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Nagra Tape recorders How many here actually have used them before digital.


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155 replies to this topic

#1
ZippoReel

ZippoReel
  • LocationUSA

What kind of stories can you share about your work using them? It's truly hard to believe whole movies were recorded on them not for lack of quality but with using Tape.  It must have been so much more work using tape then todays recorders.

Any stories?  I don't think many collectors have the opportunity to ask the people that used Nagra recorders every day in their career in sound.  And another question - before the Stereo Nagra IVs and IVs-tc (time code), the sound was recorded in mono?

All movies before were in Mono that can't be?



#2
old school

old school
  • LocationSo Cal

It wasn't more complicated than this at times. I mic, 1 nagra, 2 dashing young men.;~)

CrewC

Attached Files


So beautiful or so what.

#3
Jeff Wexler

Jeff Wexler
  • LocationSanta Monica, CA USA

EVERYTHING was simpler! The whole process of recording sound for picture, technically, was less complex. Tape had nothing to do with it. As for having used the Nagra, many of the people here on JWSOUND used Nagra recorders for the a great majority of their careers. In my career, I didn't use any other portable recorder until 1989 when I started experimenting with DAT recorders. Before that, I had already done at least 30 feature films, hundreds of commercials and lots of documentaries. The Nagra recorders were the main machines used by everyone from about 1961 to the early 1990's. The only competitive recorder was the Stellavox which had very few people (in the U.S.) using it. Bruce Bisenz is the only mainstream sound mixer I knew who routinely used his Stellavox. 

 

There are stories to tell about the Nagra, for sure, but far more interesting stories to be told about our experiences on the job, using the recorder that we all used. The pure equipment-type stories, things you hear about today with corrupted files, low level iso tracks, sample rate conversions, timecode drift, none of these stories ever even applied to the Nagra. Also, in answer to your question about mono recordings, yes, the majority of production sound was recorded mono, 1 track, and even when stereo and multitrack release formats showed up, almost all sound was mono or manipulated mono, mixed to fill the theater in stereo or surround sound.


Jeff Wexler, CAS
Santa Monica, California
 
"I don't care if you've got ninety tracks... what does it sound like, baby"
- Ray Charles

#4
Jim Gilchrist

Jim Gilchrist
  • LocationMid-Atlantic

It wasn't more complicated than this at times. I mic, 1 nagra, 2 dashing young men.;~)

CrewC

I had a visit with your colleague Bill on Thursday, Crew.

Best regards,

Jim



#5
Jeff Wexler

Jeff Wexler
  • LocationSanta Monica, CA USA

I think these photos (you've seen a lot of them already) show how simple things really were.

Attached File  OTS on MOW.jpg   42.21KB   48 downloads

"Over the Shoulder" in Vancouver, Canada on a MOW (Movie of the Week). And no, that's not Don with me --- it is Rob Young, a Canadian sound mixer who boomed for me on that job.

 

Attached File  OAG.jpg   36.24KB   56 downloads

On "An Officer and a Gentleman" --- classic movie-making: 1 camera, 1 mic (in the hands of my dear friend and fellow worker, Don Coufal), and 1 track (mono Nagra 4.2). Where are the ISOS? What happened to the metadata? Why is the timecode on the slate 1 frame out?

 

Attached File  jw, hw, ha on bfg.jpg   66.03KB   53 downloads

On "Bound For Glory" --- not a lot of equipment being used by the sound department on this. Nagra 4.2 and Sela Mixer sitting on my Sears soundcart, legendary boom operator Pat Suraci on the Fisher Boom.


Jeff Wexler, CAS
Santa Monica, California
 
"I don't care if you've got ninety tracks... what does it sound like, baby"
- Ray Charles

#6
old school

old school
  • LocationSo Cal

Hey Jim, I figured you'd see Bill as he's in your part of the world on a show. Great guy. Take care.

 I am the boom man as we were called back then. "Waco" Bill Macpherson is carrying the Nagra. The film was "The Milagro Beanfield War" 1986 I believe. 

