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John E. Walker

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About John E. Walker

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  • Birthday 04/20/1974

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  1. John E. Walker

    OMF trouble from FCP

    Switching computers resolved the OMF export problem! Funny. Also, I got my 24 bit very easily by changing the sequence settings in FCP. I compared a region of the OMF to its original production audio file counterpart in PT, and they sound the same. The drawn waveforms are absolutely identical at maximum zoom, as well. That's good news, as I won't be tediously syncing all the original files to the OMF; I can just use the OMF.
  2. John E. Walker

    Avoiding Clipping

    Hey Dan, I can report one success story with boosting +21 dB on a 24 bit track. I was worried when I first saw that waveform with peaks about half as tall as the region in Pro Tools. Pleasantly surprised was I that I could detect no rising noise floor as I added gain in post. My guess is two factors behind this: 1. The number of bits per sample correlates to dynamic range, approximately 6 decibels per bit in digital audio. That means you could have the same resolution with peaks hitting -48 dB in a 24 bit file, as you would with peaks hitting 0 dB in a 16 bit file (8 bit difference times 6 decibels). 2. The noise within our signal flow was excellent. We used a Sennheiser 416 > Sound Devices MM-1 > Sound Devices 744T. Canare cable with Neutrik connectors. My experience is telling me it's okay to use the headroom if you need it. Final Cut Pro editors won't like it. "Why are the levels so low?"
  3. John E. Walker

    sit in on a reading?

    Man, I know what you mean. I want to believe that the earlier production brings sound on, the better. Many of the problems we encounter during the shoot could be avoided by planning ahead. However, I've only been invited to a production meeting before a shoot on three occasions, and there wasn't much opportunity to advise them. Locations have not been chosen with my approval, ever. I have gotten extra furnie-pads ordered in the grip package before. Generators have always been chosen based on budget and insurance, so they get whatever they get. I guess the best use of your time during a reading would be to do test recordings? Of course, you know your gear works, so this would only be a useful exercise if the actors were reading in the exact place they're going to be on the shoot. The background will never match without the rest of the lights and the crew. Maybe you could nip dialog overlaps in the bud now... and irritate the director. You could start memorizing their lines for boom cues! Nah, my feeling is that it's not a very productive use of your time. You can meet some of the people you'll be in the same room with later... I'm reaching here.
  4. John E. Walker

    OMF trouble from FCP

    Oh that's interesting. I hadn't heard of AVTransfer. I saw that the audio files FCP is referencing are 24 bit. I suspect that her 16 bit sequence must render audio in order to playback. So, it may be as simple as changing the bit depth in the sequence settings dialog. The audio started out as 24 bit BWF files from a 744T and have made their way to an external hard drive sitting on her Mac. I didn't see a place to specify audio only in the OMF. I'm pretty sure the route her cursor took was File > Export Audio as OMF, to which a dialog box popped up. I'll look at it again when she's available.
  5. John E. Walker

    OMF trouble from FCP

    I am looking into taking on post audio for an indie short I actually boomed on. Picture lock won't be for another two weeks, but I took it upon myself to go meet with the picture editor to get a sense of her workflow. Mainly, I wanted to see what kinds of trouble might be up the road (regions not named accordingly, for example). Her timeline looked good. I hadn't ever seen audio and video clips merged before though, which gives them a new name for one thing. Every single clip had the word "Merged" in its name, like "10-6 Merged" for scene 10, take 6. Usually I see audio and video clips linked. She also unwittingly created a 16 bit sequence, not even noticing that our audio was 24 bit. Anyway, I asked if I could take an OMF export to test out which she was totally cool with, but it didn't work. A dialog popped up reading something like "Over 2 GB not supported." I understand that OMF files cannot exceed 2GB, but this was only a 19 minute timeline, with 4 tracks of 48/16 audio. We tried 2 minute handles, 30 second handles, and even no handles. It's a mystery to me. I have exported OMF from a project 30 minutes long with 10 mono tracks before. Anyone know what's going on?
  6. John E. Walker

