30 April 2008

The Sound Cart

Hey, kids.

Be sure to drop by veteran mixer Phil Palmer's blog The Sound Cart. Recently, he posted a series of photos of his new cart that he had custom built.

Currently, I rent a beat-up old Magliner cart when I need one. It's cheap and it gets the job done, but it certainly isn't the most elegant of beasts. Down the road, when I'm (hopefully) doing more feature films, I'd like to put one together myself. Seeing photos of setups like Phil's makes it easier to visualize what you may need in the future.


28 April 2008

27 April 2008

Oh, My....

Well, it had to happen sometime.

When I invited John Rambo to be a guest writer the other day, I certainly didn't consider the consequences. As it turns out, Mr. Rambo made some disparaging remarks about Mr. Chuck Norris, which this writer unwittingly posted without proper editorial oversight (I blame the drinking). This has ultimately led to an online feud between the two.

Let me state for the record: the opinions of any guest blogger are his/her own, and do not necessarily reflect those of the management of sync.sound.cinema.

As editor-in-chief, I will make a more concerted effort to review posts before publication.

Thank you.


Whilst enjoying a sumptuous Sunday brunch here at the offices of sync.sound.cinema, I happened upon this great clip about the trials of foley work from the movie Modern Romance (via FILMSOUNDDAILY!). Please to enjoy:

(My favorite line: "We've got Heaven's Gate, the Short Version in here at 8.")

25 April 2008

"Survival Training for Non-Linear Location Recording"...presented by John Rambo

Yo, listen up.

Dis is John Rambo, and I'm here to teach you survival skills. Not da kind of skills where you become so deadly that you can kill a man just by lookin' at him; only I can do that.

No, I'm gonna show you da basics of non-linear production sound recording, with gear from Fostex, Zaxcom, Sound Devices, and Aaton.

I'm gonna give youse a link to a page with streaming (like blood) videos, presented by I.A.T.S.E. Local 695 (which is coincidentally da number of people I accidentally killed while brushin' my teeth this mornin'). Dey also got some "...printable quick reference sheets and links to manuals, tutorials and more." I like manuals. They teach you how to vaporize stuff real good.

I wish I coulda looked at these videos myself, but my computer' broken (...'cause everythin' I touch explodes), so here's the link.

(Thanks to Jeff Wexler over at jwsound.net for the heads up...on a stick.)

P.S. I've been gettin' recon about some Chuck Norris guy, runnin' around in cowboy boots kickin' things. So I'll say this just once, 'cause if I repeated myself, the sound of my voice would stop your heart: The only good chuck is ground chuck. Take that, Norris.

{something randomly blows up}

21 April 2008

"The Hitler Bottle" (No, Not the One With His Brain...)

Found via jwsound.net:

NPR's All Things Considered recently profiled John and Mary Peluso of Peloso Microphone Lab. Snip:

But unlike some of their rural neighbors, who may rise before dawn to cast their lines in the local creek, this couple rises early to meticulously assemble microphones by hand. The Pelusos' microphones are modeled after some of the world's legendary mikes, but at a price more affordable for today's musicians.

The Pelusos are part of a boutique microphone-making movement — an effort to inexpensively replicate the look and sound of classic mikes. Peluso microphones have been used to record the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the bluegrass band Blue Highway and the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, among others...

As a recording engineer, [John] eventually worked with all the classic RCA, Sony and AKG microphones, and particularly the German-made Neumann mikes. But it was when he went to work for a mysterious physicist named Verner Ruvalds that he learned about what he calls the "black art" of making microphones...

Ruvalds had helped produce the Neumann bottle mike, designed in 1928 by Georg Neumann, and considered a technological breakthrough. Neumann took the old carbon-grain broadcast microphone, which uses bits of carbon sandwiched between two plates, and turned it into a mass-produced "condenser" microphone, which has one fixed plate and another that forms a diaphragm moved by sound waves...

