NASHVILLE, NOVEMBER 9, 2015 — Sound Supervisor Daniel S. McCoy CAS, owner and operator of ToneMesa, Inc., a Los Angeles-based location and post-production audio company, was recently asked to lend his ear to mix a new CMT reality show featuring American Idol contestant turned country star Kellie Pickler. He seized the opportunity and integrated three audio powerhouses — DPA Microphones, Sound Devices and Wisycom — into the production.
The new reality TV show, I Love Kellie Pickler, focuses on Pickler’s personal life with her husband, Nashville songwriter Kyle Jacobs. Produced by Ryan Seacrest Productions, the show has a light hearted Ricky and Lucy vibe. However, in the moments where Pickler does perform, capturing the best audio possible was paramount to the production of the show.
“In the audio industry, the past few years have been leading up to integration – great manufacturers’ products operating seamlessly together,” says McCoy. “DPA Microphones, Sound Devices and Wisycom create a trifecta of the highest-quality audio in the field, and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve been waiting for Wisycom to get into the United States for about 10 years and I enjoyed using the first wave of Wisycom product as an early adopter of the wideband, high input bias voltage and 24bit 96khz ADC dynamic technologies. When put together with DPA Microphones and Sound Devices, I was getting near perfect reproduction of the guitar and voice recordings. It was the closest I was ever able to get location audio sounding so similar to studio quality, which floored me.”
Since the show called for reality mixed with some live production (CMT Awards, USO Show, etc.), McCoy wanted to be extremely lightweight and efficient. He relied on his Sound Devices 688 recorder/mixer along with DPA d:screet™ 4061 Omnidirectional Microphones and his Wisycom base station, MTP40S Wideband Bodypack Transmitters, MTP41 Pocket UHF Transmitters and MCR42 Miniature Camera Receivers.
According to McCoy, “The talent needed a lot of fidelity, dynamic range and accuracy, especially because they’re humming, singing, yelling and whispering, accompanied by instrument playing, all in one scene. I was able to capture near exact sonic representation of what I was hearing through this chain. The accuracy of DPA Microphones, Sound Devices and Wisycom captured it all flawlessly.”
McCoy ran the primary talent on digital inputs, going out of the two main receivers into the two main inputs on the Sound Devices 688 recorder/mixer. He then used the remaining channels for supplemental dialog and audio, using the DPA d:screet™ 4061 mics on all the Wisycom transmitters.
McCoy credits his Sound Devices 688 for a smooth and efficient workflow from his remote location in Nashville to his post production facility back in Los Angeles. All of McCoy’s CompactFlash® cards from the 688 were shipped back daily. When he got back to the tech room each night, he would off-load his content onto a back-up drive and e-mail the sound report to post. When they received the discs the next day, they would know what was coming. As far as time code and talent label, McCoy used all the metadata and the notes capabilities of the 688, which facilitated his workflow.
The 688 features 12-channel automatic mixing capability thanks to Sound Devices MixAssist™ technology. MixAssist came in handy on this production during several scenes including a shoot at the Hill Billy Supper Club, where McCoy had to capture several people around a table in conversation. MixAssist was active on every single input and created sub-mixes incredibly fast. “MixAssist on the 688 was such a useful tool. It not only gave the mix to producers, who are directing the scenes and taking notes, but also the camera mix was really responsive to the dynamic range that only the MixAssist could give me,” continues McCoy. “Sometimes we had up to 11 open mics unscripted on the 688, and MixAssist was able to pinpoint, within milliseconds, which person was speaking up over the crowd and focused in on that mic. I was then able to seamlessly jump to the next mic that was in use. It is an excellent feature.”
As the primary engineer on the show, McCoy credits the DPA d:screet™ 4061 mics in allowing him to let the scenes play out and still be able capture dynamic audio, due to the mics’ high-quality audio and build. “We shot in very humid conditions where actors were sweating into the mics and the mics handled those conditions incredibly well,” adds McCoy.
In addition to recording, McCoy also needed to make sure he could pick up other conversations from sources that might not have been close to him. “With the Wisycom devices I was able to get solid frequency anywhere I traveled from Rosemary Beach, Florida all the way to Fort Riley military base in Kansas City. At Fort Riley, we were able to get clean frequencies at a range of 200 – 300 feet of line of sight. Additionally during an appearance at a baseball game in Tennessee, the Wisycom receivers picked up Kellie’s family and friends from about 500 feet away. Although I couldn’t see them, I was still able to hear the conversations and record those ISOs with confidence while we had a camera down there shooting the scene. The producers and production team were sometimes able to get 2-for-1 mixing because of the Wisycom and the 688 working together.
For the past 20 years of my career, I’ve been looking to have this simpatico match of best transducer, best RF front end and best recorder/mixer in a package that I could put on and bring anywhere in the world, and finally it’s arrived with these three manufacturers,” says McCoy. “I’m a sound mixer and what I need is the best possible sound quality I can get, which is why I rely on DPA Microphones, Sound Devices and Wisycom in my day-in and day-out job.”
In all, the 53 days of audio captured by McCoy will be cut down to 13 half-hour episodes, now airing on the CMT Network.
ToneMesa, Inc. is a Los Angeles-based location and post-production audio company. To learn more about ToneMesa, Inc., please visit their website at www.tonemesa.com, Facebook at www.facebook.com/tonemesa, their Twitter @ToneMesa and their Instagram @tonemesa.
ABOUT DPA MICROPHONES
DPA Microphones is the leading Danish Professional Audio manufacturer of high-quality condenser microphone solutions for professional applications. DPA’s ultimate goal is to always provide its customers with the absolute finest possible microphone solutions for all its markets, which include live sound, installation, recording, theatre and broadcast. When it comes to the design process, DPA takes no shortcuts. Nor does the company compromise on its manufacturing process, which is done at the DPA factory in Denmark. As a result, DPA’s products are globally praised for their exceptional clarity and transparency, unparalleled specifications, supreme reliability and, above all, pure, uncolored and undistorted sound.
For more information on DPA Microphones, please visit www.dpamicrophones.com.
ABOUT SOUND DEVICES, LLC
Founded in 1998, Sound Devices, LLC designs both Sound Devices audio products and Video Devices video products. Sound Devices offers portable audio mixers, digital audio recorders and related equipment for feature film, episodic television, documentary, news gathering, live-event, and acoustical test and measurement applications. Video Devices offers digital video monitors, recorders and related products, which address a range of video productions, including fast-paced studio applications, live sports and events, as well as mobile, TV, film and documentary productions.
The Sound Devices, LLC, headquarters is located in Reedsburg, Wisconsin. Additional offices are located in Madison, Wisconsin, Chicago, and Berlin. For more information, visit the Sound Devices and/or Video Devices websites: www.sounddevices.com and www.videodevices.com.
Wisycom is a designer and builder of the most sophisticated RF solutions for broadcast, film and live production, renowned for their durability, flexibility, reliability, practicality and cost-effective price points. Wisycom’s design process is driven by attention to detail, customer feedback and ultimate quality, from the selection of components to the manufacturing process, which takes place at the company’s Italian plants. The company prides itself on serving as a technical advisor and partner to every customer. From custom design to evaluation and dimensioning of systems, the Wisycom team stands by its customers through every step of the process.
For more information on Wisycom, please visit www.wisycom.com.