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Old 06-22-2006, 04:12 AM
Halstein Halstein is offline
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Norway
Posts: 141
Default Field-/location audio recording

Ok, I know this questions are a bit of topic in this forum....or maybe not!?! I do mostly audio post (on Mac G5/PT7.1 with HD2 Accel/192 IO), but now-and-then also fieldrecording for film and videoproductions. I guess a lot of you guys reading this forum do both pre&post, so here it is:

As posted on Apple Discussions Forum:

Searching for tips about a recording setup for field/location use. My purpose is to record 4-5 wireless + 1-2 boom mikes in the field. The ability to timestamp files by incoming TC would be a strong plus. Also syncing to the camera videosync/blackburst if possible.
Currently using a 4-channel ENG-mixer sending 2 tracks directly to the camera. Sometimes a StellaDAT II 4-track R-DAT (stable and sturdy, but way too expensive - both buying and hiring...) with extremely good mic preamps. A couple of devices are considered (Sound Devices 744T and Edirol R-4 Pro), but a laptop system is desired.

My thoughts about this is a MacBook (not purchased yet!) and a Metric Halo I/O 2882 firewire interface (yes, I got this one!). Recording software could actually be anything - this is just for raw recording - no editing/mixing/plugs. Recording will be done in 24-bit/48kHz mode. No more than 10 tracks simult. This seems to me to be a rugged setup, but I still got no TC reading option (?!?). Any tips? Is the MacBook sturdy enough to bring into cold and rainy weather, dusty fields and warm sunny days?? Any experiences?
imac 14,1 / imac 7,1 / macbook air 5,2 / self-built hackintosh with gigabyte z97x board + quad i7-4690
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Old 06-22-2006, 05:39 AM
Kuba Pietrzak Kuba Pietrzak is offline
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Warszawa, Poland
Posts: 400
Default Re: Field-/location audio recording


I think you should decide if you want to use a laptop or a stand-alone recorder.

I think, you perfectly know, that computers are more sensitive about weather, air humidity, also power issues etc, etc

However they are more flexible, so you can choose from a large number of audio interfaces...

If you need a time-code, Motu traveller is a solution for a laptop, however I do not know, if Motu has already written soft and drivers for Intel-based Macs...

As a field-recorder soft Gallery's Metacorder has good users' opinions...

Stand-alone recorders are widely used, they can record mono or poly BWFs with metadata...

Try to ask on the C.A.S. forum, there are lots of discussions about field recorders

Best regards from Warsaw

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Old 06-22-2006, 06:35 AM
Ken P Ken P is offline
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: The States!
Posts: 544
Default Re: Field-/location audio recording

that metacorder sw seems to be in use a lot and has a ton of options if you are carting your rig - not like you can strap a laptop and drives and an interface to your chest running and gunning, but that 744T is a solid unit for a hardware field recorder. a friend of mine got one and he swears it changed his life

there's the fostex PD-6 that seems to be the next step up with 6 channels, but i'm not so sure about dvd-ram? though it does record to a drive of some sort. maybe someone with experience can chime in. then of course the Deva IV/V has 8-10 inputs but requires a considerable investment. HERE is a great source to check all this stuff out
Ken P.

Pro Tools HD on PC
Pro Tools LE on Mac G5 and MacBook Pro
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Old 06-22-2006, 06:55 AM
Sonsey Sonsey is offline
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Ottawa,Ontario,Canada
Posts: 500
Default Re: Field-/location audio recording

MOTU has Intel drivers for all it's firewire products... you may want to check out the Ultra-Lite. Also check out Boom Recorder from Vosgames. I've used it a few times and been very happy with it. It'll solve your TC problems as well. I might be leary of the new Intel books though - some have had noise issues (check the Apple forums) and any new system will have more bugs than one that's been around for a while.

Finally, as someone who has used a laptop based recording system on more than one shoot:

1. Make sure you get a good case to travel with.

2. Make sure you get some form of weather protection (blankets for cold, plastic for wet)

3. Be prepared to reboot at least once, thereby holding up a take... tell the director/DOP upfront that this will happen at least once during the shoot so they are less likely to freak on you.

4. If you are booming as well as mixing, be aware that unlike say the Tascam unit, you can't easily attach it to your body, so you have to start the recording and then move into position to boom, then go back and stop the recording. Doesn't sound like a problem until your on the 20th take of the 30th shot of the day!

Good luck!
"Ya canna change the laws of physics..."
-Montgomery Scott

Howard Sonnenburg
Atomic Audio
Ottawa, ON
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Old 06-22-2006, 11:41 AM
FlorianE FlorianE is offline
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Zurich
Posts: 301
Default Re: Field-/location audio recording


I just did record a feature using:
Powerbook G4 / RME Cardbus & MultifaceII / Boom Recorder.
The main problem with such a setup is mechanical stability. I had a cart, used a modified Powerbook Holder fixed to the cart. The film was 80% interiors and no handheld camera, which helped my decision to work this way.
I chose Boom Recorder because it is blood simple to use, helps you a great deal in sound file management (matters a lot with 8-10 tracks), and doesn't eat too much of Mac's resources. Apart from that, it costs a fraction of Metacorder, and the guy who designed it was extremely helpful with several modifications I asked for. It does TC stamp, even from TC coming in on an audio channel.
The system worked without one flaw for 7 weeks.
Added luxuries: using a USB Video adapter, I had camera picture on the Mac screen. And while recording 8 tracks, I could still play back music cues through a second software - without starting the Mac's ventilator.
Don't hope to use this in bright sunshine - you won't see a thing on the Mac screen except under a dark umbrella. But that shouldn't be a problem in Norway???

