Tag Archives: Post and Broadcast

Bootstrapping Audio Production for ‘Out Alive’

Backpacker's Out Alive podcastLike any self-respecting survivalists, the writers and editors who produce Backpacker magazine know how to accomplish the impossible with minimal resources. So, when staffer Louisa Albanese envisioned a podcast that would allow them to go deeper into stories of wilderness survival, she simply bootstrapped the challenge and created Out Alive.

“We approach [recording audio] from a pragmatic standpoint,” says Albanese, senior photo editor at Backpacker and executive producer for the Out Alive podcast.

Albanese had zero experience with audio production when she and a small team of storytellers added podcasting to their résumés. Through Out Alive, they give victims of tragedies in the wild a platform to tell in-depth stories of surviving rockslides, rattlesnake bites, quicksand, bear-infested backcountry and a 200-foot freefall in the Alaska Range. And that’s just in season two.

Executive producer Louisa Albanese
Executive producer Louisa Albanese ALBANESE

“When something that traumatic happens to you, it doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” says Albanese. “It’s happening to all the people around you, as well. Podcasting is a way to tell these multi-dimensional stories and involve all these different people who had a part in your story.”

Every episode begins with Albanese, who uses a variety of devices to interview her subjects. She quickly acquainted herself with the tools of the trade, relying on Blue Yeti microphones to capture primary audio through the Zencastr VoIP platform. She typically sends a Yeti to the survivor of the story, while opting for lesser recording methods for the other voices. But there’s method to her ways.

“I feel like having a couple of people in the episode that have that old-school sound of being on the phone adds a different texture to the story,” she says. “It allows you to be like, ‘Oh, now we’re back to this person,’ without having to introduce [them]. Recording in all these different ways is a really compelling way to tell a story without having to constantly reintroduce people.”

For supplemental voices, she asks interviewees to record a voice memo on a mobile phone if they don’t have access to a good microphone. But if neither choice is available, she uses the TapeACall app to record the phone conversation.

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The audio files then go to sound designer and story editor Andrew Mairs, who loads them into Adobe Premiere Pro, a video-editing program that he also uses for audio. “It’s been very liberating coming from a video perspective,” he says, “because it’s so much easier to be able to move things around without having to worry about the video losing sync.”

At the same time, transcriptions of the interview usually go to assistant skills editor Zoe Gates for a paper edit. After another pass, they edit the audio in Premiere Pro to mirror the script. Mairs goes to work on sound design as well as structure edits, then it moves to another producer for final cleanup. The entire editing lifecycle of an episode usually lasts one week.

Sound designer and story editor Andrew Mairs edits the podcast in Adobe Premiere Pro.
Sound designer and story editor Andrew Mairs edits the podcast in Adobe Premiere Pro.

Just like in the wild, though, there are no guarantees that plans will work out exactly the way Mairs and Albanese envision. In the two-part episode “Tragedy on the Appalachian Trail,” for example, one source had to be interviewed in two separate sessions—and one call sounded markedly better than the other.

“It was almost like you didn’t quite catch that it was the same person on the interview,” Mairs says. “Because the sound quality was so varied, our solution was to make the one that sounds better sound worse to match the other one! In the end, I don’t think you would ever notice that they were two separate sources.”

The role of sound design on Out Alive is primarily to add texture, Albanese says. Mairs keeps the sound effects light, using them to subtly underscore the rollercoaster of storytelling tension and release with music and sound effects licensed from APM Music.

“I feel like the music is the lifeblood of the story,” Mairs says, “and so I’m a big proponent of, even if it’s just an ambient drone, giv[ing] it that tone so we’re bringing the story to life.”

Although the stories told on Out Alive are high drama, the endgame is to leave listeners with a healthy fear of situations that can put them in danger outdoors, and an understanding of potential ways to conquer them.

“By weaving other voices affected by an incident and providing education to our audience,” says Albanese, “they might be better prepared should they ever find themselves in a similar scenario.”

