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Tom Visser

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About Tom Visser

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  • Birthday 07/05/1972

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  • Location
    Honokaa & Honolulu, HI
  • Interested in Sound for Picture
  • About
    IATSE 665 & 695 Y-1

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  1. Staff Me Up

    I keep an eye on it, might have gotten 1 legitimate job in about 2 years. As someone outside of LA / NYC, it is typically LA / NYC producers looking for bottom of the barrel rates. Not to disparage those areas (former NYC'er myself), just that is where most traveling producers tend to originate and in those cities there are lots of people willing to stoop way below the common sense standards.
  2. The Sony remote control scheme is very interesting too, could see me delving into a couple to try, if for no other reason than to have something that can be repurposed to a Sony native camera hop set too.
  3. I do personally slate any room tone takes with a fairly verbose header. It might be something like (beep) "Kaimana beach exterior, faint traffic drone, moderate wind, and intermittent bird song, 30 seconds". (beep). This lets the editor know where I am, possibly to match other similar or exact location shots in the future, if they bother to keep a metadata tagged database, and also why I'm rolling room tone. I don't roll tone by default for every shot / location. I only get it when I feel post is going to find it useful, that way people know that when I'm asking for it, it's for a specific reason and not just to satisfy some sort of routine. I get very little push back whenever I ask for it this way.
  4. Production Mix Structure

    Memory seems like I've run through this discussion several times on the forum, but quick 30 second regurgitation of my current S.O.P. Split mix is good for lower budget (or corner cutting television shows) that would like to get away with using camera sound, usually fed by pro-level hops or hard line, i.e. not a scratch track, in which case I'll split lavalier groups or boom / lav split if for some reason I'm booming something - but never just default always boom - purely contextual for me. For narrative, I highly recommend doing a mono mix. It is THE single mix that as a PSM and QC expert, you are focussing on during takes, and if you suppose that the mix has a possibility of being used, is THE one option that is your best foot forward to present to editorial. Even if the production mix is not being used, then it is still very important as everyone who deals with dailies or watches dailies, or has to do technical work down the line, like cutting, ADR, foley, SFX, score, etc... will use to accomplish their jobs. My standard is track 1 is the primary mix, which for me is +6dB over my ISO, mainly because I use a Cantar X2 and that is how much "gain in hand" the Cantar offers me on faders. track 2 for me is a safety mix, which is basically the "mix -6" or a mono mix where the levels equal my ISO track levels. If you are delivering a poly file or the sound gets synched to video early on in the game, anyone previewing the clip or track will only hear tracks 1 and 2 generally, so having 2 mono mix tracks makes it safe to assume that an uneducated listener will only hear the mix and not an errant ISO. Everyone does it different, but then subsequent tracks are lavalieres or plants and for me the last track is always boom. I more often than not fly an ambience mic on the 2nd to last track. Just a side note, I think the ambience mic is one of the more important things that junior mixers don't always utilize. It is incredibly useful to help smooth out mix transitions but more importantly, between the call to "cut" and "roll sound", it is nice to have a mic up that lets everyone listening, boom op, utility, director, producer, know that their equipment is working, and not hear dead silence, or be able to catch AD calls, but not necessarily hear a cast member or your semi-private conversation with you boom operator. It is also helpful for post sound in that they can utilize this non-dialog specific track for many things, for pseudo-room tone, to "learn" noise reduction tools, for improving mix transitions, or even just to hear feedback from the AD or director that calls something out on set the moments after "cut" is called and you pull down faders, but haven't cut the roll yet. It is incredibly helpful to hear a snippet of the crew and creative chatter associated with takes to place problems or note selects.
  5. Arri Amira AES inputs with zaxcom QRX

    Yes you can do that. Go to the QRX extended menu and enable the "AES output swapped". This allows AES output A to feed left channel receiver A (mono) and right channel receiver B (mono). Output B, if AES enabled, just becomes a mirror of A.
  6. Video Chat with Jan

