Veteran Sound Mixer Relies on Sound Devices’ Digital Recoreder for Dynamic Audio
Veteran Sound Mixer Danny Michael, whose recent portfolio includes the high-profile feature films The Secret Life of Walter Mitty with Ben Stiller, John Wick, starring Keanu Reeves, and Non-Stop, with Liam Neeson, understands the importance of capturing pristine audio in the field, which is why he relies on Sound Devices’ 788T-SSD Digital Recorder for his audio production needs.
For his work on The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Michael utilized two rigs, one portable and one cart-based, each outfitted with the 788T-SSD Digital Recorder and Sound Devices CL-WIFI interface. Michael was tasked with capturing all audio, including dialogue, effects and ambience, for the film. While the majority of the movie is set in New York, the production team spent five weeks shooting in Iceland.
“I redesigned my cart so it could be a little more flexible, portable and useable for the remote situations we were going to be presented with,” says Michael. “While I had the capability of using the 788T-SSD over my shoulder for the more challenging situations of working atop glaciers; there were times where I knew we would have more complicated work, and I wanted to have my cart. It wouldn’t have been possible to make it as small and durable as it was if it wasn’t for the 788T.”
Along with his Sound Devices 788T-SSD and CL-WiFi interface, Michael’s cart also includes the Lectrosonics VRT-Venue System, Lectrosonics radio mics, Schoeps CMC-6U and CMIT-5U microphones, a Cooper Sound 208 mixer, Blackmagic dual seven-inch monitors and a Denecke Dcode GR-1 as the main time clock.
Michael used this same cart for John Wick and Non-Stop. As John Wick was action-oriented, with a lot of gun fights and quick movement, it required a lot of sound effects. It also employed a file-based workflow. Sound Devices ability to seamlessly swap out removable storage was a huge asset onset, as Michael simply supplied his CompactFlash cards to Light Iron, a post-production company specializing in on-site dailies, digital intermediate, archival, and data services for projects originated on file-based motion cameras, for them to process the dailies on set.
“I was basically handing over my sound every time a camera roll changed, to a person who was literally five feet away from me,” says Michael. “They then took my material and synched it with what was coming off the cameras, on the spot. We would rotate CF cards throughout the course of the day.”
The majority of Non-Stop was shot on an airplane-based set for nearly 40 days. The multiple track count on the 788T proved worthwhile in this situation, as there were times when Michael not only needed these high-track counts, but felt at ease in knowing that if he needed more tracks, he could easily have access to them.
“I’ve been doing this a long time, and have used a wide range of gear,” adds Michael. “I gravitated towards Sound Devices when it was time to upgrade my recorder because of its high-quality audio, portability and reliability. The fact that it is both made and serviced right here in the U.S. was a huge additional selling point for me.”
In addition to his feature work, Michael has also filmed in Africa on multiple occasions with Bill Clinton for an upcoming documentary on the former President’s global initiatives. “From the frigid cold of Iceland to the scorching heat of Africa, Sound Devices gear has been exposed to extreme weather and has consistently held up great,” concludes Michael. “The 788T is incredibly flexible and is now my recorder of choice for all my future projects.”
With the influx of multi-tracking both in the field and on set, the Sound Devices 788T has become the next-generation digital audio recorder of choice for advanced sound mixers that require additional isolated tracks. The 788T boasts eight full-featured inputs and records up to 12 tracks. It accepts either microphone or line-level signals, provides 48-V phantom power for condenser microphones, offers peak limiters for microphone inputs and features fully adjustable high-pass filters—all in one compact package. Routing flexibility allows each input to be routed to mix tracks, isolated tracks or aux tracks.
The 788T has several options for recording media, including an internal hard drive (SSD in the 788T-SSD), CompactFlash media with UDMA support and an external FireWire hard drive. Any or all of these can be used simultaneously. Additionally, when connected to Mac OS, or Windows computers with high-speed USB or FireWire 400/800, the 788T functions as a high-speed mass storage device.
To simplify interconnection with mixers and cameras with AES3 connectivity, the 788T has eight channels of balanced AES3 digital input and six channels of balanced AES3 output. The 788T can be clocked from an external word clock or from video sync. The 788T is also equipped with a high-accuracy time code reader/generator on board, and includes auto-record features to chase external rec-run video sources. To simplify metadata entry, the 788T directly accepts USB keyboards. Keyboard shortcuts can be programmed to control menu items and machine transport. The 788T, like all Sound Devices products, is versatile and designed to withstand the physical and environmental extremes of rigorous field production.
The CL-WiFi interface accessory adds remote iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch functionality to 788T and 788T-SSD Recorders. When the CL-WiFi hardware is used with the downloadable application from the Apple App Store, 788T users can remotely view, control and edit audio and file-related information from their Apple device using the CL-WiFi iOS app.