 

Some of us kept the Nagras but we turned in all the tapes to those who paid us to record the work for them. No one has a tape from a show as far as I know. As jeff said it was a more simple workflow. 

CrewC


So beautiful or so what.

#7
Jeff Wexler

Jeff Wexler
  • LocationSanta Monica, CA USA

Another shot, team work on "An Officer and a Gentleman" with Don Coufal booming and Crew cabling. I know some of these shots don't show the recorder (because I'm not in them!) but they are representative of the years and years of filmmaking with the Nagra.

 

Attached File  OAG w.crew.jpg   29.04KB   86 downloads


Jeff Wexler, CAS
Santa Monica, California
 
"I don't care if you've got ninety tracks... what does it sound like, baby"
- Ray Charles

#8
Jeff Wexler

Jeff Wexler
  • LocationSanta Monica, CA USA

The strips of tape on the lid served as my temporary sound report. I could somewhat easily scribble scene, take and notes on the camera tape and then when I got back to the cart I would copy the notes off the lid and onto the sound report.


Jeff Wexler, CAS
Santa Monica, California
 
"I don't care if you've got ninety tracks... what does it sound like, baby"
- Ray Charles

#9
old school

old school
  • LocationSo Cal

Wait till you see Lightstone's pix.  

You have a low bar  for the famous ZippoReel. We recorded some of the famous but we were and are just work a day dandies at best. The tape is to write down the scene n take numbers until you could do it on a proper sound report. Sadly our memories are just a memory these days. The pictures help. Glad you enjoy them though.

CrewC


So beautiful or so what.

#10
sounddguy

sounddguy
  • LocationAtlanta, GA

I started with the Uher before I moved to the Nagra III.   Worst part was the battery weight.



#11
Philip Perkins

Philip Perkins

As you've heard, filmmaking was very different back then, as far as sound went anyhow.  Shooting film, recording on reel-to-reel tape, there were far more interruptions and the rhythm of the days revolved around mag and reel changes.  Movie sound people were MIXERS, in that most projects of any kind were recorded to a single mono track.  So however many mics you decided to use were going to have to be mixed down live, on location, as the actors spoke their lines and the film rolled.  It was hairy.  It was also very GREAT.   Production sound has come a long way in fidelity and flexibility, but it is often a lot less FUN than it was then.  Sorry.   Nagras are very cool things, they inspire confidence in a way that no other piece of gear I've ever owned has.  They were killingly expensive for a newbie to get ahold of, finally being able to purchase one's own Nagra put everyone on notice that you had arrived as a soundie.

 

philp 



#12
Richard Lightstone, CAS

Richard Lightstone, CAS
  • LocationLos Angeles

1973, "The White Dawn", with Nagra 4.2 on Baffin Island, near Frobisher Bay. Boom Operator, Norman Mercier, left edge of photo..

 

Attached File  White Dawn 06_7301.jpg   68.54KB   56 downloads



#13
Christian Spaeth

Christian Spaeth
  • LocationStuttgart, Germany

great pictures! would love to see more...


www.tonperson.de

#14
Vasileios Alexandris

Vasileios Alexandris
  • LocationThessaloniki, GR

great pictures! would love to see more...

 

+1


Vasileios Alexandris

1st Assistant Sound / Boom Operator

Greece, Thessaloniki


#15
Jay Rose

Jay Rose
  • LocationBoston US

Before I could afford to rent a Nagra, I rented Uhers with pilottone. Before I could afford to own a Nagra, I owned an Arrivox (an under-appreciated machine). Eventually I owned a NIII, NIV, and NIV-S...   So yeah, lots of hands-on.

 

(During the Blizzard of 1978 - which effectively closed Boston for a week, and made this weekend's sprinkling look like dandruff - I started going stir-crazy. So I walked the mile to where the transit system was actually running, went into the studio, and spent the day aligning all my Nagras. Wonderful therapy.)

 

The biggest difference in film sound in those days - in fact, in all audio production - wasn't tape vs tapeless.

 

It was generation loss, followed as a distant second by noise buildup from multiple tracks. Consider that a release print was at least seven generations removed from the original (including two of optical)... it's a wonder things sounded as good as they did.

