AES Section Meeting Reports

Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences - January 28, 2016

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At 8PM, the event began as Chapter President Daniel Stephenson stood at the head of the room to thank all those in attendance for their presence and say a brief word of introduction for Mr. Aldous. A short video was played to further introduce Mr. Aldous and his history and accomplishments to the audience. Mr. Aldous then took to the stage and talked about his roots in his hometown of Ogden, Utah, briefly discussing his childhood desire to become a musician, and how that led to him to get into the audio industry as a mixer. He discussed how he eventually grew tired of exclusively doing music engineering, and how his first experience with Broadcast was for a skiing event being broadcast by CBS. After Fox started broadcasting football games, Mr. Aldous became one of the first freelance mixers for Fox.

He went on to discuss his experiences working with NASCAR, and how he and one of his co-workers pioneered the broadcast of the events by dedicating time specifically to allow broadcast viewers to hear the sound of the event without the announcers talking over it. He then discussed how he got involved with CRAS, talking about meeting Robert Brock and how Mr. Brock invited him to give a speech about broadcast audio at the Conservatory, and how that led to the development of the broadcast curriculum at the school.

He then gave a brief summary of his achievements, including his mixing of 16 Super Bowls and numerous Daytona 500s. He discussed some of the differences between broadcast audio and music production, focusing mainly on the pace of the work and the unforgiving nature of it. He also discussed how he doesn't see many new faces coming up in the field of broadcasting, and how he hoped to see more people getting interested and rising up to replace the big names in broadcast who are beginning to get older and think about retirement. Mr. Aldous continued to mention how many different opportunities there are in the broadcast business, naming various local television and radio stations and talking about how similar things can be found in any given city.

Before beginning a session of Q&A, Mr. Aldous began stressing the importance of being prepared for events to the audience, talking about the amount of setup and double-checking that goes into every event that he does the sound for.

After being asked if mixing for live events is still exciting for him, Mr. Aldous began talking about how much of a rush the entire experience provides, talking a lot about how nerve-wracking it becomes if you stop to think about how many people are watching the event. In response to the next question, one about internships, he expressed his disappointment with the broadcast industry's apparent lack of growth in the field of internships, and recommended just going out and getting involved with helping broadcast teams.

After a question by a concerned father hoping to go into broadcast, Mr. Aldous cautioned that broadcast can become very taxing on a family, as the long days and strange schedule make it difficult to coordinate with loved ones.

He was then asked to elaborate on his "Crank it Up" procedure from his days involved with NASCAR, describing how it's the procedure of getting the announcers to take a moment of silence to allow viewers to hear the sounds of the event being broadcast, or "crank" the audio of the event itself. He also described how he was instrumental in getting microphones on referees for football games and by second base in broadcasts of baseball games at Fox Sports, allowing people to hear parts of the games that they had never heard before, adding a whole new level of intimacy to the events.

As the event went on, a wide variety of questions were asked, ranging from questions about advice for aspiring engineers to questions about the technical sides of the events Mr. Aldous himself has mixed. Mr. Aldous discussed how the importance of choosing a career path that is true to yourself, but also stressed open-mindedness and flexibility in the event that plans don't work out. He was also asked to discuss a technique used in NASCAR and other broadcast events where they use a modified wahwah pedal to act as a "third hand" to open and close different mics throughout a broadcast event based on the situation. He also mentioned how he was in a class earlier in the life of Full Sail University, poking a bit of fun at the rivalry between Full Sail and CRAS, much to the audience's amusement.

Many questions were specifically focused on his work with NASCAR, likely due to the recent partnered event with CRAS in which CRAS students were allowed to mix a live stem of a NASCAR broadcast. Some of the students who had been involved with the event were in attendance, and they were very curious to know more about other details of how such events are run. He briefly touched upon the importance of weather-proofing the microphones and other equipment, and how difficult it is to do so without coloring the microphones. He discussed several techniques for weather-proofing the microphones, noting that one of the most common ways to weather-proof a microphone is to apply an unlubricated condom around the microphone with electrical tape around the base, where it connects to the cable, noting the properties of both materials and how they were effective at shielding the equipment from the elements because of what they were designed for. He also discussed the use of delays to counteract the distances between the cameras and microphones and make the audio and video align.

He was also asked to talk about some of the microphones and equipment that he uses in the events. He talked about running a Calrec Apollo desk (the largest offered by the manufacturer), and some of his mic choices, including the use of Audix D3 microphones for low cameras, DPA 4007s, and Audio Technica 825 STs on the fence in NASCAR broadcasts, among others. On his console, he uses 210 analog inputs, 192 AES inputs, and 56 MADI streams.

At 9:20 PM, as the Q&A began to slow to a halt, the event was ended, though Mr. Aldous stuck around after the event to answer questions and speak with students in a more personal manner.

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