Production sound mixer Joe Foglia is using digital recorders, mixers and accessory products from Sound Devices for ABC’s hit series “Castle,” to capture the main characters’ dialog on-set.
Foglia mostly relies on Sound Devices 788T and 744T digital recorders, as well as the 552 production mixer and CL-8 controller. In fact, he uses a variety of rigs on-set ¯ Package A for everyday use, which includes the 788T and another mixer, and Package B for second unit and splinter setups for when the crew breaks off from the main unit for simultaneous recording. Package B consists of the 744T eight-track digital audio recorder (with time code), an additional mixer and its 552 production mixer.
He also uses a separate on-location rig, as the main equipment rig is designed specifically for on-set production and is too large and cumbersome for field recording. The on-location rig includes a 788T and its CL-8 controller. In these situations, Foglia simply attaches the CL-8 to the 788T and with an over-the-shoulder ENG bag he has everything he needs to capture the dialog in the field.
Foglia actually uses two digital recorders simultaneously as part of Package A, with 788T as the backup recorder. If the main recorder on-set locks up, he relies on a 788T running as a duplicate to keep things running smoothly. Track one of the 788T is a production mix, track two is reserved for an isolated track of the boom microphone, track three is solely for one of the main actors (Nathan Fillion), track four for another (Stana Katic) and so on by the order on the actor call sheet. This allows the final mix engineer to locate any and all tracks at ease, as he has the ability to find any track at any time.
“One of the major pluses of the 788T is that it simultaneously records to however many devices you want to hook to it,” said Foglia. “We use the CompactFlash (CF) card, which can be really helpful in post production, especially if there’s one line that’s needed to be recaptured. We can use the CF card, insert it into the 788T, press record and then the post-production guy can come and grab the CF card, run to his office and then immediately download it to the dub stage.”
Foglia runs the show at 24 bits with 48048kHz sampling. Metadata is an essential key to the process. Embedded into the metadata is the labeling of the tracks, which greatly helps the dialogue editor to identify particular tracks by just looking at the file. Since Sound Devices recorders automatically insert metadata into all recorded files, this was an additional benefit of using the products on-set. The units can also record broadcast WAV files as this not only is convenience on-set but also later in post.
For next season, Foglia plans to incorporate Sound Devices’ newest CL-9 for insert car shots. The setup for the car is already prewired with the time code cable and the power cable. Because the insert car is usually a truck pulling the car, it can be difficult to try to mix with little knobs; the CL-9’s large, linear faders offer the perfect solution.