 

Pix suffered the same problems. Even on mainstream films, you could sometimes spot the efx by looking for the extra film grain.



#16
sounddguy

sounddguy
  • LocationAtlanta, GA

Check out "Blow Out"   ( not Blow Up)  John Travolta and Nancy Allen (1981) for a Hollywood version of cheap film making.

Love those Ampex 350s running too.



#17
Philip Perkins

Philip Perkins

I had a Uher 4000 for years before being able to save up enough to buy a used Nagra III.  The Nagra was a great improvement....

 

Here's some pix from 1982 of an early "TC on 1/4"" shoot--a Ford commercial being shot in the Napa valley.  It was taken from One Pass Inc's little brochure sent to commercial production companies and ad agencies about the wonderfulness of their shoot film/edit video system (they had the first telecine in NoCal).   We're using the Coherent TC system--the assistant @ right has the slate which was really just a reader and had to be hard-wired to a 9 pin connector on the back of the Coherent TC gen (UNDER THE BACK of the Nagra, thanks very much).  The system worked but soundies and ACs hated it.  Very quickly a variation came into use of recording TC on the Nagra but using an old-fashioned slate for the mark--this system persisted for years (Pilotone+TC on a Nagra IV-SL).  Much has been written about the stupidity of this idea, but when the TC worked it saved a lot of time and when it didn't (often) you still had the Pilotone.

 

The blow up of the pic is me and my little cart of that time--mixer+home made DA on top, wireless RX in the black box on the back, Nagra on the middle shelf.  The boom man is Steve Balliet.  Steve, this cart and I did several features with this system at that time, incl "Smooth Talk" (Laura Dern, Treat Williams, Levon Helm).

 

philp

Attached Files



#18
Bob Marts

Bob Marts

Thought I'd join the conversation here.

 

Here is a pic of a my brand new Nagra 4STC in 1985. It sits along side my mono Nagra on a record/playback job. Under the Nagras was my just released Sonosax mixer - I loved that mixer!

 

The cart is one I made from parts of the Ultimate Support keyboard stands and was very light weight. I still have the cart in my basement.

 

Maybe Jeff could add this to the gallery under an "Older Technology" section.

Attached Files


Robert Marts, CAS
Production Sound Mixer
Seattle

#19
Philip Perkins

Philip Perkins

I forgot how sexy that Sax mixer looked when it was new--too expensive for me always....are you still using it?  I don't think anything has come along that sounds better.

 

philp



#20
Bob Marts

Bob Marts

I forgot how sexy that Sax mixer looked when it was new--too expensive for me always....are you still using it?  I don't think anything has come along that sounds better.

 

philp

I still own it but a lot of the caps dried out and it got a bit noisy. I keep thinking I'd like to have someone overhaul it but that could be expensive. It has really nice EQ and headroom. I still use an analog panel though - Cooper 208D.


Robert Marts, CAS
Production Sound Mixer
Seattle

#21
Jeff Wexler

Jeff Wexler
  • LocationSanta Monica, CA USA

My first 4.2 came with the 2 large knobs and the 1 black center (line) knob.

 

Attached File  knobs.jpg   11.5KB   22 downloads

 

Later, when I bought a second 4.2, it had 3 identical black knobs. I changed the 2 knobs on the first machine to the matching black knobs (though the black knobs lacked any sort of pointer indicator that you could feel). At one point I swapped the Nagra knobs out for old, vintage RCA knobs with a reall good pointer --- gave the machine a sort of retro look.

 

Attached File  RCA knob.jpg   18.3KB   18 downloads


Jeff Wexler, CAS
Santa Monica, California
 
"I don't care if you've got ninety tracks... what does it sound like, baby"
- Ray Charles

#22
Mirror

Mirror

I had almost forgotten how little was on our carts back then.  Now at wrap we just tidy up, unplug the cart, collapse an antenna, push to the truck and strap the carts in.  It use to be that when you got to the truck, all the gear came off and put into cases.  The only thing left on the carts would be pens, paper and a few loose cables.  The next morning you had to build it all again.  If I had to build and tear down my cart everyday now, I would be a rich man from all the overtime they'd have to pay me.


