17 December 2008

Coffey's On

The winter edition of The Coffey Audio Files is available for download here (pdf read link).

16 December 2008

Sanken and Zaxcom Team Up To Design Mic, Fight Crime

Via ProSoundNews:

Sanken has announced the COS-11D, the latest version in the COS-11 lavalier series. The new design incorporates design advances that deal with digital and digital/analog hybrid wireless transmission...

President Glenn Sanders remarked, "Zaxcom is excited to recommend the Sanken COS-11D for use with our TRX series of wireless digital recording transmitters. The COS-11D, with its immunity to RF interference, provides the audio quality that sound mixers have come to expect, while Zaxcom's digital wireless technology ensures transmission quality that is equivalent to that of a hard-wired connection..."

In today's wireless transmission systems the microphone must remain unaffected by the new forms of transmitter signals. While the benefits of these new systems are obvious, they present new challenges in the area of emission protection. Sanken Microphones has designed the COS-11D specifically to reduce the instances where interference is an issue...

No word yet on which of the two companies will have the cooler super-hero costumes, though my money's on the Big Z.


And In "Throwing Us a Bone" News....

Both Lectrosonics and AKG have announced a trade-in policy and rebate offer, respectively, for owners of their wireless systems in the 700 Mhz band. Snips:

The plan offered by Lectrosonics allows owners of current generation products in these blocks, including SM Series, UM400-type, UH400-type, UT, LM-type, IM and MM400-type transmitters, and UCR411-type, UCR401, Venue-type, SR-type, UCR100 and R400-type receivers to have the frequency block changed to a lower range for a nominal fee.

AKG's offer is conditional in that the rebate can only be applied towards the purchase of their WMS 450 system:

...AKG announced a trade-in program for customers of any brand of wireless system that operates in the over-698 MHz range on its popular WMS 450 system. This rebate program gives customers a $100.00 instant rebate when they trade-in their “700-MHz” wireless system against the purchase of a WMS 450 from a participating contractor or retail dealer. A $100.00 mail-in rebate is available via a downloadable PDF form for new customers when purchasing the system from a participating online or catalog retailer.

Link to AKG.

Lectrosonics press release, via ProSoundNews.

12 December 2008

FCC Plans On Making "Smut Free" Wireless Broadband; In Related Story, Scientist Quoted As Being "This Close" To Making Perpetual Motion Machine

From Ars Technica:

Federal Communications Commission Chair Kevin Martin's campaign for a free, smutless, wireless, national broadband service for the people opened a new chapter on Friday with the release of a public comment cycle on the plan. The agency's Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNOPR) advocates "public access to free, nationwide, high-speed wireless broadband Internet services using a portion of the winning bidder’s network in the 2.1GHz Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum."

Free wireless broadband? Spectacular, assuming it happens. "Smutless"? Futile, for many reasons, not the least of which is that there is no legal definition of what constitutes "obscene" ("knowing it when you see it" notwithstanding).

Attempting to create a catch-all filter will be a waste of time and taxpayer money. First, most filters are easily circumvented by today's teens (witness the ongoing efforts to prevent students from accessing social networking sites on school computers). Secondly, if the filters are set too stringently, they may end up blocking legitimate health education sites (by preventing anything with the word "breast" from being accessed, for example).

All of this just gets my inner curmudgeon up in arms. I can completely understand parents wanting to be able to control of what their kids surf on the net, but not at the expense of my own access as an adult. Personal responsibility has to factor in here; if you are that concerned, then put the computer in the living room so that you know what sites your kids are visiting. If you can't trust your children to use the net according to your rules, then take away their mobile device and replace it with a bare-bones cell phone. If you're worried about the computers at school, address your school board.

People want the world to be re-oriented around their own children, and the rest of us are expected to be ad-hoc babysitters, making compromises so that some of these parents out there don't have to face the burden of watching their own kids every single minute. Unfair, but also unrealistic.

The world can be a dangerous, dirty place, and try as some might, you can't bubble-wrap it and call it good. Parenting, like most of life, requires patience, common sense, and above all, follow through. This means learning how to properly use that big ol' scary computer. It means becoming a more sophisticated web surfer in your own right, so that you can pass that tech wisdom on to your kids.

Finally, it means communication, which is what the net is all about. Talk to your kids, about computers, about adult material, about whatever they're doing when they're online. The only people qualified to know what's best for your kids is you, parents. It may be intimidating, but the internet is an undeniable part of our modern world, and kids need to be taught how to use it responsibly.

You will be better at determining what is and is not appropriate for your kids than any filtering software ever devised.

Thank you and good night. {steps off soap box, runs away from angry mob carrying tar and feathers}

10 December 2008

Apron Strings (The Good Kind)

Via Pro Video Coalition: the EQE Boompole Apron. Snip:

Our unique Boompole Apron attaches to the side of your cart and provides storage sleeves for up to four boompoles, antennas, or small stands. Because it is made of rugged cordura fabric, it weighs almost nothing and folds flat.

Currently, I just use a cheapie bungie cable to strap the boom to my cart, but this is only practical when it's stationary. If you need to wheel around to get closer to the next setup, or move out of the way of lighting equipment (which inevitably happens), it gets a little wonky. An apron like this seems like the most practical way to store booms, short of a far more expensive custom-built cart.

MSRP: $89

Link to Equipment Emporium.

(P.S. The post at Pro Video Coalition lists today's date, but a Google search brought up a post from Videomaker.com from 1999 that lists the Boom Apron. Seems as though it's a older product with a new announcement making the rounds.)

04 December 2008

Setiquette Part Two

Mr. Patton continues:

You have a responsibility to deliver good sound. It doesn’t matter whether you are the Production Mixer or the EPK guy. There will be times when you need something from the people around you, like quiet. It may be that the people around you will not give you what you need, even after you ask them nicely. EPK crews don’t usually get “quiet on the set.” They are expected to work around everyone else, including the guy with the power saw. You don’t have the authority to tell them to be quiet, but someone probably does. Talk to your director, your director can talk to the ADs and maybe figure out a better set-up or one of the ADs might help you get some quiet.

With the breakdown of the apprentice system, this kind of hard-won wisdom in invaluable. New crew members have fewer ways to watch over a veteran's shoulder to see how it should be done. There should be far more articles like this if we expect to maintain a base level of professionalism in the industry.

Link, via Trew Audio.

03 December 2008

Blimpin' Ain't Easy

Okay, if anyone feels the need to make any "full of hot air" jokes, get it out of the way now...

Anything above the lightest breeze necessitates a blimp- or zeppelin-style microphone suspension, which surrounds the mic with a volume of air that is kept at low velocity, while still allowing enough motion to proved a good, clear pickup of intended sound. This is generally achieved by building a semi-rigid plastic frame, lining it with silk or some other acoustically transparent fabric, and pairing it with a slip-on cover with longer fur, for even heavier winds.

Rode, known for their mics, has debuted its entry into the field, and Trew Audio got their hands on it. The short version:

Barely two years after releasing their extremely popular NTG series shotguns, RODE microphones has developed the RODE Blimp. RODE has studied the market, taken the best aspects of the competition, and melded it into a lower cost dependable wind protection solution...

