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. I naturally took it a bit further since I have never been satisfied with the heavily companded audio that you get from budget gear. Over the past few years, I’d been upgrading my serviceable prosumer gear to the Hollywood production 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 me some time to learn how to plant mics. Hidden lavs pick up everything around it 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 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. A pro skater and bmx rider were hired to do park tricks while wearing the suits. The conversation between takes was unexpectedly funny. Both pros were familiar with the brand and actually preferred the fit and cut of Japanese suits to other more well known European and domestic designers.

I wasn’t as happy with the synthetic fabrics. They were incredibly noisy. I ended up running a Countryman B6 lav out the bottom of their pant legs and under the laces of their shoes so it could pick up the wheels being transmitted through the board. The only problem were the spills and there were many. Patches of suit would abrade into nothingness when sliding down the walls of a bowl. My lav cables were literally hanging out of the holes in their slacks! The B6 mics are not the best sounding but they are tiny enough to be placed in the open—even with wind protection. They’re also waterproof, have pretty thick cables and are a lot cheaper than my DPA lavs so 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 the only crew member tempted to dumpster dive. How difficult could it be to patch holes?