"It is important to remember that government interference always means either violent action or the threat of such action. Government is in the last resort the employment of armed men, of policemen, gendarmes, soldiers, prison guards, and hangmen. The essential feature of government is the enforcement of its decrees by beating, killing, and imprisoning. Those who are asking for more government interference are asking ultimately for more compulsion and less freedom."-- Ludwig von Mises

#23
Philip Perkins

Philip Perkins

With the cart shown above everything stayed onboard except the Nagra when we went to the truck.  But even a full breakdown wouldn't have taken very long, it just wasn't that much gear.  Many days it was just the Nagra working, without the rest of that stuff.  I only started using a mixer a lot of the time when I moved to a Nagra IV-SL when TC started to happen--the 4.2 had so much going on on it that I rarely needed a mixer with it once I had a KAT15 ext preamp for the line input (center knob).

 

philp



#24
Philip Perkins

Philip Perkins

Do you mean production sound dialog mics in use when the IV-STC was in use?  Schoeps MK41, Senn. 416/816, Neumann KMR82 and 81, at least these were what we used in CA at that time.  

 

philp



#25
Glen Trew

Glen Trew
  • LocationNashville and Los Angeles

Here's two of hundreds. First started with the Nagra III in 1975, followed by the IV-L, 4.2, IS, IV-S, IV-STC, IV-SJ, SN, T, and D.

Attached File  waylon nagra and the boys.jpg   34.97KB   30 downloads

Attached File  cold cold nagra.jpg   70.97KB   25 downloads

 


Glen Trew, CAS

Nashville | Los Angeles


#26
Whit Norris

Whit Norris
  • LocationAtlanta, GA

Here's two of hundreds. First started with the Nagra III in 1975, followed by the IV-L, 4.2, IS, IV-S, IV-STC, IV-SJ, SN, T, and D.

attachicon.gifwaylon nagra and the boys.jpg

attachicon.gifcold cold nagra.jpg

Nice Glen!

 

Whit


Whit Norris C.A.S.
FCC LP License WQOE682

#27
Whit Norris

Whit Norris
  • LocationAtlanta, GA

Attached File  Norris_Slides_125.jpg   42.28KB   20 downloadsOk one of my early ones. Recording the ring master of Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus National spots. Because of all the the spot lights I had to be on the ground because of the mic shadows. A 816 and and 4.2 at work.

 

"Ladies and gentlemen and children of all ages welcome to The Greatest Show On Earth"......

 

1987? If i remember correctly...

 

 

Whit


Whit Norris C.A.S.
FCC LP License WQOE682

#28
Whit Norris

Whit Norris
  • LocationAtlanta, GA

Not as cool as Glen and the girls!

 

Whit


Whit Norris C.A.S.
FCC LP License WQOE682

#29
Whit Norris

Whit Norris
  • LocationAtlanta, GA

Ok I will have to TRY to out do Glen with the babes! How about a Hooter spot!

Attached Files


Whit Norris C.A.S.
FCC LP License WQOE682

#30
Whit Norris

Whit Norris
  • LocationAtlanta, GA

Ok Back to the Nagra days.... My first real PSC sound cart and Bryant Grizzel on Basket Case 3 1991 My Nagra 4.2 and the Sela

Attached Files


Whit Norris C.A.S.
FCC LP License WQOE682

#31
Whit Norris

Whit Norris
  • LocationAtlanta, GA

Attached File  IMG_1764.jpg   66.95KB   21 downloadsOk not to bore everyone with these old pics... Here we go with a early low budget action adventure  film with one of the first packages that I owned .... or still was paying off with a "Sanford and Son" cart , Nagra 4.2 and a bad action adventure movie. ... 1988?

 

Have to love the hair style and sunglasses!!!!


