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24/04/2013

Sound Devices Assist Frozen Planet Documentary

Chris Watson is a location sound recordist, specialising in capturing wildlife and natural history audio, has travelled all over the world to get compelling sound.
For his work on Frozen Planet, the BAFTA award-winning documentary series co-produced by the BBC and the Discovery Channel, he turned to Sound Devices 744T Recorder and MixPre Compact Field Mixer for his portable audio recording needs.
Frozen Planet, presented by Sir David Attenborough, is a seven-part series focusing on life and the environment in the Arctic and Antarctic. In order to document how climate change is affecting landforms such as glaciers and ice shelves, the series required Watson and the production team to capture a comprehensive record of the natural history in the polar regions.
Watson, who was based at McMurdo Station – the National Science Foundation’s United States Antarctic Program base on Ross Island, Antarctica – flew to the South Pole and also worked on the continent’s ice shelf and ice plateau. Despite the freezing temperatures of -44 degrees Celsius, Watson’s Sound Devices 744T unit performed flawlessly.
For his rig, Watson set up his 744T with a Sound Field ST450, an ambisonic recording instrument. The 744T works directly with ST450, with Watson using all four-line inputs to record the signals in B format. The 744T has a B-format decoder in the headphone amplifiers, which proved especially handy for the Frozen Planet project.
Even though Watson was recording to this less common surround sound format, he was able to decode it and listen to a stereo approximation of his recordings. He also recorded in double-mid side (DMS), a surround sound format that uses three microphones and three channels of his 744T to create four or six audio channels in post production.
Sound Devices 744T, a powerful four-track, file-based digital audio recorder, has become a staple in the rigs of many feature film and episodic television sound mixers. The super-compact 744T records and plays back audio to and from its internal hard drive, CompactFlash cards and external FireWire drives, making field recording simple and fast. The 744T reads uncompressed PCM audio at 16 or 24 bits with sample rates between 32 kHz and 192 kHz. Compressed audio recording and playback from 64 kbps to 320 kbps is also supported.
Another key component of Watsons’ rig is the Sound Devices MixPre Compact Field Mixer. While recording pods of Orca whales and Weddell seals under the sea ice, Watson used the preamps on the MixPre independently, feeding the audio into his backup recorder. By using the MixPre as a stereo preamp, he was able to capture these sounds under the sea ice, utilizing the dynamic range of the hydrophones.
Sound Devices MixPre, like its present successor, the MixPre-D, is a studio-quality two-channel, portable, stereo microphone mixer. Its impressive audio performance and comprehensive features, including pan switches, built-in slate microphone, 1 kHz tone oscillator, and headphone monitoring, make it ideal for the front end of any studio or field production system. Film production engineers value the compact size and ability to withstand extremes in the field. The MixPre combines rugged mechanical and electrical construction, compact size, and high-quality components.
www.sounddevices.com
(JP/CD)
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