the official quarterly of the cinema audio society
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FEATURES How Did I Wind Up Here? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14 From a soundstage to a classroom stage
Mixing From a Distance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16 When you’re here and your client is there
Personal Health Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20
President’s Letter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Celebrating the advancement of our craft
From the Editors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 To the Editors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Technically Speaking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 Food for Thought . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 The value of temp dubs
A Sound Discussion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23
A multi-stage mixing approach
Been There Done That . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24 CAS members check in
The Lighter Side . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30
30 CAS QUARTERLY
THE PRESIDENT’S LETTER
This year is quite a historical year for many members of the Cinema Audio Society. We are all aware that the formalized history of the CAS began in 1964. In 1969, while things were contentious in many parts of the world, there were two significant events about to take place. In a small town in upstate New York, a three-day music festival was held and it influenced a large number of people to consider the possibilities of live performance and professional audio production. It is difficult to really know just how many of those people traveled the road from Woodstock to work in cinematic sound. Now 40 years later, the technology that recently has been evolving for so many of us involved in cinematic sound has been called upon to remaster that event in our own ‘backyard’ for more people to discover and enjoy those same experiences from an earlier time. We have referred to the Cinema Audio Society’s “Dedication to the Advancement of Sound” many times; one of the lessons to be learned from that motto is the drive of professionalism to advance our craft. This drive usually manifests itself by constantly pushing ourselves to be the best we can be at what we do in our jobs on a daily basis. We could be recording original production or we could be in post, re-recording and mixing many, many elements together with an enthusiasm which is sought after by the producers for whom we work. It could be finding a unique solution to a situation which we can improve by a workflow modification or by developing an innovative product to be utilized by our peers. July of 1969 found many of us finally being able to witness the dreams of many professionals who were dedicated to the advancement of their endeavors coming to fruition. The success of Apollo 11 and the walking on the moon could not have been accomplished without people who had a firm grasp on that dedication. A lot of teamwork was required to accomplish their tasks. We also must be able to function where teamwork is critical to our work. The Cinema Audio Society cannot lose sight of some of the important lessons from these two historical events. The professionalism with which so many of those people approached their jobs was an integral part of their drive. The innovation and dedication to the advancement of their crafts is what we celebrate about their success. Your Board of Directors congratulates all of the recently announced Emmy nominees and wishes you continued success and recognition. The CAS Board is comprised of dedicated volunteer members of the CAS who are constantly striving to be innovative in their approach to managing the Society for the Advancement of all of the members. My personal thanks goes out to each and every one of them as well as the previous members without whose counsel we would be at a loss. We look forward to every member’s active support and continued participation in the Cinema Audio Society. Regards,
CINEMA AUDIO SOCIETY MISSION STATEMENT
To educate and inform the general public and the motion picture and television industry that effective sound is achieved by a creative, artistic and technical blending of diverse sound elements. To provide the motion picture and television industry with a progressive society of master craftsmen specialized in the art of creative cinematic sound recording. To advance the specialized field of cinematic sound recording by exchange of ideas, methods, and information. To advance the art of auditory appreciation, and to philanthropically support those causes dedicated to the sense of hearing. To institute and maintain high standards of conduct and craftsmanship among our members. To aid the motion picture and television industry in the selection and training of qualified personnel in the unique field of cinematic sound recording. To achieve for our members deserved recognition as major contributors to the field of motion picture and television entertainment.
Edward L. Moskowitz, CAS President of the Cinema Audio Society 4
FROM THE EDITORS...
I’m sure you’ve heard it, “My friend has a Pro Tools system—he can do the audio.” Technology can be great—especially when it becomes affordable—but one thing that money can’t immediately buy is selftalent. That’s why clients pay us (and some of us quite handsomely), because we know how to capture sound exceptionally well and blend those sounds into their ideal soundtrack. The Deva, Pro Tools, DFC or Euphonix isn’t why the client’s audio sounds the way they want—surely these items help—but it’s us. You will see this point emphasized in this issue as co-editor Matt Foglia, CAS reports on the findings from the “Distance Mixing” survey he sent to members over the winter break. On a similar topic, in this issue’s “A Sound Discussion” column, we’re provided insight into one distance/ multi-stage mixing approach from Skip Lievsay, CAS. G. John Garrett, CAS Remember, we greatly through his “Technically Speaking” col- appreciate, and want umn, discusses transmission lines in shotgun mics while Edward Moskowitz, CAS your feedback and provides us with some information on suggestions—so send protecting our ears. Gary Bourgeois, CAS them in! covers this issue’s “Food for Thought” column with a discussion on the value of temp dubs and co-editor Peter Damski, CAS discusses his segue from production mixer to full-time teacher. Finally, so you can see what trouble your fellow members are getting into, we have your “Been There Done That” and “The Lighter Side” submissions. The CAS Quarterly is produced as a service to our members on a voluntary basis. A special “thank you” goes out to those taking the time to contribute articles. Remember, we greatly appreciate, and want, your feedback and suggestions—so send them in! Email us at email@example.com. We also truly value the support of our sponsors and encourage your commitment to them.
