Jump to content

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


JBond
 Share

Recommended Posts

  • Replies 155
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

post-212-0-24046200-1360564049_thumb.jpgOk 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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

post-212-0-61773200-1360566134_thumb.jpgOk 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!!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.soundandpicture.com/wp-content/issues/Coffey_Files/Fall2009/index.html  In fairness, it was also part of my best memory too, found in the same issue.

 

John Coffey

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.soundandpicture.com/wp-content/issues/Coffey_Files/Fall2009/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.... 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.com/About%20Us/History/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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.com/About%20Us/History/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

post-17-0-57583100-1360645448_thumb.jpg

post-17-0-47266400-1360645465_thumb.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

- 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. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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). 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share


×
×
  • Create New...