The Neumann mike — the CMV3 — was so widely used by the Fuehrer and Nazi Party leaders that it acquired a nickname: The Hitlerflasche, or the Hitler Bottle.

Be sure to listen to the full story, which includes recording samples made with Peluso mikes.


Trew That

Skylor Morgan of Trew Audio has posted a series of video tours fresh from NAB in Vegas, and no, they're not tours of strip clubs (unless the quality of audio gear in strip clubs had dramatically increased lately...which would be a surprise to me, because I certainly wouldn't patronize such places. Ahem...).

Link, courtesy of trewaudio.com

16 April 2008

NAB Tidbits

Hey, kids, here's a quick sampler of recent NAB announcements.

First up, the Sonorae Audio Monitoring System. Snip:

The Sonarae offers an input mode selector for up to 8 AES/EBU data streams or 16 individual audio channels...

The 8 AES/EBU input data streams pass into the heart of the system, which is comprised of a 16x2 summing matrix. This matrix allows the operator to listen to individual left or right audio channels at the output or to select various channel combinations. Special algorithms have been developed to maintain a constant level at the output of the 16x2 summing matrix...

For ease of use the 16x2 matrix is equipped with 5.1/6.1/7.1 surround sound stereo mix down selectors along with a set-up, learn, and clear function...

Sonarae provides the operator with master speaker level, along with two different dim settings and a mute switch, which can also be remoted to a foot switch. In addition, a headphone amplifier (with separate level control) and output jack is located in the control panel...

Operator-selectable delay is built into the unit to allow for compensation of picture monitor latency, adjustable from zero to 9.5 video frames in 0.5 frame steps.

Next, the Voice Over There mobile voice-over booth:
Voice Over There is based in Santa Clarita, CA and offers a sound-proof cargo trailer that's been outfitted with air conditioning and WiFi access, all for the purpose of going on location to record voice performances.

Powered by a Honda Whisper generator, the trailer's booth is five feet wide and six feet long, allowing it to comfortably accommodate up to two people during a session or one musician with an instrument. Recording gear includes Digidesign Pro Tools LE, Universal Audio tube pre-amps, Telos Xstream, two high-end mics and an LCD monitor.

And batting clean-up today is the Holophone N-CODE (via Creative Cow):

Holophone, a leading manufacturer of surround microphones, has brought Dolby Pro Logic II® encoding technology and the portability of the company’s popular H4 SuperMINI to its larger mic models, the H2-PRO and H3-D, with the introduction of the Holophone N-CODE portable multi-channel encoder...

Ideal for larger remote productions requiring surround recordings, the Holophone N-CODE takes six channels of audio from the H2-PRO or H3-D and converts them to two channels using Dolby’s Pro Logic II technology, allowing full 5.1 channel surround sound audio to be captured or transmitted to virtually any stereo recoding device, or broadcast over the existing stereo infrastructure...

Stereo recordings made with the Holophone N-CODE can be easily converted back to brilliant and realistic 5.1 surround sound using the company’s new Holophone D-CODE multi-channel decoder...

That's it for today, people. Stay tuned.

15 April 2008

Keep Rollin' From the Top (Boom Operator Blues)

Funny song about the biz by boom op Jeff Erdmann, via jwsound.net. Sample line:

Well, we're losin' the light
And we're goin' into grace
And we're waitin' on a plane
And there's a hair in the gate...

Sing it, brother...


Eight Is Enough

Alas, your fearless reporter could not swing the funds to make it to NAB this year, so the staff here at the offices of sync.sound.cinema will be furiously combing the internets as relevant product announcements trickle out. First up, something on many a mixer's wish list: Sound Devices Introduces 788T 8 Track Field Recorder. From the website:

Designed specifically for multi-track on-location productions, the eight-track 788T features a significant expansion of input and output capability—eight full-featured microphone inputs and eight tracks of recording. The eight inputs, together with a thoroughly revised digital architecture, provide unprecedented recording flexibility...

