SEX AND SOUND
I enjoyed David Weiss' article on Sex and the City [September 2003], but I'd like to point out one omission and one error [in it]. One of the headings in the story is “Maintaining Clarity in Production Dialog.” That clarity begins with the production sound mixer's work. T.J. O'Mara and his crew do a great job on an exceptionally difficult show. I wish he received some credit in the article. As for the error, Bob Chefalas is quoted as saying, “We take a lot of pride in the fact that the same production and mixing crew have been on the show from the start…”
It's been a few years now, but I was the production mixer for the first season along with my crew: George Leong, boom; and Richard Murphy on cable and radios. We were on another movie when HBO picked up the show for a second season, so we couldn't go back. It was a rough decision, but that is the nature of our freelance lives.
ONE MORE TIME
As a production sound mixer in film and television, I appreciate all of the “Sound for Picture” articles that Mix publishes. One thing that I never understand, though, is why the sound mixers on the set and their teams are rarely mentioned by name. In the Sex and the City article, for all the discussion of the difficulties of recording production dialog in the streets of New York, that difficulty feels minimized and marginalized. Whether this is due to the author's or the post-production team's oversight isn't clear, but it happens frequently. I hope you make a stronger effort to include the production team in future articles. For the record, on Sex and the City, the crew comprises T.J. O'Mara, production sound mixer; Joe White, boom operator; and Kim Maitland, additional boom and utility sound.
Mathew Price, C.A.S.
BERLINER VS. COGAN
Jim Cogan's October piece lauding Bill Putnam was a delight, but somewhat misleading. Milton, as I always called him, not only did not create the concept of reverb, but he also didn't conceive of how to integrate it into a mixing console.
Reverb was first added to phono records by Harry Bryant, the founder of L.A.'s Radio Recorders, for years the world's foremost independent recording studio, which recorded discs and transcriptions of radio shows years before Putnam got into the business. And, yes, Harry put a speaker and a mic in the men's room, but not with the unexpected results that Bill later laughed about when he tried it.
Milton mixed a session for me in 1958 in Hollywood — using the console depicted on page 36 [in that article] — at Universal Recording. In my opinion, it was Universal that signaled the demise of Radio Recorders. Harry Bryant was quick to agree.
I take great issue with Cogan's characterization of recording as the “ne'er-do-well of film and radio.” What rot! As the grandson of the inventor of the microphone and the gramophone with its disc record, Emile Berliner, I beg to point out that records entertained folks decades before film and radio. In fact, the first recordings of soundtracks were on records in 1925; cylinder recording was invented in 1856; and grandpa introduced the disc in 1887. Ne'er-do-well? I don't think so.
THE LAST FRONTIER FOR PLUG-INS
I have read [Paul Lehrman's “Insider Audio”] October column twice and been reduced to tears of laughter each time. However, he left out two important mastering plug-ins [“The Stuff You Wish You Could See at AES” column].
MUI (pronounced: ”moo-eee”): This interface was developed on a ranch, by ranchers for ranchers. It gives any recording, including any slick, urban production, that “down-on-the-farm” laid-back, easy feel. And, as a bonus, it gives the recording medium a leather-tough durability.
PUI (“pee-u-eee”): Because we now have a plethora of NLE software for video (eyesight) and audio (hearing), the sense of smell is obviously the next frontier. The PUI can replicate the following smells: coffee, perfect for those who record/mix/master in the early AM; and burning marijuana — the Jamaican community demanded this one.
Ken Wheelock, guitarist
A BUSINESS MODEL THAT YOU CAN STAND BEHIND
I wanted to thank and commend you for including the “Go Phish Online” segment in your “Notes From the Net” section in Mix [“Current” October 2003]. Besides having a strong personal interest in their music, I am quite pleased to see that their business structure is coming to light. Though we've read all about the problems regarding online downloads and people getting music for free, we don't often hear about the positives and success stories.
I don't know how much you have ever dealt with the Grateful Dead and Phish's “tape trading” on the Web, but there is a surprisingly aware, conscious and self-regulating (for the most part) community that has evolved around this music, with a strong focus on high-fidelity archiving and documentation of live recordings. As one who personally chooses not to download “illegal” music, I am proud to see sites such as Furthurnet that promote the free trade of live music — for bands that allow it — and to see them maintain very high standards of quality audio. This is one of the first sites I've found that offers a full .WAV file as an alternative to a compressed MP3 or other glossy format; the .WAV files often contain a “Do Not Convert to MP3” message in order to preserve the recordings and community as a whole. These sites introduced me to uncompressed music downloading via “Shorten” (SHN), .WAV, FLAC and other higher-fidelity formats.
In an online world where downloads simply can't be stopped, bands such as Phish are finally presenting some valuable solutions to ways that the Web and audio files can work for us. The fans have really taken charge and have become digital audio and CD archiving activists; many, including myself, have [provided] hundreds of hours of live recordings that we want to preserve in the longest-lasting format possible. I cannot recommend a style of music as having a better following than another, but I see that the “phans” of the Grateful Dead and Phish have been archiving with this intensity for more than 30 years, and I hope that their innovative work will continue to heal some of the rifts caused by this new age of music distribution. I would urge anyone interested in these issues to check out Etree.org or Furthurnet.com for a closer look into what these communities are doing, and perhaps their audio ethics can be transferred to other areas of file sharing on the Internet.
Thanks and keep up the great work!
Neilson Clyne Inc.