Tag Archives: Lectrosonics

Reflecting on The Mandalorian’s Reflections

Disney's The Mandalorian shoots within a circle of 20-foot-high video screens that surround actors in realistic panoramic environments—but also considerable vocal reflections.
Disney’s The Mandalorian shoots within a circle of 20-foot-high video screens that surround actors in realistic panoramic environments—but also considerable vocal reflections.

Manhattan Beach, CA (June 2, 2021)—Disney+’s The Mandalorian has been racking up accolades and ever-increasing record viewing numbers since its debut on the premium streaming platform in late 2019. One of the latest honors went to production mixer Shawn Holden, CAS, who won a Cinema Audio Society award in April for her work on “Chapter 2: The Child,” which debuted Nov. 15, 2019.

No doubt the CAS Award looks nice next to Holden’s Emmy Award, which she won a few months earlier for the same episode. She shares the Emmy with scoring mixer Christopher Fogel, CAS and re-recording mixer Bonnie Wild, also honored by the CAS, and with re-recording mixer Stephen Urata, ADR mixer Matthew Wood and Foley mixer Blake Collins, CAS.

The recognition must be doubly sweet considering the challenges presented to the show’s production sound by the advanced video technology used to film The Mandalorian at Manhattan Beach Stages. There, Industrial Light & Magic is using its Stagecraft integrated virtual production platform, better known as The Volume, to film location sequences without, well, going on location.

The Volume is a seamless circle of 20-foot-high LED video screens that, in combination with tracking sensors, infra-red cameras, a powerful gaming engine and arrays of computers, positions the actors in realistic panoramic environments with perfect camera perspective. One of the challenges for Holden and her current team—Randy Johnson and Patrick Martens  on boom and Veronica Kahn on utility duties—is that the almost-perfect circle of LED screens, with a roof of yet more screens, reflects sound very efficiently.

“Your voice is reflected back at you, about every two and a half inches, all the way around the wall, at 100% with no decay,” says Holden. To meet the challenge, Holden called in acoustician Hanson Hsu, principal of Delta H Design, who recommended his company’s ZR (Zero Reflection) Acoustics screens, which measure eight feet by four feet by about 1.5 inches thick. Suspended on wheeled stands at the stage, they can be rolled around and positioned as needed.

“They will do a rehearsal, set up cameras and we work around that. The trick is that you have to get the panels close enough to the actors for them to be effective,” she says, noting that they can’t interfere with the cameras or sensors—or reflect in the lead character’s shiny helmet. “It really is a delicate balance.”

Some scenes are shot on sets or on location, but in The Volume, she says, “If we get close enough and if we can get the screens in, then we can boom it.” Her preference is for Schoeps CMIT boom mics, with Sanken, DPA and Countryman lavs, and Lectrosonics RF equipment. “The Mandalorian himself is in a helmet, so he’s on a wire. We’ve built permanent things into helmets, masks, suits and various costumes” for other characters, she says.

No less of a challenge on The Mandalorian is coordinating the RF and Wi-Fi also used by the cameras, lighting, video assist and other departments. That has even included adjacent stages. But all the departments have worked together to alleviate interference, she says, and consulted with her before buying a Riedel Bolero system for production comms.

Holden captures everything to an Aaton Cantar X3 recorder via a Cooper CS-208 mixer. “I’ve been using Cantar since it came out. They told me I was the first woman in the world to own one. I had no. 75, back in the day,” she says, an X1 model. “It’s such a beautiful machine and sounds so lovely. And I just love the sound of my Cooper.”

Holden’s credits are extensive in both film and TV, and include movies such as Gods and Monsters and Nightcrawler. She started in local television news after graduating with a radio-TV-film degree in Oklahoma. Relocating to Dallas, she lucked into accompanying a former colleague, award-winning freelance cameraman Darrell Barton, to cover the 1985 Mexico City earthquake. “I was there for a week and ended up working with Dan Rather. From that point on, I was a network news sound technician,” she says, working on 20/20, 60 Minutes and the like.