All in all, the RODE Blimp seems to be a very good value. While slightly heavier and possibly a little less refined in appearance than the most popular brand of zeppelin there are some good ideas at work here. Owners will be satisfied with the performance and the economics of this windscreen system.

Link to review.


Klassic Overuse Of the Letter K

K-Tek, purveyors of fine boom poles (one of which your intrepid reporter owns himself), have introduced the K-Tek Klassic Traveler, a budget-minded boom/suspension/windscreen package that would be perfect for an on-the-go ENG or a back up to a heavier system. Snip, via b-roll.net:

The K-87CC extends to 7′3” (221cm) and can be compressed to 1′10” (56cm). Crafted of high-density graphite fiber, the pole offers the same great benefits as the top-of-the-line Klassic 5-Section Boom Pole series...The K-87CC comes outfitted with an internal coiled cable and a bottom XLR connector.

The K-Mount microphone suspension (K-MT) offers users both the ruggedness of a shock mount and the isolation characteristics of more expensive suspension systems. The system features K-Tek’s unique 4-point polymer microphone suspenders (K-SUS) fitted precisely into a handsome cylindrical aluminum frame.

The K-Tek Slip-On Fuzzy combines a high-quality faux fur exterior with a tightly woven fabric backing — making it the only slip-on windscreen with an extra layer of wind protection. Users have a choice of a small, medium or large windscreen to fit a multitude of microphones.

Purchased separately, these items retail for $685.00. K-Tek is offering the Klassic Traveler Kit at a package price of just $575.00.


State Of the Rebate

From the "Wow, They're Being a Lot Cooler About This Than I Thought They Would" Department:

Shure has started a rebate program of up to $1,000 for the trade-in of Shure 700 MHz frequency band (698-806 MHz) wireless systems and other related components purchased before February 1, 2007--and for any other manufacturers' qualifying 700 MHz frequency band wireless systems and their related components.

The part about "other manufacturers" is interesting, although there's nothing specific on Shure's website about who qualifies.


22 November 2008

So, THAT Happened...

And, we're back.

Just coming off four days on the new HGTV show Bang For Your Buck, which, oddly, was not a hunting show about male deer.


Anyhoo, a bit's happened since my last post: the FCC voted unanimously to open up the whitespaces for a nation-wide deployment of wireless internet services and devices. Nothing new, exactly, other than it's now official. Technically, new whitepace devices may be legally sold after Februrary 18th, 2009, and sales of new wireless microphones in the 700 MHz band are outlawed.

What does this mean at the practical level for production sound mixers? Things are going to get more crowded, obviously. The world's going wireless, from phones to laptops to other mobile devices not even conceived of yet, so we're all going to get a bit cozy here in the near future.

For operators like myself, who typically work solo with four or so wireless mics and a pair of wirelesss hops to camera in a residential neighborhood, it doesn't seem like a lot will change. Already, mixers tip-toe around each other and DTV signals, scanning frequencies at each new location (or coordinating beforehand with software from vendors like Lectrosonics or Shure).

For large-scale users (think NFL, Broadway shows, etc.), who depend on an enormous amount of wireless communications beyond program microphones, things are going to get interesting. Either they're going to have to reduce the number of comm devices (complicated to the point of nearly impossible with the scale of some modern productions), or they're going to have to retro-fit the entire operation with new digital technology (expensive, and in some cases not entirely proven in terms of robustness in the field, i.e. bluetooth).

Mainly, though, a lot of this is merely a forehead smacking "duh". Outside of larger entities like major broadcasters, nearly every wireless microphone user is, technically speaking, a pirate broadcaster:

Despite some "urban legends" to the contrary, all professional audio wireless microphones, wireless intercoms and wireless in-ear monitoring systems used in the U.S. are required to be licensed by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission). Although enforcement actions have been infrequent, unlicensed operation can potentially subject wireless users to fines and other penalties...

Broadcasters and TV/film producers can qualify for licenses under Part 74, Subpart H of the FCC rules, "Low Power Auxiliary Stations". Other "general" wireless users who can’t qualify under Part 74 can only be licensed on a very restricted basis for eight specific VHF frequencies in the 170 MHz range. However, only four of these frequencies can be used at one time at a location and interference is often a serious problem. General wireless users who do attempt to license these frequencies find that the process is extremely complicated and difficult, leading most to simply give up.

I haven't taken an official poll, but I'd be willing to bet that the majority of the production companies I work for are not licensed users, nor are the other mixers I personally know here in town. We've all been working on borrowed time and spectrum since the FCC had announced in '96 that they would shut off the analog OTA transmitters. They even pushed the date back several times to its current target of Februray 17th, 2009, allowing for a traditionally slow-moving industry to further adapt, and yet here we are, sweating it out.

The thing of it is that it won't be like some giant rocker switch will be thrown, shutting us all down on that day with a big, descending-pitch hum. A nation-wide deployment of wireless internet will now be allowed, but won't reach any sort of serious penetration levels for while. Realistically, I'd say we'd have at least six months to a year before we even see these kinds of services rolled out in major metropolitan markets, and another year beyond that before devices that can utilize them start appearing in the market in any real quantities. Hell, we're still waiting on broader deployment of 3G from some of the major telcos, and that's been around since at least '99.

On top of that, all new whitespace devices are required to be "spectrum-sensing", meaning that if the device detects a wireless mic or comm on its frequency, it should automatically hop to another open channel. The jury is still out on whether this will actually work or not, but it's a step in the right direction if it can be implemented properly.

Again, I'm not a sound supervisor on a major show, tasked with coordinating an enormous amount of multiple wireless to the point where it all functions flawlessly in a live, mission-critical manner. The shows I do are smaller scale, with fewer wireless in a format that allows for another take if there's an audio hit. My own personal work won't have to change much. As for the rest of the industry we'll have to wait and see, but it will more than likely be business as usual until then.

Article round up:

"The Bottom Line: Legal Use of Wireless Microphones", via ProSoundWeb.

Society of Broadcast Engineers Statement of Policy Regarding Wireless Microphones Used at 944-952 MHz

"White Spaces Overview", via Shure.

"FCC Releases Full Text of 'White Spaces' Decision", via Shure.

11 November 2008


Chew with your mouth closed. Keep your elbows off table. Children should be seen and not heard. When you throw up in an alley behind a bar, do not go back in to "complete the mission".

This things have nothing to do with Set Etiquette and the Chain of Command, a new article from Rick Patton over at Trew Audio's Audio Flow; I just thought that my readership could use some classing up. But the article does have some very valuable, time-tested wisdom for the rest of us. Snip:

What are the basic rules for how to behave on a movie set? Don’t draw attention to yourself. Wear dark colors and be quiet. Turn off your cell phone. Don’t make eye contact with the actors and don’t stand in their eyeline. Don’t talk to above-the-line people unless they talk to you first. Don’t block doorways. Smile, be polite, and acknowledge the pecking order. Resist the urge to help out unless someone specifically asks for your help. Those are the basic ground rules for anybody walking onto a set for the first time. That’s good information for newbies and veterans alike. There are additional layers of etiquette when you are a crewmember or working on a documentary.


06 November 2008


I'm usually introduced to people as a "sound guy". Like many tech-oriented industries, film and television production have traditionally been male-dominated. To date, I know of only two female production sound mixers here in Oregon (Hi Anna and Randi!).

