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: