Recording Aaron Lewis (of Staind) Performing Live At The Bluestone

Recording Aaron Lewis (of Staind) Performing Live At The Bluestone

Recording Aaron Lewis (of Staind)

Performing Live At The Bluestone

Back in July 2017 I was hired to record an acoustic set of Aaron Lewis (of Staind) at The Bluestone concert venue in Columbus Ohio. Knowing it’d be viewed by tons of people (Millions of views on Aaron Lewis’ Facebook & Hundreds of Thousands on Youtube), I really wanted to bring a new level of quality to Country Rebel Clothing’s videos; I wanted to make the listener feel like they were in the room at the time of the performance. Fortunately I have tons experience recording for live performance videos at Cleveland Recording Studio, Bad Racket. Anytime you do anything in the field you want to make sure you have plenty of preproduction discussion and get the details locked down ahead of time. That way when you arrive, you are more then prepared.


Gear Choices & Setup

For recording this I opted for my Sound Devices 664 multitrack recorder/field mixer. It offers 6 high quality transformer based preamps (Which are on par with Millenia Audio, great for a transparent clean sound), variable low cut filters, very transparent analog limiters on every input and output, flexible routing, and the ability to record the stereo mix as well as iso tracks for each input. By using the 664, I didn’t have to haul a full mixer, outboard preamps, & converters down there, making my load in/out considerably smaller. Being DC powered, I don’t have to depend on power in a building I’ve never recorded in. I fed a mix to the A & B camera as well as timecode.

With multiple close mics, relative phase between the mics becomes a big deal; This is especially important with sources that aren’t especially loud like acoustic instruments. Not knowing what the space was going to be like or what their arraignment in the rooms was like I choose to bring only multi-pattern condensers. I chose a vintage stereo pair of AKG C414EBs for acoustic guitar, a Neumann U87 for Aaron Lewis’s vocals, a hand built clone of a 70s Neumann U87 for lap steel guitar, and a stereo pair of Michael Joly Engineering modified Oktava MK012s in ORTF with cardioid capsules on the balcony above as room mics. With all the close mics I ended up using them all in bi-directional mode, with the nulls angled directly towards the source I am trying to reject. The AKG C414EBs on acoustic’s nulls are pointed towards the vocals and lap steel. The null of the vocal mic towards the guitar and lap steel, and the U87 on the lap steel’s null was pointed toward Aaron Lewis. Solo’d up, each mic had excellent rejection from one another, yielding a much cleaner recording. The room mics added a nice tail since it was a fairly reverberant room, and really put you in the room with the performance. Since this room is normally a bar, I had to go around powering down/unplugging every source of noise, which was primarily beer coolers & AC. Otherwise, in addition to bleeding in the close mics, the rooms mics would have had far to high of a noise floor to be used.


Aaron Lewis Live at Bluestone Videos

Aaron Lewis – Lost and Lonely (Acoustic) // The Bluestone Sessions

Aaron Lewis – Northern Redneck (Acoustic) // The Bluestone Sessions


Aaron Lewis – Country Boy (Acoustic) // The Bluestone Sessions


Aaron Lewis – That Ain’t Country (Acoustic) // The Bluestone Sessions

Timecode vs. Genlock: Why timecode is not enough to stay in sync

Timecode vs. Genlock: Why timecode is not enough to stay in sync

Timecode vs. Genlock: Why timecode may not be enough to keep your set in sync


The common assumption is that by feeding timecode to camera you will keep camera and sound in sync. Unfortunately this is not so, Timecode and Sync are not the same thing. Timecode is in fact only metadata to identify how the first frame is labeled for time when the camera begins rolling. Once a camera starts recording, it ignores external timecode and uses its own internal clock to record. The problem you get here is the camera clock is not calibrated to the external sound recorder’s clock, and slowly they will drift apart as you continue to record. This is especially problematic for productions that require a long roll time (30 minutes plus), such as Reality TV or Event Coverage. This can cause endless headaches in post when you match the audio and video with timecode, and by the end of the clip the video is noticeably out of sync with the audio. The solution here is Genlock.


Canon C300 with External Timecode and Genlock


What is Genlock?