    Interesting to hear about "Jimmy's" habits on set. I had a mutual friend with James, and would hang out with him and his close family some summer days down at the shore. Eventually I helped him with a few things at his Village apartment after his split. He was actually quite introverted, which I found surprising, I didn't think there were too many introverted actors. But while my buddy, a large personality, large and loud Italian (not saying that's a common stereotype I hold - but you know, that was him) would be the life of the party at the card table, a few times James and I quietly sat away from the party and just look on, sipped our drinks, with quiet conversations. I really value those times, not just because he was a star, but because we had things in common. His concerns with his son Michael were some of the same concerns that I had given my own separation from my son, as I had a falling out with his mother - entirely my fault, but regardless, that commonality helped me a little and gain perspective and partially straighten out my act. My time with James was brief and we were of different worlds, but at the time of his passing I felt like I had lost a friend, even if not really a friend I knew, but someone that I had not yet fully met. Full sidetrack of the thread, sorry Dave and Jan, but just watching the video rekindled some good and bad memories.
  7. best preamps in a small 2 track recorder?

    How about a PIX240i or PIX E5 with the XLR attachment, great audio recorder, plus also doubles as an on-camera monitor with tools / scopes and if using a pro-sumerish camera, can record a more robust ProRes format. I have a sort of beat up PIX 240 that I hadn't thought of selling but could, if your interested in going down that route.
  8. Not quite the same but there are some light weight dedicated recording programs like Presonus Capture (when using studiolive mixers), Waves Tracks Live, Nuendo Live... I'm sure I'm missing a few. Most of these are for long form performance capture and not necessarily lots of relatively short takes with heavy metadata requirements, although can be adapted, isn't going to be quite the same experience or deliverable product as a purpose built tool like Metacorder or Boomrecorder.
  9. Mixer Mods for Zaxcom?

    The mix surfaces / Zaxnet uses a proprietary control language, probably not dissimilar to HUI but different language and protocols. I remember briefly trying to interface with the QRX zaxnet buss, but was never able to establish communication. I believe some machines use RS-485, but since QRX is 3 or 4 wire, maybe some are RS-422 and not fully differential like 485. Memory is foggy but think my failure had something to do with baud rate not a standard rate or perhaps asynchronous, so my generic terminal was never able to arbitrate the serial protocol correctly. Even if I had established comms, not sure I'd be that much closer to communicating in an articulate manner anyways. I have some machine control experience, but it's not my primary area of expertise.
  10. How important is a sound mixer?

