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TV Movie or Mini-Series

Hatfields & McCoys Part 1 by David Bondelevitch, CAS

Production Sound Mixer Dragos Stanomir

Dragos Stanomir was the Production Sound Mixer on the miniseries Hatfields & McCoys, the History Channel’s foray into scripted presentation that won the CAS Award for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for a TV Movie or Mini-Series. It also won the Emmy for Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Miniseries or a Movie. Dragos, who hails from Romania, graduated from the University of Electronics and Telecommunications in ClujNapoca, with a specialization in acoustics. After graduation, he went to work for Castel Films, then the largest film production house in Romania. Since 1993, he has mixed more than 30 films and television shows all over the world. He has won the Romanian Award, the Gopo, for sound mixing and has been nominated three other times. Castel Films recommended him for the job on Hatfields. When asked about the difficulties of mixing such an actiondense period piece, Dragos explained: “The big challenge was that we had to shoot about six hours of material in three months, which is 2–3 times more than a normal movie, with many characters. There were many scenes with dialogue and gunfire in the same shot, or dialogue between people on horseback and others on foot, so it was very difficult to boom. Some horses are scared by the windjammer when the boom was over the rider, so we had to get the horse to smell it and see it closer to get used to it so they’d stay calm.” For his technical setup, he used a Sound Devices 788T with a CL9 fader controller. He wired every actor and recorded them on separate tracks. Dragos continued: “Usually, I record boom on channel one. The last available channel, I record with a boom for actors from off camera, just in case. Often, they used two cameras, one wide and one for close-ups at the same time, which is the worst for me, so the wireless mics were the most important. The live mix-down was only for dailies, with the boom on one mix channel and all wireless on another. I give a lot of attention to the separate tracks for maximum dynamic range, leaving as much freedom of choice in post production.” He used a barrage of mics for the project, relying heavily on Schoeps and Sanken for booming, and Lectrosonics and Sanken for wireless. Dragos added: “Because there were scenes with dialogue and gunfire, I used a Sanken CS3. Its longitudinal membrane is highly resistant to gunfire. This kept their voices as clean as possible. For these scenes, I put a wireless mic as close as possible to the mouth, preferably under hats, if they were wearing them. I recorded wild lines when time permitted. There was a

Dragos Stanomir

constant battle with time, as shooting outside from September to December, the days were very short. For the scenes that were just gunfire and explosions, without voices, I used a dynamic microphone. “Naturally, I recorded a few wild loads of weapons and footsteps, but also various sounds from wide shots. When in closeups, the actors just mime the motions in order to have clean voices; for example, dishes being handled. I recorded separate dishes to put after on close-ups.” The prospect of shooting a period piece seems challenging in this day, even shooting in Romania. Dragos explained: “Fortunately, we were far away from any roads, in the woods and up in the mountains, up to 3,500-foot elevation. I had no problems with cars, but I had a lot of problems with loggers, whose axes and chainsaws could be heard from over a mile away. We had crew with ATVs and radios that could try to stop whenever we heard noise, but that can be very time-consuming. “For planes, we were allowed to stop if it was at the beginning of a take, but there were also many longer takes when the planes could be heard in the middle or on the end. The brunt of the work fell to the post-production team that had to clean up the sound of all of these unwanted sounds, and they did a great job!” CAS QUARTERLY



2013 CAS Spring Quarterly  

CAS Awards, Meet the Winners, Dolby Atmos on the Stage

2013 CAS Spring Quarterly  

CAS Awards, Meet the Winners, Dolby Atmos on the Stage