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LETTER TO THE EDITORS... The Insurance Game I was dismayed to read “Got Insurance?” in the latest issue. I am retired but can’t imagine that employment/property law has deteriorated that much over five years. This article seems to advise CAS and other sound professionals to wave payroll rights and benefits for equipment rental. I had a very successful career for more than 30 years without a DBA or “Loan Out” company and almost always avoided the now illegal, and sorry expedient of “Independent Contractor.” My Producer/Employer paid me withheld wages and covered me with Workmen’s Comp.—FICA and—Unemployment. I rented my sound and communications equipment (walkietalkies) to the production. They paid me from rental/expendables and loss/damage invoices submitted weekly. That income went on my Schedule “C” IRS form—the same schedule for DBA rental income. I created a rental form called an “Equipment Lease and Delivery Receipt”and provided a specimen (with the equipment listed) to the production with my deal memo. The Teamster (or other producer employee) signed the “Equipment Lease and Delivery Receipt”upon delivery/pickup of the equipment.
Among other things, the lease specified the legal language to bind the Producer for the “actual stated amount” of the lease inventory. Important. Although I routinely collected proof of insurance from the Producer, the lease specifically declined assignment of insurance proceeds as full payment for loss (also, rental continued until the full amount was paid)! So the Production Company was obligated to me for the stated inventory value upon total loss. Thus bound, the insurance company was similarly committed (less any generic policy deductibles) to the production company—by law. Walkie-talkies are a high-loss item (they often “grow legs”). Such claims were subject to close scrutiny. One time an insurance adjustor came to my house. I told him I would help him as a courtesy since I had no agreement with him (and then acted in the Producer’s interest to collect the full amount). I showed the adjuster my many past rentals (and some loss mitigation forms for walkies too). Insurance paid the entire, un-depreciated, claim (my invoice) to the Production. The Production was happy to pay me—in full—since there was little or no cost to them. Once, when my kart was fire-hosed down by Special FX, I collected more than $5,500 for water damaged equipment— some custom—and some that I had made myself. I never bought separate insurance since my equipment was either tightly locked up at home or covered on a show (and I didn’t do “Walk-aways” always convincing the producer that time spent locking up the sound cart was worth protecting the most “steal-able” gear on the set). I never had a loss that wasn’t covered 100%. Sincerely, Bruce Bisenz, CAS
CORRECTION Lee Orloff, CAS was also a presenter at the 45th CAS Awards in February.
CAS SUMMER 2009 NEW MEMBERS
Seth Cooper, CAS Nathanael Harrison, CAS Brian Power, CAS Andy Rovins, CAS Brian Timothy Slack, CAS
Christopher Nicholas Buch David A. Panfili
Dimitri Lazaris Brian Charles Sacco
by G. J ohn Gar r et t , CAS
Back in the ’60s or ’70s, I remember seeing an article in Popular Mechanics or one of the other magazines of that type on how to build your own super-directional spy microphone. It involved mainly cutting several pieces of small (brass?) tubing to various lengths and bundling them together in front of a mic of some sort. I had no idea how this weird-looking contraption worked but I thought it was interesting. I never built the thing but luckily, others have taken the design and built something like it. The modern shotgun microphone is not very different from that early article in some ways. Sometimes these mics are referred to as wave microphones or interference pattern microphones, because they derive their directional characteristic from interacting or interfering with the sound wave that lands on it. Here’s how:
The modern shotgun usually has a series of slots cut in the side of the microphone case and a way of acoustically channeling the sound wave from the slots back to the mic elements. These channels act like transmission lines. Anybody who has built ported speaker enclosures knows that port diameter and length determine how the sound wave is coupled from the enclosure. This is the same thing, only backward. Most shotgun designs start with a cardioid or hypercardioid mic and then add the acoustical transmission lines. The end of the microphone is acoustically transparent as well, and gives the most direct path for the wave to travel. This makes sense so far, right? You point the microphone at the sound you most want to pick up, and the sound wave basically goes into the open end of the microphone body to
Fig. 5. Directional characteristics of an end-fired line microphone for various values of the ratio of line length to wavelength λ.