For season two of The Mandalorian, the shape of The Volume became slightly less symmetrical, Holden reports, “but it’s still a challenge, and always will be in this environment.”

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Hallmark Home & Family Upgrades Wireless Rig

Mike Dooley
Mike Dooley

Los Angeles, CA (May 24, 2021)—The Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family, now in its ninth season, recently upgraded to a Lectrosonics all-digital D Squared wireless mic system.

“We had been using three Lectrosonics Venue racks and SM-series transmitters since the show started in 2012,” says audio supervisor Mike Dooley, whose CV includes The Biggest Loser and The Price Is Right. “I loved how well supported they were. But when we changed rental houses, to SAV Entertainment out of Glendale, we took the opportunity to go all digital. I have to say that while the range and sound quality of the Digital Hybrid stuff was fantastic, the fully digital gear is even more amazing.”

With the RF spectrum available for TV production ever tightening, one feature that attracted Dooley’s immediate attention was the D Squared system’s built-in encryption. “NBC Universal has a frequency coordinator who assigns all our frequencies and has mostly kept us safe,” he explains. “But talent and guests wear their mics all day on this show, and of course talk privately off-set. Sometimes it’s possible that a mic is picked up somewhere it shouldn’t be. With the encryption, I no longer have to worry about that.”

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“Working with a frequency coordinator also makes wideband important,” adds Joe Casanova, co-founder of SAV, along with Brady Belavek. “The DSQD receiver is tunable from 470 to 608 MHz, so there’s no need to switch out modules for different blocks if the coordinator gives you something unexpected. I’m also not aware of any other receiver that has four channels in a half-rack, which let them pack 16 channels into just two rack spaces. Between that; the Dante, Ethernet, and USB connectivity; the super low latency; and the built-in multi-coupler, the DSQD really checked all of our boxes.”

“Agreed,” Dooley replies. “With the way the DSQD uses the spectrum, Universal has been able to give us the best frequency coordination we’ve ever had.”

Dooley maintains a commanding view of the entire system’s status and performance via Lectrosonics Wireless Designer software. “I have an A2 [assistant mixer] but he’s running around and not always able to sit with the receiver rack,” he explains. “Right from the mix room, I can see the activity on all the frequencies and the transmitter battery levels in Wireless Designer. This comes in on a dedicated Ethernet port so there’s absolutely no latency in terms of the information being up-to-the-second.”

Lectrosonics • www.lectrosonics.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Roland Winke on Capturing The Queen’s Gambit

Sound mixer Roland Winke’s recording rig helped immerse viewers in the world of chess for Netflix’s record-breaking mini-series, The Queen’s Gambit.
Sound mixer Roland Winke’s recording rig helped immerse viewers in the world of chess for Netflix’s record-breaking mini-series, The Queen’s Gambit.

Berlin, Germany (January 29, 2021)—Berlin-based sound mixer Roland Winke’s recording rig helped immerse viewers in the world of chess for Netflix’s record-breaking mini-series, The Queen’s Gambit.

The series follows orphaned chess prodigy Beth as she rises to become world champion while struggling with addiction. Winke’s rig comprises Lectrosonics SMB and SMDB transmitters and HMa plug-on transmitters for boom mics, UCR411a receivers and a Venue2 modular field receiver.

“If anything makes my work more complicated, it’s that I like to capture as much sound as I can from as many places as I can,” says Winke. “The chess clock, the pieces on the board, the ambience of the room, the sound of Beth’s shoes as she walks into a hotel or chess match for the first time. To make the viewing experience immersive, we wanted to record as much of this on set as possible, as basis for the post-production. For this, we used a Decca tree miking technique with three omnidirectional mics and the HMa transmitters.”

Lectrosonics’ channel isolation and tracking filters allowed Winke to set up discrete systems for actors’ dialogue and ambient sounds during the production. “The actors have lav mics and either SMB or SMDB transmitters, received by my Venue system. In addition to the Decca trees, there were always two or three booms, fitted with Sennheiser MKH mics. All these mics used the HMa, paired with the UCR411a. There was absolutely no overlap or crosstalk between the two systems.”

