Prepping location sound gear

For most larger productions, a mixer has a day or two for prepping location sound gear to ensure they will be ready for the day when they get to set.

Most mixers own more sound gear than they bring to a typical job. Or they rent sound equipment that they don’t usually use except for larger jobs. Regardless, all jobs are not specced exactly the same so significant time is spent getting one cart or bag ready for each job.

Step one – Speccing gear

The first thing that must be done is to have a detailed conversation with the producer, any post-production people that will be working with the sound files later and ideally someone from the camera department who knows what gear has been selected.

Next, the content should be broken down and examined closely to make sure everyone has a good idea of what will be happening on camera, how many people will be speaking in each scene, and there’s a good understanding of what coverage will be needed. If everything seems in order based on previous conversations the mixer is ready to start creating a detailed gear list that will be used on set. If not, the mixer must absolutely speak with production immediately to let them know of any concerns or needs for additional equipment or team members.

Once the detailed gear list is created it may be time to have another chat with production. It may be that there’s less gear needed than originally thought but usually it’s the opposite. Most often the director has different ideas than production and they want more gear brought to set than orignailly discussed with the producer. Sometimes there’s no extra charge but other times more gear needs to be rented or pulled out of storage and prepped to be put on the cart.

Step two – building the bag or cart

Now it’s time to get all the gear hooked up and powered on. It’s important to get this done the day before. Every job is unique and has its own set of challenges. This means oftentimes, the sound cart will be slightly different and may require a unique configuration. In this case, a new cable or unique wiring must be created, installed, and tested. If anything doesn’t work as plan, there needs to be time to do the necessary soldering, renting, or purchasing of gear.

Step three – charging up

Most mixers have a lot of batteries in their kit. Batteries for their carts, for mixer/recorders, for the transmitters, for their sync boxes, and for their Comteks. Most of these batteries are not the same. Therefore battery management is an important part of the job and that starts a day or two before the job starts. Checking batteries, charging batteries, and purchasing new batteries if disposables are needed or rechargeables have outlived their useful life.

Step four – packing up and loading out

This may seem trivial but making sure your gear is properly stowed and loaded up to head off to set is key to a successful day. Many mixers spend countless hours devising clever ways to pack their gear cases so they can keep their location sound equipment, neat, organized, and quickly accessible. Being able to quickly open a case and quickly see that everything you need is inside can make the difference between a successful day and a hectic one.

Step five is a successful day on set. Proper prepping is the most important part of having a great day on set. Being ready means a mixer has time to think creatively on set and solve problems the best way possible and not scrambling for solutions. Want to know how I’d prep for your next job, get in touch here. I’d love to discuss your project.

Posted on: May 27, 2020, by :