Nelson Stoll Captures Audio for Rent

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Nelson Stoll with his Portadrive

For Rent, the film translation of the Tony and Pulitzer Prize–winning Broadway musical, production sound mixer Nelson Stoll used HHB's Portadrive PDR2000 hard disk recorder to capture the work’s memorable music.

The Portadrive’s word clock and timecode functions critical to his work. "The Portadrive was really the only machine that would work at the time for what we needed," he explains.

"The most important thing in this digital world," he continues, "is being able to play with other external digital devices accurately. In the digital world, timing is everything. The word clock [on the Portadrive] was really important to us because we were using outboard digital processors. And it also has a very stable timecode clock in it, which was important because of the outboard equipment that we needed to connect it to and have it synchronize with."

A musical such as Rent, which features a principal cast of eight, puts particular demands on the production sound mixer. "We had to have a multi-track recorder because we were recording multiple elements and perspectives. Plus we were recording all of the synchronous information for the music. We had to record the music timecode as well as the production timecode, plus we had to record the music and the production sound as well."

At times, a second recorder was brought in. "We had a couple of scenes where we needed to record additional perspectives and elements and required 12 or 14 tracks. Using the Word Clock and Time Code I/O of the Portadrive, you can accurately gang multiple recorders together."

Working with file-based transfers proved especially helpful, especially in time-sensitive situations. "We took the files off the Portadrive and copied them to a Firewire hard drive and turned them in to editorial. You can transfer the sound in a small fraction of the time that it takes with traditional DAT or analog recorders. That saves a lot of money and time in post-production. And it gives them a lot of flexibility, because it's in a file format [SDII or AES31-3] that can be shipped on Firewire drives, which is a standard, ubiquitous format that can be transferred into all computers and read by all the editors."

Rent opened on Broadway in 1996 and is still running; the film version, directed by Chris Columbus, will hit theaters on November 11, 2005.

Visit www.hhb.co.uk for more information on the Portadrive.