Field Mixer

Sound Devices SCORPIO: Why do Pros Use Gear Like This?

In April 2019, Sound Devices announcement their new flagship audio mixer/recorder called Scorpio. Sound Devices caters to TV and film production sound mixers - the professionals working on large budget productions. The Scorpio has a lot of new features which are really exciting and help production sound mixers do things that they haven’t been able to do before or it simplifies things that were previously more complicated. But all this comes at what would seem like a hefty price from the perspective of a self-funded, passion project filmmaker: $8995 USD. In this episode, we run through the features of the Scorpio, and why for some pros working on the larger budget projects, the expense is easily justified.

If you’d like to learn how to make great dialogue audio for your film and video projects, please have a look at my courses including processing dialogue audio in Adobe Audition and DaVinci Resolve/Fairlight, recording sound, how to use the Zoom F8 and F8n, and how to get the most from the Sound Devices MixPre series of recorders.

Gear used and mentioned in this episode:

Sound Devices Scorpio - B&H

Sound Devices 688 - B&H

Sound Devices 633 - B&H

Sound Devices MixPre - the more affordable line of high quality recorders for indie filmmakers - B&H

Allen & Heath DT168 Dante Stage Box - One example of a Dante device with 16 inputs and 8 outputs, all controllable by Scorpio - B&H

DPA 4017b Shotgun Microphone - B&H

Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K - B&H

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 OIS Lens - Amazon

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Copyright 2019 by Curtis Judd

Ethics statement: Some of the links above are Amazon.com, B&H Photo, or other affiliate links.

Sound for Video Session: What to Bring to a Shoot and Lessons Learned

Over the weekend, I did a small location sound job for a friend for a short film. In this episode we'll cover some lessons learned from that experience as my goal is to do more sound jobs like this. Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes and successes.

Make a checklist of gear you'll need so that when you're getting ready for each production day, you can reduce the likelihood that you forget anything you'll need. Here's a sample production day field checklist.

Some additional thoughts on things to include in your kit from my friend Scott Vanderbilt:

- If any possibility of doing exteriors, you can't be without a blimp/windjammer or other type of wind protection. Even for interiors, you at least need foam wind screens. Many sensitive mics without any windscreen will register noise when you swing them even just a couple of feet.

- Headphones - two pairs, my main ones (Sennheiser HD 25-II and a backup set (Sony MDR 7506) in case director or someone else wants to listen to playbacks.

- Slate. If client is paying extra, my Ambient time code slate. But I always have a dumb slate, just in case.

- Time code case (including Ambient LockIt boxes and/or Tentacle Sync boxes).

- Gaff tape (useful for all kinds of things, including on slate) and paper tape.

- Apple box. I use it to stand on (probably less useful for you :-) ) and also as a place to rest my mixer bag both during and between shots.

- Ball point pens, sharpies, and dry-erase markers (for slate).

- Harness for mixer bag, when job requires me to go mobile.

- Backup media (cards do fail). Always have spares.

- Media card reader (to hand off media to DIT at end of shoot).

- clipboard and blank sound report sheets. You really ought to do a session on sound reports. Very, very important, especially for narrative work.

- Script sides (for narrative only). Essential to study script in advance of shoot, especially if you're also booming.

- Business cards - I get asked for cards all the time on set!

- Boom pole - you mentioned this, but I would also point out not to forget at least one shock mount (I've done it!) and a coiled XLR cable for connecting boom pole to mixer.

- Water bottle and snacks, when working with a client for first time or one that doesn't provide crafty. Staying hydrated very important, especially when on location.