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Nick Flowers

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Posts posted by Nick Flowers

  1. When I was working (I am more than 15 years retired) everyone in film sound was using Beyerdynamic DT48s. I've got a pair hanging up next to me now!  Quite expensive - they were abut £250 back then.

  2. I was an assistant to Peter Handford who used radio microphones a lot in the period under discussion. The brand he favoured were the Audio Limited type, with Sony ECM 50s or the unbranded type supplied with the radio kits. I can't recall any radio problems with the radios themselves, but clothes rustle was a constant problem, usually solved with lots of gaffer tape. This usually resulted in painful removal for make actors, and sometimes embarrassing and intimate encounters with females! We found very early on the no actor could be trusted with placing their own mic.

    The other way of using radio mics was to plant them out of sight in the area that the boom couldn't cover. Murder on the Orient Express (the Albert Finney one) was a great place for this, with ECM 50s and radios stuck behind train seats.

    We used up to six radio mics at a time and they kept the sound crew busy, with gaffer tape coming loose, or the actors scratching themselves.

    Quite honestly, radio mics were a great pain for all concerned and only resorted to as a last resort. But we were very grateful that they were there as a fall back option. I can remember Peter telling me of an incident before radios mics - the actor had to carry an STC Ball & Biscuit mic to catch his lines as he walked swiftly along, with the Sound Maintenance man anxiously paying out the cable!

  3. When I was working as 3rd or 4th man on sound crews in the late 1960s we used Nagra IIIs, Nagra IV-Ls and then Nagra 4.2s, eventually changing to IV-Ss for twin track recording. If I remember correctly, the ATN was used to power the machines off mains (in the UK 240 volts at 50Hz), and the ATN-ATU was used to charge rechargeable batteries within the Nagra - different pins on the socket on the Nagra if I remember correctly. I found that when operating off batteries, which was most of the time, except in studios, rechargeable batteries would not last as long between charges as ordinary HP2 batteries would before needing to be replaced.


  4. For what it is worth, I found that letters (emails now) and threats of legal action didn't work - but going round to the production office and seeing the person who controls the finance sometimes does. People who are very brave and dismissive on a phone can be quite timid face to face with you. But always be polite - firm but polite.

  5. My first feature film involved powering the camera (Mitchell BNC) off a rotary converter, which supplied a 50Hz pulse for the Nagra as well. I suppose the rotaries have been consigned to history books, but I was glad to have had experience with them. Here is the Wiki page that describes them:




    The one I used for film work had a couple of beefy 12 volt lorry batteries as the power source, which powered a DC motor. This turned a three phase alternator which supplied the energy to power the camera motor. I assume that the rotary supplied 110 volts (I can't remember) for the American Mitchell; but the pulse for the Nagra was 50Hz.. There was an automatic system for keeping the machine at the right speed, which varied with load, although there was also a knob for manual regulation; and the frequency of the pulse was displayed on a reed meter, which vibrated a bank of reeds, each carefully cut to the right length to vibrate most at its indicated frequency, with 50Hz in the middle and + or - 0.1 Hz on either side.I expect that in the USA this would have been 60Hz. In a studio, this three phase power supply would have been available off the wall boxes, but we were shooting in a disused factory, so it was location equipment. Nevertheless, it took two men to shift the box containing the equipment.


    The operation of the rotary guaranteed the four man sound crew: the sound maintenance guy watched over the rotary, the sound camera operator would operate the Nagra (only a few years previously he would have operated a Sound Camera), the boom op swung the boom (Fisher or Mole) and the mixer twiddled the knobs. Four man sound crew. Luxury!

    The sequence of events when shooting would be for the 1st Assistant to shout "Turn over," and the rotary would be switched on. After about 4 or 5 seconds it would have got up to speed and stabilised, and the operator would call out "Speed", and the board would go on.


    There were other way of getting the 3 phase supply on location, using big capacitors, but these were unmanned and therefore of little interest.



