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BrianW

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About BrianW

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    Arizona
  • About
    Electrical Engineer with 20 years audio experience including mixing FoH for large, high track count shows, multi-track recording, and mixing. Currently working as a sound mixer for a weekly live-audience taped interview-style show and freelance for commercials, tv, corporate video, etc. It's my ambition to work on feature films in any capacity within the production sound department.

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  1. DIY sound for micro budget film

    Wow, this sure blew up! Thanks for the extra perspective! I agree that a SEASONED, experienced boom op can work visually, because they spent enough time with both sensory inputs working to build enough muscle memory to know what will sound right, but that'd be in a situation with at least a two-person sound department. In the OP's scenario there is no mixer sitting at a cart monitoring the audio. It's a one-person sound dept. sitch. I was recently on a shoot when an expensive, high quality shotgun mic on a boom started making static out of the blue in the middle of a take. Without someone monitoring, that problem might not get caught until post. (I know you all realize that, not trying to be condescending at all - I don't know if OP or some others would have thought of that kind of situation, or realize how common it is for stuff, especially cheap stuff, to just quit working properly all of a sudden) Yeah, if there's a boom op and a mixer, the mixer would catch any issues. To the OP: Yep, the camera has a headphone out. If I were the boom op, I would hate the camera op being the one who has to adjust my listening level for me. I would bring my own HP amp at the very least and beg the camera op to never touch the levels. Also, the input levels can only be adjusted at the camera. If your project is one where the talent's dialog is always one level, even tone and volume level, this might be fine, but if some words are spoken more softly, and some are loud, sure, you can set the gain low enough to prevent the loud words from clipping, and bring up the soft parts in post, but how much is an editor's time worth compared to giving an on-set mixer the ability to adjust on the spot appropriately for the scene? Either the camera op as to make these adjustments, or the sound mixer has to get in the camera op's way allot. My fingers are always reaching for the mixer, very, very often. If it were me, I'd feel very awkward reaching to touch the camera that often, or, worse, trying to talk the camera op through making adjustments for me. I'm sorry if this sounds rude, and I honestly mean no disrespect. Out of curiosity, did you come to a sound forum for advice from experienced sound professionals on how to make your project turn out better, or simply to validate that the way you've already decided to do everything is proper or good enough? If you've already made up your mind, then fine, just do it your way, yeah? If it was my micro-budget production, I'd have someone acting as sound mixer, and that person would have a small mixer, a recorder, and feed the mix to the camera, at least most of the time. Having experience with equipment from the cheapest to the most expensive out there, my lowest-possible-budget choice would be to use Sound Devices MixPre or 302, plug the boom into that, and feed that to the camera and to at least a zoom recorder for backup, in case the cable comes loose or craps out at any point. I haven't used one yet, but it does look like a Zoom F4 could be another good, workable solution, but that does remove the practical ability to ride the faders during a take, since they're digital and may cause stepping artifacts - but it's pretty tough to ride faders and boom at the same time, anyhow. It could be done as you say, plugging the mic straight into the camera and plugging headphones straight out of the camera, but that'll have its disadvantages that'll limit the production, make it more cumbersome on set, and raise tensions between crew members. I've done both, and, if it was me you brought on board, I'd use my own 302 for free before I'd plug my mic and headphones into the camera, getting in the camera op's way and risking jiggling the camera or getting tangled up more easily. Very rarely is standing next to the camera the optimum place from which to boom, and I've found most camera ops appreciate their unencumbered space. I'd also add a recorder of my own, at least a zoom or tascam or something, to offer the camera op the option of being freed up from the tether in case a situation just isn't conducive to tethering. The production will go faster and smoother for the cost equivalent to a couple days of one tech's labor. Bare-bones, no budget, absolute minimum setup? Buy, beg, or borrow, a Zoom F4. But, since you already said you're using a $10,000+ camera body, we already know this is not a no-budget, absolute minimum setup Thanks, Constantin. Of course it's not an absolute rule, but my statement was in context to the OP's situation where there is only one person in the sound department. I'm sure you'd 100% agree if I had worded it, "Someone has to monitor the audio." Please consider my statement as it pertains as a direct response to the OP's questions, where there's no Constantin at a cart listening and mixing in the OP's project.
  2. Neurotic naysayer primadonna soundies