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com https://www.prosoundnetwork.com/post-and-broadcast/bootstraping-audio-production-for-out-alive

Elias Arts Rebrands as Elias Music

At Elias Music are (l-r): Jonathan Elias, Vinnie LoRusso, Mitch Rabin
At Elias Music are (l-r): Jonathan Elias, Vinnie LoRusso, Mitch Rabin

Santa Monica, CA (June 23, 2020)—Music and audio agency Elias Arts, celebrating 40 years in music and sound for brands, is rebranding as Elias Music, launching a new website and introducing Elias Indie, a new platform to connect brands with emerging artists.

Founded by composer and producer Jonathan Elias, Elias Music has serviced the musical needs of numerous top brands, including Mercedes-Benz, Nike, American Express, Liberty Mutual, Honda, Google, Farmers Insurance and Apple. Services range from custom scoring for advertising, audio branding and sound design, to offering an extensive catalog of premium, pre-composed tracks.

“Music and sound have never been more important in helping define a brand’s aesthetic,” said Jonathan Elias, chief creative officer for Elias Music. “With decades of experience and new resources from the Universal Music family, our capabilities to exceed the needs of brands across the entire musical spectrum is what make the new Elias Music so exciting.”

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The new website provides an overview of the company’s services and direct access to the Elias catalog. The site also features a downloadable Extension for Adobe Premiere Pro that can be used to access the catalog — spanning more than 10,000 tracks — without having to leave the Adobe Editing Suite.

Elias Indie is the company’s new platform for emerging artists whose work is available for one-stop licensing. Designed for brands seeking music, the new offering includes a line-up of up-and-coming artists across a range of contemporary genres. To help meet specific requirements of branding, the Elias creative team works with experienced recording industry A&Rs to handpick artists for the platform. A selection of music is available for streaming from the website.

“Elias Indie is a resource for producers and creatives looking for potential breakout artists to feature in their campaigns and other projects,” said EVP/executive creative director Vinnie LoRusso. “We’re excited about these young artists and look forward to introducing them to the ad world.”

“We are growing and diversifying to stay ahead of the industry and our clients’ expanding needs,” said executive vice president Mitch Rabin. “We’ve thrived for 40 years in the music business, and our best years are still to come.”

Elias Music • www.eliasmusic.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com https://www.prosoundnetwork.com/post-and-broadcast/elias-arts-rebrands-music

SMPTE Says ‘Game On’ to Remote Show

White Plains, NY (June 22, 2020) — SMPTE 2020, the organization’s annual technical conference and exhibition, which this year is themed “Game On,” with one full day focused on the convergence of esports/gaming and media technology, will be presented as an interactive and immersive remote experience on November 10 through 12.

“By eliminating traditional barriers to participation such as travel, the cost of accommodation, and scheduling conflicts, we’re making SMPTE 2020 a broadly accessible and truly global conference,” explained SMPTE executive director Barbara Lange. “We look forward to increased participation from all SMPTE Sections around the world.”

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The immersive environment will incorporate a main conference hub, meeting rooms for a chance to “ask the experts,” theater space for sessions and the annual Awards Gala, and an exhibition hall with private meeting space. SMPTE 2020 will offer flexibility in accessing technical presentations, practical hands-on training, product and technology demonstrations, peer-group discussions, virtual panels, and sponsored roundtable discussions, as well as networking events, social hours, and even trivia and esports competitions.

Like last year’s conference, SMPTE 2020 will include the SMPTE Storytellers series, expanded technical tutorials and training, and programming from SMPTE partners. New content will include bite-sized keynotes, quick “Standards 101” sessions, and shorter hot-topic discussions that allow attendees to build a custom conference experience that suits their own schedules and interests.