W.A.M. is looking to change that. Based of out San Francisco, the non-profit Women's Audio Mission aims to "change the face of sound" by providing training, experience and career counseling for 200 women a year, 20 of whom are placed with paying jobs in the industry.

They are also encouraging the next generation of women in the recording arts with G.R.O.W., the Girls Recording Outreach Program. G.R.O.W. matches girls 8 to 18 with women mentors on small-scale recording projects, designed to mirror real-world productions in an environment conducive to learning.

In short, they're awesome, and they deserve all the support they can get.


05 November 2008

A Stretch in Time Saves Nine (Nine of What, I have No Idea...)

Today's video tutorial comes from Ken Stone's FCP site, and covers time-stretching audio within Soundtrack Pro.

Occasionally, you get stuck with a chunk of audio, be it music or effects, that is just too short, or long. Since post production is all about making a tidy little package, it's important to ensure that all of the components fit just so, which is where time-stretching can come in handily.

Traditionally, altering the speed of an audio clip also altered its pitch. While this is useful for effects, it's detrimental when all you need is to fit a selection into a pre-determined time slot. Luckily, modern DAWs offer the ability to stretch time while maintaining the original pitch.


Damn Right...

28 October 2008

Zaxcom Says, "Screw 11, We're Going To 12."

Zaxcom, makers of fine digital audio gadgetry, have recently introduced the Fusion 12 Multichannel Recorder/ Mixer.

The Fusion 12 is a twelve input, eight output mixer, with a full twelve channels of recording capability. Like the original Fusion, it is solid-state only, allowing for lighter weight in addition to increased battery life. The two Compact Flash cards will record simultaneously to provide built-in redundancy.

"Our new Fusion 12 blends the rugged durability and performance characteristics of a solid state recorder with the maneuverability of an in-bag audio mixer and recorder," said Glen Saunders, president of Zaxcom. "Also, there's a button that will play an MP3 of Danke Shoen, but you'll just have to guess which one." [Part of the above was made up. -Ed.]

And, since the first-gen Fusion was whining about feeling left out of everything, Zaxcom engineers rolled their eyes and gave it two extra channels, bringing its total to ten. Original owners can upgrade for free.

Link, via Studio Daily.


16 October 2008

White Space Invaders


I'm trying my darndest to stay abreast of the labyrinthine changes going on with the 700 MHz spectrum and its white spaces (witness the new RSS feed in the upper right corner of the blog).

But honestly, it boggles the mind sometimes. I'm approaching things from the perspective of an audio professional, but the issue is so much more far-reaching than our industry alone. Rapidly, it is becoming one of internet access, gatekeeping, and the major carriers scrambling to put the genie back in the bandwidth bottle, even though we, as tax paying American citizens, own the spectrum ourselves.

Recently, the FCC approved a proposal for free nationwide wireless broadband, but in the AWS-3 band, which resides around 2155-2180 MHz. I've stated before that I think that every person on earth should have free, wireless internet access provided to them, and this proposal is a definite step in the right direction. It would be content-filtered for kids (adults can opt-out), and tiered in terms of speed: low-speed for free, high-speed for a fee.

The carriers, of course, are getting a bit itchy. If this plan reaches the intended penetration levels, it would seriously threaten the status quo. After all, why would someone pay for something they legally get for free? Ultimately, it would force their hands to either offer true broadband that the rest of the developed world enjoys (rather than the trickling faucet we're now being gouged for), or lower their prices.

But whither the 700 MHz band, that unlicensed spectrum that TV, film, sports events, live shows and houses of worship have all built themselves upon? Some is being allotted to first responders, with little argument from anyone. But the rest is still up in the air, no pun intended. Seeing as how a national internet initiative was given the green light in another band, you'd think we were out of the woods, but not so. Already, the FCC has outlawed the further sale of any new wireless microphones in those blocks.

I said before that I'd be perfectly willing to sacrifice that spectrum if it meant open internet access for low-income people. But since the current proposal is in a totally different band, the 700 Mhz white spaces are going to be put to use (primarily by AT&T and Verizon) for a new generation of wireless devices (iPhone et al).

While a schmancy mobile internet device can be a good thing (indeed, I'm chomping at the bit to get my hands on a G-1), it certainly isn't the same as providing a public service like net access to the general public. The already crowded airwaves just became standing-room only, which will force the aforementioned industries to adapt, at great cost, which, of course will be passed on to the consumer. For TV, this most likely means more commercials; for live shows and sporting events, higher ticket prices.

The 500 pound gorillas here are the major carriers. The coveted spectrum is an untapped market for selling lucrative data plans to existing mobile subscribers, though it ultimately seems a bit short-sighted. A medium is nothing without content, and the carriers have just caused the content creators' baseline costs to rise.

For example, one of the most appealing things about reality television (which could not exist without dependable wireless microphones) is the incredible margins; it's dirt-cheap to produce. If this kind of cash cow goes away due to increasing technical costs, all content is going to go up in price. This, in turn, will mean increased licensing costs for the carriers to access that content, which means that data plans either remain at their initial price points and become less profitable (unlikely), or they become so expensive that customers are put off. Sure, people will always want email and SMS, but a real time-suck like watching TV clips online is what keeps the data meter running.

On the other hand, this may encourage a return to more scripted fare by the networks (which, while modern production styles still require wireless, a handful of actors on a set for short takes is a far cry from the "wire everyone and roll" MO of reality). This paradigmatic shift could provide an outlet for new talent and ideas if the industry goes back to the narrative storytelling upon which it built its foundations. It may foster a return to more substantive content, rather than the cotton candy ephemera that dominates today.

One can always hope.

Article round up:

Free WiFi? That's So 22nd Century

FCC Clears Free National Internet Plan
America May Get Broadband For Free, But Porn Will Cost You
AWS-3, white spaces clear initial hurdles but will they survive?

FCC, Wireless Providers at Odds Over Plan for Unused Airwaves

FCC set to vote on white-space issue Nov. 4

In Spectrum Auction, Winners Are AT&T, Verizon and Openness

Soundtrack Pro Tempore

Two Soundtrack Pro items today (although, I have to say, the honeymoon's almost over for me. I've been having numerous issues with nearly daily crashes and other assorted weirdness. As a fellow postie mused, "It's more like 'Soundtrack Prosumer'." There's still a lot I like, so I've got my fingers crossed for STP 3.0).

First up, from geniusdv.com: Spectrum View in Soundtrack Pro.

In Soundtrack Pro, we're all used to seeing waveforms when we open up clips. But there's another perspective on the sound that, while it's a little more scary at first, can be almost as useful once you figure it out. You can separate some sounds from others, spot areas with funny spikes that don't show up in the waveform, and even copy and paste specific sounds from within a flat clip. With practice, you can even begin to recognize the "fingerprints" of individual words. They call this view ... Spectrum View.

Next, via LarryJordan.com: Reducing Noise in Soundtrack Pro 2.

One of the exciting features in Soundtrack Pro is its ability to reduce background noise.

Notice that I said "reduce," not eliminate. If you need to remove a sound, you'll need to re-record the audio. If, on the other hand, you just want greater separation between your speaker and the background, this tool can do the trick.