    Wow, this thread is full of great wisdom for our field! I have allot less experience than many of you guys, but trying to not be neurotic on set is a goal of mine. If I feel something ruined the take, I'll tell the most appropriate person in charge at the time, right after the take and before any conversation of the next setup. If it's reality or docu, and it's something really atrocious that I know just won't work, I may try to get the director's or AD's (or whomever is appropriate) attention and ask if I can get a line repeated while we still are rolling. But it has to be a pretty unique situation for me to just yell out in the middle of a roll. It really is a strange position to be in, to be the one whose fault it seems to be while we are holding for a helicopter tour overhead that just seems bent on staying in our space. If some uncontrolled third party suddenly shined an aircraft landing light into the camera lens, I really don't think the camera op would feel like it was his/her fault for having to hold the roll, but for us, that's exactly the case. Understanding and accepting that as an uncontrollable fact of life will lead to peace
  3. DIY sound for micro budget film

    If the boom operator can't directly hear what he's/she's capturing, he/she can't do his/her job, and you won't get a good result. Get a MixPre or a 302 (both Sound Devices products), and a good set of headphones (not Beats or music headphones, but production headphones). Have the boom op (who now, as RPS pointed out, is your production sound mixer, and should be credited as "sound mixer") feed the boom into the 302, then out of the 302 into the FS7. If you can afford to buy or hire an FS7, you can afford a 302 and a pair of headphones. Otherwise, sell the $10,000+ camera and get a $3,000+ A7Rii, A7Sii, GH5 [or even Blackmagic Ursa Mini] to shoot on, and use the rest of the cash to buy some more audio gear. The overall outcome of picture and sound together will be much better than an FS7 picture with a boom op who can't directly monitor.
  4. Getting AA's out of a SD 302

    Wow, I guess this is pretty common! I had the same thing happen to my 302 once with a Lenmar 2700 mAH NiMh. Couldn't get it out on set for the life of me and had to switch to recording lav and boom straight into a 2-track without the mixer for the rest of the day. Tried the magnet, the snot-tape-on-a-stick, and some of the other ideas here - finally got it out at home later by using dental tools to pull part of the battery's foil label wrap loose enough to get hold of it with a long needle nose pliers. After that I peeled the foil labels off all those batteries to prevent it happening again, but that brand had been working fine for me for a year prior. Now for both my SD mixers I only power externally and use Energizer Lithiums as backup.
  5. Production Comms through SD 6** mixer?

    Update: So, I went ahead and wired it up this way: I cut the earpiece wire on a surveillance and soldered that to a TA3F connector, leaving the ptt mic connected as is so I can still transmit on the radio as normal. I installed the radio itself into a side pouch on the bag, plugged the TA3F connector into (unused) input 12 on the 664, set that input to line, feeding X1/X2 only, instead of LR, then disarmed it from recording ch12 iso using the wingman app. This allows me to monitor the program via the aux buss and hear comms in my headset without using a separate earpiece without disturbing the program mix or recording the comm chatter, and adjust the comm volume with the knob on the radio, also allowing me to shut it right off if chatter gets too conversational. An additional bonus, it turned out, is that feeding the x1/x2 aux buss to the director and scripty's IFB Tx as well puts comms in their IFB receivers, so they also can get away with wearing a single earpiece. Probably not ideal for every production situation, but, for this run, it's working out great for everyone
  6. Basic sound kit plans

    If your gigs are infrequent, also consider renting pieces to try them out. I agree with the others, for in-house gear you really can't go wrong with a good used SD 442, MKH50, and find a couple good condition used Lectros - UCR411 Rx, maybe even LMa Tx's with Sanken COS-11D capsules. A boom, 2 wireless lavs, a 442 feeding hard wired to your camera plus backup recording on your H6. That'll get most jobs done well, if you have someone who understands mic placements and gain staging well enough to get it right, and a bit of mixing. For bigger jobs you can rent what you need, but in that case you'd need someone mixing anyway. But ultimately, we need to work harder to educate clents. "Sound" isn't something to be not paying for in their video projects, even if it's part of an "inclusive" price rather than a line item, it can't be free. The bid neds to at least cover the cost of good gear. The only reason they believe it's optional is because these "production companies" let them believe it's something they can just scratch off the bid without losing quality. Good gear costs money, trained techs cost money, and poor equipment or poor quality work hurts the project's quality and your professional reputation. So you end up buying good stuff anyway, then including it for free, to save your reputation. Your best honest way forward is to understand the value and technical challenge of good audio well enough to explain it to a client well enough that they don't mind including it in the project pricing.
  7. What Car Do You Drive?