While they can join live sessions, meetings, and demos throughout the conference, attendees also will have on-demand access to recorded presentations, exhibitor videos and product guides, and more. Presenting their technologies in interactive booths with virtual demo rooms, exhibitors will be able to leverage their own resources — rather than those of a conventional exhibition hall — to optimize the experience for their prospects and customers. Without space constraints of a physical booth, the potential for bigger, higher-quality demos will let exhibitors make more meaningful connections with attendees. Given the ease at which professionals around the world can partake in SMPTE 2020, exhibitors can take advantage of the 24-hour exhibit hall.

Alongside traditional sponsorship opportunities, sponsors will have the option to provide attendees with unique VIP experiences such as behind-the-scenes tours, interactive activities with celebrity hosts, and more. Companies can also design an occasion to bring attendees together for lighthearted fun via remote interaction.

SMPTE will once again host its annual Awards Gala during the conference, bringing together honorees and guests from around the world to celebrate the accomplishments of our industry luminaries and next-generation leaders.

SMPTE • www.smpte.org

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com https://www.prosoundnetwork.com/business/smpte-2020-game-on-remote-show

Building the Epic Audio Narrative of ‘Wind of Change’

Host Patrick Radden Keefe (left) and producer Henry Molofsky (right) interview a Scorpions fan outside Luzhniki (formerly Lenin) Stadium, where the Moscow Music Peace Festival took place in 1989. The show’s portable rig included a Zoom H6 recorder paired with Rode NTG-2 shotgun mics.
Host Patrick Radden Keefe (left) and producer Henry Molofsky (right) interview a Scorpions fan outside Luzhniki (formerly Lenin) Stadium, where the Moscow Music Peace Festival took place in 1989. The show’s portable rig included a Zoom H6 recorder paired with Rode NTG-2 shotgun mics.

New York, NY (June 4, 2020)—“One of the goals was to make this sound like a very big production and have it feel cinematic in its scope and sound,” says Henry Molofsky, producer of the hit podcast, Wind of Change. Capturing the vibe of a big-budget spy thriller was crucial for a podcast that asks an intriguing but potentially dangerous question: What if the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency wrote “Wind of Change,” the enormously successfully 1991 power ballad by hard rockers Scorpions, in a bid to bring the Cold War to an end?

Wind of Change, the eight-episode podcast from Pineapple Street Studios, Crooked Media and Spotify, explores how that may have actually happened, as host Patrick Radden Keefe unpacks layers of connections and coincidences among the CIA and people near to the German rockers’ inner circle.

The setup is storytelling gold: Scorpions frontman Klaus Meine has always said in interviews that he was inspired to write “Wind of Change” after playing the Moscow Music Peace Festival at Lenin Stadium in 1989 alongside Bon Jovi, Mötley Crüe and other titans of late ‘80s hard rock. But did Doc McGhee, who managed all three bands at the time, arrange the whole affair to escape drug trafficking charges so the CIA could score a cultural hit with young Soviets?

For the record, all parties deny that salacious spy-games premise—but the intrigue doesn’t end there. While Keefe and Molofsky chased leads and operatives from New York to Russia and Germany, Molofsky was tasked with capturing audio in a multitude of environments—a Scorpions stadium concert held in Russia, a boat on the Moskva River in Moscow on a windy night, telephone calls with secret agents, and even random hotel rooms with former CIA spies.

The podcast explores whether the CIA wrote “Wind of Change,” the worldwide smash hit by German hair metal act Scorpions, seen here playing Moscow in November, 2019. Released in 1991, the song sold 14 million copies around the globe and became an unexpected anthem for the end of the Cold War.
The Wind of Change podcast explores whether the CIA wrote “Wind of Change,” the worldwide smash hit by German hair metal act Scorpions, seen here playing Moscow in November, 2019. Released in 1991, the song sold 14 million copies around the globe and became an unexpected anthem for the end of the Cold War. Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Molofsky typically tracks at Pineapple Street’s Brooklyn headquarters, in a studio outfitted with Wenger isolation and a custom-made table with spots for four Shure SM7B dynamic microphones, which run through a Universal Audio Apollo 8 into an Apple Mac Mini. That’s where he tracked one of the podcast’s most dramatic moments, which featured a former spy who is still not allowed to admit she was in the CIA.

