21 December 2007

Do I Hear 4.6 Billion?

From Wired Business News: FCC Releases 700-MHz Auction Bidder List.

As promised, the FCC released a list late Tuesday night of what turns out to be 266 potential applicants who are all seeking to bid in the upcoming 700 MHz auction scheduled for January 24. The FCC released no further information about how much each company will fork over to the government or even what portion of the 700 MHz spectrum they are bidding on, due to auction rules set up previously.

Google, a company that has already admitted it will be putting up at least $4.6 billion of its own money for the highly sought after "C" block, had its application accepted and is bidding under the name Google Airwaves.

"Google Airwaves", eh? With the impending release of Android, Google has made their interest in the wireless market quite evident. If they win the spectrum, I'll be curious to see if they can make OTA internet connectivity a viable option.

Many people will be vary of one company having so much control over the information we consume, from search results to the very carrier medium by which it reaches us. Think about it: if this were Microsoft instead of the big G, the pundits would be up in arms yelling about monopolistic practices.

I'm hoping it works out for two reasons:

A) If we as audio professionals are going to have our tool sets limited, it better be for a good reason. As I've stated before, I believe in the power of information and education. If a "free" (i.e. probably ad-supported) internet service becomes available in metropolitan areas, it would help to close the digital divide. Low-income folks will have access to online resources without having to be limited to public library hours and locations, allowing them the opportunity for self-education via straight research or online school courses.

B) It will press existing internet providers to either drop their prices or significantly increase their bandwidth offerings. I've read in a few places that the US pales in comparison to Europe and especially South Korea for what we call "broadband". If our options are between decent gratis wireless, or a screaming fat pipe for a monthly fee, we can choose what's best for our needs.

We shall see...

Link, via wired.com.

18 December 2007

Consider Me Timbers Shivered

Avast ye scurvy dogs, and be sure to check out Recording "The Morning Light", an article about handling documentary audio on a ship in the middle of a 2300 mile race. Snip:
Tasked with capturing the audio for the Morning Light project, Production Sound Mixer David McJunkin faced a series of formidable obstacles during the lengthy preparations leading up to the actual race that forced him to implement some highly unique solutions in recording the production tracks.

Wind, salt water, and the unpredictability of daily life on board a sailing boat in open water were just a few of the problems Dave had to overcome during this film that chronicles the year-long run-up to the race.

Hardcore. Makes my prior sea excursion seem like a canoe trip.

Link, via locationsound.com.

14 December 2007

The Noise Has Already Been Broughten

Hey, kids.

Today's treat comes from DV Magazine, in the form of a brief overview entitled Bring the Noise — Simple Steps To Ensure Solid Sound Recording On Location. The author, Jay Holben, is a former cinematographer, but we'll overlook that, as he has the right idea. Snip:
General audiences will forgive poor images, but they will rarely forgive poor sound, especially if they can’t clearly hear what the subjects onscreen are saying. Obtaining good sound just takes time, consideration and a willingness to get it right—adding artistic talent to the mix can then make it great.

See? Even DP's can be taught. :)

Link, via dv.com.

11 December 2007

And Away We Go....

This just in from Lectrosonics, via prolocationsound.com:

Lectrosonics Update

Lectrosonics Reblocked

Wireless frequencies are about to undergo some necessary shuffling, due to the FCC auction of the spectrum above 700 mHz, which will take effect February 2009. Lectrosonics is no exception, making Block 27, 28, and 29 no longer available except by special order in 2008 and entirely unavailable thereafter. To compensate, Lectro will be expanding the blocks available on the lower end of the spectrum. Blocks 19 and 20, pending FCC approval, will roll out first quarter 2008, with a possibility of further expansion later. In addition, more products will be added using block 944.

Thanks for the heads up, Whitney.

10 December 2007

More Alphabet Soup RE: RF Spectrum

The folks over at Coffey Sound have posted podcasts (that's MP3s to you and me, Rusty) and PDF's of the CAS/695 RF Seminar: FCC Spectrum Sell-Off, the White Spaces Left and You. Here's an interesting snip:

• Public Safety bands will allow for various agencies to communicate with each other
• Services in balance of 700 MHz band largely unknown
• In both cases, wireless microphones will likely lose secondary broadcast rights above TV channel 51 sometime after end of DTV transition
•• Current and future system purchases should all be in frequency bands below 698 MHz!

(The exclamation point is theirs, but I agree with it.)

To do audio professionally, it isn't enough anymore to know acoustics, microphones, and levels; we are now expected to be radio engineers as well.

Not to moan too much, but consider that it would be the equivalent of expecting your DP to also be responsible for a wireless video feed on every project, in addition to framing, focus and lighting the shot. Yet another bullet point in a long line of items that differentiate ours from other departments.

That being said, there's still nothing else I'd rather do, and I've been lucky enough to make a living at it, so c'est la vie. :)

Link to the seminar, via coffeysound.com.

Tick tock tick tock tick tock....

So goes the digitally-emulated sound of a mechanical clock ticking down on the 700 MHz spectrum. Snip:

The bidding begins on January 24th with a minimum of $4.6 billion required for the open-access C Block. Wake the kids, phone the neighbors, it's going to get ugly fast.

Google has officially stated its intentions to bid on that particular block. Them airwaves are about to become a wee bit crowded.

Gee, is it too late to bring TV and film production back to hard-wired mics?

(cue crickets)


Link to engagdet post.