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Paul Ledford

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About Paul Ledford

  • Birthday 01/01/1

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  • Location
    Louisiana
  • About
    Production Sound Mixer since 1980
  • Interested in Sound for Picture
    Yes

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  1. In a recent group discussion with production mixers the concept on improving how production sound is viewed could be resolved by a change in the culture was discussed. I have lived by that over my years as it pertains to location scouts. And yes I got spoiled early on in my career working with people who wanted us all engaged up front and put it in the budget. For those who have travel this path successfully by virtue of clever producers or your deal memo I know this view is not unique. I offer this for those who mention they are not in practice of this. Most of my work has been features so no scouts on commercials or other styles. Day playing or splinter … forget about it. Sorry to be late to this discussion for you syncsound. You should be there on the tech scout and you should be paid for the time you are present doing work for them … IMHO. Especially if it is union work. You need to change the culture of old thinking and show them why it is important for you to be there, if they wish to get the full measure of your skills they are investing with you. The normal refrain I often hear is … we will not change locations. So be it. If they are a repeat client then they start to ask your opinion of what is possible and is this something to let go of or can you make it work. That might be the director or producer who shall follow the show into post. They might be asking and I certainly appeal to them in early discussions for me to be included on the tech scout. UPMs and ADs are long gone after the shoot so they have little experience as to what happens in the cutting room and the effort and cost it takes to fix things small and large. In time your resume or support from post sound recommendations will help this process. The reasons I state I need to be included is HOMEWORK … like everyone else does. Why would sound be different. Homework ahead of time could save time and money both for production and post production. Things can be ordered and done to help the shooting workflow when it could cost less or just a phone call away before the day of … On the day of is usually too late. Being present on the scout reveals … How do you get to set? The logistics of building or ground or water or swamp covered. Different wheels might matter. Different rigs might be needed. Some carts will not fit through old non-standard doorways. Or tiny elevators if there is one working. Are you working from four wheel vehicles? What is the working distant for RF? How about the cave of a room they want to do the court room scene in? Have that list ready to present assuming you have read the script. I have been doing RF scans on location scouts for many years. That is a must for me and the best time to do it is on the tech scout. Now you can do that with a scanner that captures the data to download for later use. Every show scout I have done there is someone who walks up to me to say “Gee they have never seen that … what are you doing?” Producers, ADs, Production designers or effects folks … it has run the list. Never gets old. In today’s RF soup, it is something we should all be doing because trying to scan on the morning of is crazy in my experience. The PA herd is already running at us to know when we can wire up talent as we are trying to fully deploy. Having that homework done is a plus to the workflow and if you can get those walkie talkie freqs to fold in, you can have a smoother day … tell them that!! So when I do get push back I go over this concept and ask them remember on your last show when the camera head or light board did not work for a time … well this helps prevent that more often than not. Remind them of all the RF devices in use on the set they are paying for now. You do need to have contact with those other RF devices in those departments … and you can start that in prep and on the tech scout for your homework. If they do not have the experience you need to educated them with past examples. RF coordination needs to be part of the change of culture. The other great benefit is for you to get to know who is who and listening in on what is being planned for … by the production meeting everyone is so panicked to move on … they wish to breeze through that or side bar. So gathering that intel is to your benefit and thus theirs on set. Who else is going to remind locations about ITC or door access or to keep the AC units back. And as mentioned before you might be one of the few department heads to ask for space to put carts where you need to work. Getting those locked rooms open or reserved for your use. The other departments also get to see you and you can make the rounds. I take lots of photos and share them with the folks not present as well … Video assist, costumes, etc … it helps form good working relationships. Side conversations with transpo and art departments have often been of great help to my work on set. Nothing worst than to run around on day one or prep shooting trying to find out who is who when you need to work together on the set. You have plenty to do at your cart as it is. To mangle the well known saying… you need to be the change of the culture you wish to work within. If not this time … then during the show for the next time. Happy scanning.