“We had the spy, whose pseudonym is Rose, call in remotely,” Molofsky explains. “Then I left Patrick’s original track in, and had Briana [Feigon, a voice-over actor] re-read Rose’s lines in my apartment on a table-top microphone. I added a phone effect to make her sound like she was on the phone.”

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Molofsky’s rig for recording audio on location around the world was a Zoom H6 recorder paired with Rode NTG-2 shotgun mics. When he had multiple speakers, he used one mic for each speaker, and made use of the Zoom’s built-in stereo mics to get a different fidelity and tone for entry and exit scenes. This same setup captured the podcast’s climactic scene, when they met Meine at a hotel in Hanover, Germany to talk about the origins of “Wind of Change.”

“We got there more than an hour early just because we were so nervous,” he says. “We set up mics, we set up the table. We got coffees for him and had everything prepared so he could just come on in. We were rolling as he walked in [and] I had my phone on just in case disaster struck and we missed our one interview.”

International spies are used to being recorded, but this time the mics weren't hidden.
International spies are used to being recorded, but this time the mics weren’t hidden.

Luckily, he pulled off the audio that day, but the podcast soon ran into a potentially disastrous snag toward the end of the year-long production, when COVID-19 hit before they had recorded a single word of Keefe’s narration. Molofsky had to outfit the host with a home-recording setup and run trial and error remotely to get the audio as good as possible. With narration recorded, he then relied on processing in post-production to bring the audio up to par: “It was disappointing that we couldn’t do all the final tracking in a studio. At that point, my goal was basically not to kill the production that we’d put so much time into with this final step—which is most of what people are actually hearing, time-wise.”

The result is a podcast that’s become a smash hit, rewarding the podcast team after an uneasy year of production. “It was very nerve wracking at times,” Molofsky says now. “We would be texting with someone who’d spent years undercover in Moscow and say, ‘Hey, can you meet us in the room 212 at this hotel in Adams Morgan in [Washington] D.C.?’ I wouldn’t know who’s showing up. And it’s even scarier in Russia.”

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com https://www.prosoundnetwork.com/post-and-broadcast/wind-of-change-podcast-sound-design-cia-spy-thriller-espionage-heavy-metal-scorpions

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.”

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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 https://www.prosoundnetwork.com/post-and-broadcast/american-horror-story-sound-lectrosonics

SMPTE Revises IMF Standards

SMPTE has released new IMF StandardsWhite Plains, NY (June 2, 2020)—SMPTE has introduced a series of revisions to the SMPTE Interoperable Master Format (IMF) standards documents (SMPTE ST 2067) to ensure compliant implementation, bring additional features to the IMF system, address conflicts among various provisions, and improve consistency for end users.

“IMF is maturing as a standard, and revisions to SMPTE IMF standards documents reflect increasing adoption of the standard and learned wisdom through operational practice across the theatrical and broadcast communities,” said Bruce Devlin, SMPTE’s standards vice president and founder of Mr MXF Ltd. The revisions address results from IMF Plugfests, as well as feedback from implementers and users working with IMF standards to enable real-world content versioning, packaging and delivery.

IMF provides a single, interchangeable master file format and structure for the distribution of content between businesses around the world. The revisions announced apply to SMPTE ST 2067-2 IMF Core Constraints, SMPTE ST 2067-3 IMF Composition Playlist, SMPTE ST 2067-5 IMF Essence Component, and SMPTE 2067-21 IMF Application #2E.

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SMPTE resolved editorial and technical issues in a number of documents. Specific changes to SMPTE ST 2067-2 IMF Core Constraints include added support for IMSC 1.1 timed text, added support for Forced Narrative timed text sequences, and definition of asset identification for Sidecar Composition Map assets. Audio Virtual Tracks have been made optional.