Well, back into the trenches for me. I've got a twenty minute mix that's been dogging me for months. You won't best me, Soundtrack Pro! [shakes fist to the heavens]

Neutrik Intros Unisex Connector, Making Barrels Obsolete; Donkey Kong Shopping Resume Around

Called the ConvertCon (not to be confused with the "Conversion Convention '08"), the connector utilizes a sliding collar, allowing it to mate with either a female or male XLR.

Other features include an improved strain-relief collar and a durable zinc shell.

I wonder if it's truly cost effective for high-volume cable makers to change over, since barrels, while essential, are usually needed only once in a while. Personally, I think it's brilliant; when you're bagged up and run'n'gun, the last thing you want to do is add weight with a full "goody package" of adapters.

Via Post Magazine.


15 October 2008

Why So Sibilant?

Via Post Magazine: MPSE Sound Show to look at Dark Knight Soundtrack.


The MPSE Sound Show (www.MPSE.org) returns to Hollywood on October 27th, with a sonic exploration into the world of this summer's Batman movie from Warner Bros. Pictures, The Dark Knight...

Excerpts of the movie will be presented with special "pre-dub" mixes to illustrate the variety of elements used to create an environment of serious sound...

The MPSE Sound Show will take place at 8:00pm on Monday, October 27th, and will be held at the Lloyd E. Rigler Theatre in the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood...

Present will be sound designer Richard King, music editor Alex Gibson, and composer Hans Zimmer.

See, it's stuff like this that frustrates me about not living in LA. I made my choice, based on a life/work balance, among other things, and I'm happy here in PDX. I just wish the powers-that-be could cut through the Gordian Knot of licensing to be able to post video of events like these on MPSE's website for the rest of us (or offer it as an extra on Blu-Ray, hint hint...).


funny pictures
moar funny pictures

06 October 2008

The Interview Recorder Blues

Skylor Morgan over at The Trew Audio Flow reviews the JK Audio Bluepack audio interface. Snip:

The BluePack is about the same size as a production intercom style belt pack. The bottom panel has a XLR mic input for a dynamic interview microphone such as the Electro-voice RE-50B...

The Bluetooth system allows pairing to any cell phone with Bluetooth 2.0 capabilities. The bandwidth of a cellular phone is only 3.4 kHz, however, with a professional microphone, preamp, and monitoring system the user instantly improves the audio quality before it goes through the cell phone compression...

Radio remotes and television news reporters find the most obvious uses for the system. In the world of radio, dialing via an analog phone line for sports, remote promotions, etc. are diminishing if not completely gone...

In situations where wireless duplex intercoms are not available, the BluePack is a relatively inexpensive solution for production communications...

MSRP: @ $495


04 October 2008

Sound Devices CL-8 Available Soon; Still Waiting on Clever Pun Title

Via Trew Audio: The Sound Devices CL-8 is now available for pre-order.

The CL-8 is a mixing panel extension for the 788T, adding the big operator-friendly fader pots of the 442 to the recorder, as well as two aux recording tracks, bringing the total track count to ten. They say it's cart-friendly, but the boxy form-factor seems like it would be better utilized in a bag. Snip:

The CL-8 provides rotary faders, high pass filters, limiters, polarity switching, and mute functions for each input. With the CL-8's associated firmware upgrade the 788T also adds two pre- or post- fader aux recording tracks for more versatile tracking needs. Above each fader are three buttons, one each for limiter, high-pass, and polarity...
A slate mic function and headphone solos are also added.

The CL-8 mounts with screws and interfaces with the 788T via a standard USB cable. While this makes finding replacement cables in the field a no-brainer, it does raise a concern about dislodging the cable while run-n-gun, as the USB isn't a locking connector like the XLR. Time will tell if this becomes an issue or not.


03 October 2008

Pro Tools 8 Announced

Via Modulate This:

At first glance, the most noticeable new feature in Pro Tools 8 is its striking user interface, which has been stylishly enhanced with a more modern color palette, as well as higher-contrast text and graphics. This redesigned user interface frames a dramatically expanded set of creative tools and a host of features for music creators, editors, mixers, and post production professionals. All the key Pro Tools functions that users rely on are still right where they should be, but enhancements, such as dockable Editor windows and a configurable Edit window toolbar, make it easier to navigate than ever before.


01 October 2008

Sound Effects Contest (Michael Winslow Not Eligible)

Via Post Magazine (unnecessary exclamation points theirs):

The SONOPEDIA™ Sound Design Competition

Attention all sound designers! Post Magazine is teaming up with HD sound effects library publisher Blastwave FX to sponsor the first SONOPEDIA Sound Design Competition. Everyone from game audio designers to feature film mixers will have a chance at winning SONOPEDIA, The Encyclopedia of HD Sound Effects.

Register now!

• Download 40 free sound effects by Blastwave FX
• Design and submit a 30 second sound design narrative
• Award-Winning judges will select the Winner
• The Winner will receive SONOPEDIA™ - 20,000 HD sound effects on a 250 GB Glyph hard drive.

Judges will include Randy Thom, Lon Bender, and Richard King. Entrants must register on the Post site, and will have until November 14th to turn in their mix.


P.S. A little of Mr. Winslow for those of you who are rusty on their Police Academy canon:

30 September 2008

CAM-Do Spirit

Celtx, the free, open-source media creation software (that I've posted about before) is issuing the Celtx Against Malaria Students Challenge. Snip:

We're challenging high school, university, and film school students across the planet to create media that educates the public about malaria and inspires others to donate $5 to buy a life-saving malaria bednet.

From October 1st to December 31, 2008 use Celtx to create a video, film, ad, comic book, stage play, podcast, video game, music video, machinima - anything that you think will draw attention to malaria bednets and encourage others to make a donation.

On January 15th, 2009, Against Malaria will select 3 projects whose creators will receive the honor of determining the countries of distribution for 5,000 malaria bednets... Plus, one or more of the projects will be linked to and promoted on the Against Malaria site.

Also, we'll tally up the donations made between October 1st and December 31st and the school with the most individual donators will be awarded a high definition video camera courtesy of Celtx!

Open source tools can be a very viable option for non-profits and NGOs as they can really level the playing field in terms of functionality at little to no cost. Sure, they may require a little extra care and feeding, but the results are worth the effort.

Stating the obvious, but in a media saturated world, you need to stand out from the background noise in you want to be heard. Well-produced PR is a good move in that direction, and Celtx can be the first step.


29 September 2008

Cassingled Out

Here's a little bit of audio goodness for those of you out there who can remember rewinding their cassette tapes by hand with a Bic pen in order to save the batteries in their Walkmen.

From the fine folks at Government Productions and Records here in sunny Portland, Oregon comes a re-creation of the XDR process tonebursts that preceded the (totally awesome!) music on many a cassette tape in the '80s. From Wikipedia:
The toneburst consists of 11 tones about .175 seconds in length, each an octave apart. These tones are recorded on the cassette, and are read during the duplication process to detect if there is any loss of any audio information.

From Government Productions:
After much hunting on the interwebs to find an example of the XDR Cassette Noise Reduction Test Tone for use on a clients song, Rob Weston decided to just go ahead and make his own. Then he figured, heck why not put it up here and let other people have it too...

Extra points to whoever actually owned a "cassingle". For the record, I had two.