To accommodate the larger data storage requirements of multi-track recordings, the 788T comes equipped with a 160 GB 2.5-in. internal SATA hard disk drive. This on-board storage provides up to 30 hours of 8-track, uncompressed 24-bit audio recording of industry-standard Broadcast Wave files. Additionally, CompactFlash cards with UDMA support and external FireWire mass storage volumes can be used for recording and playback. All three storage mediums can be selected for simultaneous, redundant recording.

Street price: $5995


07 April 2008

Lav Is a Battlefield

Hello, Cleveland...

Dan "The Man" Brockett has come through once again with a stellar article comparing 16 lavaliere microphones, along with recording samples of each. Snip:
Often referred to as a "lav", lavalier microphones are a category of sound gear that is often overlooked and taken for granted by those new to recording sound for picture. When you consider how many models of lavaliers are available, it becomes a considerable challenge to make an intelligent choice about which lavalier you should use in a given situation. If you speak with professional sound mixers, they often have a favorite manufacturer and model of lavalier that they like to use, but why? Based upon my experience, lavalier preference almost seems like a birthright, passed down from generation to generation, but if you are not a professional sound mixer, how do you know which model best suits your needs?

But my fav quote has to be this:
The lowest cost XLR cable will always have better sound quality than the most expensive wireless microphone system.

Amen to that. In my experience, people unfamiliar with audio tend to be blinded by the notion that wireless transmitters are somehow "magic". While they can be indispensable tools, they come with their own caveats.


05 April 2008

In Anonymity Veritas.

Now, we here at sync.sound.cinema HQ embarked upon this particular mission with the notion of "nearly full disclosure", i.e: I would use my real name in a an effort to forge a relationship with my readers (all two of you), and with manufacturers, as I would like to do more product reviews.

The drawback is that I feel far less comfortable letting loose with my actual internal monologue, curmudgeonly thing that it is. Luckily, Below the Line has no such compunctions, and can freely call it like she sees it. Snip:
But there are a few details that can clue you in, either during the initial meetings about a production, or on the first day, to the fact that you are in for a bumpy ride. Here are some of them.

1) "This is such a great project!"
Hearing this from someone who is trying to hire you for a movie is generally an indication that
a) You will not get paid or
b) You will get paid very little and, in fact,
c) Probably nobody is getting paid, because
d) There is no money in the budget for just about anything.
This generally can lead to conclusion
e) The job is going to most likely have inexperienced crew, bad/tiny locations, not enough equipment, bad catering, long days because they're trying to cram an insane amount into them and don't have to pay overtime…so in other words, it ain't going to be pretty.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard this particular refrain here in indie-friendly Portland, Oregon. I don't mind it, but I do mind getting the self-righteous indignation that I inevitably encounter when I politely refuse free work for strangers. Just because you're convinced you're going to Cannes doesn't mean that I'm making the mistake of the century by not recognizing your particular brand of cinematic genius.

So there.


Premiers Bruits

Via First Sounds:

A group of researchers has succeeded in playing a sound recording of a human voice made in 1860 – 17 years before Thomas Edison invented the phonograph.

Roughly ten seconds in length, the recording is of a person singing “Au clair de la lune, Pierrot repondit” – a snippet from a French folksong. It was made on April 9,1860 by Parisian inventor Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville on his “phonautograph” – a device that scratched sound waves onto a sheet of paper blackened by the smoke of an oil lamp...

The essence of the Berkeley technology, which was developed in collaboration with the Library of Congress, is to apply non-contact digital imaging to any material containing a recorded “groove”. The imaging results in a digital representation of the record which can then be played on the computer with a virtual stylus. Being non-contact, the technology protects delicate samples from further damage or degradation. This approach has been used successfully on many phonograph discs and cylinders,and its application to the phonautograph recording was a straightforward extension. It is novel however that the phonautograph recordings were never meant to be played.