Genlock originated in the early days of broadcast and video switching systems. Genlock was used to keep cameras, and other video sources’ frames in sync to avoid nasty artifacts introduced when switching from one source to another. These days most switchers can compensate for this rather than feeding black burst to every source from a central clock. In the HD world Genlock is still hanging around, but these days it uses a protocol called Tri-Level Sync to clock both the frame rate and line rate. This is especially important for 3D two camera rigs. Because Genlock clocks the capturing of frames on a camera, it can be used to keep the picture from drifting from the audio over time.


Keeping Set in Sync with Timecode, Genlock, & Word Clock


In order to keep every device in sync, you need to have everything clocked by one central master clock. The cameras need to be fed timecode and genlock, and the audio recorder needs timecode and word clock. As per the recommendation from Thom Shafer, I decided for my rig to use Timecode Systems :Wave Master Clock. This acts as a generator for Word Clock & Genlock and is slaved to my Sound Devices 664 for Timecode. With an additional 9 pin Lemo to USB data cable, I am able to control metadata, arm and disarm tracks, start and stop recording, and more on my Sound Devices recorder. The Timecode Systems UltraSync Ones get rejammed twice per second via 865 MHz to 923 MHz Worldwide ISM bands. Each camera gets an UltraSync One that outputs timecode and genlock keeping the camera perfectly in sync with everything else on set. Ambient offers a similar solution with their Lockit boxes and ACN Network.


Timcode & Genlock Keeping Cameras and Sound in Sync
Timecode Systems :Wave Master Clock for Timecode, Word Clock, & Genlock Generator connected to Sound Devices 664


Common Cameras That Can Be Genlocked


Here is a few examples of commonly used cameras that can be Genlocked (Some, like the FS7 for example, require additional accessories to take Genlock and Timecode):


Arri: Arri Amira, Arri Alexa, Arri Alexa Mini


RED Digital Cinema: Red Weapon, Red Epic, Red Scarlet, & Red Raven


Sony: Sony FS7, Sony F5, Sony F55, & Sony F65


Canon: Canon C700, Canon C500, Canon C300 Mark II, & Canon C300 Mark I


Panasonic: Panasonic HPX-2000, Panasonic HPX-250, Panasonic P2HD, Panasonic Varicam 35


Timecode Systems Ultrasync One Genlock Canon C300 Mk. II
Canon C300 Synced with Timecode Systems Ultrasync One feeding LTC Timecode & Genlock


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Cleveland Commercial Recording for Kids Foot Locker & Joe Schiavoni for Governor

Cleveland Commercial Recording for Kids Foot Locker & Joe Schiavoni for Governor

Cleveland Commercial Recording for Kids Foot Locker & Joe Schiavoni for Governor


Last month was one of my busiest months of the year for Production Sound Mixing. Two of the commercials I worked on recording all the sound on location this November were just released. One was Kids Foot Locker: New Kid In Town featuring Isaiah Thomas, and the other was the Boxing  Commercial for Joe Schiavoni’s gubernatorial campaign. For both I used my Sound Devices 664, Michael Joly Engineering MK012, Wisycom & Lectrosonics Wireless with Sanken COS11 Mics, and Denecke SB-4 Timecode Sync box. The Boxing ad was a 1 camera shoot on Red Epic Dragon Cinema Camera. The Kids Foot Locker shoot was a 2 camera shoot with 2 Canon C300 Cinema Cameras. Whenever possible I tethered and fed audio to camera, and when not possible I relied on Timecode.

Joe Schiavoni For Governor – Boxing Ad

Kids Foot Locker: New Kids In Town

Behind The Scenes Photos

Joe Schiavoni Boxing Ad Location Recording in Youngstown Ohio

Red Epic Dragon Cinema Camera Denecke Timecode Sync Sound Recording

Cleveland Commercial Recording

Sound Devices 664 Wisycom Wireless Lectrosonics Sound Recorder

Kids Foot Locker Commercial Boom microphone Cleveland Ohio Production Sound Recording

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DIY Building a 4 Pin Hirose Battery Power Distribution Box for Location Recording

DIY Building a 4 Pin Hirose Battery Power Distribution Box for Location Recording

DIY Build for Hirose Power Distribution for Location Recording


For someone who has done a fair amount of electronics over the years (especially at Bad Racket Studios) it seemed silly to spend $200 minimum on a commercially available battery distribution box when parts for a power distribution isn’t more than $75 in value. The core function of power distribution is to have a power input that feeds several devices, while protecting against a short circuit or to keep you from drawing to much current. Adding a locking switch prevents accidental power downs while giving you the convenience of being able to power on your whole sound bag with the ease of flipping one switch.