19 September 2008

Summer '08 Coffey Audio Files

Hey, kids: The Summer '08 Coffey Audio Files Magazine is available for download (actually, it has been for while; so I'm behind, sue me...). Good product reviews, including the Sound Devices 788T and the Camlynx digital wireless camera hop, along with many in-depth interviews with production sound crews.

Be sure to check out self-professed "695 Newbie" Hanna Collins' article about her foray into boom operating. Snip:

On my very first take in the “ business” I held the
boom upside down, it’s been quite a learning experience
ever since...

Dan started counting how many times my
mic hit the ceiling, “ three... four... come on Hanna.”

Ah, I remember it like it was yesterday (well, because the same thing happened to me yesterday).


16 September 2008

Quantum of Solice

Sometimes, they just write themselves...

Coffey Sound
has announced that they're taking orders for the PSC Solice Panel Mixer, due to ship in November. Snip:

Features of the PSC Solice Audio Mixer:

* 8 Input Channels with Mic Power, Parametric EQ, Pre-Fade Listens
* Individual Line Outputs on Every Input Channel, Pre or Post Fader Assignable
* 8 Mix Busses for Extreme Versatility
* 8 Balanced Outputs on Full Size XLRs and also on a Multi-Pin
* Sunlight Readable LED PPM Metering on all 8 Outputs
* Slate Microphone
* Remote Roll
* Comm - provides full duplex communication to 2 boom operators
* Operates From External 10 to 18 VDC

Pricing TBD.


06 September 2008

This Just In, From the "Unplanned Obsolescence" Department:

Via Trew Audio News: Lectrosonics To Offer Block Changes.


For the first time, the FCC has explicitly BANNED [the] use of any wireless mic transmitters above 700 MHZ. In previous years they had been unclear about "grandfathered" equipment. That changed just this month.

Lectrosonics has implemented a service plan that allows end users who have current equipment in this band to do block changes...

For some products such as IFBR1a and VRS/VRT Modules, an exchange is the lower cost pathway. While not inexpensive, this plan provides a more cost effective pathway for those who choose to change the blocks of their equipment. These block changes involved [sic] entire RF board changes...

Older products such as 200 series, 195 series etc will not be covered under this program. Frequency changes may be possible - please call the Lectrosonic's service department to inquire about feasibility.




A trio of articles from the B&H newsletter today. First up, Being Green in the Field - Reducing Your Carbon Footprint in Audio Field Production. Snip:

Anyone who works in audio field production knows that the one environmentally harmful item you burn through day in and day out is batteries. Wireless microphone systems tend to eat up battery life the quickest, but your portable field mixer and portable audio recorder both require a lot of juice. Many audio professionals just factor in the cost of single-use batteries and the need to constantly supply themselves with new ones as a repetitive chore on the job. There is an alternative to dumping a handful of spent AA's into the trash/landfill at the end of the day. The solution is to harness the power of rechargeable professional video camera batteries for your audio equipment.

Next, Exploring the Boundaries – A Close Look at an Invisible Microphone. Snip:

Boundary microphones as a class are often overlooked – literally. Flat-lying and inconspicuous by design, they lack the glamorous appearance and prestige of their conventional large-diaphragm counterparts, which are often photographed in the company of the world's best-known and culturally iconic singers, entertainers and public servants...

Regardless of their humble, vaguely bug-like appearance, boundary microphones represent some of the most versatile, functional, and reliable mics ever made, and we'd like to take a brief look at how they work and what they can do for you.

And finally, Capturing Critical Interviews: Under the Gun of Broadcast Television. Take notes on this one, kids; this is the kind of stuff that can save one's bacon. Snip:

There is no pressure in the world like knowing that the next interview that you have been granted is a one time shot, with no chance for a retake. Weeks of persistent phone calls and constant maneuvering have led you to a once in a lifetime opportunity that is sure to keep you on your toes in an effort to make sure everything runs smoothly. This pressure is magnified when an entire broadcast network is counting on you to get it right the first, and usually, only time.

As we touched on last month, Raphael Gorham has, among other things, acted as head field audio engineer for many high profile one-off interviews for broadcast television...

We asked him a few questions about recording that all-important interview without loosing [sic] your head.

Link to the B&H Newsletter archive.

03 September 2008

Sonosax Demo Day at Coffey Sound 9/6/08

From coffeysound.com:
Pierre from Sonsosax in Switzerland will drop by Coffey Sound and personally demo several new Sonosax products inluding: the new Sonosax SX-R4 eight-track recorder, SX-M32 three-channel mixer and other Sonosax products.

The SX-R4 seems to be the star of the show (from the Sonosax website, which, being based in a country with four official languages, makes for some wonky copy):
The ideal companion for classical music and on location multi-track recording
Perfect Gain control and advanced linking capabilities
Recording capabilities: 44,1 up to 192kHz @ 24bits and 16 bits (dithering)
Up to 8 tracks on the HD plus 2 tracks on the CF Card
Small and robust construction
Friendly user interface, easy maintenance
Battery or external DC operated

Saturday, September 6th 2008
Coffey Sound
3325 Cahuenga Blvd
(323) 876-7525

02 September 2008

The "Voice of God" Don Lafontaine Dead at 68

From Entertainment Tonight:
Voiceover Master Don LaFontaine has died. He was 68.

LaFontaine, known as the "King of Voiceovers," died Monday afternoon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. LaFontaine's agent, Vanessa Gilbert, tells ET that he passed away following complications from Pneumothorax, the presence of air or gas in the pleural cavity, the result of a collapsed lung. The official cause of death has not yet been released.

Over the past 25 years, LaFontaine cemented his position as the "King of Voiceovers." Aside from being the preeminent voice in the movie trailer industry, Don also worked as the voice of Entertainment Tonight and The Insider, as well as for CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox and UPN, in addition to TNT, TBS and the Cartoon Network. By conservative estimates, he voiced hundreds of thousands of television and radio spots, including commercials for Chevrolet, Pontiac, Ford, Budweiser, McDonalds, Coke, and many other corporate sponsors.

From the very first gravelly syllable, you'd recognize Don Lafontaine's voice as the "In a world..." guy. Just about every major action film trailer from the '80s (my unofficial film school) was graced by his ominous intonations.

I've written about Lafontaine before, and here again is that awesome clip of "Five Guys in a Limo":

Another clip, a parody of both trailer cliches and the Three Tenors, featuring Lafontaine and one of the best impersonations of him I've heard yet:

A profile:

And this segment from NBC Dateline:


26 August 2008

Gone, Baby, Gone

Well, here we go....

From broadcastingcable.com (via Gotham Gazette): FCC votes unanimously to prohibit use of wireless microphones, other devices in 700-megahertz band after DTV transition.

FCC chairman Kevin Martin proposed the ban earlier this month.

The FCC also wants to prohibit the manufacture, sale, import or shipment of such devices that operate in the 700-MHz band.

The devices have been sharing the spectrum with broadcasters on those channels (52-69), but those channels are being reclaimed for advanced wireless uses by industry and first-responders after the Feb. 17, 2009, transition to DTV...

The commission also sought comment on a proposal to authorize current unauthorized users in the 700 mHz band--many wireless mike users are not licensed, in violation of FCC rules--by allowing them to operator on channels below 52-69. It will also look into complaints about the marketing of those microphones...

