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Utility Sound: Thoughts About


Jan McL
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Something extremey important that must be listed as a top priority would be to learn how to coil cable *both* ways "lefty" and "righty!" That way when you work with a mixer who can only do it one way you will be prepared.

Dan Izen

Good one! I always checked which way cables were wrapped and was sure to wrap them back the same way. As a mixer, I often use that skill when I find various guys have wrapped my cables in different ways. But since I don't wrap a lot of my own cable these days, it's not much of an issue. But I'd sure like it if guys would wrap they way they found it. It is my gear, after all.

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No offense but duh, all utilities should be able to take over booming in case the 1st boom gets sudden IBS, or something less serious.

Dan Izen

I personally value a 3rd who can swing a mic. I can cover for alot of faults, but if you put the mic in the wrong place...well, it's pretty much Game Over.

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No offense but duh, all utilities should be able to take over booming in case the 1st boom gets sudden IBS, or something less serious.

Dan Izen

Then why are a startling number of them unable to do just that? The notion that someone "should" be able to do something is tantamount to offering lip service to an idea without fully understanding what it implies. Besides, being able to "take over" isn't even what I'm talking about. In the great majority of my experience, the sound crew endeavors to record every line of a scene. This obviously means recording both on and off camera (duh, right?). This becomes critical during overlapped or improvisational performances, especially with more than 2 actors.

The administrative items listed are necessary, if tertiary. Ambient sound management is required, but is best served by all members of the crew taking part. But ultimately all of that is pointless is the microphone operation is inadequate.

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Good one! I always checked which way cables were wrapped and was sure to wrap them back the same way. As a mixer, I often use that skill when I find various guys have wrapped my cables in different ways. But since I don't wrap a lot of my own cable these days, it's not much of an issue. But I'd sure like it if guys would wrap they way they found it. It is my gear, after all.

+1, day 1 learn how to wrap cable. practice every minute you're not busy.

really good link: even a little trick in there seasoned guys might use.

Re: booming, on day one i dont expect my 3rd to be able to boom. it is the ultimate point of their development but it takes time and i wouldn't throw a new guy in too early. guys need to get their feet first, sadly i've seen good 3rds crumble on set and just go backwards.

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"really good link: even a little trick in there seasoned guys might use"

Nice video --- stupid camera work (I don't think he's sliding, the camera is moving... why?). I did learn something --- what to do about the inevitable knots every 2 feet when you grab the wrong end of the cable. I will have to try that "reaching into the knot" routine next time it happens.

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All good stuff here. And the UTS should never be afraid to get on his knees to help out the mixer and boom operator. Sorry...it was that kind of day.

So what happened there, the rack drawer can't support the O1v and you use your thirds head as a table? Does he get a little bowl of water or something???

No, in all seriousness, looks like a hard working utility! I see headphones and not even any crack showing. Impressive.

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The gentleman in the video is Gaylen Nebeker, the owner of Nebtek. Good guy with a useful how to video. He is not a film maker of stature that is for sure, but he does record video assist for them. Gaylen's company also sells many useful products. My only addendum to the video is that when you master this technique, learn to do it with the opposite hand as well.

CrewC

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Exactly my thoughts - home slice only shows the coiling technique "righty" but a third oughta know both! I liked the camera work because it was so ridiculous.

He left out the part about how the "over-under" coiling technique is utilitzed by the US Navy for those huge "man overboard" ropes - that coil saved lives! I can bet "over-over" never saved any lives.

Dan Izen

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  • 2 weeks later...

Today was our third and final day of a small shoot that I was helping with for a good and long-time friend of mine. What the callsheet looked like was approx 17 crew members, but turned out to double that unexpectedly with so much noise and BG chatter. First thing in the morning my UTS (first time on-set experience, 3rd day) unloads the magliner follow cart with all the other cases in the same manner I showed him the first day. UTS sets basecamp and literally the first thing he does is prep for all the booms for our ops of the day while I was talking with the director and 1st AD regarding shots and blocking for all scenes. Came back and I LOL'ed so hard I had to take a picture of this.

post-607-0-22024200-1335771067.jpg

All batteries loaded for 2x stereo cam op rigs, 7x speaking roles, 2x plants, 3x boom IFB, 8x Dir/Scripty/AD/UPM IFB. Rolled up the floor mats and furni pads all ready to be spiked and hanged. I eventually moved him up to main op with the CMIT 'cuz he was progressing at an alarming speed with precision. His service with the Navy has really prepped him for determination ... in taking my place!

Since this same UTS was a fresh postie who was assigned on doing post for this production, I kindly told him that the more effort you put into production the less work he'll be doing in post especially when the director already assured me that it's going to be 95% ADR a month before our first day of production. Well, here I am with all our boom ops getting the same boom mixdown feeds so that they all hear each other's character coverage for cueing purposes when running 3x boom while I mix the rest of the wireless talents down to a track. Old school 2-track recording for fun!

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Hi everyone!

I'm glad I found this topic here.

Currently I'm through a project as a 3rd for a first time. Previously I only worked as a boom operator.

So far, I'm doing anything that I see and think is need to be done by me and plus whatever mixer or boom op tells me to do.

Here's what I do from the beginning of day:

1) Getting cart and all equipment out of car together with boom op and taking it on location

2) Asking mixer where he wants his cart (is that extra?)

3) Getting AC, setting up cart, make sure everything's operational

4) Setting sound on camera, playback, director's...

