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Deep Dive Into Production Audio

The last few seasons of SoCal Connected were produced on a shoestring budget which is why camera operators had to handle their own audio. The show could not afford to hire dedicated location sound guys. I naturally took my soundie role a bit further since I have never been satisfied with the heavily companded audio that you get from the budget gear that is typically used as a backup by a lot of camera ops. Over the past few years, I’d been upgrading to the Hollywood location sound trinity of Lectrosonics, DPA and Sound Devices. I’d schooled myself in their field use by working on independent documentaries where I learned how to properly gain stage and swing a boom. It took a lot of practice learning how to hide mics. Hidden lavs pick up everything including the rub of beard stubble on a starchy dress collar. I’ve since fashioned some good lav rigs that work for most situations. The last audio job that I did was an exception.

A friend of mine was hired to direct a commercial for a Japanese suit company and he wanted some basic audio to lay underneath a loud music soundtrack. A pro skater and bmx rider were hired to do park tricks while wearing the suits that were made of stretchy fabrics that could accommodate their extreme ranges of motion. I was surprised that both pros were familiar with the suit brand. Between takes, I could hear them excitedly discuss how much they preferred the fit and cut of Japanese suits to other more well known European and domestic designers. It wasn’t the conversation that I expected to hear from extreme athletes. 

Of course, I wasn’t happy with the synthetic fabrics. The suits were incredibly noisy. I ended up running a Countryman B6 lav mic out the bottom of their pant legs and under the laces of their shoes so that it would pick up the wheels being transmitted through the board. The only problem were spills and there were many. Large patches of suit would abrade into nothingness after miscalculations sent the riders sliding down the side of a bowl. My lav cables were literally hanging out of giant holes in their slacks! The B6 mics are not the best sounding but they are tiny enough to be placed in the open. The mics are also waterproof, have pretty durable cables and are a lot cheaper than my DPA lavs so are more affordably expendable. Of course, the suits cost way more than all of my DPA mics put together. Wardrobe was throwing away complete sets of damaged clothing between takes. I was probably the only crew member tempted to dumpster dive. How difficult could it be to patch holes?