Lectrosonics Launches New Wideband Transmitters

Winke is a go-to call for productions filming internationally. Highlights of his career include 2016’s A Hologram for the King starring Tom Hanks, the 2011 spy thriller Hanna with Cate Blanchett and Saoirse Ronan, the sci-fi epic Cloud Atlas, and the 2004 historical drama Downfall, which spawned the well-known “Hitler Reacts” parodies on YouTube.

His next production, with shooting done in Germany, is the upcoming Inventing Anna, a Netflix drama series about con artist Anna Delvey, who convinced New York City’s social elite that she was an heiress. For this, Winke says, he’s looking to Lectrosonics’ next generation of all-digital wireless. “I am specifically interested in the DCR822 receiver to start, because it can double as a MicroSD card recorder,” he says.

“So, if I have a car scene but can’t be in the car, for example, I can put one receiver in the car in recorder mode and have another in my bag tuned to the same frequency. If the car goes out of range, I know I’ll still get the audio. It also fits into the same space as a UCR411a and is compatible with my current transmitters. I intend to hold onto the SMB and also the SSM for a while, in part because they’re so small.”

Lectrosonics • www.lectrosonics.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Lectrosonics Unveils New DCHR Digital Receiver

Lectrosonics DCHR Digital Receiver
Lectrosonics DCHR Digital Receiver

Rio Rancho, NM (September 29, 2020)—The DCHR miniature stereo digital receiver is the latest from Lectrosonics—a miniature, portable digital receiver capable of stereo or mono operation from a single RF carrier with Lectrosonics digital transmitters, including the DCHT, M2T, DBu, DHu and DPR.

The unit tunes from 470-614 MHz in the UHF band, covering six Lectrosonics blocks, and matches the tuning ranges of the digital transmitters in the D Squared, DCH and M2 Duet  lines. Compact and lightweight, the DCHR measures 3 x 2.375 x 0.625 inches (76 x 60 x 16 mm) and weighs 9.14 oz. (259 g) with batteries installed.

Mixer Captures ‘Great Performances’ with Lectrosonics

Setup involves quick RF scans in SmartTune and using IR sync to send settings to the associated transmitter. Manual tuning can also be done using the RF Scan screen, or by entering the frequency in the tuning screen. Audio outputs on the TA5 locking connector can be selected in the menu as analog or AES3 format. A 3.5mm stereo headphone jack on the top panel can be used to monitor the receiver audio signals. Detachable SMA-mount antennas are included with the DCHR.

AES 256-CTR mode encryption is included, with four different encryption key policies available including Universal (common to all Lectrosonics D2, M2X and DCHX units), Shared (often used for sports coverage), Standard, and Volatile (one-time use key). Optional accessory cables are available for both analog and AES3 connections to associated equipment.

The optional LTBATELIM battery eliminator can be used to power the DCHR with external DC. The optional LRSHOE accessory can be used to mount the receiver on small cameras. A USB jack on the side of the unit can be used to update firmware in the field, using the Lectrosonics Wireless Designer software. The DCHR housing is milled from aluminum alloy then specially plated for scratch and corrosion resistance.

MSRP for the DCHR is: $2,795 and it will become available in the fourth quarter of 2020

Lectrosonics • www.lectrosonics.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Mixer Captures ‘Great Performances’ with Lectrosonics

Production sound mixer Reid Mangan has been using Lectrosonics gear to record virtuoso violinist and conductor Scott Yoo, host of the PBS Great Performances Series Now Hear This
Production sound mixer Reid Mangan has been using Lectrosonics gear to record virtuoso violinist and conductor Scott Yoo, host of the PBS Great Performances Series Now Hear This.

Austin, TX (September 9, 2020)—As virtuoso violinist and conductor Scott Yoo, host of the PBS Great Performances Series Now Hear This, travels the world, production sound mixer Reid Mangan brings along a raft of Lectrosonics wireless gear to capture the musical performances and dialogue.