Whit Norris C.A.S.
FCC LP License WQOE682

#32
Malcolm Davies Amps CAS

Malcolm Davies Amps CAS
  • LocationThe infamous Saddleworth Moors in the UK

The first Nagra I owned was in 1968 it was a Nagra III bought second hand from Doug McIntosh just before he started SQN. Then moved to a 4.2 (Never had a 4L). Had several of the 4.2 along with the 4S and finally the 4TC and I've still got one.

When you went into record with any Nagra you knew it was going to work not like a DAT machine which seemed to have a mind of it's own.

Malcolm Davies. A.m.p.s.



#33
headpooch

headpooch
  • LocationLake Chapala, Mexico
"Swimming the Grand Canyon" documentary, circa 1988
I still have the groove scars after years of 'over the shoulder' doc work. But it sure was fun.

Attached Files


J.E. Jack
Flying Dog Films

#34
John Coffey

John Coffey

Love the walk down memory lane, so hate to bring up negative waves, but using Nagras over the shoulder was a pain in the ass. There just was no elegant solution. It was awkward and heavy. It tweaked your back and the harnesses cut into your shoulder. The tape would bird's nest, but it always waited until you forgot to make sure it wasn't. I soon decided that I only wanted to mix cart jobs with it and turned down the OTS jobs. As much as I hated it for OTS, I guess it's worse for the poor mixers who pack mule even more weight today.

 

The nagra led to my writing My Worst Day in Audio, an article found at http://www.soundandp...009/index.html  In fairness, it was also part of my best memory too, found in the same issue.

 

John Coffey



#35
srab1138

srab1138
  • LocationNew York, NY

EVERYTHING was simpler! The whole process of recording sound for picture, technically, was less complex. Tape had nothing to do with it. As for having used the Nagra, many of the people here on JWSOUND used Nagra recorders for the a great majority of their careers. In my career, I didn't use any other portable recorder until 1989 when I started experimenting with DAT recorders. Before that, I had already done at least 30 feature films, hundreds of commercials and lots of documentaries. The Nagra recorders were the main machines used by everyone from about 1961 to the early 1990's. The only competitive recorder was the Stellavox which had very few people (in the U.S.) using it. Bruce Bisenz is the only mainstream sound mixer I knew who routinely used his Stellavox. 

 

There are stories to tell about the Nagra, for sure, but far more interesting stories to be told about our experiences on the job, using the recorder that we all used. The pure equipment-type stories, things you hear about today with corrupted files, low level iso tracks, sample rate conversions, timecode drift, none of these stories ever even applied to the Nagra. Also, in answer to your question about mono recordings, yes, the majority of production sound was recorded mono, 1 track, and even when stereo and multitrack release formats showed up, almost all sound was mono or manipulated mono, mixed to fill the theater in stereo or surround sound.

 

I like the sound of the films from the "Nagra era". Not that it's better than now, but that it actually sounds kind of dirty, imperfect. I guess it's because you guys used only boom microphones everywhere? Nagras seem pretty warm too or maybe vintage papery. 

 

 

 

Love the walk down memory lane, so hate to bring up negative waves, but using Nagras over the shoulder was a pain in the ass. There just was no elegant solution. It was awkward and heavy. It tweaked your back and the harnesses cut into your shoulder. The tape would bird's nest, but it always waited until you forgot to make sure it wasn't. I soon decided that I only wanted to mix cart jobs with it and turned down the OTS jobs. As much as I hated it for OTS, I guess it's worse for the poor mixers who pack mule even more weight today.

 

The nagra led to my writing My Worst Day in Audio, an article found at http://www.soundandp...009/index.html  In fairness, it was also part of my best memory too, found in the same issue.

 

John Coffey

 

I have read this. Reality on a Nagra! Nightmare! But it sucks now too with the many wireless.... 


Sawrab Karim

Freelance Sound Recordist, located in:

New York, NY

#36
studiomprd

studiomprd
  • LocationHollywood CA

Hi, Zippo...

have you read the historical stuff on the Nagra site ??

how many have actually used Nagra's? thousands...

they were designed for, and very frequently used as radio reporters' recorders... The pilotone for moviemaking (filmmaking) was not standard but a factory, or after market accessory installed.

 

I may have some Baywatch pix to rival Whit's Hooters memories...


