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David Waelder

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About David Waelder

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    Hero Member
  • Birthday January 1

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    Los Angeles
  • Interested in Sound for Picture
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    Production Mixer

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  1. Equipment wishes for 2017

    From The Third Man: "Holly, I'd like to cut you in, old man. There's nobody left in Vienna I can really trust and we've always done everything together. When you make up your mind, send me a message - I'll meet you any place, any time, and when we do meet old man, it's you I want to see, not the police. Remember that, won't ya? Don't be so gloomy.After all it's not that awful. You know what the fellow said– in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long Holly." I understand that Orson Welles improvised the dialog in that second paragraph. In any event, the historical perspective expressed is a little wonky; the Swiss at that time had one of the most formidable armies in Europe and the cuckoo clock was a German product. And I think (but I'd have to check) that both Leonardo and Michelangelo were active before the ascension of the Borgias. But it's a memorable speech and it comes unbidden to the forefront of my mind whenever I hear the words "cuckoo clock." David
  2. Cart building day!!!

    Outstanding! David
  3. Nagra Stories Sound-men won’t ever tell

    It's my understanding that Ron Meyer licensed the design from Skyline. I don't know when in the course of development that happened but I'm pretty sure I recall him saying that he had an agreement. For those not familiar with the history (and my own knowledge is spotty), Ron used to work for Audio Services Corporation, the company founded by Richard Topham Sr. While employed at ASC, he worked in repairs and also developed products for the company. In 1986 he amicably split from ASC to start Professional Sound Corporation. And, subsequently, Audio Services was dissolved in the course of a legal dispute between the east coast Audio Services (the original ASC started by Richard Topham Sr's brother, Ron) and the independent west coast company. A new company, Location Sound Services, owned by the employees, was formed from the personnel and resources of west coast Audio Services. David
  4. Purchasing 2 mics for film: 8060 w/MZF 8000 & MKH-50?

    These decisions are rather like choosing between a Porsche and a Jaguar or Maserati. There are differences, to be sure, but no wrong choices. It's an enviable position to be in and, if you later reconsider, you might sell one to purchase the other choice with only a moderate penalty. A few years ago I was faced with a similar choice. I needed to move from the Neumann 140/150 system I was using. They sound great but I had too many difficulties using them with a radio link. I ended up getting a matched set of Sennheiser 8050's and have been very pleased with them. They are sensitive to handling noise and need both a delicate touch from the boom operator and a very good shock mount. But I was working with experienced boom operators so I could rely upon good hands. For a shock mount, I acquired a Rycote Invision with the suitable suspension parts and have not experienced any problems. I understand that the very expensive Cinela is even better but the Invision works very well. If you are doing narrative work, then I think you should not be spooked by the stories of difficult handling. But if you regularly work documentary or reality work, you might be wise to choose the most foolproof rig available. (Always remembering that in a foolproof system, the fool is always bigger than the proof. - Edward Teller) David
  5. DUNKIRK: Too Loud?

    I saw Dunkirk a few days ago, in an IMAX theater, and the experience still inhabits my subconscious. It is a relentless and immersive experience that comes as close as I can ever recall to taking me inside the events as if I had lived through them myself. Over about a week the retreating forces of the British Expeditionary Force, pushed onto the beach at Dunkirk, were continually harassed by advancing German soldiers and strafing planes. The peril was incessant and Nolan's movie replicates this as faithfully as he can in a movie theater. The roar of low-flying planes is thunderous and bombs and bullet strikes seem close enough to feel concussive. After watching for nearly two hours one has an acrid, gunpowder taste of the event. It is bravura filmmaking. But, having said that, I also noticed that I struggled to hear some of the dialog, I lost not just the occasional word but often whole phrases and lines. There's not much dialog in the movie and events and action drive the account rather than words. Still something was lost. I don't know if the theater (AMC in Burbank) was 70mm IMAX or the true 15-perf horizontal projection of original IMAX. I suspect the former. It seems there may be substantive differences from theater to theater and format to format. David
  6. Rental Rates

    I think this plan is risky. While it's natural to assume that if you are hired on for a six-month show, you will be with the production until wrap, that's not necessarily the case. Even if you don't have a falling out with production, there are other reasons why you might not see the show through to conclusion. You might have a family emergency that forces you to withdraw or the production might have a funding problem or a key player might have an accident that forces a temporary shut-down. It's an extra complication if you are linked to the show by a not-yet-completed financial transaction. What would happen if you had to withdraw? You would leave the purchased gear behind, of course, but then the production would need to hire someone willing to work with that gear arrangement. I think a savvy Production Manager would be disinclined to become entangled this way and the proposal from you makes you appear weak and needy. David
  7. Rental Rates