  2. Worked Iceland in 2012 June/July. Great place, wonderful people. Quiet RF for the most part. We worked out away from cities. I had great range in Blocks 470,19,20,21. All good to use at that time. Very quiet backgrounds can be had in a number of places for boom work. Near the end of our first week in July we had RF spikes showing up and lack of range hits on the audio working a location in the interior area. Found out later that day, the Russians were running war games with flights near Arctic Circle and the radar sights lit up on that day. I found some clear space after scanning and we were only using a few of channels. That was only for one day and the rest of the time it was clear. If you are using any carts it can be a tough push over those lava sands. There is a film and TV industry there. P Ledford
  3. I had the pleasure of working for Jerry Weintraub on the three "Oceans ..." films Steven Soderbergh directed along with Randy Johnson as our boom op and Larry Blake in post. Jerry Weintraub was a producer who in his time owned the phrase "larger than life" for he enthusiastically embraced the task of marking out the horizons in his work and life. In getting things done, he knew how and who and if not, he knew who to call to get back to how. It seemed he knew everybody in and out of the business. The list of guests we were tasked for comtek headphones to share a time with Jerry on set was just amazing in it's depth and spoke volumes about this man. The production became his family. Jerry cared about the crew at our work and cared how we were supported while we were away from home and our families. He always took time to listen to our request and considered them. He and Suzie would make it happen. We had fantastic support on Oceans Eleven with the hotels and the city of Las Vegas because of Jerry fulfilling the vision Steven Soderbergh had for that film. He never stopped asking everyone on set "How you doing?" and he knew your name. He cared if you were happy and wanted to make it so. I get in line with George Clooney, that those of us who worked for him are richer in our lives for the challenges he asked us to live up to, for the humanity and grace he happily shared with us and for the great stories we now carry with us shinning the light on the human condition we all find ourselves working and living in this industry. If you hear one of those stories from a crew member who was present, then I dare say it will be told in Jerry's unmistakable Brooklyn accent in a bond out of the respect and love we share for him. Jerry never stopped thanking us for our work on set. I did not work for Jerry on his last couple of shows, but I noticed he did the same in thanking the crew on national television when he won his award for “Behind the Candelabra”. RIP Jerry Edit Watch this page
  4. While in Bueno Aires I used lower blocks (470 to 21) and 20 worked fine. As pointed out before results varies around town. Good advice from Karlsson to scan on location. I always scan on tech scouts and then use IAS software to crunch the numbers with the overlay from the scans to find the lowest noise floor among the 10 or so channels I am using. Here in the US ... the FCC tables do not always reveal all sources of RF one may bump into on locations with harbors and government buildings and installations. Both of which Bueno Aires has plenty of. Reads to be a great trip. Care for your gear and sleep.
  5. Between work and life, my calendar has never been open for this until this year. This shall be my first time and I am looking forward to being there and not pushing a cart around. Tickets booked and bring the next generation along. Paul Ledford
  6. check you messages. Get really good wind protection and be ready for the black flies.
  7. Doug, That sounds like quite the rig. Would be interested to know how it comes out and what on the final you used the most of. We were looking for something battle ready for field and easier to use on the move. I have not done any test of the TetraMic in a concert hall type space, but the stuff we got on the street is awesome and just makes me want to record every sound in the whole state and all of my children's music performances. Never mind dialogue! The listening we did at full level on the mix stage was indeed without noise in the quite spots and held even the loud hits from the brass band when the drums and brass walked close by. So the range is pretty impressive. We are happy with both the TetraMic and the DPA5100. Indoors at a club, the performance TetraMic was just as good and the coincidence very smooth. I would say for us, the self noise is pretty low and if anything, one needs to watch the low end as it can be large ... but no hiss or distortions on our levels as of yet. I would chat with Core-Sound about that. Our TetraMic rig was a bit lashed together as we had gotten our mic built and shipped to us just before shooting. I would rebuild the cable setup to a more hardened audio snake for the abuse we get on location sets. For this crazy shoot, we could just have it on a boom into a SD788T or stand/ audio snake back to me and fly it in ... near or for far perspective and from the one mic position be ready to go in the rush of shooting a cramped schedule for a music shoot. The DPA 5100 was a plug it in, label the tracks, and go. With even just using the LCR tracks is great enough but the full six across 5.1 is again a nice natural fill for post. I tested a number of systems and we stayed away from a few just because of size, and what we could or could not do in the camera frame. Did not have a chance to test any SoundField microphones as they could not fit into our time frame at the time. We got support from them from England to use the SurroundZone software to complete the test and it proved to be easy to use in ProTools. We still used some lavs in the crowd, a wireless Schoeps CMR and MS setup and a pair of binaural mics for other backgrounds and some far half a block or more away perspectives. So we had a number of machines going. Could be too much material for a TV show and I do wonder if there is a balance or choke point for all of this downstream. This was for first bat, so there is lots to learn for the good and the not working bad for this venue here. Paul
  8. On the last project I just wrapped up, we did a lot of street music recording and chose to test a number of surround mics. We ended up using the New DPA 5100 which is a 6 channel plug in and go mic and Core-Sound's TetraMic A format microphone. The DPA 5100 is just out and should be at NAB. By all means go and see it! If you have an interest in surround it is worth the look as we were very pleased with the sound, wind and moisture handling and ease of use on a boom plus there is no post processing of the audio for those quick post jobs. The Core-Sound TetraMic does need post audio processing to get from A format to B format and then decode to whatever you wish, but it is something to behold to hear such a nice coincident fill across the stereo field of choice be it stereo or 5.1. Post has yet to finish with the tracks, but we took the files to a film mix stage in New Orleans and decoded to 5.1 and were very happy with the clarity, natural spacing and full low end this little microphone captures. I am not sure just yet how all of this can always be used on film sets, but for backgrounds and crowd scenes I think it would be very good if you have the track space. Paul