  6. I used Beyer DT48s and nothing else. Although other makes and  models may have been superior, I was used to the the DT48s and I think that is important. Get really familiar with one kind of headphone and you unconsciously compensate for their drawbacks, if any.

  7. Just listened to this. It gave me much pleasure to hear the music and to see the microphones.

    Fairest isle, all isles excelling,

    Seat of pleasure and of love.

    Venus here will choose her dwelling,

    And forsake her Cyprian grove.

    Cupid from his fav'rite nation

    Care and envy will remove;

    Jealousy that poisons passion,

    And despair that dies for love.


    Gentle murmurs, sweet complaining,

    Sighs that blow the fire of love,

    Soft repulses, kind disdaining,

    Shall be all the pains you prove.

    Every swain shall pay his duty,

    Grateful every man shall prove;

    And as these excel in beauty,

    Those shall be renown'd for love.

  8. Keith's response to Philip's comments:


    The position of the clamp was worked out right at the beginning in 2002 and it was decided to put the clamp so that the weight of the boom being heavier at the front, would tighten the clamp rather than loosen it irrespective of whether it was on the left or the right. Also the clamp has a reinforced fibre/rubber washer which interacts with the ridges within the circular base forming something like a click stop mechanism.


    The boom stays within the cradle without the need to have a clamp to keep it in place and simply holding it when repositioning the boom is adequate.


    He obviously looked at the pics and thinks the handle will come loose. It’s the cradle which has a square hole for the clamping bolt and the washer is fixed to it so if anything would move it would be the cradle thus tightening!

  9. 2 hours ago, Philip Perkins said:

    These things look good, I do have a few suggestions.  First, it looks from the pix like the head tightening crank is on the left side, as one would face the back of the pole.  The reason C-stands etc are set with their tightening handles on the right side (as you face the set) is because if the head gets loose and the pole etc starts to sag it will tighten the head instead of loosening it.  I've had this beef with the makers of music-type mic stands for years.  Maybe consider having the crank on the other side?  My other somewhat more practical suggestion would be to add some kind of boom hold-down clamps to the device.  I have both "Cardellini" type clamps as well as "boom boy" types (derived from fishing pole holders), and in the heat of a shoot I really prefer the Cardellini.  Why?   Because it securely holds the pole, even when extended, when you need to tilt it more vertical to get it out of the way during a lighting change etc, it stays put when you adjust the tilt angle (doesn't want to come out of the holder) and when you need to move the whole rig to another position it all stays together better.   The "Buddy-Bag" is very clever.


    Thanks Philip. I will pass these suggestions onto the manufacturer.


  10. 6 hours ago, afewmoreyears said:

    Almost 40 years of experience doing it, and it will still get your goat periodically. Experience is the solution, and only most of the time. Much of the time the clothing is actually active and you can hear the noise through a boom mic.  Mounting tips at that point only help so much.... A great deal of what you hear through cans is minimized through a speaker somewhat. I am sometimes surprised.


    There is no BEST, only what works for your problem in front of you at that moment. There are so many options, you have to size up your situation, and through experience of knowing what works, pull out that solution and go to work.


    If you do a search, you can read a lot on this subject.  Study, think and experiment...  


    Absolutely right! But I am also reminded of a comment I once heard uttered by a sound mixer: "Well, this shot's impossible: what's next?"

  11. Do you not think that what you are used to plays a role in this? I used DT48s throughout my 'career' in recording sound, but I am very willing to concede that there are much better options available now. But if I were to start work again I would certainly opt for DT48s as they are what I was accustomed to and maybe there is a circuit in my head that compensates for their inadequacies. Just a thought.

  12. Ah, Jim, you touch on a subject that causes me great irritation. That cat squalling was needless to say added in post and I got quite riled about it. But...I was a freelance, and the dubbing mixer and editor were both BBC staff, so apart from telling the director that he was a c**t, that was little I could do. If I had my way their heads would be on spikes at Tower Hill.

  13. A friend of mine interested in maritime affairs has sent me this link




    When I was working, I powered my equipment off Lithium Ion  batteries and even then (over ten years ago)  there were severe restrictions on taking such batteries on aircraft.

