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March 11th, 2008

Takeaway ShowsLocation Sound

I had the pleasure of recording several Takeaway Shows with Vincent Moon at the end of February for the Noisepop festival in SF. The shows are an exciting way of bringing live one-take performances to the streets, intertwining daily life with the inspiration of impromptu music. Here we are on 24th Street in the Mission district, shooting the excellent band Bodies of Water. (photo by Rona)
You can find many, many takeaway shows (constantly being updated) on
la blogotheque
Vincent is now roaming the streets of Austin for the SXSW festival.

April 16th, 2007

Mini power - the DC hurdleLocation Sound

Portable Computer Based Recording System

During prep for Butterfly Dreaming, I had to convert the sound cart to a computer-based recording system. Many production sound carts have the ability to run from either AC or DC (battery). But computers don’t normally run off batteries. Because I wanted to preserve the flexibility and portability that comes with a battery-based recording system, I made my decision to build out the cart to enable DC-powering the Mac Mini, monitor, and external hard drive without the use of an inverter or AC.

Powering the mini

The main issue: the Mini wants 18.5 VDC natively, and the external firewire hard drive demands not only +12VDC, but ALSO +5VDC to operate. The remainder of the components for the computer (monitor and external DVD burner) required +12VDC, which was compatible with the audio equipment on the cart (Sonosax mixer, MOTU Traveler interface, video monitor, PD-4 DAT recorder, etc.). I considered building my own multi-voltage supply from a +18V source, using resistors to get to +12V and +5V. But that seemed overly complicated and not very efficient. I also considered separate battery systems, one +18V source for the computer, and a +12V source for the rest. But that means more batteries, more chargers, etc. I wanted a solution that would minimize the number of battery systems on the cart.

The Carnetix Solution

After a good bit of research, I found myself in the world of mp3 car afficionados, staring at the Carnetix CNX-P1900. Apparently, the idea to replace your standard car stereo with a mini-sized computer has snowballed to such a degree that there has been quite a demand for folks who needed to power their Mac Mini’s with a car battery. So Carnetix decided to build this magic little device, designed to take in a +12 DC voltage, and output +19VDC, +12VDC, and thanks to a recent add-on upgrade, +5VDC. I dove in. I received the CNX-P1900, with the +5V add-on, and started wiring. After an evening of splicing into the power supplies for the Mini and the hard drive, I successfully ran the Mini and drive from a 33Ah wheelchair battery for around 6 hours. Above is the frankenstein version during its test run. The Carnetix is the small slotted metal box in the center. All systems go!

April 7th, 2007

Boom Recorder - primary recorder on Butterfly DreamingLocation Sound

In late 2006, I recorded the location sound for Butterfly Dreaming, an independent feature film, using Boom Recorder 7.13. After the exhaustive testing I have put it through over the course of more than a year, and with a couple successful runs on short films, I decided to plunge into the 6-week shoot running the computer-based system. I’ll be posting here in the coming weeks about problems, of which there were plenty; solutions, of which there were enough; and insights and ideas, which continue to unfold as the picture advances through post-production.

December 10th, 2006

The Sound Cart - Rock SolidLocation Sound

Here’s a recent configuration of the sound cart on set for a rock climbing scene. Still a lot of work to do, but it gets the job done right now…

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October 1st, 2006

Boom Recorder - multi-track recording software by VOSGAMES (Oct 1, ‘06)Location Sound

In the past 10 years, recording technology for location sound has had its own private revolution. After retiring the 30-year career of the Nagra, DAT prevailed for a relatively short time. Now we have entered the era of the non-linear multi-track location sound recorder.

While many have replaced their DATs (which had replaced their Nagras) with any of a number of hardware recorders, I decided to build my feature film recording package with VOSGAMES’ Boom Recorder software at the core.

Native to Apple’s Mac OS X, Boom Recorder is a robust recording software which aptly incorporates all of the vital and very particular nuances of recording non-linear location sound for film. Boom Recorder has simply and elegantly addressed such varied needs as: various file formats, redundant media files, metadata, timecode synchronization, playback, and generating reports.

I used Boom Recorder on a 35mm short film, On A Tuesday, with great success. You can find more information on my recording setup on this VOSGAMES page.

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