Scott Smith

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About Scott Smith

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  • Birthday 01/01/1

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    Chicago, IL
  • About
    Analog lives!
  1. David: Thank you for the kind mention (as well as all the excellent editing of those articles)! Yes, I debated about including sources with those pieces, in an attempt to make them more "scholarly". I ultimately decidedly against it, as they were really aimed at the "working crew" audience, as it seemed superfluous and would take up valuable space. There are certainly a number of scholarly histories pertaining to motion picture sound out there (with varying degrees of accuracy). One of these days, while I still have a brain left, hope to revisit the project and delve a lot deeper. -S
  2. These are great photos! Thanks for posting!
  3. Phil, was that the RSM 190?
  4. Yeah, have stuck my neck out a few times over the years with newer technology, including multi-track (real fun getting a MM-1100 synchronous capstan motor to lock with a Magna-Tech resolver!), stereo, Dolby noise reduction, the dreaded Aaton Keycode system, etc., etc. Having come out of the music business, I just couldn't believe how primative the technology was in film. And while there were a few nail-biter moments over the years, for the most part, the advancements were worth the grief. I remember having to assuage the studio when we started work on "The Package", as they were very worried about an unproven technology. The only reason they went along with it was that I was still running a 1/4" backup. Happily, we never had to use it. It was also the first time out for the dialog editors to work from DAT originals. Fortunately, they had already been using DAT a little for their FX library, so they already had some experience with the format. I think the only thing I did was set up a recorder which had the word clock locked to house sync, so we could be assured of no sync issues. They still had to make reprints of some of the tracks for the mix, and the one thing that they really liked was that the time spent looking for takes on the original was substantially reduced. (One reason I also tried to make sure the PNO id's got properly written). While both the Sony and Panasonic machines had their own idiosyncrasies, for the most part they performed pretty well. We did, however, always have a hair dryer on hand to deal with the dreaded dew issues in the wintertime!
  5. I experimented with the Sony F1 system (the modified Nakamichi version), coupled with the SL-2000 recorder on a couple of TV movies in the early '80's. Only a couple of post houses could handle the dailies transfers, so it was a little iffy. Don't recall that we had any major issues though. The first movie I did with DAT was "The Package" starring Gene Hackman back in 1988 (with a Nagra and Dolby A as backup). We used a couple of modified Sony D-10's along with Panasonic SV-250 recorders. We did the dailies transfers at our own facility, and I think the only annoyance was the proper writing of the start ID's, which for some reason would occasionally advance incorrectly. I think there were also some incompatibility issues between the Sony version and the Panasonic version, but can't recall the details of it. I think the major improvement was the lack of print-through, which was clearly audible in situations where there was loud dialogue or effects next to silence or low-level audio. --S
  6. Just ran across this post. Have also experienced issues with RFI using the Blackmagic Duo monitors. In our case though, it is external RF which causes the left monitor to either lose sync or lose image altogether. Not the SDI cables. Perhaps a poor solder connection internally. Very annoying nonetheless.
  7. Shit, just when I was starting to think I wasn't such an old curmudgeon🙂... Yeah, that was back when we at least did something approaching real movies, with real cameras, and sets that were semi-workable. Not like the cluster-fuck shooting style of a lot of current productions. That movie ignited Tom Cruise's career. Also made a lot of money for Jon Avnet and the studio. And yes, recorded on a Nagra IV-S stereo, with Dolby A noise reduction. -S
  8. The Magna-Tech shown in the eBay listing is a model 600 3 track 35mm recorder, which was one of their studio units. Looks like it may have been modified from an AC Selsyn version to stepper drive. The model 4000 (and it's predecessor the 400) is about 1/4 the height. Amazingly, I can find no photos of one online. Will have to dig one up from the shop. There were quite a few other "portable" mag film recorders made by RCA, Westrex, Magnasync, Stancil-Hoffman and a couple of other smaller manufacturers in the 1950's. The RCA and Westrex machines were built like tanks. The Nagra was a welcome change for the utility sound guys who had to haul those around! (except for the truck based units). -Scott
  9. Jeff/Philip: Great thread! Jeez, it was amazing all the hoops we used to jump through back then. Yeah, a lot of all that early timecode stuff was foisted on us by the post houses. A real PITA, and in many cases, totally un-needed (I remember the editors at some of the post houses telling me they never used the timecode anyway-just synched up to the sticks!) So many oddball systems we used back then. I remember we had our transfer system set up to play the voice track that could be superimposed on the Nagra FM sync track (designed by a very bright engineer I used to do so some work with), and also used that for sync with a bloop oscillator, so it wouldn't interfere with the main audio tracks. For doc work, we set up our recorder with a dual track (EBU) 16mm head stack, which had the audio from the FM track on the sprocket edge. And then there was the Aaton system, which imprinted TC numbers on the edge of 16mm mag. What a joy that thing was to deal with...! And let's not forget the Soundelux TC system, which recorded TC on the balance stripe of 35mm mag stripe stock (I still have the custom head stack Jack Dimmers made for that. Cost us at least $2K or more-couldn't bear to throw it out). Jeff; And speaking of throwing things out-I still have the manual from the Magna-Tech 4000 series "portable" recorder (if you call hauling around something the size of a small refrigerator portable!) we bought from you I don't know how many years ago (not sure if we still have the recorder itself though). At the beginning of the manual is an addendum (printed on a dot-mataix printer) for the setup of the portable recorder. Written in a manner that only someone who had worked for years in the film business could write it. The part that still stands out relates to the handling and installation of the mag headstack, which I think read something like: "treat it like your girlfriend, not your wife". Words to live by... One of these days I'll scan it and post it for posterity. --S
  10. Phil: Very cool stuff! I've always loved what the environment brings to certain recordings. While not always pristine, it can add a certain sense "place" that is missing from many studio sessions. Wish I had the opportunity to do more of those types of recordings. Love that you're keeping the mic'ing simple, and letting the room do what it does. -S
  11. Well, having not been there, I can't speak to anyone else doing his recordings. The only assistant he ever had to my knowledge was Maureen Sickler, who worked with him since about 1987. Never heard of anyone else, except ace tech Rein Narma (of Gotham Audio), who did tech work for him in the 1950's. RVN was a rather controversial figure though (due in some part to his secrecy regarding his techniques). Some lauded his work, others thought it was nothing too special (personally, I thought the Blue Note and Impulse recordings were better than some of his work for Verve, but what the hell do I know...). Steve Hoffman, who re-mastered many of his Blue Note and Impulse sides is really the only one I know who is in a position to comment on the masters. (FYI, he was an optometrist for about 13 years, not a chiropodist). -S
  12. A little OT for this board, but still deserves some recognition. I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Van Gelder on a couple of occasions, and was most impressed by his non-nonsense approach to recording. A fine engineer, and fascinating personality. -S
  13. I remember seeing a Russion copy of the Nagra IV back in the late '70's in New York. This is a much more impressive effort! -Scott
  14. The Ryder units I referred to earlier were the TSR-260 resolver, and TSG-30 pilot generator. I only used this system a few times, and recall that the resolver was a little squirrelly at times. Don't recall if it was due to interference from the audio at low frequencies, or some other issue. -Scott
  15. In addition to the Nagra LPS, there was also a crystal generator and resolver made by Ryder Sound, which operated at 30 Hz. For a 60 Hz. Based system, the incoming source simply needed to be divided by 2, and when played by multiplied by 2. As I recall, their resolver wasn't quite as stable as the LPS, but did work pretty well. Will have to look around for the data sheet on it. -S