Sound Devices on 'Breaking Bad'

When Production Sound Mixer Darryl L. Frank, CAS, takes to the set of the critically acclaimed AMC series "Breaking Bad" to capture the hit drama’s dynamic sound, he turns to the Sound Devices788T and 744T Digital Audio Recorders, 442 Production Mixer, and CL-WiFi Interface for 788T products. Frank and his team were recently recognized with a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series for their work on the show.

Kicking off its final eight episodes, "Breaking Bad" is set and produced in Albuquerque, NM. Frank and his crew are responsible for recording audio components of "Breaking Bad," including on-screen dialogue, FX and VOs. One of the ongoing challenges of television production is keeping up with or ahead of the show’s schedule. With the Sound Devices products, the audio production team can go from shooting on a sound stage to shooting in a car with a handheld camera in minutes.

Included in his rig is a selection of Sound Devices portable equipment, including the 788T with CL-9 Linear Fader Controller and the 744T with CL-1 Keyboard and Remote Control Interface. Having the CL-WiFi iOS app to use along with the CL-WiFi Interface for the 788T enables Frank to connect to his iPad or iPhone to work remotely, helping him and his team keep pace with the production’s hectic schedule. He also uses a Sound Devices 442 field mixer for process trailer or bag work.

Rounding out Frank’s audio rig are Lectrosonics UCR411 wireless receivers, Sanken COS-11 lavalier microphones, and CS-3 shotgun microphones and Sennheiser MKH 50 microphones.

The ability to go quickly from a cart-based system to a bag rig is very important, and with Sound Devices, you can do that easily. Frank says the Sound Devices products have been great; they are solid, hard-working machines. He has used them in extreme heat and sub-freezing temperatures with consistently great results.

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 160 GB SATA hard drive (256 GB SSD in the 788T-SSD), CompactFlash media with UDMA support, an external FireWire hard drive or DVD-RAM (with bus powering). 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.

Towards the end of "Breaking Bad" production, Frank incorporated Sound Devices’ new six-input 664 Field Production Mixer into his rig, enabling him to switch from a cart-based system to a bag with great success and ease. In addition to his work on "Breaking Bad," Frank uses his inventory of Sound Devices gear for various other television and film projects, including The Last Stand, 50 to 1 and Lemonade Mouth.