    2012 Ford Transit Connect for work, 2013 Ford Escape for personal. Both get great mileage for what they do, the Escape better than the TC, but that configuration of TC will haul 1,000+ lbs and has a large cargo area. It's worked out great, but, like Phil said, it is pretty "bare bones," so it has its rattles and road noise.
  8. Production Comms through SD 6** mixer?

    some great tips; Thank you!! I'll check out the comm-biner for sure. I also found Trew offers a 3-wire surveillance that can feed program audio and comm to the earpiece, but that's still using the surveillance tube and ear tip.
  9. We're using Motorola walkies on set for production comms, and they want me on comms, so I've been letting the surveillance earpiece kind of dangle inside my headphones to not impede program monitoring while clipping the talk mic to my harness. I'm wondering, has anyone tried wiring the Motorola mic/earpiece jack through the comms in/out on a SD 6** mixer? I'm running a 664, and seems to me running the walkie through the comms section of the mixer probably wouldn't be too difficult of a "hack", but I haven't tried setting it up yet.
  10. posting with images embedded

    The white/grey line is there for me as well, running Firefox 13.0 (screenshot)
  11. Business Banking Preferences?

    I've been happy with Chase for my business accounts. Been with them for about 6 years now. The people at my branch have always been helpful, and I've never felt like a "number" with them - of course, not sure if that's because of the management at the branch or because of corporate policy. I do like their on-line and mobile app for e-banking, especially because of the way it handles security. It looks not just at the username and password, but looks at the device I.D. as well. If it's a device that hasn't previously been used to log in, it requests an extra code, which has to be obtained via their system texting or calling a phone number which is already established, so pretty hard to hack I think. Someone would need to have your username, password, and possession of a device from which you had previously accessed your accounts. I was with a CU previously, and that had plenty of pro's but a few restrictions that were "con" enough for me to switch. The cons were probably inherent to that particular CU and not a reflection on CU's overall.
  12. Lectro and Sony wireless lav mic

    Welcome to the forum, and congratulations on picking up some work! Have fun with it. To kind of expound on my view of what Jon said, I think the decision whether to rent a radio set or borrow one from a friend depends more on other factors besides which radio is "better". How strong is your friendship? Is saving the money it'll cost to rent a set worth risking your friendship should something happen to the equipment? Do you have the means to replace it for your friend if something happens to it? Is your friend willing to train you in its proper use? If you rent one, it's insured, the rental house can show you how to use it, and you can choose among different microphones. The rental house can make suggestions as to which microphone might work best in your situation. If your friendship is one where he/she is willing to risk their equipment for your training / experience, willing to teach you how to use it, and it won't strain the friendship, well, that's where the choice should be made, I think, rather than which one "sounds better". The microphone itself will have a bigger influence on the sound than the brand of transmitter/receiver set, and the choice of which particular microphone will work best in your situation depends on too many factors to offer a simple answer. However, there are many threads here that should offer some pretty good direction when it comes to which lav mics work well for most people in different given situations. Bottom line is, though, you won't know these answers for yourself until you get out there and gain experience using the different mics and radios. I think it's fine to ask for guidance for a starting point, but until you hear the differences for yourself and get experience using them in different situations, or have the opportunity to have someone who already has this experience work with you for a while so you can gain some of your own, nothing anyone say's will really mean much to you.
  13. wireless hop rental

    Look at it this way, too... if you didn't already own the equipment, would the benefit you receive from not being cabled be worth it to you to pay the rental rate yourself? Because that's essentially what you're doing. Personally, I don't think it's worth paying the extra out of my pocket just to unplug. It's just economics, really. If productions become accustomed to us providing tens of thousands of dollars worth of fragile, high-maintenance equipment for free we'll quickly end up spending more than we earn in any given year. That only works if you're a government who can print your own money and forcefully take it from others, and even then it doesn't work forever.
  14. Personal backup systems