David Donovan of the Association for Maximum Service Television has pointed out that the move will reduce the spectrum available for wireless mikes used by news reporters and newsrooms and would "appear to make it more difficult to place unlicensed devices on channels 21-51 since the demand for wireless-mike spectrum will increase on those channels."

The FCC is currently testing those unlicensed devices as it decides how and whether to allow them to share DTV spectrum.

Initially, I'd been willing to accept the lost spectrum if it meant that free municipal wi-fi might become more wide-spread. But even though it looks like that's no longer the case, I certainly can't argue with First Responders being given the allotment. While some producers may think that their show is a matter of life and death, these folks live that.


07 August 2008

Holy Production Tracks, Batman!

I try to avoid reading anything about a movie I'm excited about before I see it, which is becoming more difficult in our media-saturated world. And so, I waited to read FilmSoundDaily!'s excellent articles about the sound for The Dark Knight until after I'd taken in a screening.

I've now gone twice (two short of the minimum nerd quota, but hey, I've been busy). The first was at Cinetopia in Vancouver, WA., an all-digital cinema with some of the best sound-systems I've ever heard (and this is from a former THX auditorium junkie).

The second time was in IMAX. As I wipe the drool from my chin, let me tell you that it was an absolutely amazing experience, with the same power and spectacle that the movies used to hold for me when I was a kid, before I was spoiled on DVD and home surround systems. Certain sequences of the film were shot in IMAX 70mm 15-perf, filling four stories of screen with an incredibly sharp and lushly detailed image

And the sound...huge, dynamics for days, rib-shaking lows and crystalline highs, punch-you-in-the-gut and smack-you-in-the-face, but in a good way. It was cinema as it should be: larger than life, and turned up to 11.

So, um, yeah...I liked it. :)

But the best b-chain in the world is nothing without a quality mix. FSD talks to production sound mixer Ed Novick about the challenges of getting good tracks on one of the biggest movies of the year. Snip:

FSD: Nolan said in a recent interview, “I just think separating the voice from the face and the body is very tricky… It is, after all, blatantly unreal.” With an established dislike of ADR, was Nolan more accepting of input from you on set?

EN: Chris likes to use the production sound for the final, yes. And if during shooting I can identify a problem - that’s fine. But he expects me to have a solution, as well. His method of shooting one camera at a time is very sound-friendly. I think we both agree that matching the camera perspective (wide shots sound more distant than close-ups) is correct, and that a well-positioned overhead boom mic will be better than a lavalier hidden under the clothing...

Chris made sure that sound was invited to every location scout (emphasis added). Many potential problems are solved this way, as issues like generator placement and cable-entry can be worked out in advance. This movie had a number of locations in practical office buildings, so identifying location issues (escalators, air-conditioning, elevator dings, etc…) early can help make them go away on the day. James McCallister (location manager) and his location team were terrific in this regard.

See? It can be done, folks. I've ranted previously about this very thing, and it's refreshing to see a director care as much for that ephemeral quality of sound captured in the moment. It does make a difference, and going the extra mile certainly didn't hurt the movie's bottom line. What's even more telling is this quote from Supervising Sound Editor Richard King, in his interview with FSD:

Chris likes the sound of production.I think there's maybe half a dozen looped lines in the whole movie.

King goes on to say that Novick was very diligent in getting wild tracks of anything that might have been called into question in post.

Now, I'm fully aware of why looping is so prevalent on bigger budget productions: it's the economy, stupid. It's far cheaper to have two or three editors and one actor re-record the lines in a controlled environment later than it is to make one hundred-plus crew and expensive talent hold for that plane. But you sacrifice something else when you do ADR, something that can't be replaced or imitated, that very subtle but integral connection to an event in an acoustic space. Novick and crew did their very best, with the approval and encouragement of the director, to maintain that connection, and the results speak for themselves.

FilmSoundDaily links:

Dark Knight Part One
Dark Knight Part Two
Dark Knight Part Three

31 July 2008

Red Letter Day

Apologies for the late notice:

The next Meet the Gear Day at Gotham Sound covers the "Red Camera step-by-step, answering every sound related question we've had but were afraid to ask."

Personally, I feel that if the production is going to spring for a 2K imaging system, they should do the sensible thing and budget for double-system sound. But we all know that won't always be the case, don't we?

Saturday, August 16th.


23 July 2008

S & P From B & H

Two from B & H today. First up: the basics on using portable audio recorders. Snip:

Since audio is such an important element of video and film production, there are often production scenarios that call for more than two tracks of recorded sound. Reality programs are among the most popular shows on television. These shows will regularly have numerous people wandering around, all of them wearing wireless microphones. Since their actions are unscripted, the challenge of mixing all of those separate wireless microphones down to two tracks is often too risky. One solution is to use a portable audio recorder with multi-track capabilities.

Yes, yes, a million times yes. Even the best wireless are subject to dropouts on occasion. Sometimes you just can't: budget or schedule won't permit the extra care and feeding required. But if you're a producer putting together your next show, consider affording your production sound mixer the flexibility they need to do the job properly. Not only will the final product be better, it is always cheaper to do it right the first time, rather than try to recover useful material after the fact.

Next, a profile of globe-trotting mixer Raphael Gorham. Snip:

Has certain equipment ever saved the day for you?

On an ENG shoot where Hilary Clinton was thanking a dozen local politicians in a suburban diner, there were about 6 network crews waiting for her when she arrived. There were only 3 sound techs and we all had planned to use booms to get her audio. I happened to have a Crown PZM mic and phantom PS in my bag, so I set in the middle of the tables where they were to sit and attached a wireless transmitter. When Clinton arrived, Secret Service moved the press further out of range than we had anticipated (which is not a problem for cameramen) so booming her was not an option. The PZM worked great and I was able to record the entire conversation.

Pay attention, kids. This is the kind of stuff that can make or break an entire shoot.

"How To Use a Portable Audio Recorder"

"Pro Audio Profiles - Raphael Gorham"

16 July 2008


This just in from K-Tek, purveyors of fine boom poles:
K-Tek Boom Poles offer Easier Grip

K-Tek's award-winning Klassic Boom Poles now feature a new design advantage -- unique Soft-Touch grips.

For optimum handling, K-Tek's trademark dimples now have a rubberized feel to give operators a sure grip and more comfortable touch when tightening or loosening the Klassic's locking collars. Constructed of precisely engineered thermal composite, K-Tek's Soft-Touch UV and rain-resistant collars are snugly applied to the poles during the manufacturing process to provide a long life...

Each pole is constructed from high-density graphite carefully selected for maximum strength and minimum weight. Telescoping sections are securely connected through the company's proprietary “captive collet” locking system.

For further information, contact:

1384-F Poinsettia Ave.
Vista, CA 92081
Ph. 760-727-0593
Fax 760-727-0693

14 July 2008

And That's the Truth About the Soundbooth, Ruth

I'm a few weeks behind on this one, but I was busy with my IRL job, so, you know, sue me...