Additional CPL Markers have been included in SMPTE ST 2067-3 IMF Composition Playlist, and a provision in SMPTE ST 2067-5 IMF Essence Component was altered to eliminate a conflict with a provision in ST 2067-201. The ST 2067-21 IMF Application #2E has been revised so that it incorporates the provisions of both ST 2067-20 and ST 2067-21, consolidating provisions from SD to UHD formats for IMF mastering with JPEG 2000.

For end users, this revision to Application #2E is most significant, as it eliminates some of the variability between various essence files, in turn increasing the likelihood that files will work “out of the box.” Because SMPTE made no major changes affecting backward compatibility, existing files should continue to work as expected.

As part of the society’s initiative to support the industry through and beyond the COVID-19 crisis, SMPTE has made several of its IMF standards available for free download, among other standards documents. The newly published IMF documents with a designation of whether the document is available for free download are:

ST 2067-2:2020 – SMPTE Standard – Interoperable Master Format — Core Constraints

ST 2067-3:2020 – SMPTE Standard – Interoperable Master Format — Composition Playlist

ST 2067-5:2020 – SMPTE Standard – Interoperable Master Format — Essence Component

ST 2067-21:2020 – SMPTE Standard – Interoperable Master Format — Application #2E

SMPTE • www.smpte.org

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com https://www.prosoundnetwork.com/post-and-broadcast/smpte-revises-imf-standards

NAB Show Express Draws Virtual Crowds

NAB Show ExpressWashington, DC (May 21, 2020)—After the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of this year’s NAB Show, an estimated 40,000 industry professionals participated in the inaugural NAB Show Express, consuming more than 1.6 million minutes of video content over the course of a week.

The digital experience brought the annual NAB Show online with 24-hour access to premium content curated for the global media and entertainment community and an exclusive marketplace featuring 1,479 exhibiting companies. The NAB Show in Las Vegas typically attracts more than 90,000 attendees from 160 countries and 1,600+ exhibitors.

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NAB Show Express continues to offer free access to more than 200 on-demand educational sessions, executive conversations, resources and exhibits. Launched on May 13, the online event encompasses broadcast channels, on-demand videos and social media streams. Registration remains open at nabshowexpress.com through the end of August 2020.

“We understand how important NAB Show is to our industry, and we are thrilled to offer NAB Show Express to help our community stay connected during this difficult time and provide critical information, inspiration and solutions to help the industry move forward,” said NAB president and CEO Gordon Smith. “Thank you to our education partners, exhibitors and all who made NAB Show’s digital experience a success.”

“NAB Show Express is only the beginning as we continue to develop our digital capabilities and platforms to better engage with our community year-round,” said NAB executive vice president of conventions and business operations Chris Brown. “We see live and digital events as great complements to one another and look forward to offering hybrid versions of our events going forward to better serve the full gamut of the media and entertainment sector.”

National Association of Broadcasters • www.nab.org

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com https://www.prosoundnetwork.com/business/nab-show-express-draws-virtual-crowds

Caracol Monitors Remotely During COVID-19 Crisis

Colombia’s Caracol private media company purchased three mixing consoles during the current coronavirus pandemic to use remotely.
Colombia’s Caracol private media company purchased three mixing consoles during the current coronavirus pandemic to use remotely.

Rastatt, Germany (May 22, 2020)—Lawo put its remote FAT (Factory Acceptance Testing), training and equipment demonstration procedures into play when Colombia’s Caracol private media company purchased three mixing consoles during the current coronavirus pandemic.

Recently, Bogotá-based Caracol purchased a 48-fader Lawo mc²56 mixing console with Dallis frame for its news studio, another mc²56 for a new OB van and a mc²36 console for the broadcaster’s Studio 10 facility. Caracol safety protocols during Covid-19 require that the company’s engineers be able to monitor and meter critical audio signals from home, so they contacted Lawo for a solution.

