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Hey guys, 

Avid reader and new to the production sound scene. I've doing location sound for about a year now with good success doing corporate, 2 features and a bunch of shorts. Upgraded to my first nice indoor mic (neumann km150). 

So here's the deal: got my first gig that's got me pretty nervous. I've been asked to do sound for an interview with Martin Scorcese. My first thought was that I have to upgrade to a sound devices and some lectros or zaxcom lavs along with my indoor boom. I've been getting by with a tascam 680 and sennheiser g3's with a cos-11 mic. I know it's prosumer and I"m saving up for the next round of upgrades (I can rent too) but just not there yet. 

I'm confident that I can deliver clean, balanced tracks using my gear to it's full potential. What I'm kinda scared of is showing up on set with my gear and getting looks from Scorcese and the production crew like, 'who invited this guy?'

Am I right to be nervous about my gear or is this a case of 'it's not the arrows but the archer'. 

Your thoughts and opinions would be much appreciated. 

 

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If you know how to use your gear and it is in good shape you'll be fine for an interview.  A shoot where you might be a little nervous isn't a great time to start with new gear anyhow--stick with what you know works.

philp

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Congrats on the gig.  If you're confident you can get good sound, that's what matters.  In most cases people's opinion of you on set has much more to do with your demeanor than gear.

While working, what you're dealing with is biped creatures that emit sound.  If you can faithfully capture that sound, you will be fine.  After the job you can reflect that you worked with a legend.

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I'm inclined to think that you were hired in the first place because of your success using the gear you already own. Even if the individuals hiring you haven't worked with you before, they would be acting on recommendations from people who have.

I think intimate familiarity with the capabilities of your own gear trumps any advantage over higher-end equipment, assuming that you anticipate a controlled interview situation with no special obstacles to getting good sound. (There's always something but I mean that you aren't going to be conducting the interview while white-water rafting.)

I would ease you toward a rental if you had extensive experience with Sound Devices or Zaxcom gear but if your experience with their gear is only occasional, stick with what you know.

David

Edited by David Waelder

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Honestly most people who are not sound people have no idea what audio gear we use. I have interviewed him a few times. Very nice guy. Don't

worry about what others think. As long as you use what you have to get good clean sound, that's all that matters. Just don't lowball your price

because that hurts all of us in the end. Best of luck with your shoot.

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+1 Toodsound. Most non-audio folks don't know or care what you use.

If it's a sit-down interview, I would however use a hard wired mic configuration (especially in RF hell), if that's your only mic your using. You can get a locking 3.5mm > XLR Phantom Power adapter for a hundred or so.
An SD mic preamp wouldn't hurt either if that's in your budget.. though the 680 allegedly has better preamps the usual budget crap.

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I think you're right to be nervous. I'll be happy to cover for you.

Seriously, as others have rightly said, I think you sell your competence with a confident and professional demeanor. That says way more than the brand of your gear.

And if anyone asks, and you don't mind a little white lie, tell them your main kit is rented out or it's in the shop for service. :-)

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this is terrific advice. Rick, I think hardwiring the lav is a great idea. The shoot's in nyc (rightly guessed RF hell), sit down interview. I'm thinking boom stand, wired lav set-up, maybe feeds to the camera. 

A crew I worked with me referred me for the gig, which was nice. I'm confident using the gear I have but it is the biggest gig I've had so far. John Blankenship - great advice about seeing him as just another animal making sound.  My main concern was being already nervous  and then dealing with new gaer.

Thanks for the support gents, it's incredibly confidence inspiring to have industry pros back you up. Toddsound: I will absolutely not lowball myself. 

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From the newbie department: I get nervous before almost every gig still, and then later (sometimes in the first hour of the first day), I find out that everything is smooth, and there was little to fret about. You're their ears and they trust your judgement. Just be cool. Fresh batteries. Hit record like VAS says. Monitor the return (or the record head), watch your on set p's and q's. If anything goes wrong, don't work to cover your tracks. Be honest and up front about it, quietly, with the powers that be, and get a decision. We're all human.

Oh! If there's anything special to know about Mr. Scorcese, try to find out in advance. A couple of jobs I had came with special instructions, regarding the talent. E.G: someone else had to wire them, because talent doesn't like being touched, or there's a little noisy fan in the room that I have to live with, because the subject sweats profusely without it, don't look them in the eye or you'll turn to stone, etc. Usually there's an agent or handlers in the process who can advise sensitivities like that.

