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Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
May 4

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5/4/2010 12:28 PM  RssIcon

FireproofONTARIO, CANADA — Holophone’s H2-PRO came to the rescue for surround sound capture on the set of the independent film, Fireproof. The story follows the struggles of firefighter Captain Caleb Holt as he attempts to save his marriage by adapting the old firefighter's adage at home: never leave your partner behind. Production Sound Mixer Rob Whitehurst and Sound Designer and Post Audio Mixer Nick Palladino called upon Holophone’s H2-PRO to capture ambiance sound and special effects for the film.

When working on a project about firefighters and burning houses, there are a lot of very intense sounds that need to be captured, with not a lot of opportunities or time to capture them. The sound team needed to record as much of the atmospheric sounds as possible in order to create a more realistic experience for the viewer. Holophone’s H2-PRO provided the surround sound solution.

“Because there were so many sounds during the filming of several different intense scenes, we had to run multiple mics and setups,” says Palladino. “We only had one house to burn down; we couldn't burn another one down, so we had one shot to get the sounds of that burning house. Sure, you could use needle drop sounds from a library, but it helps the viewer feel as though they are right there if they can hear the actual pop of air in heated wood right when they see it.”

The crew spent two full days at the location of the burning house, which was also being used by the local fire department for training, first doing the inside scenes and then the exterior burn. While the special effects team was setting up its next shot, the sound team set up the Holophone on the side of the street to capture surround audio of the fire trucks driving by. Palladino also recorded audio from inside the trucks in order to offer a more realistic sound perspective to those scenes. Holophone was also used to record the sound of the fire itself, including the pumper trucks at high rev, the sounds of water coming out of the hoses at high pressure and indistinct yelling and talking of firefighters in the background.

There was also a major train/car wreck scene in the film where Holophone played a central role in the surround capture. A racing car crashes and gets stuck on railroad tracks just as a train flies around a blind corner at full speed with no time to stop. Firefighters and volunteers from the watching crowd have to quickly lift the car off the tracks and avoid getting hit by the speeding train. Holophone’s H2-PRO was set up at different times and at different locations as the train made multiple passes. This enabled the sound team to get the surround perspective of the train running by the mic, which was used in the final 5.1 mix of the movie.

“When working on an independent film, you have to try and get as much sound as you can while it’s happening, to keep the cost at a minimum,” explains Palladino. “Having the H2-PRO with us minimized the amount of wild track we normally would have to record because of its unique, multi-element design. Another of the major things I love about the Holophone is its low profile. It's so compact that it doesn't get in the way. It really just disappears into all the other stands and gear on set and that's important for me as a mixer to not take up more space than I need to, especially in tight spots.”

Principle dialog and general sound effects for Fireproof were recorded straight to a computer hard drive through an Apple G5 workstation. Since the film had a small production budget, a double system was not deployed as it typically is for a full budget feature. Whitehurst used a Sennheiser 416 short shotgun mic and Lectrosonics 411A wireless systems into a Sound Devices 442 mixer. Two channels were sent to a Panasonic Varicam, which doubled as a backup audio recorder. High definition video with stereo audio tracks were then sent through HDMI cabling to the Apple computer, which captured video and audio in sync through Final Cut Pro using Pro Res 4:2:2 software.

The Holophone ran into a Behringer preamp, straight into Pro Tools 003 on an Apple MacBook laptop, making for a light and portable field recording setup. Six channels from the Holophone were routed straight into Pro Tools on the MacBook and then the stereo shotgun was routed into channels 7 and 8.

“I love that the Holophone is a no brainer since all the mics are balanced,” adds Palladino. “You can just plug it up, put it in the set and hit record. When I get back to my 5.1 mix suite I can hit play, close my eyes and I am instantly at the location without any other work. Holophone was the most practical and best sounding surround solution I could find.”

Fireproof is an American Christian drama film by Samuel Goldwyn Films and Sherwood Pictures. Directed by Alex Kendrick, who co-wrote and co-produced it with Stephen Kendrick, Fireproof stars Kirl Cameron, Erin Bethea, Ken Bevel, Stephan Dervan and Jason McLeod. The film received success at the box office, as it debuted at number 4 and became the highest-grossing independent film of 2008. It received awards from evangelical Christian organizations, including Best Feature Film award at the 2009 San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival. Fireproof is currently available on DVD.

Whitehurst and Palladino have just been hired to do the next movie for the producers of Fireproof, titled Courageous. It will be a down and gritty police drama with a car chase/flip scene, and a couple of gun battles. Holophone will be back on-location with the sound team to capture surround sound ambiance and effects for the film.

About Holophone

Holophone is committed to developing and commercializing products that use patented 3-D audio technology to bring the physical experience of “really being there” to a new level for all audio and visual productions by professionals and hobbyists. Holophone provides customers and business partners with industry-leading product and service quality. Holophone is firmly dedicated to providing outstanding value, excellence in service, and product performance.

Holophone® surround-sound microphones are patented audio recording devices designed specifically to address the challenges audio professionals face in capturing, recording and broadcasting multichannel surround sound. Developed by Rising Sun Productions in Toronto, Canada, Holophone systems effortlessly capture discrete signals that are ultra-realistic and provide the most accurate spatiality, audio imaging, and directionality of any recording device. Entirely compatible with all audio mixing, encoding, and playback systems, Holophone also enhances mono and stereo mixes. Holophone systems provide the perfect front end for all professional and consumer audio applications including HDTV broadcasting, standard broadcasting of live sporting and music events, feature film location recording, and studio recording for music, films, and worship applications. Holophone surround sound technology has been used for numerous national and international broadcasts, including the Grammy Awards and NFL Super Bowl. As a scalable system, Holophone technology is also available for license to the consumer electronics industry.

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