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Old 06-22-2006, 02:04 PM
Craig F Craig F is offline
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 12,591
Default Re: Field-/location audio recording

I would go w/ a dedicated Field recorder
if you want it all separate:
if 4 tracks are enough:

all of these units are tougher than a laptop
some of these units supply T power as well as P48

non are tougher than a good old Nagra 4.2

"Fly High Freeee click psst tic tic tic click Bird Yeah!" - dave911

PT11 System Requirements link http://avid.force.com/pkb/articles/C...m-Requirements

Thank you,

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Old 06-23-2006, 08:00 AM
D_Whiz D_Whiz is offline
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Bombay, Maharashtra, India
Posts: 34
Default Re: Field-/location audio recording

For Location recording it would has been superb to be able to use the Protools but this remains theorotical mainly because of its inability to operate like the dedicated field recorders.

I have used a Digi 002 on one occasion and a MIX system on another with TC input along with a slate. I found it cumbersome and more prone to power related problems apart from the occasional slow down in system operation or crashes.

I use the Deva, Fostex and more recently the Tascam Flash recorder which are all superb for some many on the field reason and reliable on the whole.

Baylon Fonseca

Sound Designer
Production Mixer
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Old 06-26-2006, 01:33 PM
Halstein Halstein is offline
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Norway
Posts: 141
Default Re: Field-/location audio recording

What a response!! I've just been away a few days....

Thank you for sharing your thoughts about this. I get the feeling that a laptop system could be a trade between stability/sturdiness and flexibility. Will take a look at all those links you provided and be back. I know the Sonosax StellaDAT II well, and it's a tank. AND sounds GOOD. But one thing is for sure, I'm going filebased - no tape anymore. I've used too many ours on tapeconforming....

I try to see the situation in tough conditions...with a laptop....and a firewire interface...dust...rain. Norway got several weather types - and some of them require good clothing! No, it's not made for that yet, I believe. It's 50/50 interior/exterior locations for me (usually). So the SoundDevices 744T seems to be a good choice! Will still take a look at Metacorder and Boom Recorder sw's, as I convince myself that it will never be too cold, too hot, rain, dust or heavy handling on my outdoor location jobs in the future! Hmmmm....that phone has been dead quiet for a while now!?!
imac 14,1 / imac 7,1 / macbook air 5,2 / self-built hackintosh with gigabyte z97x board + quad i7-4690
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Old 06-27-2006, 01:53 PM
Halstein Halstein is offline
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Norway
Posts: 141
Default Re: Field-/location audio recording

Testing the BoomRecorder now!! Yes, this is really a clever sw with all the functions is was looking for (and more...). The ability to convert an incoming TC signal to generate metadata to stamp the tracks are just amazing. This is VERY satifying so far! I'll do some more testing...
imac 14,1 / imac 7,1 / macbook air 5,2 / self-built hackintosh with gigabyte z97x board + quad i7-4690
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Old 06-27-2006, 09:21 PM
actualsizeaudio actualsizeaudio is offline
Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: Hartford, CT USA
Posts: 411
Default Re: Field-/location audio recording

I use a either my 002 with a Motu digitimepiece clocking the 002 via spdif pulling genlock and TC from a camera, or I use my Sound devices 744T with lockit boxes on the cameras. The job I did last week had up to 8 wireless mics that sometime split into 2 groups (2 744T kits). So, having the 2 different 744t recorders became a great benefit over having the Pro Tools system (plus we were mobile). Here is the key to making it really in sync though: AMBIENT LOCKIT BOXES!!!!

The 744T has an Ambient (brand name) crystal that is tunable by the master ambient master controller. The lockit boxes also have this same crystal that is tunable. So, once the 2 744s I used were tuned, the 3 lockit boxes were tuned, and my Ambient slate was tuned, all crystal oscilators on the job were running at almost the exact same speed. The lockit boxes connect to both the Genlock (tri-level sync for high def) in and the TC in on the cameras. Now you have a system where the cameras and your recorder and your slate are all running at the same speed. I have done shoots without lockit boxes where my 744T audio would have to be time compressed on long rolls. I have also seen 3 of the same camera drift several frames in an hour after jamming them with just TC. With the lockit boxes you can check how many frames you are off at any given time. I let my stuff run for 24hrs a couple of times and I was never more than a half frame off after 24 hours!!!!!

Many people forget that genlock/blackburst is a necessary component to this whole thing, and that TC really just tells us "where we are", and not "how fast we are going". Let me know if you use the 744T and need to rent a lockit box setup with controller and slate.

BTW, the 002/digitimepiece Powerbook combo works great if you can stay pluged in

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