    Exporting Files from a Deva 5

    My first time with a Deva. I was just on a little industrial video recording an improvised sales pitch about an advertising company. Long takes (15-20 minutes) and three EX-1 cameras meant I was relying on up to 5 lavs to be used simultaneously. I had a rough time trying to mix 7 people down to two tracks on the last gig, so this time I convinced production to rent a Deva. It was beautiful experience. My partner and I got there early to set-up our little base in an office cubicle and got to work coordinating frequencies. I had 5 Lectro UM400s transmitting to 411As and outputting to a Deva V. Everything went swimmingly. I had been reading the manual all weekend, and practiced with this set-up at home, and no surprises or mishaps popped up on the shoot. We even had brought a back-up SD 744T, just in case. We had fun. The talent went to pre-fader iso tracks and I got to practice mixing in real time to a post-fader mono mix track. Analog out went to the 744, for redundancy... and to see who could set levels better! I love this machine, BUT As far as I can tell, there was no way to deliver the audio files except to mirror on a DVD-RAM. There was about an hour and a half of material which took 40 minutes to write. Everybody else wrapped and went home. The editor, my sound buddy, and I were the last ones in the building waiting for this thing. The FAT32 formatted DVD-RAM worked, but am I missing a slick way to copy files off of the internal hard drive? I tried connecting the Deva via Firewire to an external LaCie HDD, and a Mac Pro tower in the editor's office, but there was recognition between any of them. I couldn't find anything in the manual about actually delivering the lovely polyphonic wav files other than the brief section about mirroring to the internal DVD drive. Up until today, all the other digital recorders I've used either connect to a computer through Firewire, USB, or can spit out a CF card. Am I missing something or is that also your experience?
  7. John E. Walker

    With the RED

    I was on two RED shoots this summer, but we did double-system sound (all recordings on an FR-2, no feeds to the RED). The DIT was the owner of the camera, and he went along for dumping and general tech support, if needed. He had mini-XLR to XLR cables, just in case. Not a bad idea to add those to your assortment.
  8. FWIW, I submit my POV: I went to film school. I handled camera and lighting gear as an employee of the checkout room. I had privileged access to anything that wasn't reserved for the weekends. I worked on student productions as the sound guy, sometimes that meant the all-in-one sound department. I spent more time than anybody in my class editing post sound, recording ADR, Foley, and doing the mix in our Pro Tools labs. I've been a camera operator, an editor, an actor, and a director. Every film position I've played with serves to inform my decisions today. Importance? Not so important. The great names in production sound who've had little experience booming is a testament to that. A sound mixer has his own set of responsibilities, his own talents to focus on. Certainly, a familiarity with the performance art of booming is fundamental, if the mixer is going to make decisions about boom technique. But I don't think the mixer should be. That's one benefit why he has his boomer. "It's the boom operator's job to bring the sound to the mixer" as my boom sensei Junpei Shinozaki taught me. A superior team combines a mixer and boom op who can truly do both jobs well, who trust each other with each task. Junpei never wanted to hear my takes when I was mixing, and I could see that his ninja skills were getting what I needed. Doing one-man-band gigs gave me the ultimate control to help my ears learn the many ways good sound can be captured. However, it wouldn't take long for a person mixing on a team to understand. It's funny. I came out of school having mainly mixed, or mixed and boomed. I quintupled my experience within the first year out, and I'm finding in my second year that I really like booming better! This crew position has to be the most intimate experience with the action. Boom ops often stand nearest to talent, and sometimes must mimic (or follow) their movements. I get a bit of exercise, I talk to everyone, and I'm treated with respect. I had a magical moment in June, too. I was so in tune with an actor's performance that we moved in synchrony, I could mouth her words, and I even felt sympathetic emotion. Booming is technique. Booming is dance. I love it. No, my arms don't get tired, but my feet sometimes do--from standing around all day! Which reminds me of a joke a mixer told me: How tall is a sound mixer? Nobody knows. They never stand up!
  9. John E. Walker

    still useful to record "room tone" and walla on set?

    I love the idea of "Cut camera, but keep sound rolling." That's really the time when the crew is most attentive. It might take a few times to get everyone in the new groove. I say that because I know how few times people actually remember not to cut when we intend to tail slate! Getting a bit of tone for every take sounds wonderful for post. I've spoken with directors before production to count to at least three between "Marker" and "Action" and between the moment he wants to say to cut to actually saying it. It also gives picture editors a buffer zone, but it may be viewed as wasteful. "Cut camera, but keep sound" rolling is a good compromise. So good to hear room tone encouraged from Randy Thom. I admit, there was a time when I felt like room tone was a joke, because it was like pulling teeth to get the crew to cooperate. Also, I can't prioritize when I don't know what the set-ups will be until they happen. How many times have you gotten a shot-list that didn't change? There can potentially be many, many room tones, one for each microphone position. Sometimes if the surroundings are distinctly noisier from one direction, I will choose to aim the boom straight down for all the coverage (placed just above and front of the speaking actors, of course), so that the background will sound the same. However, I'm a proponent of getting options for the editors. So other times, it seems like a better idea to get one actor really clean and the other the best I can making use of the null area to calm down the offensive noise. John E.
  10. John E. Walker

