Atlanta, GA (September 13, 2021)—When COVID-19 hit, location sound mixer Aaron “Cujo” Cooley, C.A.S. rolled out a mobile studio to create his own bubble, running a fiberoptic network to the set, where he parks his extensive collection of Lectrosonics wireless equipment.
Cooley, whose credits include work on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Lovecraft Country and Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President, was an early adopter of a Dante workflow. When Lectrosonics was developing its Dante-enabled D Squared digital products, the company selected him to beta-test one of the new devices. Now, he says, “I have a rack of 10 D Squared receivers and M2 Duet series equipment. I have about 40 Lectrosonics transmitters of every iteration all the way back to the 400a, plus two SR receivers in my bag rig.”
As the years-long TV channel repack proceeded across the U.S., Cooley leveraged his background with Dante networking to develop a remote mixing solution. “We saw a few years ago that the RF spectrum was getting crushed; I knew I would need to adjust my RF strategies. I started experimenting with a remote rack and bringing everything back to me over Ethernet, because it was inexpensive and easy to do with Dante. Now I roll a remote rack onto the set and run a fiber optic network, so I can be away from the set. That gets the antennas close to set, which is what we always need for good clean RF.”
When COVID took hold, he says, “It accelerated my remote workflow program at light speed. In order for me to work, I needed to be even further away from set and even more segregated from people so that I could stay healthy.”
Cooley was already talking with Athens, GA-based audio engineer Jim Hawkins, known for building and running the first Capricorn Records recording studio in Macon, GA, beginning in the late-1960s, and for working with the Allman Brothers Band, Tim Hardin and Livingstone Taylor. Hawkins, who was retiring, had converted a 16-foot box truck for location recording and broadcast production work.
“I bought the truck and retrofitted it,” Cooley says. Positioning his Lectrosonics gear and remote rack close to the action, “I have all of my audio and video feeds coming into the truck over a dedicated fiber optic network, converting to Dante and SDI. I basically have my own little broadcast truck that I live in,” Cooley says, where he can maintain appropriate pandemic distancing requirements.
“I mix on an Allen & Heath SQ-7 console and record into Sound Devices 970 recorders. I have a pair of Genelec speakers mounted up on the wall, so I’m listening in the same environment that the editors are working in,” he says. “If it sounds good in my truck, I know that when it gets to the edit bay it’s going to sound fine.”