SENATOR Mike Michaels, c.a.s.
Studio M Productions

#37
Philip Perkins

Philip Perkins

I have fairly extensive "Nagra Damage" as well.  Working on mostly smaller jobs I wore the machine for way too many years w/o a harness--just "guitar style" with a strap.  That weight swinging around, walking miles in a day on docs especially, certainly imprinted itself on my body.  When DATs came into use I was very relieved because even at the comparatively young age I was then I was pretty done with being able to do a long day carrying a Nagra +acc+tape and booming.  Same again with file-based recorders.  Whatever's next--make it even lighter and smaller so I can extend my career!  

 

Much has been made of the abilities of file based recorder-mixers etc. vs mono or stereo Nagras, but I think one of the greatest changes in working for soundies is the recorder harness.  Today, nearly everyone uses one for serious, day-long bag work.  In the Nagra era, virtually no one had them.  (I had one that was run up for me by FERCO in 1980, but it hurt me worse than the Nagra strap with a big foam roll on the shoulder pad so I never used it.)

 

philp



#38
headpooch

headpooch
  • LocationLake Chapala, Mexico
I had a padded lambswool shoulder strap which helped somewhat, but not enough to prevent damage.
J.E. Jack
Flying Dog Films

#39
mikefilosa

mikefilosa
  • LocationAtlanta, GA

Here's some pix from 1982 of an early "TC on 1/4"" shoot--a Ford commercial being shot in the Napa valley.  It was taken from One Pass Inc's little brochure sent to commercial production companies and ad agencies about the wonderfulness of their shoot film/edit video system (they had the first telecine in NoCal).   We're using the Coherent TC system--the assistant @ right has the slate which was really just a reader and had to be hard-wired to a 9 pin connector on the back of the Coherent TC gen (UNDER THE BACK of the Nagra, thanks very much). 

philp

 

Philip -

 

I NEVER knew this - thanks for posting the pic and the Coherent history.....  (was Coherent a NorCal or San Fran company?)

It appears that Mike Denecke, in the history page of the company website, credits Coherent with some of the inspiration that got him thinking about TC slates.....  so I guess Coherent developed a system -  from field to post -- do you have any pictures of the early slate?

 

http://www.denecke.c...ory/history.htm

 

What I can't tell from this "history" is whether or not Nagra was actually the FIRST in the TC revolution... is it possbile that Coherent was?   Mike Denecke mentions 1985 and seeing slates and then talking to M. Klemme.... 

 

Coherent was a pretty remarkable little company - I had, for awhile, a very early portable Coherent Mixer that I really loved - three or four channels into a mono mix with lotsa switches and features, extra outs, and a VU single meter (needle).  They also made an early B/W videoassist box called "The ShotBox" that had a built in still store, and a knob / switch combo that provided either a wipe or a dissolve between two sources....  I'd also like to know more about the driving force or forces behind Coherent, as they have a neat legacy, at least to some of us..... 

 

My stereo Nagra was a TimeCode Systems mod and I loved it (still have it...) -- Was TCS a spinoff from Coherent folk ?

 

MF


Michael Filosa, CAS
Atlanta, GA
www.afpusa.tv

#40
Philip Perkins

Philip Perkins

Philip -

 

I NEVER knew this - thanks for posting the pic and the Coherent history.....  (was Coherent a NorCal or San Fran company?)

It appears that Mike Denecke, in the history page of the company website, credits Coherent with some of the inspiration that got him thinking about TC slates.....  so I guess Coherent developed a system -  from field to post -- do you have any pictures of the early slate?

Coherent Communications was in Sylmar, So Cal.  It was Ivan Krugelach's company-- I still have one of the T power mic PSUs he made, among many other products.   I don't know about gear Coherent made for post, but below is a pic of the early version of the Nagra system that we used--the TC module (with a very good clock) and the reader (slate) that had to be hardwired to the TC module.  The TC was input to the center track of a completely stock Nagra IV-SL w/ FM Pilotone--the idea being that if the TC didn't work (by high passing the signal) then the Pilotone would (by low-passing the same signal).  This worked, mostly.

http://www.denecke.c...ory/history.htm

 

What I can't tell from this "history" is whether or not Nagra was actually the FIRST in the TC revolution... is it possbile that Coherent was?   Mike Denecke mentions 1985 and seeing slates and then talking to M. Klemme.... 

