Update for April 2013, New Toys

Hello everyone, this update has been a long time coming, and due to the pressures of work, has had a tortured entry into existence. Woo, my head is spinning…

So, I have just wrapped on the feature Play it Safe, directed by Chris Pahlow, and featuring the most elongated production schedule you will have ever seen, although it wasn’t all bad. That came back to back with my first overseas job in New Zealand, recording sound for the Toi Whakaari New Zealand School of Drama, where it was a pleasure to work with and for Ryan Alexander Lloyd the DP, Nathaniel Lees (one of the Directors), and Catherine Fitzgerald, our producer. What was not so much of a pleasure was the process of getting and using an ATA Carnet to get my equipment across. Boy, I tell you, if you thought Airports were bad, you haven’t seen anything yet. The customs officials (who, mostly knew what it was) were pretty good natured about processing Carnets, but the attendants at the check in counters usually reacted with either suspicion, bewilderment, and, oddly enough, a sense of being offended, when I pulled one of these out and asked about processing procedure (in fact, one lady was so taken aback she told me to visit the Customs office, which was actually after the check-in gate and refused to contact them ahead to see if she had any idea that what she was doing was completely nonsensical). And if you thought excess baggage was expensive, you haven’t seen anything yet. ATA Carnets, while a deposit, typically go for half of what you equipment value is worth. So… for me, after undervaluing it (just slightly) it still came out at about $4000 for 3 months of use.

On the upside, as this busy schedule comes to a close and I begin to focus more on my PhD, which, even at over 2 years away, is forever at “crunch time”, I did manage to snag myself a new field recorder (although Sound Devices staunchly maintains that this is more of a mixer than a field recorder), a Sound Devices 664, the new flagship of their location mixer range, and displacing the 552.

This replaces my aging, but faithful, and mostly kooky Fostex PD-606 as my primary device (although I will still need to pop it out for recordings requiring greater bit depth, and possibly cart work), and boy is it a stunner. Getting past the shock of a new interface, I have to commend Sound Devices for creating a recorder that is A.) Suitable for my meat cleaver hands B.) So intuitive that I was basically in full control after the first 3 takes of the day (although I did do my homework, and tested out workflow beforehand). One thing I did have to get use to though was the hardwired pre-fader sends to ISO tracks, taking out one of the gain steps (not really a true gain step as it’s still using the same process as the trim, it’s just significantly more refined) I usually use in mixing Post Fader, although that isn’t such a big issue I suppose. Fantastically, it perfectly fit into my Petrol Deca bag, which was typically too large for most of todays tiny dedicated field recorders (but I seriously dislike Porta Brace bags). One question I do have for anyone that might know, however, is, with Sound Devices recorders, is unity level typically 30% louder than typical talking RMS? I found myself pushing the trim a little more than I felt comfortable with in terms of remaining headroom.

Now onto updating my wireless! Although, I am still a tad concerned about the direction bandwidth allocation is going.

That’s it for now, Chum signing out!

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