Holophone’s H4 SuperMINI Brings Surround to Discovery HD Canada Documentary

For the pilot episode of an upcoming series for Discovery
Channel Canada,
Michael Nunan, post sound supervisor
for Toronto-based CTV Television, whose properties include Discovery Channel HD
Canada, required a means of recording surround sound to accompany the HD video
planned for the production. Due to
budgetary and time constraints, audio could only be captured utilizing the four
audio channels provided on the SONY CineAlta F900 HDCAM camera to record the HD
image, instead of a separate multi-channel audio recorder. Holophone’s H4 SuperMINI camera mountable
surround microphone helped to bring surround sound to the program while keeping
within the technology capabilities and production timeline.
The series is a behind the scenes look on how new and
innovative products are being manufactured in China. For the pilot episode, the crew profiled a
factory that is fabricating a new form of energy efficient light bulb as well
as one manufacturing a Jet Ski-type product.
Multiple channels of audio were needed to provide users with a realistic
depiction of the factory environment. As Nunan explains, the production
schedule and technologies at hand made this difficult.
“For productions such as these you need to be able to shoot
and finish rapidly,” Nunan explains. “Most camera models do not offer enough
audio tracks to obtain a strong, discreet surround recording and still provide
additional channels for dialogue mics. The H4 SuperMINI’s encoder works with
current camera technologies, allowing six tracks of audio to be condensed to two—leaving
two additional channels free to connect auxiliary mics.”
Utilizing the H4 SuperMINI’s Dolby Laboratories’ Dolby Pro
Logic II encoder, the documentary crew was able to convert the mic’s six
channels of audio into two channels while simultaneously recording dialogue
through a separate shotgun also connected to the camera. This allowed the video and audio to be
recorded on the same tape, streamlining the process by taking out the need to
synch up audio with video during the editing process.
“Production tapes get passed to us in post sound and
magically we have a nice stereo sound attached to each picture, but of course
the beauty of the H4 is when we feed the stereo signal into a Pro Logic II
decoder, it comes back as surround,” Nunan continues.

“For every frame that’s shot, we have this surround Dolby
Pro Logic II surround encoded image so that we can give the audience the best
of both worlds — an HD image and surround sound which is authentic. We were
able to complete this pilot and will execute the whole series this way.”

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