Sound Devices Takes the Mystery Out of Recording on the Set of ABC's Castle

Sound Mixer Joe Foglia Turns To Several Sound Devices Products on Set

HOLLYWOOD, CA - Renowned production sound mixer Joe Foglia has been relying on Sound Devices (AES Booth 1031) and its digital recorders, mixers and accessory products while working on-set of ABC’s Castle, to capture the main characters’ witty banter as they work together to solve some of New York City’s most puzzling murders. Castle chronicles Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion), a mystery novelist who has begun shadowing every move of NYPD detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic), an aggressive officer who keeps her investigations under tight rein, and her feathers are ruffled by Castle’s presence. Amid incessant sexual tension and constant close talking, in which Sound Devices is most notably used, this flirtatiously-charged duo builds on their mixed-up relationship as they look to solve strange homicides in New York.

With a Sound Devices 788T and 744T in tow, amongst other digital recorders, and its 552 Production Mixer and CL-8 Controller, the company’s products are called upon to accurately portray and record the duo’s dialog. Foglia uses a variety of rigs on-set ― Package A for everyday use, which includes Sound Devices 788T and another mixer, and Package B for second unit and splinter set-up’s for when the crew breaks off from the main unit for simultaneous recording. Package B consists of Sound Devices 744T, an additional mixer and its 552 Production Mixer. Foglia also has 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 Sound Devices 788T and its CL-8 Controller. In these cases 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.

For such a high-profile network show, Foglia actually uses two digital recorders simultaneously as part of Package A, with Sound Devices 788T as the back-up recorder. If the main recorder on set locks up, Foglia relies on Sound Devices 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 Fillion, track four for 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,” says 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 re-captured. 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 48048 kHz 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. Another stand-out feature is Sound Devices ability to 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 set up for the car is already pre-wired 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 offers the perfect solution.

“There are a lot of pieces of equipment that come out, but then the next year they outdate themselves. When purchasing Sound Devices equipment it’s not outdated tomorrow especially with the company’s constant firmware updates, so it’s a good investment,” continues Foglia. “Sound Devices stands behind its service, which is something I take into consideration when purchasing all of my products. Especially because the abuse we put the products through, we’re really hard on that stuff ― it rides in a case and it gets shoved into a truck and the truck is bouncing all over the place. Sound Devices manufactures very solid equipment that withstands the wear and tear we put on it and if for any reason the unit needs service, the service department understands the necessity for quick turn around on set. It always sends me a loaner so as not to hold up the production schedule.”

Castle is produced by ABC Studios. Andrew Marlowe (creator/writer) serves as Executive producer, along with Rob Bowman (who also directed the Pilot), Rene Echevarria, Laurie Zaks and Armyan Bernstein.

Sound Devices, LLC designs and manufactures portable audio mixers, digital recorders and related audio equipment for feature film, episodic television, documentary, news-gathering, and acoustical test and measurement applications. The eleven-year-old company designs and manufactures from its Reedsburg, Wisconsin, headquarters with additional offices in Madison, WI, and Highland Park, IL. For more information, visit the Sound Devices website

# # #