This is going to hurt me more than it’ll hurt you: clean, usable audio is as important as a great image. I know… I know… that was rough. We all know that the audio department takes a little “guff” on set; and, justifiably so. I mean, those guys and gals are usually the best looking, smartest, and coolest on set; how can the camera department not get jealous? Well, I say, let’s let egos and tempers cool, and discuss a vitally important subject that needs to be addressed. Recording audio into the mixer along with the camera is the smartest and best way to ensure a successful shoot.
Ever since The Jazz Singer went and messed everything up for us, people are just gaga for “talkies”. Now, there have been some brave and stalwart warriors who have tried vigorously to get audiences to let go of their desire to have audio and dialogue, but it’s been in vain. This said, we must live with this nuisance and trudge on, begrudgingly or not, and give the people what they want.
The best tools to do that with, especially with the video productions we find ourselves part of in Long Beach and Las Vegas, are the Sound Devices 664 and 633. These recorders are compact, light weight, and functional! The 664 offers six XLR inputs and six additional mini-XLR inputs, for an astounding twelve isolated tracks, left and right mix tracks, and two additional output tracks to send to the second camera, or your grandma, or whoever. The 633 meanwhile has half of that, with three XLR inputs, three mini-XLR inputs, left/right mix and two additional outs to donate to charity. The great thing about these mixers is the ability to control and direct which audio sources you send to which tracks, and then what you do with those tracks. If your camera operator is a “DP” (last I checked, a DP doesn’t operate a camera, they’re too busy lighting the scene) and they don’t care to watch audio levels in their cameras, you can be sure to have a perfectly mixed isolated track to hand over to post. While the “DP” will swear it’s not their job to do their job, and they totally mess something up, giving your in-camera mix a crunchy or hollow sound, you know that you did yours and delivered excellent iso tracks.