Hirose Battery Distribution for Location Recording


While there are several commercially available battery distribution boxes that offer additional features such as voltage readouts, USB charging, and indicator lights; These are not necessary to the core function of it and could easily be added at a later date. For circuit protection I used an auto resetting circuit breaker, since that’s what all the major brands do. I opted to have mine based around 4 pin Hirose connectors since my NP1 battery cup, Sound Devices 664, and Wisycom Wireless all use Hirose power connections.


Building a Battery Distribution Box

Firstly we need to start with milling the metal enclosure to allow mounting of the switch and 4 pin Hirose connectors. By marking with a sharpie on the aluminum enclosure center points for drilling, then using a prick punch you can get your drill holes to line up perfectly centered. Drill out all the holes to appropriate sizes for the connectors and switch, then lightly round over the jagged edges of the drill holes with a countersink bit. This is also a good time to do the same for the belt clip that allows easy mounting to your sound bag. Once the machining is done, it’s time to prime and paint! I would highly recommend using a high quality spray paint such as Montana Gold Spray Paint, as its base is not only high quality than most other brands I have used but also it is higher pigmented and available in many colors. I did mine in an orange the exact color of my logo for brand coordination.


Building DIY Power Distribution for location sound


The next step is wiring the whole thing up. For ease of wiring I like to start by soldering wire pigtails to the appropriate pins on each Hirose power connector. Pin 1 gets the ground, pins 2 &3 are not connected, and pin 4 gets the positive (+) DC power. The input connectors positive lead should get soldered directly to the locking toggle switch, and the output of the switched to the DC auto resetting circuit breaker. All the output connectors’ DC positive (+) leads can be attached to the output of the auto resetting circuit breaker. Additionally the input ground and all output grounds can be tied together.


4 pin Hirose power connectors Hirose Power Distribution for location sound


Once everything has been soldered and the enclosure’s paint has cured you can mount all the Hirose connectors, switch, and belt clip on the enclosure and close up the casing. At this point take a multimeter and test every connection and the switch function to ensure you wired it correctly.


Wiring Hirose 4 pin Power Distro

Hirose Power Distribution for Sound Devices Bag Recorder


Wiring Diagram

Here you should be able to see a wiring schematic for the Battery Power Distribution box.

Wiring Diagram for 4 pin Hirose Power Distribution for Location Recording pinout

Field Testing & Impressions


By this point I have used it out in the field for a number of shoots and it has performed perfectly! The only feature I am missing is USB charging, fortunately building a Hirose to USB charging lead is pretty easy and I will likely do so in the next month. The locking switch is smooth and the locking mechanism easily protects against accidentally power offs. The 6 outputs have been more than enough for anything I’ve encountered thus far. The most I have powered off of it at this time is a Sound Devices 664, Wisycom MCR42S, Lectrosonics SRc, and 2 Lectrosonics 411A, and had no issues what so ever! If you wanna save a few hundred dollars I highly recommend building your own battery distribution box to get power to all your gear in your bag.


4-Pin Hirose Power distro with Sound Devices 664 lectrosonics src Lectrsonics 411a wisycom mcr42s


Bill of materials

7x Hirose 4 pin Connectors:


Die Cast Aluminum Enclosure:


Auto resetting circuit breaker:


Metal Belt Clip:


Locking Toggle Switch:


Montana Gold High Pigmented Spray Paint:


Photos of Battery Distribution

Hirose Battery Distribution for Location Recording

Hirose Power Distribution locking toggle switch

Hirose Power Distribution for NP1 Lithium Batteries

Hirose Power Distribution for location sound


Studio Quality Voice Over Recording on Location

Studio Quality Voice Over Recording on Location

Recording Studio Quality Voice Overs on Location

A guide to recording voiceover on location with examples from Nike – Come Out of Nowhere with Lebron James



Sometimes for productions whether timeline/talent availability, etc, it is necessary to record studio quality voice overs on location in a less than ideal space. Not too long ago I had to record a voiceover with Lebron James for a Nike commercial and the room we had to work in was a locker room with showers. The flutter echos in there were nasty to say the least, but with a little acoustic treatment, careful room positioning and mic choice, it ended up sounding phenomenal.