    duplex on a 442

    Landon and I used that set-up a few weeks ago. I asked him to switch the 442 to monitor for my channel only, and adjust the volume as needed. He listened through the recorder, a Fostex FR-2, which is probably better for quality control. Clearly I was hearing whatever the monitor out was from the 442. He spoke to me with a slate mike. A week ago I was booming with an MM-1, which I liked just fine. I got to make my own volume adjustment. It was a little weird to occasionally switch the input gain on the MM-1 for the mixer, though, and with our set-up there wasn't a way to have him talk back to me.
  11. John E. Walker

    shooting on a beach

    I did two days at the beach back in January. I was doing the one-man band thing with a Tascam HD-P2 in a Port-A-Brace, two Sennheiser G2 wireless kits, and an 816. You're right about the ocean roar. At El Matador State Beach in Malibu, it was also windy and really cold (I wore gloves and a hood) until the marine layer overhead dried up and the sun came out. My car stereo couldn't get the radio stations as I neared the location. There was hardly any intermodulation interference and the wireless kits had a huge range out there. Actors walked maybe 200 yards away and I could still hear them clean in the extreme wide shot, unless they walked behind a rock. The lavs sounded remarkably good, because the level of the voice was much stronger than the level of the ocean. The 816, pointed straight down or slightly away from the shore, was even better for close-ups. I would tell myself to bring a towel or a blanket and a chair for next time. There was nowhere to set down the gear during downtime. Sand everywhere! I also recommend keeping all of your accessories in pouches to keep the dust and sand off. Stay in shade as much as you can, and take care of your skin.
  12. John E. Walker

    Choosing microphones to rent

    I'd try out the Sanken CS-1. Ask if you can have a listen to both at the rental house. Your ears are a better judge than the tech specs that I read. I'm also always eager to try new stuff, and the ME66 with K6 power module is the microphone we learned on in film school. It works well up close, but it's an electret condenser. You'll likely get a quieter signal from the CS-1.
  13. John E. Walker

    Choosing microphones to rent

    Recruit a boom operator. If you don't know one, recruit someone to mix while you boom op. The placement of the mike is the most important aspect of production sound. Don't trust the camera to record your precious audio. Absolutely use a mixer; the input pre-amps and the circuitry inside will do wonders for your signal, even if you're not actually mixing any channels together. It's not abnormal to grab sound effects on set. Note: the art of Foley is actually making sounds while watching a picture (usually in post), like actors lip-syncing themselves during ADR. As for microphones, there are many others here on this forum who know better than I. I've only had the pleasure to use old reliable Sennheiser MKH416, 50 and 816 as true condenser mikes, and many times with the electret condenser ME66. I hear great things about Schoeps and Neumann. It seems that cardioids are favored to hypercardioids for small, reverberant rooms. Car interiors are tricky because there's very little room, but I've had success with planting a mike in the glove box or under a visor. Last week I sat in the back seat during a couple of dirty singles (OTS CU) and pistol gripped a 416 right at the top of the side frameline, aimed at the space just in front of the actor's mouth. It sounded just like an overhead boom just above the hairline. Short shotguns always sound better than lavs to me, so I encourage using a second boom if possible--not to mention the trouble with getting clean RF transmission/reception and that the inputs on the transmitters won't be as good as those on the mixing console. A good dynamic mike can be great for recording effects, provided you can put the mike up close and don't want the reach (sensitivity) of a condenser. Just some thoughts.
  14. John E. Walker

    The Coffey Audio Files Magazine - Issue 02 - 2008 out now!

    I love the Coffey Audio Files. I just realized I could get a hard copy free. Should've subscribed when I first discovered it a year ago!
  15. John E. Walker

    Where Are You??

    John E. Walker Long Beach, CA at your service in L.A. and So-Cal (760) 473-9845 johnesound@gmail.com
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