the diaphragm(s). As you turn the microphone away from the desired sound, some of the sound enters the slots (or tubes) and makes its way to the diaphragm via that path. Since the tubes are all different lengths or the slots are all different distances from the diaphragm, they force the sound wave to take a longer route to the diaphragm. Each slot or tube introduces a different delay compared to the direct signal, and depending on the length of that transmission line, certain frequencies cancel at the diaphragm. By the time you’ve turned the mic 90 degrees from the desired sound source, most of the energy is entering through the transmission lines and summing to nearly zero at the diaphragm. These transmission lines are all very frequency dependent, and high frequencies are canceled more than low frequencies, so there is some coloration of the sound. And since the resonant frequency of each transmission line changes a little with barometric pressure and humidity, the same mic may not perform exactly the same under different conditions. I don’t know if the difference is audible, but I’m sure designers optimize the transmission line lengths to smooth the frequency response overall, which should minimize performance variability due to atmospheric effects. It’s not so much that a longer shotgun is more directional, more that the longer the mic and the more slots or tubes there are, the more directional it is at lower frequencies. So above, say 2 kHz, your MKH 60 and MKH 70 probably have equivalent directional response. The 70 is more directional at 500 Hz though. The transmission lines are cut to specific center frequencies, and physical length is directly proportional to wavelength. If you wanted a shotgun mic to be as directional as a good cardioid is at 100 Hz, the acoustical transmission line in the mic would have to be 22 feet long! But the same shotgun will reject 3 kHz at 90 degrees much better than the cardioid. Another thing to realize is that what you have in your shotgun mic is a bunch of comb filters tied together, and the performance varies over frequency. That’s why when you look at polar patterns for shotgun mics you see two or even several patterns at different frequencies. It makes sense that a 24-inch mic is going to have more transmission lines that are ¼-wavelength multiples of 5 kHz than of 500 Hz. It’s just going to be more directional the higher the frequency. Because of this, shotgun mics can have poor performance in reverberant spaces because reflected sound waves hitting the microphone are delayed, and then delayed again in the acoustic transmission lines of the microphone, causing coloration and degrading off-axis rejection. So when you’re indoors near hard walls or windows, you might want to try a cardioid or hypercardioid instead. Next time, cardioids and hypercardioids! • (Editor’s note: Some of the material for this article was taken from Directional Microphones by Harry F. Olson, in the AES Microphones, An Anthology, Vol. 1 Number 27 pp 190-194.)
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The Value of Temp Dubs by Gar y Bour ge o is , CAS
For the last couple of years, there has been a definite decline in the number of films that utilize temp dubs mixed by those who will eventually be on the final. The reasons for this are numerous: cost, time, availability, etc. Whatever the reason given, it should be weighed against the advantages lost. Quite often the initial temp is made just before the first preview. If a preview were not in the plans, it would still be prudent to do a rough temp for the screenings for all those involved with the project. Only a small part of the purpose for the temp is for screening purposes. Mostly though, the reason for temping is the process itself. Firstly, as an exercise for the director to be able to assess the quality of the original production and to determine what needs to be looped (ADR) for reasons of clarity and sonics. This, done with the dialogue mixer, is more of an accurate assessment than those done in the cutting room with nearfield monitors that donâ€™t realistically reproduce the problems of the track. Many times ADR is done for reasons that are creative, with changes in reading or dialogue, etc. Better to utilize those sessions for those reasons and keep the necessary ADR down to a minimum. During the temp session, both the mixers and principals (director, editor, sound supervisor) are able to determine a structure for the soundtrack itself. Deciding on overall dynamics, establishing where the big moments for music or effects play and being able to see how they are working together are key considerations. During this time, finding out how sound effects choices are working is also a great benefit. Yes, a spotting session in the editing room is reasonable, but ultimately, not the same as in the dubbing theater in the context of all the other elements together. What is working together at that time is quite revealing and to have the time between 12
the temp and the start of pre-dubbing to make adjustments is invaluable. The ability for the mixers to have the temp stems available during the pre-dubs is important in that, (for instance) the dialogue mixer is able to know exactly how to record the dialogue against the music and effects stems. Likewise, the effects mixer uses the music and dialogue stems to balance their pre-dubs. When these are not available, the work is done in a defensive manner, which takes longer for the pre-dubbing process and inevitably also takes longer on the final (figuring out what is necessary to be played and how it is to be played). In other words, the whole process of pre-dubbing all the way through the final is made more efficient when a structure has been established by the mixersâ€”with the guidance of all those involved in the temp. It has been argued that because of budget considerations, using a few days to temp is a waste of possible days for the pre-dubs and/or final. I believe that the savings on the ADR stage, pre-dub time and final are quite obvious as compared to the hours spent later figuring out where the soundtrack is headed. Many times I have encountered a director and picture editor who are quite happy not to have to attend the pre-dubs because they know that the mixers already have the input necessary to do the job they require. On the other hand, when a temp has not been done, the surprise of these same two as to what is then presented is usually not warm and fuzzy. Overall, the advantage of doing a temp is multifold and a positive to all involvedâ€” from the producer on down to the mixers. I hope next time the subject comes up that someone can influence those involved to consider the advantages. Hope to see you at the next temp! â€˘
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