The Room and Transforming it into a Recording Studio

If you have the luxury to choose the room where you can record start with choosing a the largest driest space you can find. Larger rooms tend to have less acoustic problems. As when you start getting into large lengths of distance between walls the phase of sounds start to come less into play and you have less issues with standing waves, comb filtering, and flutter echos. A lot of times a great way to find a good recording space is to walk around and clap and listen for a place with the no weird flutter echos or excessive tail. Drop ceilings and carpet are usually a good place to start but the less parallel walls the better as well.


In the case of the Nike Commercial, the locker room had two sections. Both had parallel walls, but one section had carpet and a drop ceiling while the other had tiled walls and floor. Needless to say it was better to set up in the first section. Production had provided black curtains and stands to hold them to cover all the walls and make it feel a bit less like a bathroom. The locker room also had 2 doors with a short hall between them which helped seal us off from the outside world well. The downside side with this room is it was a narrow rectangle with close parallel walls. It sounded a bit boxy and you could hear a tail and slap of the showers only a doorway over. We needed to tame this and use mic polar patterns to help downplay any acoustic problems. Fortunately the best place for sound was also the best place for camera for the interview we were shooting immediately after. We set up with him about a third of the way into the room facing longways. Using four layers of sound blankets and squeeze clamps we made a barrier between the between the interview room and the nasty high frequency tail of the showers. Working at Bad Racket, a Cleveland Recording Studio, I additional brought a 6 of our rock wool filled absorption panels. Placing them behind and on either side of where we were recording and supplemented those with a few additional sound blankets.

Recording Voiceover On Location with Lebron James for Nike Come Out Of Nowhere


One thing that was less than ideal was the air conditioning vent directly above my microphone. We had locations look into getting it shut off, which I would recommend doing so several hours before it’s time to record, because in some larger buildings you may shut it off but it may take a couple hours to actually fully come to a rest. From when they turned it off, it took a little over an hour before it actually shut off in our room at the Wolstein Center.


Recording Studio Quality Voiceover on Location


Microphone Choice, Polar Pattern, and Proximity Effect


For the location voiceover recording I used a Sennheiser MKH-50; It has great proximity effect, which makes for a rich and intimate sounding voice over, as well as smooth highs, and a super cardioid pickup pattern. This polar pattern helps it reject well from the sides downplaying further the boxiness of the side walls and the reverb of the show stalls 6 feet away since they were perfectly in the nulls. Small diaphragm condenser mics also have exceptional transient response and off axis colouration yielding extremely precise sounding recordings. To get that nice proximity effect that makes people sound larger than life being right up on the mic is essential. I’d recommend about 6” from the capsule, keeps it full without getting out of control with the proximity. Every mic has a different sweet spot. Having something to act as a pop filter is also essential, in my case I used a Movo windscreen.


Microphone Preamps & Recorder


With any location recording where you don’t have the controlled environment of a recording studio, eliminating extra noise every way. Especially if the voice actor is speaking at lower volumes for the lines. I own a Sound Devices 664, which has very clean & transparent mic preamplifiers with extremely low noise, built in limiters, and can mix to the Arri Amira camera and more. The sound devices mixers are also battery powered which is always a plus when on location.

Sound Devices 664 Timecode Multitrack Recorder and Field Mixer

Room Tone & Mixing


Though I wasn’t the one who mixed Come Out of Nowhere, I’ll talk briefly about mixing. Though standard practice in most location recording, recording room tone on location is important. Later in post production using software like iZotope RX you can use advanced noise reduction tools to learn the ambient and self noise profile and remove it. If the dialog is captured well on location, then a fairly minimal hand should be needed for mixing it. On most dialog a subtle low mid range cut can open up the vocal sound, a slight lift above 12k can give it a little air, and a touch or compression to even out the volume of the dialog.