The HBO/BBC co-production, Rome, will shortly be going into production on its second season, which is scheduled to begin airing in 2007. Having proved the advantages of his Metric Halo Mobile I/O-based hard disk recording system during the debut season's yearlong filming, Italian production mixer Maurizio Argentieri will once again be using the setup to capture location sound for the show's second season.
Argentieri is a six-year veteran of location sound recording whose credits include The Passion of the Christ, The Island and A Good Woman. He says of the Metric Halo Mobile I/O 2882+DSP digital interface, "I still haven't found an interface that sounds as good as this. Plus, when I bought it, it was the only interface that could be powered by the computer. For someone who works the way I do, this is very important."
According to Argentieri, his location sound system, with the Metric Halo MIO and a G4 PowerBook at its core, offers a number of advantages over traditional location recorders, or even newer hard disk recorders. The Metric Halo MIO allows him to record up to 12 dialog tracks, offers the ability to create a modifiable mono mix for the show's picture editors and additionally provides processing that optimizes the mono mix and protects the actors' performances from technical errors, he explains.
Production mixer Maurizio Argientieri
"Every mic is recorded onto a separate channel,” Argentieri says. “This gives the sound editor the maximum freedom to pull out the best possible sound. [For example,] in a crowd scene where five or six actors are talking, we always use wireless mics on separate channels, plus two booms for the dialog on another two channels, and one or two pairs of stereo mics to enrich and open the sound during the final mix. That easily makes for 12 channels."
Argentieri then mixes those individual channels down to mono and transforms the mix into a BWF file using a program written for the purpose by Andreas Kiel of Spherico. The Mobile I/O's automation capabilities meant that the mix could be easily modified. "I do the mono mix with all faders on automation,” he says. “If by chance, and it happens often, I accidentally close a channel on a wireless mic, I have the possibility to correct the automation at that point as an insert in the mono mix."
Using the Mobile I/O's onboard digital signal processing, he is able to optimize the mix for the picture editors cutting with the dailies. "I insert a multiband compressor to control the dynamic and an expander/limiter to maximize the general loudness. This means that the editors can listen to it in the Avid in the best way possible, and it gives them a precise idea of how it will sound using the separate files during sound editing."
That digital processing is also a tremendous boon when capturing production dialog," he continues, "providing a safety net for the actors and drastically reducing the need for ADR during post-production. The onboard dynamics guarantee that every dialog take is a keeper. Another important advantage of the Mobile I/O, for someone who works on the set like I do, is having great tools at your disposal. Think of having gorgeous compressors available that guarantee the dynamic of an actor who suddenly screams in a way he never did during rehearsals or because he simply improvises something different. It gives the actors extra freedom because I have an instrument that protects their performance from technical errors."
For more information on the Metric Halo gear, visit www.mhlabs.com.