Director Robert Altman has teamed-up with cartoonist Garry Trudeau (“Doonesbury”) for a satirical look at the presidential election process in Tanner on Tanner. The four-episode mini-series, currently airing on the Sundance cable channel, features dozens of cameos from real-life politicians and commentators. Because Altman is well known for encouraging improvised, layered dialog, so the show’s sound mixer, Antonio
L. Arroyo, took along two HHB PDR2000 Portadrive multi-track recorders to capture every word.
“The portability factor, and just being able to hang it around my neck and not having to use a mixer, especially when we were using eight tracks, was amazing,” Arroyo says.
With nearly a third of the 16-day shooting schedule taking place at the Democratic National Convention, Arroyo notes, “I had eight radio receivers plus a cable going to a boom. We were shooting with Panasonic DV cameras, and with one Portadrive I was able to do scratch mixes for both video cameras using the two pairs of stereo outputs. I also was able to create headphone feeds for Robert—all without having to carry a mixer.
“I used the HHB Portadrive for everything on Tanner,” he continues. “It was the main and only recording source on that show. The first time I had to use two Portadrives was on the third day of shooting, and I not only felt comfortable with one machine but I felt comfortable enough that I could put two machines on the cart. This was just the right piece of gear for the job.”
Arroyo adds, “Someone said that the reason why all these multi-track recorders are coming out is that many directors want to be like Robert
Altman and give their actors the ability to step on each other’s lines, to improvise, and to all talk at the same time. Robert Altman is pretty much the guy who started doing all this thirty years back, originally with multi-track analog recorders.”
Following Tanner on Tanner, Arroyo took the Portadrives to Puerto Rico for the recording of Banco Popular’s annual Christmastime TV music special. “I also used the hard disc caddy, which they then took over to the editing room and imported into the Avid,” he adds.
“On the Altman show I used my machine as the master and fed timecode to the cameras. On the show in Puerto Rico, we had a master video truck and he was feeding timecode to all of his cameras and to my Portadrive, running as a slave. The Portadrive worked flawlessly in both situations.”
For more information on the Portadrive, visit www.hhb.co.uk.