We had years of work done w/ the Coherent system before the Nagra IV-STC came out.

Coherent was a pretty remarkable little company - I had, for awhile, a very early portable Coherent Mixer that I really loved - three or four channels into a mono mix with lotsa switches and features, extra outs, and a VU single meter (needle).  They also made an early B/W videoassist box called "The ShotBox" that had a built in still store, and a knob / switch combo that provided either a wipe or a dissolve between two sources....  I'd also like to know more about the driving force or forces behind Coherent, as they have a neat legacy, at least to some of us..... 

 

My stereo Nagra was a TimeCode Systems mod and I loved it (still have it...) -- Was TCS a spinoff from Coherent folk ?

Mine too.  Mine was one of the "original six" that Harvey Warnke did for a few of us NoCal guinea pigs who were very dissatisfied with what the stock Nagra IV-STC had to offer, esp in the early versions (ie not a very accurate clock, no onboard resolver, no switching back to Pilotone w/o a board swap, lousy display, terrible operator interface etc).  Harvey's company, Time Code Systems, was a partnership between himself and Andy Wiskes, a mixer from SF who had encountered a number of issues re TC and playback  on shoots at ILM/Lucasfilm that he wanted to solve.  Harvey had worked for Otari for some time before all this.  So no, Coherent and TCS had nothing to do with each other.   

 

Also shown--the Otari MTR12 sync-up machine at One Pass, with the computer etc console in the BG.

 

philp

Attached Files



#41
Jeff Wexler

Jeff Wexler
  • LocationSanta Monica, CA USA

- UPDATE - Phil was writing at the same time, sorry for the duplication (but Phil and I are essentially the same vintage and share many of the same experiences --- this I enjoy).

 

Coherent Communications was a company started by Ivan Kruglak who operated out of his home shop in Sylmar, California. I met Ivan first when he was the chief rental manager for Cinemobile. I don't know how long he held that position before going off on his own to design and build some amazing things. He did design the first working timecode slate much before Denecke started producing the Denecke line of timecode slates. Ivan's slate, developed along with Arriflex Camera, was part of a complete timecode system for utilizing timecode on film shoots. The slate itself was very heavy but contained very elaborate timecode generator with all sorts of functions, some of them to be used even in the edit room in post. It was definitely a "smart" slate but actually a little too smart (and too expensive) to actually get much usage in our industry. There were several other parts to the system, a module that was fitted to the Arri, another module to be used in transfer and the editing room.

 

Ivan built lots and lots of other things, one of them being the little lunch box mixer mentioned by Mike Filosa. I had one of those too and it had wonderful sound, tons of headroom, very few features or functions, only 4 inputs if I remember. What you have to remember about these times, the early '70's, 4 inputs was almost always enough for any job. Ivan built the Mini-Mic which was the precursor to the Tram and Sonotrim style microphone and was considerably smaller than the ubiquitous Sony ECM-50. Coherent had a line of wireless microphone sets, transmitter and receiver, packaged in a case which Ivan licensed from Audio, Ltd. Very similar form factor but built by Ivan in the U.S. They were marketed under the name Artech and I think there were about 3 people who used them. I was one of the people, I owned 4 of them, but the biggest user was Jim Webb who purchased about 16 of them to use on the Altman movies.

 

Lastly, Ivan did many modifications for me,  first to my Sela and later to an Audio Developments Pico mixer that I used for a few years. He also built the custom box and configuration for 2 outboard processors that I use to use, in production, with my Sela. These were Allison Research modules, a Gain Brain and a Kepex, items which I knew even at the time should NEVER have been used in production (they really are designed to be used in post, but you knew that).

