London Sound Recordist
Simon’s work is of the highest quality. He is fast, efficient and thorough. He is also an excellent presence on set. We love to work with him at Academy Films – an A+ because he gets the job done.Liz Kessler
Simon is an extremely professional, reliable sound technician. His breadth of technical knowledge is invaluable when on a shoot. Very easy to work with and always a pleasure.Miles Bingham
Simon is everything you need in a Sound Recordist – he gets clean sound wherever the location.Matthew Gordon
How I work to deliver you great sound and save you time and money:
Microphones – 3 steps to giving you great sound
1. Microphone position – The most important factor is getting the mic as close as possible to the sound source. I use boom poles, tiny wireless mics, hidden plant mics and mic stands to get you great sound.
2. Microphone choice – Choosing the right type of microphone is essential to deliver what your job needs; rejecting traffic noise to focus on an actor’s dialogue, recording birdsong naturally or capturing the atmosphere of a street market. There are different specialist mics with different pick up patterns required.
3. Microphone quality – The old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ was definitely invented by a Sound Recordist. Over time I have invested in a range of world class microphones so you get superb sound.
- Sennheiser’s MKH-50, MKH-60 and MKH-416 – These are well proven industry standard TV and film mics and used when booming indoors and outdoors
- 4 x Sanken Cos-11D’s Laveliers – Very high quality tiny lavalier radio mics for hiding on talent
- 4 x Micron Wireless Radio Systems – UK Licensed broadcast quality wireless radio transmitters and receivers for keeping mics and wires out of sight and those wide angle shots
- 2 x Oktava 012 – Beautiful sounding mics for the times when a mic stand can be used to capture sound
- Neumann u87 – Superb German engineering for voice over work – used at Abbey Road and by the BBC
- 2 x Heil PR-40 – Brilliant dynamic mics for podcasting as they cut down unwanted sound in noisy offices
- 2 x Beyer Dynamic M58s – Great for vox pops these hand held mics are used by news journalists and sports presenters worldwide
- 2 x Audio Technica PRO-44 – These useful boundary microphones are the type you see used in board room conferences calls
Timecode sync to save you time and money in post production
At the beginning of your shoot I ensure all your cameras are locked by timecode to my Sound Devices SD688 recorder via Tentacle timecode sync boxes. Next I synchronise my Ambient Lockit Slate for the 2nd AC to use for a visual back up. This saves you hours of editing in post production as it takes only seconds to align picture and sound automatically using timecode in programs like Adobe Premier.
The sync boxes are super light-weight, the size of 9v battery and sit on your cameras all day ensuring the whole shoot is locked by reliable timecode. Even prosumer cameras without timecode inputs like the Canon 5d can be fed timecode through their audio inputs with the Tentacle boxes.
I carry multiple BNC, 4 and 5 pin lemo cables for all cameras such as Arri Alexas, Epic Red/Scarlet, Blackmagic URSAs, Dragons, Canons, Sony, Panasonic and others.
Reliable multitrack recording gives you peace of mind
The recording device I use is a great sounding piece of kit made by Sound Devices and has been used on thousands of films and TV programs worldwide. It gives you a number of benefits:
- Built in analog limiters means if your talent starts shouting loudly it will not spoil and distort the take
- Each microphone is recorded to a separate track to give your sound editor options in post production
- Lots of power sources means it will last all day and cope with long outdoor shoots
- Sound is recorded to two places so if one card goes bad the back up saves your shoot (SD and CF cards)
- I also carry back up recorders (Zoom F8 and Marantz PMC61 mk2)
- Moose rental optional
Treating the acoustics of a room to get the best sound
As a Sound Recordist you always try to use the best equipment and technique for any situation, but we’re often faced with the unique challenges of a difficult environment or recording location and how they will sound on TV.
When we’re physically in a space our brains are very good at using all the visual clues available and making unconscious calculations to tell us what sounds right. Westminster Abbey sounds very different to a nightclub toilet and our super computer heads naturally do the math so it sounds as we expect it to.
That doesn’t happen when we’re watching TV however. Recorded dialogue needs to be as clear and clean as possible without too much background noise. It’s especially important to manage the levels of natural reverb or echoes that every space has if we want to avoid things sounding unnatural or wrong when played back.
It doesn’t make for an exciting photo (see left) but I carry a number of sound blankets, acoustic panels and reflexion filters so that acoustically challenging spaces can be tamed and the best sound possible achieved. I aim to try to avoid having to go the ADR route but can knock up a makeshift vocal booth to record clean wild tracks if necessary.
It’s always best to pre-plan so things go smoothly on a shoot when the full crew are present and being paid. I’m very happy to consult in advance on any potential locations for filming so that any issues can be identified and resolved in plenty of time.
Files are transferred to you and also backed up for safety
- My Sound Devices recorder automatically puts your sound files on to two different formats, an SD and a CF card, as the shoot progresses. Should one be corrupted for any reason the other provides a back up.
- At the end of each day I pass you or the shoot’s DIT (or Jimi Hendrix, whoever’s nearest) a USB card reader so you can download your files to a laptop. I can also include a sound report with basic shoot details for the Sound Editor’s reference in post production.
- Your files will also be stored on my Mac in the studio and kept for a month after filming in case anything should happen to your copies or laptop in transit.