  9. No I did not compare other than on paper. Please let us know what you find. That would be interesting.
  10. Michael Our van driver on 12 Rounds was a stunt driver because we were clipping along at almost full speed of the picture cars. I am not sure we went over 55 mph because we could hang or fall back a bit and still be safe. I too was worried about the wind, but with the driving speed and in heavy weather the antennas remained as firm as our mountings. They are very well built and durable. On one show, the transportation department went out and got the roof rack made out of round tubes. The clamps did not always hold on that. Stick with the square tube or the larger rigs with a good flat surface. I went ahead and bought a roof rack set of my own after that and that is what is on the picture. Professional Wireless recommended to me to bag them for rain. We used them with large storage bags or backpack covers to keep the rain from changing the tuning. Paul
  11. Bill The Comtek phase right antenna is for the Comtek headset system ... I am using the BST-25 transmitter for TV5-6. Covers the folks in the van as well on the insert car or chase camera cars so the camera operators could here the dialogue. 12 Rounds had a separate free running camera car at times and we outfitted the camera crew with snug Comteks. Boom op would wear Lectro IFB. That helical antennas up front are the video assist antennas for their rig. I run the three in the back. Two helicals for the Lectrosonics six pack in the van on the unfortunate Blocks 27 and 28. The one in the middle can either serve as a backup video receive or IFB transmit. That depends on the setup such as doing free cars or insert car. As camera would change, we would just swing the antennas front to back or off a side angle. Grouping close did not seem to degrade our capture, but the two outside ones are for our diversity and the middle is for something completely different. Grouping the transmit antennas is more of a problem ... space those out. When doing a lot of moves or turning we would slightly angle the helicals inward to form a X cross and that would give you a sum of a wider angle without a hole in the middle on your RF coverage. Bill, we used the 3/8 inch C-stand adapters so we could swing when necessary. The mounting blocks on the antenna have both a 3/8 inch thread and a 5/8 inch thread if you invert the mounting block. I use generally the 1/4 watt and then 100mW units if I needed to. Both have great range when you get the transmit antenna out of the vehicle. Get your story straight when testing on your own because I was stopped by the local police when making adjustments in a parking lot. He was very curious but amused when I told what we were up to. Paul
  12. Wow I have had my head down wrapping up a small project with a load of post file work and surround microphones. Sorry to come into this late but glad to reply to questions. For 12 Rounds, nice to read comments from other mixers. Thank you for that and a great public thank you again to Dan Izen who did fill in for me on the dime and did a great job. To catch up on the brief .. yes it was 35mm film, 3 cameras most of the time and more some times ... and lots of lighting from the floor ... lights laying on the floor. This was a show mostly using body lav microphones with the boom taking the air to open things up. We pushed hard to get as much dialogue as possible and won over the production team that we could do just that. We learned a lot along the way and the production team in time gave us the support for the time and space to do our job. Loads of plant microphones for dialogue and effects on cars, tail pipes, streetcars, helicopters and fire trucks. AND let me not forget the post folks at Warner Brothers under Chris Aud also did a great job with the material we provided and their editing and additional sound work towards the finish product. The helical antennas were just great and yes that was only one part of the equation. For those of you thinking of car to car stuff, this combination of helical and external transmtiter antennas worked great for us. I would stay away from yagi to yagi or shark-fin to shark-fin .. you will get caught with chopping RF. The transmit antennas we used were from England by a company named Wallen and I got those from Evan Mather at VARK Audio in Maryland. I am sure others can be found from other antenna makers, but these did fit the bill of being small, black and looking like police car stuff enough for this film. We used these mag mounts not only on the roof and trunk, but horizontally on the sides of vehicles because the helical would see a good signal in all planes of use. Do not clump the antennas together, we got best results by spacing them out. I know Lectrosonics makes antennas you can drape away from the transmitters and hang off the cars, but I never got that far in our research as I like to find ways of being in plain sight if possible. It was a mindset to cover as much stuff as possible since we are using a machine like the DEVA 5. We loaded up the tracks with all those plants and the MS Stereo mic away from the dialogue to get either sync effects or backgrounds working with the foreground sync stuff. There is an article that I think Crew must have seen and the link is below. http://www.studiodaily.com/filmandvideo/currentissue/How-Helical-Antennas-Make-a-Safer-Set_10573.html I attached a photo of our last setup for a HBO project with even more stuff up top ready for a drive across the Mississippi River Bridge. For both the sound and video Assist departments. Paul