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On April 30, Lawo engineer Daniel Egea demonstrated remote monitoring solutions for Caracol engineers via two possible monitoring methods—one employing Lawo AoIP Stream Monitor software and a second using RƎLAY VPB software. Both solutions use RAVENNA/AES67 connectivity to monitor the mc² consoles. Since the demonstration of both setups met Caracol’s requirements, both software packages will be configured for long-term tests, and eventually will be a permanent part of their studio installation.

“The question for us was, how can the engineers both listen to and meter the audio signals while not on site?” says Egea. The solution was an infrastructure that allowed the mc² console core to supply its audio signals to a facility computer.

“Audio signals were supplied to the streaming network via the RAVENNA card in the core and collected from the network on a PC using AoIP Stream Monitor or RƎLAY VPB software,” says Egea. “By accessing this computer via Teamviewer or Remote Desktop through a second NIC [network interface card], Caracol engineers can now conveniently monitor the most important signals from home. This setup offers a very flexible monitoring situation and has simple, intuitive GUIs to quickly create a suitable monitoring overview.”

Lawo • www.lawo.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com https://www.prosoundnetwork.com/post-and-broadcast/caracol-monitors-remotely-during-covid-19-crisis

How the ‘Flashback’ Podcast Takes History to the Top

New York, NY (May 21, 2020)—The brainchild of host Sean Braswell, a renaissance man of sorts who holds a Ph.D. from Oxford University and a law degree from Harvard, each episode of the new Flashback: History’s Unintended Consequences podcast shows how actions that seem inconsequential can eventually lead to surprising outcomes.

“We like to joke that he’s OZY’s in-house cool history professor,” says Flashback executive producer Rob Culos, who leads the creative direction behind original audio programs at OZY. “When you listen to an episode, it’s as if you’re sitting in Poli-Sci 506 and you are learning how a decision that was made had a ripple effect 50 years later.”

Flashback is the brainchild of host Sean Braswell.
Flashback is the brainchild of host Sean Braswell.

In the first two episodes of the 10-part first season, Braswell connects Henry Ford to the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995, and shows how the YMCA unwittingly helped launch the tobacco black market. Co-produced by OZY and iHeartRadio, Flashback is currently ranked No. 3 on the Apple Podcasts chart for History podcasts and hovers around the top 50 overall.

That kind of success doesn’t happen by accident—Culos and the Flashback team had the podcast series in development for six months prior to launching. Production began in January 2020, so when the COVID-19 crisis hit and people began to shelter at home, eight episodes were already completed and two were still in production for season one.

Flashback executive producer Rob Culos
Flashback executive producer Rob Culos

The COVID-19 pandemic has doubled the number of Americans who work remotely to nearly 60 percent of the workforce—but the team behind the new Flashback: History’s Unintended Consequences podcast series was already ahead of the game.

“We had already been working and producing this show remotely, so our workflow was largely set up,” says Culos. “Our producers are in San Francisco, Washington D.C., L.A. and Atlanta, and have at-home studios. We had already done the groundwork for it to work.”

Even so, a new production process had to be invented from the ground up. The first order of business was to firm up assets, cataloging what was needed to continue producing the show. In a typical interview situation, they provide guests with best practices on ways to record local audio, which they later sync to the host’s audio.

“Oftentimes, we’re talking to folks that have done this before and might have a handheld Zoom recorder, or they might have some little thing they got at Radio Shack 20 years ago that will do wonders,” he says. “Outside of that, we have them use their phone and tell them to do the basics like hold it up as you’re talking on the phone and go into Airplane Mode. That file is our backup.”

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Luckily, the production team is accustomed to being flexible with how it sources audio. The production staff also recognize that the audio characteristics of a phone call or a VoIP app like Zencastr can be aesthetic choices in themselves. Culos says they often lean into those variables to enliven the podcast.

“We’ve actually put small telephone filters onto telephone calls so it enhances that experience, and that’s before any of this [pandemic] hit,” he says.

Where consistency is key—such as with the host mics and certain interview sources—the producers use a Shure SM7B to keep the sound and timbre uniform across a variety of voices.