“For the music performances, I’m running up to 10 channels of cabled mics and am focusing on mic placement to get an ideal sound from each instrument. And I capture dialogue at the same time,” says Mangan. His kit includes SRb and SRc receivers in an SL-6 dock with a Sound Devices 688 recorder, SMV, SMQV and LT transmitters, and an HMa plug-on transmitter paired with a UCR411a receiver for occasional boom work.

Lectrosonics Takes a Dive with Dominic Fike

“Because this is a documentary show and not scripted, we don’t get to do alternate takes if there’s a technical problem. Point being, for the dialogue, I need wireless that I can set and forget. I can’t hold a boom over someone’s head at the same time I’m doing everything else; we need whatever is happening right in front of us to come through in the moment and sound natural, with no surprises. Lectrosonics is better in that regard than any other brand I’ve ever used.”

He is quick to point out that Lectrosonics’ Digital Hybrid Wireless technology has made the process smooth sailing no matter where the show finds itself. “We’ve filmed on three continents, including North America, Europe and Africa,” he notes. “Normally, every time you cross a border you have to put together an audio bag specifically for that country or region. That hasn’t been the case here. The receivers always lock onto open frequencies, and between Scott and his guests we’ll usually have up to four channels of wireless going, though sometimes I’ve used six.

“We’re often shooting in buildings that are in busy city centers with tons of RF activity,” he explains. “We’ve used the 250-milliwatt mode on the SMV and SMQV more than I expected. We also like the SMV because it’s small and can be easily hidden on the talent.

Lectrosonics • www.lectrosonics.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Mixer Goes Digital to Combat Spectrum Shrinkage

Sound Mixer Chris Polczinski with Sound Mixer Max Osadchenko.
Sound Mixer Chris Polczinski with Sound Mixer Max Osadchenko.

Los Angeles, CA (July 16, 2020)—Production sound mixer Chris Polczinski, who has worked on flicks such as he Eli Roth-produced Haunt, Better Start Running, The Art of Self-Defense, The Strangers: Prey at Night and, most recently, The Big Ugly, starring Ron Perlman, recently began using Lectrosonics’ all-digital D2 (D-Squared) system DSQD four-channel receiver and DBu belt-pack transmitters, adding to his already comprehensive collection of RF equipment.

Polczinski’s audio cart includes a wide a range of Lectrosonics Digital Hybrid Wireless gear. Belt-pack transmitters include the SMWB wideband, ultra-compact SSM, industry-standard SMV and SMQV, and UHF-band LMb, supplemented by an HMa plug-on transmitter for use with boom mics. Receivers comprise a wideband-low version of the Venue modular system, SRb and SRc dual-channel slot-mount units as well as several UCR411a go-tos.

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Ever-tightening spectrum availability is what prompted Polczinski to try Lectrosonics’ D2 system. It transmits the encoded audio in a purely digital format via 8PSK modulation, while remaining compatible with Digital Hybrid Wireless transmitters. “Since I moved back to L.A., frequencies have gotten squished together a lot more,” Polczinski notes. “I purchased the DSQD to combat that, since it operates from 470 to 608 MHz and can fit more functional wireless channels into a given bandwidth. It works flawlessly.”

The DSQD paired with DBu transmitters far exceeded Polczinski’s expectations for both range and sonic performance. “I recently performed a range test with the DBu going into the DSQD,” he says. “It was in my wife Tasha’s front pocket, set at 50 mW output power. When she got to 100 feet away, with our garage in the way, the RF meter on the DSQD was still at 100 percent. I’ve never had any other wireless setup I’ve used perform like this. She was halfway across the neighborhood before the RF meters fell into the yellow.”

Lectrosonics • www.lectrosonics.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Inside American Horror Story’s Dynamic Sound

Production mixer Brendan Beebe uses Lectrosonics transmitters on the set of American Horror Story.
Production mixer Brendan Beebe uses Lectrosonics transmitters on the set of American Horror Story.