+1 Rick's advice with the hardwire. If you don't have to use wireless, don't.

Best of luck, and give a report back!

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I've been doing production sound for 40 years, and I still get "nervous" before jobs.  Use that energy constructively--go through all your gear, make sure everything works, then play some what-if games and make plans for those.   Plan out your strategy, even to rehearsing your setup etc..  Make double sure you know where the location is, where you'll park, what the get-in is like, and what issues the location might have sound-wise.  Do you know the shooter?  Have you checked in re sync and audio as it affects camera?  Do you know the frame rate they want their TC at?  How will they be handling DIT-chores like downloads?  Do they want MP3s for a transcriber?

philp

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That's all great advice from Philip. I always battery up, build and listen to the gear the day before, then use that nervous energy just like he says. Go over the load and consider a bunch of 'what ifs'. +1

I know it's off topic, but another one I like to do is leave for the location  W A Y  early. This is just in case of the overturned tanker, or terrible traffic (I'll be able to get off the highway, and wind my way through the city on back roads and STILL be there early), parking problems or a flat tire or car breakdown. This all keeps my nervousness to a minimum. :)

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From someone that just recently jumped from a mirror image of your set up to a mainly zaxcom bag. The only ones that have noticed the difference are me and my bank account. We buy better gear mainly to make our lives easier . I read once that the ratio for a good recording was 50% Talent(Actor/Musician), 20% Room, 20% Mic Placement, 10% equipment. This was related to recording a music album but I think it applies here as well.

Edited by Will Youngman

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Am I right to be nervous about my gear or is this a case of 'it's not the arrows but the archer'. 

Your thoughts and opinions would be much appreciated. 

It's good to be nervous before a gig and use that energy to go through the gig in your head and try to identify all the possible pitfalls (impossible, but still good to do).

For a sit down interview you need to bring one or two larger microphone stands - one for the interviewer and one for the interviewee, a spare shotgun microphone. No matter how you initially setup your mic stands, they are going to be in the way of the lighting department, taller/larger stands makes it easier to reach the proper mic position without being in the way - at least in my experience.

It's good have lavs prepared, but my guess is that you're going to have to use boom mics for this gig.

Have long cables and outputs prepare for sending two channels of audio to the cameras. A pitfall with sit-down interviews is that the cameras and monitors might be AC connected which in my experience ALWAYS produce some kind of ground loops and hum problems. I don't know how they do it - it's professional cameras, the monitors are professional Sonys, the cabling is balanced etc - still you end up stuck with a ground loop. SO, always bring two transformer balanced line-boxes with ground lift and set them up right away. Mark my words, if there's a ground loop in the picture a production can halt for hours, if there's a ground loop in the audio, you got about five minutes to fix it. ;-)

If they are setting up a small screening room for the producer, you will be the hero for bringing a small speaker with a volume knob.

When you arrive at the set, kindly ask the production manager for a place where you can setup your gear, find a chair, make it comfortable for yourself. When you're setup, open a mic and put on the headphone. Close your eyes and just listen to the ambience of the room. Are there any noise sources, check if the chairs are squeaky etc, Just get to know the room. I always look for a rug to put on the floor under and in front of the interviewee - that will absorb some hard reflections off the floor and muffle shoe movement noise.

For boom mic placement, work with the cameras and set the mics just outside the frames, make the camera guys understand that you're picky about it. When you have agreed on a framing, you have agreed on the framing. They will remember you for that... ;-)

It's a good opportunity to check out how the lighting is setup and eavesdrop on the DoP discussing framing etc.

Technically, it's a easy sound job. They can manage to do it without a sound engineer, but they bring you along so that they don't have to solve any audio problems and get good audio from the start. So, make sure that the cameras have good audio levels and that everybody's happy with the sound. Pamper them with an extra set of headphones etc.

When Mr Scorcese arrives, be on your toes, adjust the boom mic and man your position and say "audio good! Phones off, please!". ;-)

During the interview, check the levels now and then, but try to concentrate on what's being said, because afterwards you will discuss it with your colleagues. It's easy to get stuck watching the level meters bounce up and down. 

 

Have fun! :-)

Fred

Edited by ninjafreddan

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I'm starting a new job Monday, and I feel nervous. A bit of excitement and nervous anticipation is what makes our job interesting. It's not the same thing every day. 

