Never overlook the importance of sound in motion pictures - specifically, well-recorded dialogue and the impact it has on an audience. Consider some of the more memorable lines in classic movies alone. What would CASABLANCA have been like without “Here’s looking at you, kid”, JAWS without “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” or “You can’t handle the truth” from A FEW GOOD MEN? For every great moment of dialogue captured onscreen, there is a microphone on a boom pole being cued just offscreen by a skilled operator and a production sound mixer nearby ensuring that proper levels are being recorded.
Getting great sound on-location can be quite challenging - especially now with the proliferation of unscripted dramas, documentaries and reality shows. While today’s digital post-audio editorial tools certainly make it easier to fix mistakes and remove extraneous noise, it all still comes down to basic fundamental recording principles —Get the take as cleanly as possible. And, many times, you have only one chance to get it right. This is why hiring the right sound mixer with the right tools to do the job is so important.
I have recorded and mixed sound for film and television shows around the world in some of the most inhospitable and demanding environments (view my IMDb credits). In my 30+ years doing so, I have never had a major piece of equipment fail. The reason for this, I believe, is due to the quality, integrity and design of products from tried and true professional sound equipment manufacturers the likes of Sound Devices, Lectrosonics and Sennheiser.
Here is a list of the production sound equipment I currently use and why I use it:
- Sound Devices 633 6-input, 10-track digital field mixer/recorder. The heart and soul of any location recording kit is the mixer, and I chose the 633 because of its size, I/O functionality and bullet-proof reputation. It delivers uncompromising, transparent sound and generous recording options. Additionally, it sports two incredible and proven auto-mixing systems built-in!
- Sennheiser MKH-50 and Sanken CS-3e microphones. Impervious to RF and humidity, possessing low self-noise, great reach and uncolored sound, these mics are the staples of my interior and exterior dialogue recording choices.
- Lectrosonics SMQV transmitters, SRc and UCR 411a wireless receivers. These digital hybrid diversity wireless units offer superior signal quality that rivals hard-wired microphones. They offer great range and interference-free rejection of competing RF signals. I pair the diminutive SMQV transmitters with the Sanken COS-11D lavaliere microphones with stellar results - even when hidden under layers of wardrobe.
- Sennheiser AVX wireless mic system. Great for camera reference feeds, especially mirrorless and DSLRs.
- Tentacle Sync E. These tiny lock-it boxes bring frame-accurate SMPTE time code synchronization to virtually any camera, and their free software solutions make for simple and automatic synchronization of multiple sound and picture sources.
- Denecke TS-3 Time code slate. Accurate, robust and power-efficient.
- Lectrosonics IFB R1a wireless IFB client monitors. These rugged, battery-operated headsets rival Comteks for more critical audio monitoring. Great for Producers, Directors, Script Supervisors and Clients.
- Support equipment such as Rycote mounts and windscreens, K-Tek and VdB boom poles, Zuca all-terrain cart, Peter Engh and Canare audio cables round out my kit.
That is all!