In the past when I got calls in the car, I'd have to take the phone out of it's holder and hold it to my head if I wanted any kind of clarity. I didn't like fiddling with this, so I recently purchased some adapters that allow me to hear phone calls out of my car speakers and talk to the person on the line with an external microphone. Not satisfied with most of the external car microphone offerings available, I purchased the recently released Rode Videomic ME, which is a sort of "boom" microphone for your phone, and used some adapters and extension cables to mount it in my car. It even has a "dead-cat" for wind protection, and the option to add a second microphone for a passenger!
Creating educational material that is also entertaining makes for a more enjoyable experience and better learning retention. A few years ago I had the pleasure to work on an industrial video on business ethics for the American Association of Professional Landmen. (They oversee the purchasing and leasing land for the purpose of drilling for oil and other energy sources.) It was one of the most cinematic and well acted videos I've had the pleasure to work on. We just wrapped on another ethics video for the AAPL, and I hope it turns out as good as the last one did!
The studio computer got a couple much needed upgrades today. I replaced the comically large rack mountable server case I had installed it in with a (still large, but) more reasonably sized more traditional tower case. ALSO upgraded were the system fans in the case. At times when the CPU was under particular strain, you would not be blamed for mistaking the sound of this PC with a leaf blower. Now, with the ultra quiet Noctua fans installed, it's almost quiet enough for you to wonder if it's actually running! The colors Noctua chose for this series of fans, tan and brown, are definitely... distinct. I'm sure they would look amazing in a custom PC built with wood panelling. Fortunately, I'm more concerned with performance than looks (and there aren't many LEDs inside my computer case), so it doesn't bother me.
This is the before:
And this is the after:
I've been traveling more often recently, plus I've had a lot of gigs that only require up to 3 tracks. So, I decided I could use a recorder that was smaller and lighter than my 8 track Sound Devices 788T. I purchased a Sound Devices MixPre-3, an Orca OR-27 bag, and an additional Tentacle Sync-E timecode box. The result is a much smaller and light weight recording rig that has industry leading Sound Devices quality sound with timecode capability that will run for a REALLY long time on a single NP-1 battery. The only down side I've found so far is that the recorder doesn't have a secondary drive for backup recording. It's not perfect for everything, but it's more than adequate for a lot of things.
As a freelance Production Sound Mixer, one of my keys to success is arriving early to every call time. The picture above demonstrates one example of why this is a good idea. On the way to a shoot I accidentally drove over a discarded key chain in the road which punctured my tire. Fortunately I had some extra time and changing to a spare tire only cost me about 15 minutes and didn't slow the shoot down at all. (And thankfully the repair shop I took it to the next day only charged me about $15 for the patch!)
I was booked on a shoot recently where there would be a group of people having a discussion. The producer wasn't sure exactly how many people, but assured me they would only need 3 wireless lavs for key speakers. This set off some red flags for me, so I brought some extra mics just in case...
The shoot turned out to be an unscripted round table discussion with the conversation being distributed pretty evenly among up to EIGHT people! For the best sound, this ideally would have been a situation where each person wore their own mic... but I didn't have that. I had 4 wireless lavs and 3 booms. With the gear that I brought, I hid a lav mic between each pair of people at the table, and hung three booms overhead. This gave the editor plenty of sources to pull from to get the best sound we could and it turned out pretty good!
What a great experience working as the primary Production Sound Mixer on a Food Network reality show! We had such a wonderful crew and got to work with incredibly talented bakers all over DFW. (... and we ate SO much cake!!)
Check out Dallas Cakes here!
Recently on a production I was asked to wear a coms headset. My favorite headphones are quite large and I rest the boom pole on the top of my head very often while recording and having a second headset on would make that quite uncomfortable and difficult. Using only what production equipment was on hand that day, I came up with this solution:
Obviously there are better ways to do this, but when you're in a pinch and it has to happen, you do the best you can with what you have.
My RME Fireface 800 audio interface died! One day it's fine, the next... no lights... no sound... nuthin... Fortunately, this problem is fairly well documented on ye ol internetz. (This video on the topic is pretty great.) Apparently the electrolytic capacitors in the power supply dry out over time (as they do in most electronics).
One option is to find the offending cap and replace it, but since it's not too expensive, I went for a full recap of ALL the electrolytics on the power supply. I found a useful forum post that detailed the specifications of the caps needed to do a full recap. They recommended using low ESR caps. I had a really hard time finding low ESR caps, but I'm 100% positive all the caps I used are better than the no-name stock ones that the manufacturer put in it. Here's a list of the caps (and quantities of each) I used in case you're doing this repair too! You can also click this link to find all the same parts at digi-key.com (if they still have them): http://www.digikey.com/short/p9r2zb
Once all the new caps were in power was restored and peace and justice returned to the universe! Who knows, with better capacitors than it's power supply had when it was new, maybe it will even sound a smidge better too. Below you can see it happily reunited with it's tribe of misfit gear; the Furman that I put a new front power socket in, the Symetrix 528E who's input I repaired, and the PC cobbled together from parts, and even the power cable that nobody wanted because of a scratch in the middle of it that I turned into two good power cables.
If you're a student at a music or film production school and they make you take an electronics maintenance class, pay attention! You can do some neat stuff with that information and it's not quite as hard as it looks at first.
I recently flew out to LA for a shoot and I've been getting better at travelling with gear. This time, instead of paying an extra fee to check an over sized Pelican case on the plane, I minimized the equipment I was bringing and carried on my suitcase and my sound bag as my allowed "one personal item". My boom pole actually collapsed JUST short enough to fit inside the suitcase diagonally. My Orca OR40 audio bag fit nicely under the seat in front of me. I brought a regular shoulder strap for carrying it around the airport since I thought it would be less cumbersome and draw less attention than my body harness. (Still packed the harness in the suitcase.) As expected, the TSA checked my bags out thoroughly both ways, but at least this time everything was checked right there in front of me where they could ask me questions if they needed to and I was able to repack everything myself.