  13. Jeff ... I would like to chime in here on the Stauffo design PWS antenna Dan Izen and Mike Michaels spoke of. In my use, they are all the things Dan wrote about. When faced last year with a job involving many moving cars and dialogue, I researched the issue of antennas with moving transmitter and receiving antennas. Helicals turned out the way to go and that brought me to web site for PWS and their kit of helicals. I rented the kit from PWS in Florida for a test. They not only worked great, but scared all the local high schools kids off the their cell phones one afternoon while we drove around the neighborhood checking out ranges and off block reception ... that means we were separated by a block or two moving in the same direction. I bought the kit right then to use on the project 12 Rounds directed by Renny Harlin. Many cameras moving fast. We convinced production to let us build out a chase van for sound and video and mounted the antennas up on top of the van. I have pictures somewhere. The signal range we got kept us out of the action either way back or off on a side lane, so we could still have continuous contact with the actors in the cars while we drove all over the streets of New Orleans. The stunt drivers loved us for not being too close and yet the director, DP, AD, script and producers could see and hear everything. This also worked great for the Streetcars there on Canal Street for almost six blocks from a static receiving position. The line of sight is amazing. Note to others .. there is little to nowhere on the Streetcars to hide the sound department. I had a mixture of 100mw and 250mw Lectro units. Some transmitter units were using antennas on the packs and some were using small mag mounts to get the signal out of the cars and onto the plane of the metal exteriors. They look like small law enforcement style so we were good on camera with them. Got those from Evan Mather at VARK Audio, but any mag mount will do at any angle because of using the helical on the the other end. The whole kit worked great on the van and on our carts when we were on the ground shooting a foot chase through the lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. Dan is right about getting them up in the air. Our chase sound cart has a built in mast so we can raise them on a triple header to do just that. I could always work from a distant way out of the “seeing the world” way and still get all the needed audio. The video guys ended up buying a bunch to keep up with our range and ended up going microwave. And I also used them to transmit IFB to the crew. Lectro IFB T1 plugged into that goes a long way crystal clear and we did not get caught with the steadicam or the camera department with a clamshell going out of our range. So I guess you say I am a fan and they have a place on my carts. Plan to buy more. --- Paul Ledford
  14. Yesterday I visited with a sound editor and saw something I would like to mention here. This person was cutting with sound from a DEVA 5 and had metadata and track assigns listed on each track that ProTools 7.2 could view. The files were renamed with a designed convention by the post supervisor with the picture department cutting on Avids. The track assigns were left as I had loaded them in on the DEVA 5. I had noticed the lack of sound logs in front of this person and asked about that. The editor said they were coming, but the picture folks had not sent them over just yet. The media had arrived early, BUT that did not stop them from moving ahead, because all of the tracks were labeled and they were using the metadata. My thoughts were ... Ok fine … most of that is good news with the new software, but I know that there are times when in the midst of trying to get information from the set about changes or when I am waiting in the void with no new information from direction or my crew, the AD calls for "roll sound". When that happens, I would not hold them up to rename or reassign the tracks for that stuff. AND yes I can screw up a track label or three over the course of the show. While I do go back and redo the scene and take info when needed, I have found the track names are welded to the audio of the file and can not be changed on site and do a re-mirror for a more accurate file info. The upshot is that I do go back and try to make sure the sound logs (which in my case is 4 part NCR paper) are correct for fear that this issue exist in the way some of the metadata and track labels are written. I see this thought needs to be on the cover letter of each job that is handed off until a solution is found or that a note in the daily email brief I do is added to alert to the possible inaccuracy of the track names inside the file. Folks in post production need to know that just because the information (the track labels in this case) comes from a file generated by a computer does not mean perfection. Junk in Junk out will be the warning until there is a way we can access the track info on the MARF files while we are in production and on set with that information still fresh before me. Changing all of that info on the BWF files on either the UDF DVDRAM or the FAT32 files at the end of the day or while hopping around locations is just not an option for me. Maybe someone knows another way. P. Ledford
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