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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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  • Skype

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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).
  7. Avenger A5017 for boom

    looks to have pretty good counterbalancing...
  8. 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).
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Worth buying IFB200 for a simple mono system?

    I use an IFB200 in the bag and am happy with it.
  13. Travelling kit for ambient recording (silent source)

    One man band, sounds like your mostly going to be slinging a camera around. Separate sound system seems like it will slow you down and in some cases if it's not convenient enough to wield, risks not being used at all in certain instances. If your using something like a Sony A7 series or new GH4, they both have decent XLR audio options (i own an XLR-K1M and K2M for my A7s and it does a good enough job for my one man band forays).
  14. How hot do you run your signal into Zaxcom TRXLA3?

    I predominantly use an Aaton Cantar X2. My Zaxcom comes in via AES, so any limiting from the wireless side is done on the body pack. I believe in addition to the compression I listed before, I have a limiter at -1. When I say that I use compression, I'll qualify that by saying I try not to record in such a manner where compression is being used. In the event that it does get tickled, it's done in a way to be as transparent as possible. If heavy compression is active, I don't necessarily consider that good, but on the other hand, it is better than the alternative of being hard limited or clipped. I'm not sure how the Cantar handles limiting on the digital mix bus, but I'm sure something is done rather than just truncating the MSB side of the digital word. The inclusion of the clips that I attached before was basically to show that even in almost worst case over modulation, the use of Zaxcom digital delivers something that could be used if it needed to and doesn't sound crunchy like it would have with a simple analog input to an analog mixer. Most all my Zaxcom gear is older, so don't really rely on NC. This is not a choice by me, just the reality given the vintage of my wireless and the fact that I don't utilize Zaxcom recorders and have the full power of Zaxnet at my disposal (just rudimentary and rather slow remote control via my IFB200). I'm hoping to see something at NAB that might make me think of a strong investment in new wireless. (QRX / RX12 replacement with integrated Zaxnet)
  15. How hot do you run your signal into Zaxcom TRXLA3?

    The comment that jumps out at me is "I've done studio recording for years". When in the studio, I'll typically track vocal at around -10dBFs into ProTools - with the SSL board can ride the fader for an extra 10dB of "gain in hand" if I need a little boost or cut here or there. Studio is a controlled environment, artist is glued to a spot in front off the pop filter or on a stool, mic on stand in the perfect position since there's no camera to deal with, and musical performance is typically fairly predictable. Since your now talking about dialogue recording with lavaliers, totally different ballgame. Now there's greater chances of being off axis or really "off mic" with head turns, the fact your dealing with spoken voice vs louder singing, when you gain up for that softer level, it does expose you to more risks from dynamic outbursts. The way that I deal with field dialogue recording is to try to shoot for -10dBFs on my mix bus, but record ISO's somewhere in the -15 to -25dBFs range. What this means in reality is that I will occasionally get peaks approaching 0dBFs on the mix bus as obtaining -10dBFs "RMS" is quite optimistic given the conditions. Some notes... 1) when I say -10dBFs "RMS" that would be the person delivering a natural level in normal conditions. If they are soft because of sensitivity of the subject matter, or moment of reflection, or are intentionally being soft, most likely it will be mixed that way too, so you don't have to force the -10dBFs technical goal in spite of the performance. 2) I personally rely heavily on Zaxcom TRX compression and like you don't use Zaxcom recorders. I have a limiter set just below digital clip, but also enable compression. I know a lot of people don't like to use compression, but for me personally, I've come to know and trust my compression settings. From memory, my settings are -9dBFs threshold, very fast attack, slow release, 3dB knee, 2:1 ratio, no makeup. In other words the mild ratio combined with soft knee provide for a very transparent compression, akin to soft tracking compression I'd give vocals in the studio, something to just take a little of the top to help level the take a bit, leaving any character compression for the mix. This means that if I'm trying to keep ISO levels at -16dBFs for example, the compression won't even be in. My mix bus will of course be a bit hotter at -10dBFs. If the interviewee suddenly gets loud, they may start tickling the compression or if extreme outburst, will be "full on" but then at 2:1, I find it really hard to detect still, and then in very extreme situations, when the limiter does kick in, even it's effect, while noticeable, isn't as severe as suddenly hitting it without compression softening it up a bit first. If I didn't have such trust in the compression of the TRX, I don't think then that it would be responsible for me to shoot for -10dBFs on the mix bus. I attached a little test clip, which shows a typical unexpected outburst. I edited so that you don't hear the first syllables, just in case there's an NDA concern, but the first hit (xx98_6) is around -3dBFs with a little spike, meaning that my TRX was in full compression and would have clipped the output otherwise. The second (xx98_7) is my mix fully clipped. The third (xx99_6) is me regaining down to avoid compression, fourth (xx99_7) is my mix (still uncompressed), and final (xx99_7_NORM) is that mix normalized to approach the level of the clipped take. SZ1798_6.wav SZ1798_7.wav SZ1799_6.wav SZ1799_7 NORM.wav SZ1799_7.wav