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Testimonials Over the past 20 years of his professional career, David Crivelli has been fortunate enough to witness just about every aspect of the television audio business. From news to drama, to reality television, he has seen the best and the worst of field audio acquisition. In the post production mix rooms, he has realized just what has worked and what has not. As a QC engineer on many live high profile television shows, he has developed an ability to listen to a remote feed, analyze it, and maximize the performance of the transmission circuit delivering the signals with very little time to do so.

How has your job changed recently?

Frankly speaking, the goal of field audio acquisition hasn’t changed very much over time. The objective's always the same - use the right hardware to capture the most natural and most intelligible sound in the environment presented. Obviously, to achieve this goal, the engineer must choose his tools wisely. New technology and a strong knowledge base present us with some powerful tools. Choosing the appropriate tools is the key to a properly engineered, good sounding product. But by far the the most powerful 'tool' that I have acquired is the ability to communicate in as a simple and efficient a manner as possible.


Do you often record in stereo?

Stereo recording in the field is extremely important. Sound in television needs to do two things. First, it is meant to inform, and second, it is intended to lure the viewer into the event and compliment the visuals. The natural sound associated with the video that is to be shot, is a very valuable asset that should not be disregarded. It is like baking a cake with key ingredients missing. By adding as much stereo information as possible into a television program, the viewing process is guaranteed to be more fulfilling and pleasing. This has become extra critical now that so many viewers have such elaborate audio high fidelity systems around their televisions.


What's your backup for shoots?

You always need a plan “B”. Never back yourself into having nowhere to go in the event of a problem. Mixers have proven to be dependable so I don’t feel a need to have a backup unit around. I do however try to have enough power alternatives available so that electricity will not be problem at all. You can never have enough batteries. I also try to use AC power where possible to further conserve the batteries I have. If I were recording an interview with a hard line lav microphone, I would back it up with a fish pole and some type of directional microphone. This is not to backup the main Lav in the event of failure, but rather to provide an alternate micing technique should a situation arise rendering the primary omni-directional lav unusable with the wrong pick up pattern. Now if I was to record an important situation and I had to use wireless microphones, I would set up a redundant set of wireless receivers. These receivers would pick up the primary mics or even a second set of mics on the talent and be isolated to some sort of multitrack recording device nearby. With this form of redundancy, the post mixer would be insured an alternative should an RF drop out occur.



Can you see any ways in which computer control may play a part in the future of location sound?

Field production and live television are just starting to be exposed to digital mixers. These units possess the power to provide many features in a small package. The next step in the digital world will be a digital mixer that can be controlled remotely. With production budgets dwindling, it is apparent that the audio side of television is the area that will be first attacked. The hardest and most expensive task in remote television is getting the right people and the proper hardware on location. When a manager begins to look for places to cut back on financial costs, the first category to approach is that of labor. By having the cameraperson take care of the audio, they are able to keep the expensive audio engineer back at the facility. Unfortunately, all this does is frustrate the cameraperson and frustrate the audio engineer that has remained at the station only to hear the poor quality audio coming in from the remote with no real means to amend the situation. With a remotely controlled digital mixer, the audio engineer is able to create the proper mix on location without leaving his/her chair at the receive location.


How do you feel about utilizing signal processing on remotes?

There is absolutely a place for signal processing in the field. In the film business, it is very common to leave all audio signals alone and unprocessed. It is not until the post production process that proper equalization and dynamics are used to properly integrate these signals with any additional music or sound effects. It is customary for this process to employ several talented mixers and many weeks of work. This technique has been adopted by the television field production and live television community. Unfortunately money and, most of all, time are not luxuries of the television world. Television programs are given less time and money towards the post production process. Even though the field is far from a perfect listening environment, a good mixer with the right tools can slightly equalize any apparent anomalies and began to contain any signals that truly do not need excessive amounts of dynamic range. By pre processing these elements before they are to be recorded, the recording medium, by default, will be used in a more efficient and more effective manner. As for live telecasts, it is apparent that there is no time to do something right later on. It has to be perfect as it happens. Once you add more than one microphone into a mix, the only solution to proper mixing is discrete processing for each microphone. Equalizing and compressing in the field on a live telecast is the absolute best way to maximize signal to noise and headroom of the transmission path that is carrying the mixed signal to the station for integration.

What's important to you in choosing a portable mixer?

On top of my wish list are a few key features that have equal importance in the field mixing world. A mixer has to sound good, be efficient in power consumption, offer mixing alternatives to the user, and be rugged.


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