“We tried out probably six, seven, eight microphones across the board,” he says, “and we just found that the SM7B highlights each one of those. We don’t have to think about it. It just gets what we want to get, and it makes it easy.”

Producers Iyore Odighizuwa (pictured) and Chris Hoff develop production music ideas around themes for individual episodes.
Producers Iyore Odighizuwa (pictured) and Chris Hoff develop production music ideas around themes for individual episodes.

The sound design on Flashback is a more open-ended animal, as it is for many OZY shows. Culos and Braswell begin by passing songs back and forth for ideas—on season five of The Thread, OZY’s successful precursor to Flashback, they even hired a bluegrass band out of North Carolina to record custom music. This time around, the team didn’t want to stray too far from the formula they established for The Thread, but Culos knew he wanted more “punch” and a more modern treatment.

“We relied a lot on our two producers on the team, Iyore Odighizuwa and Chris Hoff, who each have a really good ear for music, and we created a folder of production music and ideas around themes and beds and vibes and motifs,” he explains. “I wanted it to be a cool documentary style but also fun and unexpected.”

For each episode, editing and production work are done through a somewhat gated group effort, with a small group focused on the first round of edits. Once a rough cut with sound design is completed, the team leader opens the project to a larger group to get line notes. They even have a process to smoothly navigate editing over the different platforms used by the producers.

“There have been times in the past where we’ve had to export stems and sessions from Pro Tools to Logic, which can get a little bit hairy,” he says. “But as long as you know the exact way to export your sessions, you should be fine.”


OZY • https://www.ozy.com/

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com https://www.prosoundnetwork.com/news/flashback-podcast-takes-history-to-the-top

Miking and Mixing The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel often uses expansive, moving camera shots to create the bustling world of early-1960s New York City, requiring carefully choreographed boom work and sometimes dozens of open lavalier mics.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel often uses expansive, moving camera shots to create the bustling world of early-1960s New York City, requiring carefully choreographed boom work and sometimes dozens of open lavalier mics. Philippe Antonello

New York, NY (May 20, 2020)—It used to be that one page of screenplay equaled one minute of screen time. Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino, creators and showrunners of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which streams on Amazon Prime, leave that rule of thumb in the dust.

Mrs. Maisel’s re-recording mixer, Ron Bochar
Mrs. Maisel’s re-recording mixer, Ron Bochar

“Amy and Dan write episodes that are 70-some pages, sometimes 100 pages, long. Imagine all those words crammed into a 50-minute show,” says Ron Bochar, Mrs. Maisel’s re-recording mixer. Bochar is also co-owner of Manhattan audio post house c5, which handles all of the show’s ADR, Foley, editing and mixing work.

Happily, he and Mathew Price, CAS, the show’s production sound mixer, have their routine down to a fine art. “Mat records great material, both from a lavalier and a boom. I can’t work with one without the other; they both need to gel together,” says Bochar.

“My dialog editor, Sara [Stern], will do a lot of tweaky stuff, knowing I’m going to need to hear all those consonants. It’s smartly done, and it makes my life a lot better. We end up with lovely live performances, and a very wonderful live track that Mat’s recorded for me.”

Dialogue may be the “God track,” as Bochar refers to it, but there’s a lot going on in the background, too. “When they hired me to do the pilot, Amy said she didn’t want it to ever sound like a standard TV show. There weren’t going to be a lot of quiet moments, but if anybody did take a pause, she wanted to make sure that it was filled. As long as we can still hear what she wants us to hear, she wants everything else to be busy and lively.”

“This is definitely the most challenging show I’ve ever mixed,” says Price, whose resume includes every episode of The Sopranos. It’s not just that the camera is constantly on the move, requiring carefully choreographed boom work; some episodes also involve a lot of talking characters. For some scenes, Price has had to bring in a second mixer to handle the extra tracks and radio mics, boosting his department to six people.