Los Angeles, CA (June 3, 2020)—Production mixer Brendan Beebe, CAS employs Lectrosonics transmitters, receivers and IFBs on FX network’s American Horror Story, which has featured Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Lady Gaga and recurring star Sarah Paulson, who brings her personal Lectrosonics SSM Digital Hybrid Wireless transmitter to every shoot.

The show can be a challenge to capture, due to the sometimes unexpected dynamics of dialogue. “There are intimate scenes that explode into big drama on a dime,” said Beebe. “Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters might be the two most dynamic actors I’ve ever recorded in that respect. They can go from a whisper to a loud scream very naturally. But thanks to the gain range and the 30 dB limiters on the Lectrosonics transmitters, I rarely if ever run into issues with clipping. Sarah carries her own SSM everywhere, as did Lady Gaga on the Hotel season.”

Innovations: Lectrosonics’ DPR Digital Plug-On Transmitter

Lady Gaga’s prowess as a singer directly informed her turn as the vampire queen of a haunted hotel, and to record it all, Beebe got creative. “There was one scene going down a hallway where I asked her, ‘Are you going to whisper or scream here?’” he recalls. “She looked at me slyly and said, ‘You never know!’ That’s legit — an actor might decide right in the moment what works best for that scene.

“So, we flew two booms above her, each with an HMa plug-on transmitter on the mic. I set the gain on one between 40 and 45 for whispering, and the other between 12 and 18 to get any screaming. It was flawless. One mic or the other always had a signal the editors in post could use, so that became our way of working with her for a lot of scenes.”

When Paulson shows up on set, says Beebe, “Her first stop is our department. She soundchecks whispers, screams, and everything in between, and then goes on to rehearse dialogue. When she’s done shooting, we put her SSM to sleep using the [LectroRM control] app.

“[I]t’s refreshing to work with an actor who’s so aware of audio. Sarah always tries to make sure we get what we need, and she even had the wardrobe department make little silk transmitter pouches that match her clothing, so the SSM totally disappears.”

Lectrosonics • www.lectrosonics.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Innovations: Lectrosonics’ DPR Digital Plug-On Transmitter

Lectrosonics’ DPR Digital Plug-On Transmitter
Lectrosonics’ DPR Digital Plug-On Transmitter

Since the mid-1980s, a cornerstone of the Lectrosonics wireless microphone line has been the plug-on transmitter. The company’s first product in this form factor was the M33 belt-pack unit with a special machined XLR mount (it also had an RCA connector on the side!) The XLR connector itself relied on the normal Switchcraft locking mechanism which was fine for cables and stationary applications, but didn’t fare so well for interview microphones and the like. The plastic housing of the M33 didn’t inspire much confidence, either. And, without a portable, camera-mount receiver, the M33 didn’t end up to be a big seller.

The next product to come along, though, started the trend we still see today for rugged, plug-on transmitters that can turn just about any microphone into a wireless unit. H175DC already had many of the features associated with Lectrosonics products: an all-metal housing, locking XLR connector, an easy-to-use but secure battery door, and very good sound quality for the time. The successor, the H185, was the one that really caught the market wave in the late 1980s, with its companion CR185 receiver. The 185 saw the addition of the now-famous quick attach and release locking connector for the XLR. Many of these systems are still operational today.

The analog UH190, UH195 and UH200 (the first one with 48 volt phantom power) plug-on units set the standard for their day in the 1990s with rock-solid RF performance, dual-band audio companding and well-known Lectrosonics ruggedness. These were followed by the UH400, UH400A, HM, and HMa Digital Hybrid Wireless units in the 2000s. A special version of the UH400, dubbed the “TM,” extended the low-frequency response by an extra octave and has become the standard plug-on transmitter for PA system alignment, since it does not compand the audio signal and thus avoids interfering with the dynamics and linearity of the PA test signals and musical source material. The TM400 system has been used by most major touring companies, speaker companies and freelance system tuners for the past 15 years.