    Do recordists still use Li Ion batteries for location recording - and have there been any nasty incidents using them?

  14. It is with great sadness that I report the passing away of Rene Borisewitz last week. Rene was Simon Kaye's maintenance engineer for many feature films until he became a successful sound mixer in his own right. He gave me a place on my first feature film. He is survived by his wife Ulla.


    His cremation service is on Saturday 5th October 2019 at 10.45 at the Golders Green Crematorium (West Chapel) [Hoop Lane, Golders Green, NW11 7NL] and there will be be a celebration of Rene's life afterwards at The Old Bull & Bush, North End Road NW3 7HE from 12:15.

  15. Many years ago I worked with a mixer who was of an experimental frame of mind. Somewhere he got a plastic parabolic reflector, about eight inches in diameter, pushed a 416 through the hole in the centre and focused it by eye to a point behind the slots to see what would happen, the theory being that it would reflect the sound waves back into the slot in front of the capsule. Well, THAT didn't work!

  16. I have just finished watching the film Joseph Andrews on YouTube. It was shot in Southern Britain during a very long, hot summer of 1976 and I was 3rd Man on the sound crew. Lady Booby (Anne-Margaret)'s final line was a reversion to her character's low origins (for the rest of the film she spoke in a curious mixture of bad posh English and faux-French) and for accuracy the director (Tony Richardson) insisted that this line be very authentic. The line was "What f***king next?" and who better to advise on the correct, Cockney way of pronouncing this than the electricians? For about half an hour the sparks clustered around Anne-Margaret coaching her on the correct rhythm, slurring and intonation so that she would pass unremarked in Bethnal Green. I remain unconvinced.

  17. For what it is worth, probably 0, this is the way I went. First step was to answer an advertisement, for a tea boy in a little film production company, in the Evening Standard, one of the evening papers produced in London. Got the job making tea, sitting in for the switch board operator at lunchtime, running errands and any odd jobs. Any spare time I spent looking over the shoulders of the editors and the sound mixer. The camera boys were usually out on location, so at that point I couldn't see that side of it. After a couple of years of making tea (and coffee; there was no end to my skill) I was allowed out on location to see what was going on there. By this point I had decided that sound was to be the path I followed and so I had my eye open for opportunities elsewhere, as there would be no vacancies in-house where I was for the foreseeable future. I became aware of holiday relief work at the BBC, where in theory you stood in for someone on leave. I attended an interview at Ealing, where the BBC Film Department had its HQ and was successful in getting the job. I was NOT part of BBC staff. To be so was an exalted position and the technical grades went on a long course at Evesham to be made au fait with the highest standards. I was a filler-in of vacancies who could be got rid of very quickly. After a week operating machines at Ealing my place of work was changed to Alexandra Palace, in North East London, where BBC News had its base. I spent about two years there and I have to say that it was the happiest time of my life, making state of the art 1930s machinery work in the transfer suite and the dubbing theatre. But I became greedy, and I thought that after this time I ought to be considered for being made a staff member, not just a holiday relief technician. This was a step too far, I was told; and so I resigned in a fit of petulance. This forced me to seek free-lance work and I was successful in doing so, working for BBC and ITV as well as on documentaries and feature films. The more I worked the more contacts I made so things slowly got better and better. 


    Just a footnote added later. I found cold calling to be unspeakably difficult - but it was and is an essential part of finding work before you have established yourself. Striking the right balance between being useful and pushy is essential too - try if you can to imagine what sort of assistant YOU would like to have. Cold calling I think was the most difficult part of finding work, but the amount of horror you experience in doing it will vary according to your personality. It has to be done, worse luck.


  18. I see that a lot of current mixers have bar graph meters and I'm wondering how the readings are weighted. My favorite mixer was a Filmtech which had BBC type PPM meters, quite large so you could read them with ease while glancing down. Are the up to date meters programmable or are you stuck with what you have bought?

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