5) Syncing with camera

6) Battery charging, replacing and generally watching over them

7) Putting mics if I'm asked to

And whatever else I'm asked to do.....

What I DO NOT do:

1) I don't deal with near location noises, where you have to deal with actual strangers, telling them to be quiet or have to knock on some next to set apartment and tell them to turn off the TV... I tell location stuff about it and ask them to take care of it. Of course if the noise is near and non-human I try to take care of it myself (like water tap running, or refrigerator or anything...)

Is it wrong? Do I need to do it all by myself, even if I have to knock on the door and deal with some strangers?

2) I do not take notes on report sheet, because mixer does it himself

3) I don't fix things on location, I don't even take soldering things there, how important is this?

4) I don't put mics on artists, because mixer does it. I guess this job is depended on mixer, whether s/he wants me to do it or not?

Reading this thread I find Utility is far more than I thought it would be.

Yesterday light guys where asking me where to park generator for the next day, I told them where to. But I thought maybe ask mixer too? Who decides where to recommend generator parking?

Another thing I'd like to know... I'm first time on 3rd and I had some trouble with producers that probably happened to have 3rd sound guy first time too.... they offered me a half of a daily salary of boom operator and I rejected it and stayed on boom op rate and after some talking we made a deal. What I'm wandering is.. How different is utility guy's rate from boom op's ?

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" take care of it myself (like water tap running, or refrigerator or anything...) "

careful, If you turn something off, and it does not get turned back on... (like a refrigerator full of food that spoils).

I think you are correct not to deal with strangers, or folks and things not directly part of the shoot, and let the AD's and Location folks deal with that stuff.

On IA basic agreement shoots, the utility rate is contractually the same as the boomer's, though the boomer often gets a bump to a higher category...

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Hi, Nikolozj!

I'm glad you found this thread too. Had forgotten about it, LOL.

If you've got solder and tools, I'd bring 'em. You never know when you might get to play hero. For sure you won't get that role if you don't have your hero tools near. Ultimately, something to discuss with the mixer, too.

A lot of your questions about near-set noises may be answered depending on whether you're on a low, medium, or other level of budget and experience, and whether the project is narrative, documentary or reality. From the perspective of a well-staffed union narrative project, neighbors, their dogs, television sets, and compressors are all referred to the locations department.

My preference (with a two-person sound crew) is to schedule a walkthrough of the location with resident locations meister and the owner. I don't touch anything, but look, listen, point and request. When I have the luxury of a third, my third will do that somehow. Don't know. Don't care so long as the locations department continues to enjoy helping us do what we do more better. I treat locations people with enormous deference and respect.

Once we're rolling, incidental sound issues are referred to the nearest PA with a walkie to transmit that info to locations.

The fact that a sparky came to you as a sound department rep relative to generator placement reflects well upon the professionalism of that department. There have been a few shows where I showed up an hour early every new location day in order police generator placement. I tried to get the idea across, but for whatever reason they never got it.

Only you can say whether your knowledge base was deep enough to have made that determination without the mixer's input. For sure, I would have brought that generosity to the mixer's attention so that he or she might apply the appropriate positive reinforcement and thanks.

Boom Op / Utility pay differential depends on the contract. In some instances, the pay rate is the same. In others, utility rate's somewhat less. Never half. A few dollars difference. Good you stood up for yourself. Clearly, you're not working under a union contract so I suppose your rate's up for negotiation, but knowing the SOP will help you defend yourself.

Go forth and defend! :)

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Thanks a lot, for responses!

studiomprd,

I think you are correct not to deal with strangers, or folks and things not directly part of the shoot, and let the AD's and Location folks deal with that stuff.

Yeah, I like to think that it's PA's responsibility. Last night we had a bunch of drunk neighbourhood people that wouldn't just shut up and it was a little extreme to go and talk to them, even PA's or AD couldn't do anything. It would end up with trouble.

galwaysound,

If i have to turn of a fridge i put my car keys into it,

Good trick! I don't have a car tho! :)))

Jan McL,

The fact that a sparky came to you as a sound department rep relative to generator placement reflects well upon the professionalism of that department.

Weelll... They placed it wherever they wanted anyway! :/

Clearly, you're not working under a union contract

I'm not from US neither and we don't have anything like union here..

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" Last night we had a bunch of drunk neighbourhood people "

that is when the police we hire (part of locations/transpo) go to work. If you have no on set police, then the police can be called...

of course you better have your permits in order.

" that way i can't leave without turning it back on "

someone had me try that once, and I spent a half hour at wrap looking for my lost car keys...

I put a piece of tape on my watch... that works for me.

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I put a 8x10 sign on the fridge, if it ain't in the shot with the settings, if I forget it ( which I usually don't ) someone will be able re-set it. The car keys idea is good though, if you have a car... For that matter a sign could tapped to your steering wheel or windshield stating "Did you turn the fridge back on" of course, after a tough 16 hour day.. you may not notice it

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  • 1 month later...

Yesterday light guys where asking me where to park generator for the next day, I told them where to. But I thought maybe ask mixer too? Who decides where to recommend generator parking?

Answer:

Please park the genny the next state over. If that's not possible, then as close as the next county is ok.

All kidding aside, the fact that they came and asked anyone in the sound department is awesome..There is no wrong answer as long as the answer is as far away from set as possible, and then a little further. Around the corner is icing on that cake.

The mixer would probably appreciate NOT having to be bothered by that question unless the location is just crazy weird.

I would thank them profusely for being good guys and coming to you with that (maybe even buy 'em a pint for the gesture).

.

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