This latest generation plug-on transmitter from Lectrosonics, the DPR, now has pure digital modulation, a proprietary codec, extremely low latency of 1.4 ms and flat frequency response from 25 Hz to 20 kHz. The new transmitter is part of the D Squared family of digital wireless microphone products, is fully compatible with the DSQD receiver and features an RF tuning range of 470 to 608 MHz (470 to 614 MHz for the export version). Analog to digital conversion is handled at a 48 kHz sample rate and 24 bit depth. The new transmitter includes specially developed, high-efficiency circuitry for extended operating time on two AA batteries, and offers RF power selections at 25 and 50 mW, which is comparable in range to 60 and 125 mW with an analog or hybrid wireless system.

Lectrosonics Debuts New D Squared Wireless Transmitter and Receiver

An extra feature in the DPR not found in any of the previous Lectrosonics plug-on units is that the unit can be configured as either a transmitter or a recorder, with files stored on microSD card memory in the industry standard Broadcast Wave .wav (BWF) format at the native 24 bit depth and 48 kHz sample rate. A 3.5 mm TRS jack on the side of the unit allows jam sync with timecode, making audio file alignment quick and easy in post-production. The microSD memory card can also be used to update the unit’s firmware in the field.

Phantom power is selectable to off, 5v, 15v or 48v to accommodate a wide range of microphone types, from dynamic to studio condensers, shotguns and measurement microphones. Studio-quality audio performance is assured by high-quality components in the preamp, wide-range input gain adjustment and DSP-controlled analog limiting. Input gain is adjustable over a 55 dB range in 1 dB steps to allow an exact match to the input signal level, or calibrated noise signal, maximizing audio dynamic range and signal to noise ratio. The two-way IR port ensures quick setup with associated receivers and allows for encryption key transfer and other data sharing between units. The DPR responds to remote “dweedle tone” commands, available via third party apps such as New Endian’s LectroRM, allowing users to change settings including frequency, audio level, record start/stop and lock/unlock, without physically touching the transmitter.

The extremely durable DPR housing is machined from aluminum alloy billet material and plated with an electroless process to increase hardness while maintaining conductivity. The unit is the same size and shape as the previous generation plug-on units, including the HM and HMa, so that standard accessories are compatible with the new unit, including the PHTRAN3 pouch with clip, and the HMCVR weather-resistant silicone cover. The input wiring is also the same as previous generations, allowing the use of existing cable and barrel adapter accessories, including the MCA5X lav mic adapter and MCAM30 for use with Earthworks M30-type measurement microphones. The DPR is powered by two AA batteries.

With an audio frequency response of 25 Hz to 20 kHz +0.0, – 3dB, a dynamic range of 110 dB before limiting and a flat in-band phase response, the DPR is ideal for use as a wireless test and measurement link with calibrated microphones for audio system alignment and monitoring.

The DPR, like all product members of the D Squared digital wireless family, supports encryption in a 256 bit AES, CTR mode format for robust security, meeting FIPS 197 and 140-2 standards. Three different key management modes can be employed, including Universal, where all units in the D Squared family share the same key; Shared, where a unique key is created and can be shared between transmitters and between transmitters and receivers; and Standard, where a unique key is created but cannot be shared between transmitters or from transmitters to receivers. By including the Universal mode, all units work together, right out of the box, without having to generate a unique key. The Shared mode is likely to fit well into sports broadcasting, where several receivers, including stationary units and camera-mount systems, may need to pick up the signal from a signal transmitter. For higher-level security concerns, the Standard key policy is the correct one, where only one receiver can pick up and decode the signals from one or more transmitters.

Since the final measurement of any wireless microphone system is the sound quality, the DPR was designed with special care in this regard. Special shielding prevents stray signals from causing internal interference or noise, and high quality components ensure excellent audio integrity. The DPR is available worldwide via authorized Lectrosonics dealers.

Karl Winkler is VP of Sales and Service at Lectrosonics.

Lectrosonics • www.lectrosonics.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com