem directly in front of the speaker. Distances are between 12 and 24”. No effort was made to boom because of time and space constraints

Some files have been recorded using a Sound Devices Mix Pre or 302 fed at line level into a Marantz PMD670 flash recorder. The others were recorded directly into the marantz PMD670, using the onboard phantom and preamps.

Bryan's made the recordings available in either uncompressed WAV or MP3 formats. As I've mentioned before, this kind of comparison is worth its weight in gold for people who are just starting out, who live in smaller markets, or for whatever reason can't afford to travel to a pro dealer in order to try out a mic before they purchase it.

Link to the shootout, via dvfreelancer.com.

08 May 2007

Free, as in Beer AND Speech

When building a modern soundtrack, you generally have two choices: either you go out and record what you need as you need it, or you purchase a pre-recorded library, usually organized around a central theme: doors and windows, automobiles, weapons, etc.

Most soundtracks are ultimately a mix of both, since there's rarely the time or the money to record every single effect needed, while re-using the same library tracks can make the project feel stale and repetitive.

But what about the indie folks, with limited budgets and schedules? One option that is free is The Freesound Project, an online database where you can download user-produced sound effects and music samples, all under a Creative Commons license.


The Freesound Project aims to create a huge collaborative database of audio snippets, samples, recordings, bleeps, ... released under the Creative Commons Sampling Plus License. The Freesound Project provides new and interesting ways of accessing these samples, allowing users to

* browse the sounds in new ways using keywords, a "sounds-like" type of browsing and more
* up and download sounds to and from the database, under the same creative commons license

The project was started by the Music Technology Group at the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain in 2005.

I can tell you that I've used it and I highly recommend it. It's certainly no substitute for a professionally recorded commercial library, but the effects and samples are of very good quality and the search engine is one of the better I've used.

According to the license, you are allowed to use the tracks in any way you see fit, at no charge, so long as you identify the source. In this day and age of the RIAA suing grandmothers for "piracy", this kind of respectful openness is appreciated.

Link to the Freesound Project. For more about Creative Commons, go here.

Enjoy the Ambience

Hey, kids:

Here's a quickie video tutorial on how to edit background ambience using Soundtrack Pro, thanks to the fine folks over at Ripple Training.

(And while the editing functionality is pretty amazing, is does not absolve you production sound mixers out there of the responsibility of getting good, clean room tone tracks, by force if necessary.)

Link to video, via rippletraining.com.

02 May 2007

World's Most Tasteless Microphone ?

This will be the first instance in this blog where I feel the need to post a disclaimer: all of the opinions in the following article are the author's alone, and do not necessarily represent those held by the staff of sync.sound.cinema (i.e. me).

So there. {raspberry}

Anyhoo, today's goodie comes from voice-talent Corey Burton, whose career spans nearly 30 years and runs the gamut from major networks to feature films (including the original Transformers movie). Mr. Burton posted an article entitled "The World's Most Tasteless Microphone", in which he opines that the Sennheiser 416 short-shotgun, considered by many to be an industry standard in an industry ruled by subjective opinion, has ruined VO work by being pressed into service as a studio mic, rather than the run'n'gun solution it was originally designed to be.


Originally designed for news gathering and outdoor 'location sound' recording, it has a bright, hard, somewhat 'metallic' sound, that blasts right through even the thickest of sound mixes. So what could be wrong with that? Plenty - if you intend to use this sonic equivalent of a crude telephoto lens in a typical small recording studio, directly in front of someone's face.

Now, I've used the 416 myself, and I like it. Light, short (less chance of dipping in to the ever-evolving frame of a hand-held camera shot), and as he notes, an ability to highlight human voice in busy environments. But that's field work, which is a far cry from the controlled conditions of a VO booth.

I would venture to say that the 416 became popular for at least two reasons: first, the cost. A new 416 runs about $1100 new, while new, large diaphragm condensers (the classic go-to mics for VO and vocals) can run several times that.

Second, the fact that it pre-emphasizes the voice can cut down on time spent applying EQ and compression, the traditional techniques to raise a voice above the din of a busy mix. In this current production climate, with ever-shrinking budgets and, thus, schedules, minutes can matter to the bean counters. While it may not be subtle, it is nevertheless effective.

As new media delivery channels emerge, the demand for content will continue to skyrocket. One consequence is that "good enough" tends to rule the day, which can be very frustrating for folks brought up to honor the highest levels of technical and aesthetic quality.

As with all things, it comes down to "adapt or die".

But that doesn't mean we have to completely give up fighting for that extra nth of yummy audio goodness. Someone, somewhere, has their speakers set up correctly (these are the same people whose VCRs never, ever flashed "12:00"), in a quiet room. They listen attentively, whether to music, movies, or television. They care.

I do it for them. :)

Link to the article, via coreyburton.com.