    While there is a rule of thumb for pricing rentals it is often ignored and the situation in the field is akin to the Wild Wild West. Companies renting technical equipment (as distinguished from car rentals or vacation homes and the like) will often figure on charging 1% of replacement value per day. So, a $10,000 recorder might be expected to rent for $100 per day. There are several exceptions to this expectation: 1. Anything that is particularly rugged and/or exempt from rapid obsolescence would be rented at considerably less, perhaps only 0.5% daily or even less. A C-stand would be an example of this sort of pricing. 2. Anything either fragile or needing frequent tuning or subject to rapid obsolescence would be rented for more, perhaps 2% of replacement value or even more. Examples would include radio mikes (subject both to tuning needs and to obsolescence forced by transmitting frequencies lost to cell phones) and electronic cameras. The cameras are often hot items for a year or two and are then supplanted by a new model. 3. Anything that is a specialty item rented only occasionally will be priced higher. For example, a production has only occasional use of a 500mm lens or an ultrafast lens, say, f1.1 and those articles go for a premium price. In sound, an earwig rig, while not especially expensive to purchase, might rent for more because there is only occasional call for it. Equipment is usually supplied with the necessary accessories like cables and batteries at no extra charge although rental houses would certainly charge for extras beyond the minimum need. So a recorder would probably be provided with one, maybe two, rechargeable batteries but extras would cost more. Most independent operators provide a fairly extensive inventory of back-up gear at no extra charge although that doesn't necessarily extend to significant pieces of gear. A collection of cable adapters and things of that sort are not usually inventoried and invoiced but a spare recorder or mixing panel might be. And, of course, everything is subject to some negotiation. A TV series, booking personnel for twelve weeks of continuous work, might negotiate a package price for gear a bit less than a commercial with only a one or two-day booking. David
  8. Nagra Stories Sound-men won’t ever tell

    I would be happy to scan the booklet for you. It's not that big- only 22 pages, 25 if the cover and list of authorized service centers are included. But it will make a fairly large file that I would hesitate to post here. PM me with an email address that might handle a file of about 7 - 10 MB. David
  9. Nagra Stories Sound-men won’t ever tell

    "Is there an audible difference between the NAGRA IV-S stereo and X4S to record music?" I'm a little puzzled by the question. As I understand it (and maybe I'm mistaken about the terminology), we use the letters "X4S" to designate a Harvey-mod time code Nagra. To get a Harvey-mod machine, one started with a Nagra IV-S and installed the Harvey-mod components which were available as a kit. So, an X4S is a Nagra IV-S at heart. The other matter of people doing additional modifications and swapping out heads leads one into a rabbit-warren of possibilities but good to be aware of potential variations. David
  10. Nagra Stories Sound-men won’t ever tell

    I found the Stellavox Operators Manual. It's really a very sparse document. In fact, the introduction page advises that users are expected to utilize the help menu more than the printed directions. I've scanned two pages, more or less at random, to give a taste of the document. The directions do not contain a block diagram, circuit drawings or anything of the sort. In fairness, one should acknowledge that when Jacques Sax took over building the recorder, he did remedy most (maybe all) of the problems that beset the original roll-out. The excessive power draw and associated heat were reduced to reasonable levels. But, it was too little too late and most sound professionals had already moved to HHB and Fostex recorders. David Stelladat Manual excerpts.pdf
  11. Nagra Stories Sound-men won’t ever tell

    I briefly had a Stelladat from that initial shipment received by Audio Services. I think there were six or eight machines; Jeff got the first and I had the second or third. It was a very nice machine. You can see from the picture that it was a very nice design and layout. Preamp parameters were selected by click-stopped aluminum switches and, as best I recall, navigating the software was simple and intuitive. There was a bit of a worrisome tendency to run hot- excuse me, I mean run HOT! I actually used a dish draining rack to elevate the recorder off the shelf of the sound cart so there could be air flow underneath. But other than that, it was a pleasure to use. But then there was the matter of recorded files. Word came back from post that there were intermittent dropouts throughout the takes. Again and again they had to retransfer audio from the Nagra back-up tapes. At first we thought it was a software glitch and that the original recordings ought to be OK. But when ASC sent one of my tapes to Stellavox, they listened and confirmed that the dropouts were on original tape and not recoverable. Dave Panfili intervened, asked me to return the recorder and refunded my money. As I recall, the machine was designed to be modular; the power and operations circuits were discrete from the audio preamps and the DAT transport module could be removed with four screws and replaced in the field. It was also the intention that the DAT transport might, at some point in the future, be replaced with an optical drive or a hard drive or whatever technology came to the fore. It really was a brilliant design - except for the not-working part. I still have the original instruction manual among my files and I'll look to see if there is any pertinent information there. But, as I recall, the book didn't go into any detail about the various modules. At most there might be a block diagram. But, even with all the information in a service manual, getting one of these machines, or any DAT machine, to work is problematic. Stellavox never (I am sure) made the DAT transport; they purchased drives from a larger company. Those drives contain many rubber bushings and other parts necessary for proper tracking that are subject to degradation over time. One can purchase brand new parts and install them only to have them fail after a week or a month because they were actually manufactured many years ago and have degraded just sitting on a shelf. David
  12. Cheapo boom pole

