07 July 2009

Inglorious Bastard

Usually if there's a seminar or industry meeting about pro sound, it understandably takes place in New York or L.A. While this is all well and good, it doesn't do much for the rest of us who don't live in the major markets unless someone takes it upon themselves to shoot and post it online.

This time around, Advanced Broadcast Solutions is offering free educational sessions inventively named "Understanding the Bastard Child of Broadcast" to folks here in the Pacific northwest. Snip, via Creative Cow:

“Audio never seems to get the respect it deserves, but it’s an essential part of television production,” said Mark Siegel, President of ABS. “With recent advancements in digital technology, audio has also become more complicated than ever. Our ‘Bastard’ tour is designed to help industry professionals stay current with audio technologies and techniques.”

The educational sessions will provide instruction on 5.1 monitoring, mixing and encoding, and creating the highest audio quality in facilities. Additional topics will include dialnorm and loudness issues, as well as the recent developments in the wireless spectrum. Program content is designed for broadcasters, but all video professionals are invited to attend...

The ABS “Understanding the Bastard Child of Broadcast” tour schedule is:
Oregon Public Broadcasting, Portland, Ore. (July 20)
KEZI, Eugene, Ore. (July 21)
KOBI, Medford, Ore. (July 22)
KSPS, Spokane, Wash. (July 24)
KCTS, Seattle, Wash. (July 27)
KBTC, Tacoma, Wash. (July 28)


06 July 2009

AES Updates Website, Adds Social Networking; Still Won't Friend Me

The venerable A.E.S. has revamped their 12-year-old website (that's 147 in internet years), adding more interactive features and media content. Snip:

"We have dramatically revamped the AES electronic library, which includes over 12,000 scientific papers published in the AES journal or presented at AES events over the past sixty years. The site has streamlined countless tasks ranging from becoming a new member to discussing Journal articles and interacting with your local AES section..."

"The new www.aes.org site provides some fantastic new social networking features with direct links to committees, Facebook-style member profiles and a highly sophisticated publication search engine" AES President Jim Anderson concludes.

"The social stuff is off the hook: you can totally 'mic' a friend to see what they're doing at any given moment, like making a sandwich or catching up on their Tivo backlog. Or, you can 'fade' a member if they turn out to be a hater, whatevs," he continued. "Thanks for the add, dude! Late...". Anderson then made an awkward hand sign of some sort and ambled off.

{Extra points to whomever can distinguish what was made up in the above.}

Link, via Pro Sound News.

01 July 2009

The Iceman Cometh...No, Wait, I Guess It's Just Randy Thom

Michael Coleman's next clip in his ongoing series for Mix Sound For Film Profile Series is up, this time talking to Randy Thom about sound design for Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.

"Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" Sound for Film Profile from Michael Coleman on Vimeo.


Transducers 2: Revenge Of the Ribbon

Today, engineer emeritus Dave Moulton walks us through some basic facts about transducers, in this case microphones, and their impact on recording audio:

Also, you should know, microphones don’t detect sound the way our ears do – they lose a LOT of auditory information. A couple of lossy quirks of microphones, vis-a-vis our auditory system, need to be noted. They dramatically affect the way we use mics.

Quirk number one is that microphones cannot distinguish the angle of arrival of various sound artifacts (as our ears do), so that all artifacts are merged into a single wavetrace that does not contain directional information. At the same time , the spectrum of that wavetrace is affected by the inability of the microphone to detect frequency equally in all directions.

Quirk number two is that microphones cannot integrate sound artifacts over time and sort them by phase (as our ears do), so that all early reflections (profoundly useful spatial cues for us humans) end up being interference effects for the microphone.

The net result of these quirks is that a great deal of sonic information that us humans use to make sense of the sonic world around us is lost at the microphone. The two-dimensional map of energy over time that comes down the mic cable is NOT a reasonable representation of the aural information that we humans use.

This is all academic until you get on set, and an inexperienced producer or director will wonder why sound needs another take because of an airplane they couldn't hear, or why they need to hold the roll because of a nearby leaf blower. The mic will hear all, in a much different way than our ears (and more specifically, our brains) do; what seems like a negligible noise on set becomes insurmountable once it hits the mic diaphragm. Understanding how the mics work is tantamount to understanding how lenses capture light: you can do more with them when you fully realize their capabilities and limitations.