{Note from sync.sound.cinema Legal Dept. : "Well, Mr. Dolan certainly has what we in the industry call a 'sense of humor'. To wit, we do not endorse any language that may directly or indirectly induce someone to take legal action against the staff and administration of sync.sound.cinema. Thank you."}

From various places around the web: Adobe has released a free beta of the next version of Soundbooth. Snip from Adobe's site:

Try the Soundbooth beta now. The prerelease of the next version of Soundbooth provides new tools video editors, designers, and others who do not specialize in audio need to accomplish their everyday work such as:

* Arranging audio files on multiple tracks
* Making quick edits and applying fades
* Matching volume levels with a single command
* Removing unwanted noises and background sounds
* Adjusting tempo and pitch
* Recording and polishing voice-overs
* Adding effects and filters
* Previewing MP3 compression quality
* Easily creating customized music — without musical expertise

New features give you even more flexibility and control over your audio. Now with multitrack support, the ability to match volume levels across one or more files, the ability to preview MP3 compression settings before saving, and an enhanced Soundbooth Score workflow, the next version of Soundbooth is a necessary addition to your creative toolkit. Also, with the new Adobe Sound Document file format you can take “snapshots” of your work-in-progress and undo changes made to your audio assets.

It's cross-platform (Intel Macs only), and good for a 2 day grace period.


13 July 2008

Livin' On the Edge

You know, I was considering coming up with all manner of quippy explanations for my extended absence: covert ops for a shadowy government organization; community service hours for streaking; even ye olde stand-by of alien abduction (death by snu-snu!).

Yeah, no, it was only a gig. Fifteen days on the road, some of which was spent on a paddle-wheel boat (!), lazily churning its way across the swollen Mississippi. I became re-acquainted with humidity, and its ability to wrest every last iota of water from the human body. Pretty, we were not.

While we were busy changing clothes twice a day to remain slightly presentable, The Hollywood Edge was busy in preparing to offer their entire sound effects library for sale on a single hard drive. Snip from Creative Cow News:

The Hollywood Edge (www.hollywoodedge.com), the world’s most widely used sound effects library, is now available in its entirety on hard drive. The Complete Hollywood Edge includes more than 56,000 sounds (in 16bit 44.1k), most originally produced by Academy Award-winning motion picture sound studios.

The complete edition comes with Soundminer, the industry-standard sound library asset management software, designed to make it easier for users to manage their sound collections and locate the perfect sound for any situation.

While the library tops out at over 350 CD's worth of material, normally retailing around $25,000, the entire collection can now be had on a single hard-drive for $15,000. This would be a great way to jump-start a new post house and be able to hit the ground running.

Link to Creative Cow News.


20 June 2008

Suspension Of Disbelief

The New Rycote Lyre Suspension

You know, when I sat down to write this, I was wracking my brain for any sort of dramatic revelations, interesting caveats, something out of the ordinary about the new Lyre Suspension system.

And then I realized that I didn't have any. That's a good thing.

The new Lyre system integrated so seamlessly into my workflow that I pretty much forgot about it. Sure, there are physical differences between it and the former elastic-and-clip configuration, but in terms of usability and, most importantly, sound quality, they were negligible.

The first thing you'll notice is the Lyre clips themselves. Made from the same material as the S and InVision Series, the clips come sized for a range of mics, similar to the older clips. In contrast to the S series, the Lyre clips are attached to the suspension rail with hex screws, for which Rycote includes a handy tool. While not as easily re-positioned as with the S, they're far more stable.

A hex upon your first born...

The Lyres also feel less compliant than the elastic bands, but this never proved to be an issue in use. With a Sennheiser MKH-416, the clips allowed for a bit of low-frequency handling noise when shaken around on the end of the boom, but with an 80 Hz high-pass engaged on my Sound Devices 442, the noise disappeared. I run all of my boom mics high-passed anyway, so this never bothered me.

With the new system, Rycote is also throwing in a new Connbox, a small connector that mechanically isolates the boom's cable from the mic itself, further insulating against handling noise. Since I was beta-testing an earlier design, I was sent an original model Connbox; I've been assured by Vivienne Dyer, Managing Director of Ryocte, that when the new, hard-wired design ships, that "the performance should be the same for both."

The original Connbox.

The Windshield and Windjammer's designs haven't changed, as far as I can tell. Both provided ample wind reduction, from forest breezes to high winds on the Columbia River. Along with the new handle that's been shipping since last year, the new Windshield looks and sounds the same from the outside, which is all that really matters in the end.

Booming rehearsals for Everyman's War. (Note: the mic suspension is in the upper right, whereas Mike Prosser is in the lower right.)

PROS: Light; transparent to workflow, great islolation and wind reduction; free Connbox.

CONS: Have to keep an eye on that hex wrench.



Next Meet the Gear

Again, for those in the NY area, Gotham Sound is offering the next Meet the Gear Event:

RF Spectrum: What every sound mixer needs to know about the changing airwaves.
with Special Guest - Henry Cohen of Production Radio Rentals
Saturday, June 28th
10:30am @ Gotham
rsvp to gotrsvp+rf@gmail.com

Topics will include:

*What are the new FCC regulations?

*What effect will the 700 MHz re-allocation have on wireless mics and when?

*What are the "White Space" proposals and will they interfere with wireless mics?

*What can sound mixers do?


13 June 2008

On the Rode Again

Via Harmony Central:

Rode Introduces the NTG-3 Shotgun Microphone

The NTG-3 is the result of years of development by RODE engineers, providing the professional broadcast and film industries with an affordable yet uncompromising microphone.

Using a technology known as RF-bias the RODE NTG-3 is almost completely resistant to moisture, making it the only option when recording in any demanding environments where condensation is an issue. Be it in a tropical rainforest, arid desert or sub-zero snowstorm the NTG-3 can be relied on to faithfully record audio where traditional condenser microphones would fail.

Key features:

* Designed to withstand adverse environmental conditions
* 50% less self-noise than the majority of shotgun mics
* True condenser (externally RF biased)
* Extremely low handling noise
* High level of immunity to radio frequency interference

As you can see above, it looks a heck of lot like the Sennheiser 416, a veritable workhorse of the industry. I haven't seen a number yet, but if the Rode can deliver the goods at a lower price point, things could get interesting.


Meet the Gear (and Remember Your Manners)

For those in the New York area, Gotham Sound is having another "Meet the Gear" day with the Sound Devices 788T, Saturday, June 14th at 10:30 am. They request that people RSVP to gotrsvp+sd@gmail.com.


10 June 2008

And It's The Celtx By 1

Celtx, the open-source pre-production and screenplay writing program, has just been released as Version 1.0.

Did I mention it was free?

Based on the Mozilla application framework, Celtx can be used for more than just script formatting; it's essentially a one-stop shop for nearly every aspect of pre-production, from department-specific script breakdowns to scheduling.

Did I mention it was free?

Until today, Celtx has been in beta. Version 1.0 brings some new features, including:

Adapt To - a single click now converts a fully formatted script of one type into a fully formatted script of another - for example a Stageplay to a Screenplay - displaying instantly the multi-media potential of your work.

Comic Book - a new editor to write properly formatted Comic Books, and a common framework for collaboration between writer and artist.

iPhone - now view your Celtx projects from just about anywhere with a display optimized for your iPhone.

Catalogs - a new organization and searchable dashboard view of all your story's elements and production items.

Sidebar - annotate and break down each scene with notes, media (images, audio, and video clips), and production items through an easy to manage, thoroughly upgraded new sidebar.

Project Scheduling - has been vastly upgraded to fully integrate with the script breakdown and provide a Call Sheet and a host of new shooting reports.

Storyboarding - as requested, you can now choose from a variety of ways to view and manage your images, create a storyboard outline based on your script, and add shot descriptions to each image.

As always, it is cross-platform, and available in over ten different languages.

Did I mention it was free?


01 June 2008

Quiet On Set

Wired.com is featuring an article about the ever-increasing level of man-made noise pollution, and its impact on the biosphere. Snip:
Krause has a word for the pristine acoustics of nature: biophony. It's what the world sounds like in the absence of humans. But in 40 percent of the locations where Krause has recorded over the past 40 years, human-generated noise has infiltrated the wilderness. "It's getting harder and harder to find places that aren't contaminated," he says.

From a filmmaking standpoint, it's becoming nearly impossible to find an area completely devoid of background noise. For Car Trouble 2: Them's the Brakes, the first project I ever did audio post for, the director and I drove four hours in every direction over two days to try to get some clean background tracks (or atmos, for those of you across the pond) and came up empty handed. Ultimately, we ended up looping nearly every line, and creating the remaining sounds from scratch using library tracks, recorded years ago when you actually stood a chance at getting a clear recording.

Please to enjoy (bear in mind, that in addition to being my first post outing, that it was also mixed in Final Cut Pro 3, a blunt tool for audio):

Link to Wired article.

29 May 2008

Whosiwhatsis and the Thingamajig

Skylor Morgan has another post up at Trew Audio entitled Secret Jargon. Snip:
Little did I understand, very few people use technical names, but if I want to serve the customer better, I’d better learn their language. Imagine my thoughts when I first heard, butt plug, clown nose, juice can, furry, cat, coily, viper, vampire, etc. So this is my homage to jargon. I hope you enjoy.


For the more etymologically inclined, you may want to check out Strike the Baby and Kill The Blonde: An Insider's Guide to Film Slang.

28 May 2008

I'm Your Density

Found this great clip demonstrating the differences between variable area and variable density optical film soundtracks. Please to enjoy:

Via Filmmaker Slog.

Slog Blog

Filmmaker Slog: in the cloud is a blog by Mike Peter Reed, about many things but primarily production sound. The sub-title: "Making a good film is hard work; making a bad film is hard work."

Yep, it surely is.


Pay Attention To the Man (or Woman) Behind the Curtain

Good morning, true believers.

Been busy, which is good. I recently mixed my first fishing show, which was far more enjoyable for me than actual fishing. In addition, our expert guides provided an amazing lunch of teriyaki salmon steaks with rice pilaf and a dessert (!) not too far removed from tiramisu, right there on the bank of Deschutes River.

So yeah, we roughed it...

Back to the ongoing world of sound: a little while back, Editors Guild Magazine ran a piece about dub-stage engineers, the un-sung MacGyvers of film sound post. Snip:

The dub stage engineer, which is the most prevalent engineering post at the major studios, handles all of the console set up on the stage before each final mix. They confer with the mixers, sound editors, recordists and others in the sound department to determine exactly what materials will be brought to the stage, how many consoles will be required, how many tracks will be brought in, and what sample rate and frame rates will be used.

They then set the board up to enable the re-recording mixers to input those tracks and work––hopefully glitch-free––to mix them out to their ultimate deliverables...

Engineers are needed not only on the dub stages, but in sound editorial and on the ADR, Foley and scoring stages as well. It’s all about client service, especially at the major studios. Put simply, a good engineer must be able to repair anything, day or night, and have the necessary intuition to know where the problem is likely to be located.


Thanks FilmSoundDaily!.

18 May 2008

Mama Said Knock You Out

Hey, folks, be sure to drop by new-kid-on-the-blog Cinemama. She's starting things with a shout out to one of my personal faves, Miller's Crossing. Snip:
I think this movie is criminally underrated, and a frequently overlooked part of the Coen Brothers canon. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to a Huge Coen Brothers Fan, and when I mention this movie they say, “Oh yeah, is that the gangster one?” Just do yourself a favor and watch it, even if you’ve already seen it.

I concur. Be sure to check out the rest of the post for an interesting little trivia tidbit.


16 May 2008


DTS, purveyors of digital multi-channel surround sound for cinema and home theater, recently announced that it has "sold its Digital Cinema business to Beaufort California, Inc., a member of Beaufort International Group Plc. in England."

"We have now completed the sale of both the Digital Images and Digital Cinema businesses which allows us to focus entirely on building a high growth and highly profitable consumer business," commented Jon Kirchner, president and CEO of DTS, Inc.

I remember seeing a DTS-encoded film for the first time when I braved the opening weekend crowds for Jurassic Park back in '93. Although it wasn't the first digital sound format for cinema to the market (that dubious honor belongs to Kodak's CDS system, ill-fated due to its lack of analog backup in case of reader failure), it was one of the most personally memorable, mainly due to its flashy demo trailer that preceded each show:

DTS was unique among the three lossy-compressed digital audio cinema formats, in that it was double system, feeding the the audio bitstream out from a CD-ROM disc that slaved to timecode striped on the film print itself. Dolby Digital and SDDS both fully encoded the entirety of their tracks upon the increasingly limited real estate of the print. I remember from my days as a projectionist that the primary advantage to the other systems was the fact that they lived with the print; there were no discs to lose during shipping, which meant that if you got the film, you got the digital soundtrack. More than once we were forced to show a DTS-only encoded print in Dolby SR (optical analog), due to missing materials.

Shortly thereafter, DTS entered the home theater market on laserdisc, and quickly became flame-bait for every surround-sound snob out there with a 28.8 modem and a lot of spare time. Tediously long forum threads abounded with people extolling the "obvious" superiority of DTS over Dolby Digital, which then carried over into the DVD years as well.

What I personally found interesting about all of the hullabaloo is this quote from Gary Rydstrom, sound designer extraordinaire, when asked about his opinion on different codecs:

CT: Do you have any impressions of the types of quality you hear in the different types of the 5.1 theater compression systems, Dolby Digital, DTS, etc?

GR: They're pretty similar. You can hear subtle differences, but much more often you're hearing the differences in the theater's acoustics.

The acoustic space has much more of an effect. They do have some subtle differences between the subwoofer channels from one system to another, DTS treats it differently than the other systems. Not better, just different. If you're familiar with the source material, you can tell a little bit of difference, but they're all essentially the same (emphasis added).

Having been a projectionist and listened to the same films in both Dolby Digital and DTS in the same auditoriums, in addition to doing post sound mixing and transcoding to DD with my own material, I would have to agree. (Not that it will mean that much in the near future; with digital cinema offering uncompressed PCM tracks in the the theater and Blu-Ray having the capability of carrying lossless codecs, the viewer will be able to listen to the very same material that the filmmakers do themselves.)

DTS has more going on then just cinema sound. They are still firmly entrenched in the home video market with DVD and Blu-Ray, with professional encoding solutions for each. At the time of their introduction, the primary digital sound formats were created to overcome the bandwidth limitations of the carrier, i.e. the film print. Clever engineering was employed, and people were amazed at the resulting experience. Now that the carrier's bandwidth has been increased almost exponentially, there is less need for compression, and companies have to adapt. DTS has taken that step.

Link to press release, via Engadget HD, Audioholics, et al.