    Film production is for the most part a visually oriented process. Cameras shoot images, gaffers, grip, electric light and adjust mechanically so it looks good for camera, wardrobe and makeup helps the cast look better for camera and establishes the character... thus most people in the industry understand and think in visual terms. I personally have found that there is a renaissance of respect for sound, all the way from actors, directors, (a minority of AD's - but that's their job to bust everyone's ass), and fellow crew. However, as a team member, it is our job to slot in, to fit into the workflow, not make it bend around our specific needs. Not to say just make it easy for everyone and be super accommodating, but each department would love to spend and hour doing something for themselves when they only have 10 minutes (or less) and need to make their time footprint on set super efficient. In some respects, that is what makes us professional is to be able to take our years of experience and establish strategies of attack, notice problems before others do or they become problems, adjust on the fly, so that when you do go in, you can handle it quickly and without having to figure it out and having a plan B already in mind or be able to turn on a dime. The director is a creative above the line personality, with the job of leading a technically oriented crew. Quite frankly, a director shouldn't really be dealing with mundane technical issues with crew so much as the AD. With respect to sound, we are technicians first and foremost. It is helpful to have a creative background or even a film school degree or the knowledge one get's from formal artistic training, but in the context of understanding the creative and the bigger picture to help us play the chess game and be there when we need to, to pull back when not, and translate creative vision into effective technical action. Our mission is to get the sound that post needs to do their job. Ideally that would be good sound all the time. Practically speaking, it varies, all the way from 1-camera, boom only, no ADR all the way to, guide track only, just make it intelligible for ADR stage looping. Mic selection, mic placement, signal to noise ratio, modulation level, adjusting practical location elements, props, wardrobe, and interfacing with other departments to help us succeed in our mission (moving / baffling a gennie, cutting a hold in wardrobe, troubleshoot / swap a buzzing ballast). When it comes to television production, I like to say it is 1/3 producing, 1/3 camera, 1/3 sound. When it come to narrative filmmaking, it is 100% producing, 100% camera, 100% sound, 100% wardrobe, 100% generator operator - that is, the compromises that we make in television are not (as) acceptable in filmmaking. Everyone comes to the game 100% and if anyone fails, we all fail. Ok, I know this is a idealistic summary, some of those numbers are fudged a bit, but you can get my drift. The "Sound Mixer" is always important. Sometimes you will have a scene that is just impossible to get production quality sound from... but it is important that as the technical expert, you identify this, let the right people know, and get as good as a guide track as you can so that post can do their job when it comes time to loop, because it is near impossible to loop without a decent guide. Hell, it's probably pretty hard to cut picture without guide, just think of all the creative types down the pipeline who need to hear dialogue but don't really give a rats ass about the quality of the dialogue. Your not there just to serve yourself and always get "good" sound, but just something to let everyone else do their job too. There will be that occasion where "sound" isn't that important, it's impossible to try and get, and the "Sound Mixer" is important to recognize this and step back and not slow down everyone else and gum up the process. A lot of new to narrative mixers come from the television world. In the past there was more of an apprentice mechanism for bringing people up through the ranks and that still happens to some degree. I guess technically I started in narrative in indie film, but did a pretty bad job and didn't really have anyone to teach me anything. I really got my chops doing TV and then got the chance to come back to narrative at a more mature point in my career. Just understand, the jobs are not the same. They are both call sound mixers and you both use microphones and mixers, but don't necessarily expect your TV experience to translate to film sets, it's not the same animal. Peterpete, to address your specific question, why didn't your boom operator, knowing he couldn't go into the room, go to wardrobe and start asking some questions? The room may have been locked down, but being able to converse with your fellow crew was not. Why was the wardrobe difficult? If you had a specific piece of gear would it have helped? We often have to have a ridiculously large amount of gear to be able to cover different situations, which is why mixer's should have a decent size box rental to accommodate a big enough toolbox to do our job. Who was making the decision that cast needed to be wired, was it you or was it production? Did the boom sound good? Was it possible the boom was a better choice to begin with? If wiring was still the better choice, don't ask the AD, tell him, I need X number of minutes to wire cast to get adequate sound. If he says no, then just move on and boom it, put it on your written reports, or even verbal slate that there was no opportunity to wire and do what you can. It's important to keep your relationship with the AD a dialogue and not just a 1-sided communication, otherwise your cutting out much of your job and just being a mic holder. Without this proactive element in your interaction, when it goes to post, why was the sound bad? Was it a production issue or was it a crew member issue? It's hard to say it wasn't the crew if a minimum amount of professionalism wasn't demonstrated (coming from a guy who's had a few bad sounding movies and done a lot of learning from experience).
  11. Avenger A5017 for boom

    looks to have pretty good counterbalancing...
  12. I'm new to the forum, this is my first post!

    Welcome. There's either an official or unofficial rule to use real names here, in general it keeps the spirit of the forums more professional and civil I think. I honestly can say that I don't think I'd do the job to the level I do today without this forum so hope your experience is a fruitful as mine (and thanks again Jeff).
  13. New Digital IFB/IEM System

    Back when I used the Quadra, which unfortunately I had to sell to fund the purchase of some more immediately critical gear, I briefly got into the habit of being 100% wireless monitoring. It was great because it was equivalent to what I was hearing direct from my mixer and I could easily get up and do an adjustment on a microphone, wether plant or cast, and hear in real time the adjustments I was making. I can see this system being on my cart, and then hopefully a bag friendly 2 channel version where typically I'm only passing out 2 IFB anyways, for smaller television shoots.
  14. New Digital IFB/IEM System

    Please consider a 2-channel AES / analog input portable Tx. Regardless, as a former Quadra user, I'm confident that I WILL be purchasing this.
  15. Travelling kit for ambient recording (silent source)

    In the conversation as it pertains to theTascam DR-70D, the newer DR-701D which I purchased for myself, supposedly has much better / quieter preamps. I too like omnis for atmospheres. Ever try Jeklin disk? It's something of a hybrid of spaced AB and coincident XY, but uses a small spacing and a physical baffle to provide separation rather than capsule polar patterns. I feel it retains the richness and depth of AB while gaining some more directivity / imaging. I've had success with mounting 4060 on the curved brim of a baseball cap, which allows for pretty unobtrusive walks through crowded spaces - I imagine it borrows somewhat from the AB / Jeklin / binaural world maybe not better than each in its own right, but remains covert and inconspicuous.