Audio Post Perseveres Despite Pandemic

For some scenes in the Catskills, he recalls, there was in-ear playback to 30 people, over a dozen lavalier mics, a live band and an MC with a mic. What’s more, a lot of the characters, including Miriam “Midge” Maisel (played by Rachel Brosnahan), were dancing, while talking, while the camera circled.

In the show, set in the 1950s and ’60s, Mrs. Maisel is an archetypal Upper West Side New York housewife who discovers a talent for stand-up comedy. As she progresses from the seedy clubs of Greenwich Village to larger venues, such as Harlem’s Apollo Theater, Bochar has “worldized” the soundtrack to put listeners into those respective spaces.

“Between picking a sound for the mic that she’s speaking into, picking a reverb for the room, or sometimes multiple verbs, the whole point is to make Maisel feel as real as we can,” says Bochar. “We’re trying to be precise to the reality that we’re seeing.”

There is no final dub, he adds: “The mix begins at the first edit,” a workflow followed by everyone on the sound team, which also includes Foley mixer George A. Lara and ADR mixers David Boulton and Mike Fowler.

“A lot of the Apollo stuff sounded the way it did based on a lot of the [loop] group,” says Bochar. “We were able to position the group at various places within the Apollo, creatively, to give it depth and space. Your mind says, oh, this is big.”

Mrs. Maisel’s production sound mixer, Mathew Price, CAS
Mrs. Maisel’s production sound mixer, Mathew Price, CAS

“I think spaces have a real psychological component when you’re viewing, even if it’s subtle and you don’t realize it,” says Price, who consequently likes to use both boom and lav mics wherever feasible. “I like to open it up as much as I can. It also gives Ron and Sara choices.”

Like the background sound effects, the group walla track can be dense. “There were the elderly groups taking their kids to the Apollo, which means you have two levels of group that have to work together,” says Bochar.

“That episode [3.08: “A Jewish Girl Walks into the Apollo”] became the definition of what Mrs. Maisel is all about,” he says. “It had performance, smart social commentary, smart relationship issues, a lot of stuff that had to be balanced within the context of a normal Mrs. Maisel.”

Sherman-Palladino is very detail-oriented, orchestrating some scenes for maximum effect. “During a spotting session, Amy will say, ‘The laughs are all happening in the right places, but they’re wrong. This one should just be women reacting; here, maybe it’s just a couple of girls in the background; the men would get this.’”

In response to her notes, Bochar says, “A lot of times, we just recall a group and do another half a day of material. Amazon has been wonderful for allowing us to do that.”

Price switched out his venerable Audio Ltd 2000 radio mics for a 12-channel Zaxcom RX12 system after season two. He mixes to a Zaxcom Deva 16 with a Mix 12 control surface.

The show’s prop department went to New York’s Gotham Sound to incorporate new Shure TL lavs into the various vintage mics that Maisel uses at the different venues. “They became my primary source for all the standup,” says Price. “And I ended up buying a Shure TL48 [TwinPlex]; I use that on Rachel almost exclusively,” to match the modified standup mics. “I like the way they sound, nice and open and warm-sounding.”

Further raising the degree of difficulty for Price and his team, the showrunners have insisted on live bands, especially in season three. On the “Miami After Dark” episode, the jazz quartet was live, says Price. “And Amy didn’t want to see any mics.”

While Price handled the extensive dialogue tracks, a second mixer recorded the music. “We took a bi-directional capsule and put it behind the drums, away from the camera. Then there was a plant mic above, a Schoeps capsule. We put a mic on the piano lid for the bass, and another mic under the piano for the piano. And we put a lavalier mic on the trumpeter’s sleeve,” says Price.

The show is one of his career highlights, he says. “The whole cast is amazing. One reason it sounds so good is that we don’t have a whisperer or mumbler amongst them. And it’s such a family; it’s a happy set. Every one’s having fun.”

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel • https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06WPB59TM

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com https://www.prosoundnetwork.com/post-and-broadcast/miking-and-mixing-the-marvelous-mrs-maisel