    Sorry, Richard, I wasn't clear, and I completely agree that the scenario you described will only get someone bankrupt. I actually think we're completely on the same page here, even though it didn't look like it at first. Going out and selling someone's early sessions (or anything to which anyone else owns any rights) would get you in trouble, but that's not what I intended to suggest. What I was talking about was the flip side, and the recordist doing the pursuing of compensation, not the recordist distributing works. To be clear, I mean the band (in this case) selling a million copies of a song without compensating the rightful owner of the rights to the "sound recording" when they don't clearly own the "sound recording" copyright. (I know you know, but maybe some don't, that there are two separate copyrights to any recorded music... the "composition" and the "sound recording") As for where I've done my research, the same place you referrence - the copyright.gov site - but I actually had all my contracts put together by an attorney, and got allot of direct answers from him. I've never gone after anyone to dispute ownership rights to anything, and (probably thanks to having clear contracts and disclosure at the front end) neither has anyone ever disputed rights with me. I often entered agreements with bands where I retained the rights to the sound recording so that I could make my money back when they distributed the works rather than full payment up front. Sometimes they later buy the rights from me, sometimes not, but everything was always in writing and up front before any recording was done. As to who owns the rights to the "sound recording" (not the "composition" or "screenplay", etc., which is somethign different) if there is no agreement, the last bit of your quote is exactly what I'm referring to. (emphasis added) And "part 2 of the definition" from earlier in the document: (emphasis added) Anyone who wants to push it better know fully well whether he or she is a "contractor" or an "employee" before wasting any money on lawsuits. If you got paid, you're probably an "employee" as far as this all applies, but research it yourself because every case is different for sure. Seriously, if anyone intends to go after compensation after the fact, or "push the limits" of their rights in such a case, they definitely need to contact an attorney, because nothing we say will matter to their case. Like you suggested, case law in such instances is at least, if not more, important than statute. Bottom line is, read your contracts carefully, and talk to an attorney if you are worried about who owns what. Without written agreements, everything is cloudy to everyone. With written agreements and clear up-front understandings, things are much clearer. I really shouldn't have brought any of that other stuff up in this thread, since the only relevance to this topic is whether or how long we should be storing backups of the files we capture. The legality of holding on to copies of the original source files when you are not the rightful owner should definitely be considered, and I would think communicating openly with the production that hired you in each case would probably be the best avenue. Personally, I've backed most everything up "just in case" unless I'm asked to destroy it, except when the client keeps the recording media, in which case I never had it once the card left the recorder. But I certainly can't see keeping it forever. Once the work has been released, is there any point in keeping the originals myself? I can't see why. Thanks to Richard's insight and suggestion I'm going to reconsider my standard procedure.
  15. Personal backup systems

    It was an extreme case, and not likely to happen to anyone just browsing around... kind of a long (and embarrassing) story how I got there in the first place, but I met someone in an online MMO server-based game who had managed to crack the game's flash client, gained direct access to the server's database and written his own version of the client to automate allot of the game's monotonous details and gather detailed information about other players' locations (in-game, not physical personal info) and resources by directly accessing the server's database. Anyhow, the forum I was on was one that he had told me about, and I was trying to learn some things... well, I learned to leave it alone and stick to sound, lol. It was nasty, and all the result of clicking on a bad link in that forum, so could have been prevented by not using my main computer in that setting. (or, duh, not being in that setting in the first place) The first sign of a problem was a splash screen that turned out to be a form of a "recovery virus", modified to attack every mapped/mounted drive. But as I tried to clean up the recovery virus it turned out there was allot more. The original file turned out to be a trojan downloader. I'm not sure what all got installed since I finally gave up and formatted, but it was a huge mess. It did attack the boot drive, but didn't disable it from booting. In the end, it was beyond what i could do to repair, and any drive connected to the computer became infected as long as that drive was still connected. So, when I connected a USB drive to try and copy off some of the files I had recovered in safe mode, the external drive got infected, too... took a while to figure that out. I ended up formatting the main drive and a clean install of Windows, but the new install got infected as soon as I connected the USB drive, even with AVG running. (the initial attack completely broke AVG) I ran multiple scans of all drives with multiple anti-virus software (AVG, Vipre, Trendmicro, Malwarebytes). Each scan would find something different and clean or quarantine it, then when I reboot & re-scan it'd find something again. I spent 2 days just doing this, even running vipre from command prompt only without letting windows boot. Yes, it did try to communicate over the web, so I kept the network disconnected and used CF cards to install various anti-virus arsenal, downloading the software from a different computer. Oh, and it didn't wipe the drives or actually delete the files, it just moved them around, erased their pointers, hid them, etc., but attempts at recovery always resulted in more problems. I ended up formatting and installing Windows cleanly 3 times before I finally gave up at trying to get anything off the drives. I finally did pay someone to recover files from one backup drive to a new drive, then formatted everything and started from scratch. Good point, but for myself allot of the work I did in the past was not "work for hire" since it was for bands. Also, if you don't actually sign a document with the words "work for hire" in the document, then it's not "work for hire". For people working on indie projects, this can be significant later. If there's no contract, technically whoever did the recording owns the recording itself - not the composition (i.e., the script / sound source / arrangement, etc), but the files themselves. Which can be an interesting snafu for those indie outfits who don't bother with all the paperwork if they ever do sell their film with the audio you recorded included in the soundtrack. I don't keep things forever, either, unless it's stuff I own, whether by default or by agreement. In fact, I try to encourage clients who have hired me with a "work for hire" agreement to purchase the CF cards from me or provide me with compatible CF cards so that at the end of the day I just hand them the cards and I'm done with it. As for the legal stuff, I highly (HIGHLY) recommend talking with an intellectual property attorney, at least once, to get all the facts straight. It's very well worth the money in the long run. There's allot of rumors out there accepted to be factually true just because they've been repeated enough times, and it's hard to know what's true / legal from what's not unless you research things from valid sources.
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