 

I haven't spoken to Ivan in years and years, I know he sold Coherent Communications and he also sold another business --- he was the sole US distributor for Fisher precision connectors (similar to Lemo) which turned out to be a million dollar business. Hopefully Ivan is retired and enjoying himself somewhere. 


Jeff Wexler, CAS
Santa Monica, California
 
"I don't care if you've got ninety tracks... what does it sound like, baby"
- Ray Charles

#42
Marc Wielage

Marc Wielage
  • LocationNorthridge, CA

That's a fascinating story, Jeff. I've seen the Coherent slate Blake Wilcox has leaning up against an old equipment rack in his warehouse, and I can remember seeing them back in the 1980s. My memory is that they were very flakey when we tried to use them for post in the mid-to-late 1980s -- but it could well be a case of user error on the part of production, not the device itself. I also vividly remember several panicky phone conversations with Mike Denecke (who I never met in person, but talked to several times) when we ran into catastrophic timecode slate problems with projects at Complete Post. Mike was always very patient and helpful, and I now realize we were kind of putting him in the line of fire when the real problems were at the set mixer (or the fault of the tape machine). I also remember encountering issues with timecode offset depending on whether the Nagra 4ST being used was a factory TC unit or a Cooper mod -- and my memory is that the latter was a lot more consistent, at least for a few years.

 

Those were primitive, scary days, kind of like firing a manned rocket on a launchpad in the 1960s. You know, I really should write the "Definitive History of Timecode Slates" one of these days -- it's a fascinating subject (at least to me). 


www.cinesound.tv | location sound • post-production consultant

#43
David Waelder

David Waelder
  • LocationLos Angeles

Some of this history is in the profile of Mike Denecke printed in the Fall 2009 edition of the 695 Quarterly.

 

Previous issues of the Quarterly are available on-line here:

 

http://695quarterly....revious-issues/

 

(A picture of the slates is on the cover)

 

David



#44
Simon Hayes

Simon Hayes
  • LocationLondon

Guys i am so excited by this thread and wanted to thank you all so much for sharing your pictures and thoughts.

This is great!



#45
Philip Perkins

Philip Perkins

I never had the pleasure of talking to Mr. Krugelak directly, but Mike Denecke was a mensch--he helped me out of several jams via some long phone calls back in the day.  He certainly observed the shortcomings of the Coherent system (and those of other makers) and incorporated what he learned into his products, as did Harvey W.  There's no telling what wonderful gear both of those guys would be coming up with now if they were still around.  Much missed.

 

philp



#46
Christopher Mills

Christopher Mills

Hey Whit, I think BC3 was the first time anyone let me have a Comtek to hear what was going on.. I think it was pretty early on in my learning sound by osmosis from you (I was the location dept 2nd back then)..

My aunt, Margaret Mills, PhD spent the 1960s and 1970s walking around central asia with a Nagra III recording folk tales and oral histories.  She still has her recorder, and has donated the tapes to the Smithsonian (after getting digital copies).

I will ask if she has any pictures of herself operating her recorder.

She just retired from teaching last year, but continues to write on folklore.



#47
Bob Marts

Bob Marts

A Coherent Communications slate

Attached Files


Robert Marts, CAS
Production Sound Mixer
Seattle

#48
bigmaho

bigmaho
  • LocationNY and NM

I started with the Uher before I moved to the Nagra III.   Worst part was the battery weight.

Tandberg IIP.  Had that for a few months before I realized I was serious about this and got a used 1968 Nagra 3.... followed in short order by a Nagra 4.2, 4STC, Nagra SN and the Nagra D 



#49
Jeff Wexler

Jeff Wexler
  • LocationSanta Monica, CA USA

Beautiful! Hey, Bob, where did you find the image? The picture certainly does not reveal how heavy it was, and thick, difficult to hold with one hand. It was jam packed with components and batteries.


Jeff Wexler, CAS
Santa Monica, California
 
"I don't care if you've got ninety tracks... what does it sound like, baby"
- Ray Charles

#50
Marc Wielage

Marc Wielage
  • LocationNorthridge, CA

That is a great picture. And hey, how about that hour 78 timecode?


www.cinesound.tv | location sound • post-production consultant