    @ Doc Justice: You are quite right; Boom Mate is the proper name for the device. My example is now so old and well used that the name on the label is almost completely unreadable. A search on the LSC site turned up a link with Boom Buddy input so I went with it. @ aginzo: Sorry for the small hijack. These discussions often stray from one side of the path to another and I thought there had been enough general discussion of variously sourced boom holders to warrant mention of this well designed alternative. @ The JW Sound Community: Addressing the general subject of specialty equipment and resources, I have long been an advocate of purchasing purpose-built gear (when available) and buying from the companies that support our community. This is not a criticism of any particular action; we all buy from handy sources and can't be expected to weigh the community support aspects of every $20 purchase. But, as a general philosophy, I advocate at least checking out the offerings at the pro audio shops before going to the box stores. On the subject of the expense of professional gear, I'd like to share this article written by one of the owners of 3 Legged Thing, a camera accessories manufacturer: (originally published in Photography, a Flipboard/Petapixel publication) https://petapixel.com/2017/07/21/photo-gear-costs-costs/ He has a bit of a chip on his shoulder after reading on blogs about how his $50 specialty bracket is a rip-off because a similar Chinese knock-off can be purchased for much less but his points are valid. David
  13. Cheapo boom pole

    After much back and forth, I thought I would suggest an alternate to the fishing pole (as opposed to fish pole) derived cradles, whether from Bass Pro Shops or ruggedized by Glen Trew. I've been using (on occasion) the Boom Buddy cradle, a purpose-built device I purchased from Audio Services in Los Angeles. (Which should give some sense of how long I've had the thingy.) It is designed to be fit into a standard gobo head and the design cradles a boom pole without putting any clamping strain on the carbon fiber tube. I checked and it is still listed in the Location Sound catalog: http://www.locationsound.com/searchresults.html?filter_name=boom+buddy At $65 it's a bit more expensive than the Bass Pro designs but I've never heard of a failure. And it would work equally well with the broom-pole illustrated above. David Here's a picture:
  14. 16-Channel Analogue to Dante Location Mixer

    A good mixing panel is the hub of one's work environment, providing flexibility in inputs and routing and operational consistency. A new design incorporating digital interfaces and the advantages of computer technology would be a great thing. But, as often happens, there is some tension between goals of flexible configuration and cost control. With the extensive use of radio links for boom and plant mikes, it's no longer important to have every fader connected to the best quality preamp with full EQ; some economy could be achieved if most inputs were line level controls. But I'm with Jeff and Constantine in favoring a mixer with some full-featured preamps so that a mike could be hard-lined to the console. Not every channel would need this capability but one would want at least two, maybe three, maybe four fully capable inputs. Cooper and Sonosax addressed this sort of need by designing their boards with a motherboard that accepted plug-in channel circuits. It's an elegant solution that permits the user to configure the console according to their needs and preferences. Unfortunately, it's also an expensive way to build the basic unit. The Solice panel from PSC competes very well against competitive designs from Cooper (now out of production, of course) and Sonosax. It is acoustically excellent and also reliable at half the cost or less. To effectively match the performance of a $20,000+ Sonosax and keep the price under $10,000 is an accomplishment. Ron Meyer told me that he simplified the design to meet the price goals. All the inputs in the Solice are an integral part of the main motherboard. The whole thing is stuffed with components (an automated process) in one pass. This does mean that a failure in one channel forces return of the whole console for service but it's a very reliable unit. Anyway, my own experience with a Cooper is that opportunities for dropping off only the offending channel board were few; one ended up sending in the whole console if anything went bad. As often happens, what one really wants is the kind of dedicated unit that will inevitably be quite expensive because it would be costly to make and those costs would be spread over a small pool of users. But most of us are prepared to pay for top quality devices that suit our needs well. This is probably doable if it's possible to reach a general consensus on how many channels would need full capabilities and how many could be minimally featured line inputs. David
  15. Cart building day!!!

    Well thought-out and elegant. I would be interested in a report on the stability of your inboard wheel configuration. I would favor a wider stance but all is good if it works for you. David