The advice here is good. Use what you know. If you do upgrade later, be sure to practice with the gear a few times before taking it on a job. 

The only time I worried about gear was when I was looking for work from other mixers. Clients typically don't know gear. Just present yourself in a professional manner. Clean, confident, and on time. You'll be fine. Also, make sure your gear is clean and tidy. They'll notice a mess more than a manufacturer. 

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+1

"Just present yourself in a professional manner. Clean, confident, and on time. You'll be fine. Also, make sure your gear is clean and tidy. They'll notice a mess more than a manufacturer."

I live by the motto "You never get a second chance to make a first impression." Just be yourself and all will be good. 

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"If you're 20 mins early, you are on time. If you roll up at call time, you're late. If you are 15 mins late, you're fired",  is the saying in L A.... 

I prefer to feel something compared to feeling nothing when I get a job. Chill on the outside, raring to go inside is how I do it. 

CrewC

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I have worked with him.

He was nice.

Just be ready and don't make him wait and you will be fine.

Always have a backup.

Always.

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Wow, this topic should be permanently pinned as good advice for all new mixers doing interviews with famous (or non-famous) people.

One tip I think applies to working with celebrities: be courteous but not chatty. If they engage you in conversation, you can be polite, but I wouldn't gush. A little nervousness is expected but keep calm and carry on. 

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I love reading that you guys still have some nerves before a new job... I'm glad I'm not the only one :-)

That is one of the coolest things about this career... "what's going to happen today?"... I guess we'll find out when it happens.

I used to push to use my own kit on gigs... but I'm over it. When a client says they're not paying for my kit because they have one I can use instead... "but you can use your kit if you're more comfortable"... guess what? I'm 100% comfortable with YOUR kit... and if there's a problem because of YOUR kit I'll sleep like a baby!

I did a gig recently where I had to hold the snake cable just right to keep it from crackling... (not MY kit, of course)... and we were also using G3... and I'd consider this a pretty high-end gig. Interviewer flew in only to do these interviews... then fly back immediately after.

Guess what? It was all fine... all good... everybody happy... even me, as I laughed about the snake thing. (I told the guy to please fix that if he wanted me to do this again w/o my gear).

So... you? You'll be fine... you've got good enough gear that you KNOW works... and you know how to use it... and you don't have a crackly snake to trouble-shoot :-)

 

Oh and yes... not too chatty is good advice. Be pleasant... quick (not hurrying, but quick)... confident.

 

"Good afternoon Mr. Scorcese, My name is Matt. I'm a soundguy... may I put a mic on you?"

"Of course" (something like this, guaranteed)

*10 seconds or so*

"Thank you Sir"

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I've been doing production sound for 40 years, and I still get "nervous" before jobs.  Use that energy constructively--go through all your gear, make sure everything works, then play some what-if games and make plans for those.   Plan out your strategy, even to rehearsing your setup etc..  Make double sure you know where the location is, where you'll park, what the get-in is like, and what issues the location might have sound-wise.  Do you know the shooter?  Have you checked in re sync and audio as it affects camera?  Do you know the frame rate they want their TC at?  How will they be handling DIT-chores like downloads?  Do they want MP3s for a transcriber?

philp

What the wise fella says.

Due diligence. Always. That will give you best potential for confidence.

Recent pre-gig jitters mantra = you've done this before. 

Marty's a colleague. That's my way of getting around the celeb jitters, remembering we're colleagues, and that morphed into knowing I have a seat at the table.

As others have remarked, the night-before sleepless list checking never ends or my guess is if it ends probably time to retire.

Congrats on the gig :)

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You know your gear. You've been working with it for a long time. You know how to trouble shoot it. Use what you know. You can get good results with what you have. 

 

Back when I sold gear at Coffey Sound I would always tell people not to buy new expensive stuff right before a new gig and have it be the main "thing". Use it on the side as a back up or just in parallel to the regular until you get comfortable with it. 

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You know your gear. You've been working with it for a long time. You know how to trouble shoot it. Use what you know. You can get good results with what you have. 

 

Back when I sold gear at Coffey Sound I would always tell people not to buy new expensive stuff right before a new gig and have it be the main "thing". Use it on the side as a back up or just in parallel to the regular until you get comfortable with it. 

+1

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