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Nick Flowers

An Old Git Maunders On...

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Here is a photo dating from about 1980 of a Southern Television news film crew interviewing someone in a field in the UK. Left to right is camera assistant, cameraman, presenter (Cliff Michelmore), interviewee and sound recordist (me in my bearded phase). Equipment: Frezzolini 16mm camera on a Ronford tripod, Auricon sound on film amplifier, Sennheiser 805 microphone (powered by by AKB 11) and Beyer DT48 headphones.

 

Brighton Film Crew.jpg

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Nick, from a younger git (but no less a git!) to an older respected git, welcome back to hopefully regular 

JW posting!

 

Shame there wasn't a Nagra in the shot for Joseph, but a nice look at a 1980 field (for the rest of us "field recordists") anyway!

 

Good to have you back sir!

 

Jez

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The only thing to be said in favour of sound on film was the relative lightness of the Auricon amplifier, compared with the millstones we had to carry about with the first iteration of ENG. I had to start out carrying a BVU110 recorder, as it was deemed possible that we would have to do an in-field transfer (to the other BVU110 we carried (no time base correction)). This earned my undying hatred for the card-carrying wazzock who made the decision, some suited oaf who had never done any real outside work in his worthless life. Needless to say, we never had to do that transfer. When he finally went I was allowed to have a BVU50, which was a little better, but not much. A while later progress made it possible for the recorder to be integrated into the camera, and all I had carry then was an SQN mixer, the light one with three mic and one line level in. But decades later I still have a sore neck - I have heard it referred to as Nagra Neck by other recordists. We are much to be pitied.

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I remembered just now an occasion when we were shooting a news story on a council estate in Brighton. It was quite frosty outside and we were glad to enter the house, which was quite warm. In the living room we saw the reason why: a railway sleeper (I think that they are called ties in the USA) was poking out of the fireplace and into the room. The end in the grate was blazing merrily away, and as it was consumed the sleeper was shoved in further. We averted our gaze and went about our business of shooting the interview.

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Shooting in Sweden, and the crew is up in the battlements of the Royal residence to do a lovely shot of the King of Sweden drive into the courtyard and walk into the front door. Just one chance to get the shot, as there is beautiful unmarked snow lying on the ground and the director wants to have the Range Rover carrying the king to be making the only tyre marks. And His Majesty won't do second takes. The car rolls into the courtyard, the King gets out but slips and falls a*** over t**. Undisguised amusement from the crew, one of whom mutters something about the king being a c***. A royal flunky minding the crew says, in outrage:"Who called the King a c***?" to which the instant response was: "Who called the c*** a king?"

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Lovely Nick!

 

Another amusing car story:

 

Working on a movie in the NZ south island we prepare to shoot a significant scene.

 

On a single lane bridge which carries cars and trains!!  the bad man's Mercedes is due to

approach and crash into an oncoming train!

 

Timing is of the essence, but oh dear it starts raining and the art department wipe the car

and put a white beach towel on it's black bonnet for rain protection.

 

The rain stops, the 1st AD shouts roll and cue the car and action on the train.

 

The car speeds towards the train with the art department screaming Fxxk !!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Oh well we have a one off take of an accelerating Mercedes with a large white towel on it's bonnet!!

 

Oh dear!

 

mike

 

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On the re-make of The Corn Is Green (K. Hepburn) the director, George Cukor, was of advanced age, and while he was OK to walk on firm, level ground, he was a little unsteady on his pins through the orchard in which we were shooting. So he had a couple of minders, one at each shoulder, to support him as he walked through the rather low apple trees. Their attention was fixed on his feet and they did not notice that a low branch had somehow inserted itself into his mouth, and as they coaxed him forward, so the branch was twisting his head back. His diction was somewhat impaired by all this and his cries of outrage went unheeded by his helpers, who pressed forward. I was very amused to witness all this, but all good things come to an end and eventually his supporters became aware of the situation and removed the offending branch, to be rewarded with a stream of invective. 

Edited by Nick Flowers
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One little bit left over from the days of recording on film rather than on tape. When I was starting out I was rather puzzled by older, grizzled members of the sound crew referring to the PEC Switch on a Nagra. Pretty quickly I saw that they meant the Tape/Direct switch but I couldn't for the life of me figure out why they were calling it the PEC switch. Eventually I asked and the answer was that PEC stands for Photo Electric Cell. On a optical recorder this was placed near the light valve and responded to the amount of light falling on the film. So you could listen to that and be confident that at least everything was working that far. Of course with magnetic recording light valves and photo electric cells were redundant, but still among the older soundies that name kept on being used.

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