AES Section Meeting Reports

Pacific Northwest - September 25, 2019

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Opening its 2019-2020 season of meetings, the PNW Section welcomed Jon Tatooles of Sound Devices to speak about modern "Production Sound." Some 43 persons attended the meeting (18 AES Members), held at the Digipen Institute of Technology in Redmond, WA. Jon is co-founder of Sound Devices LLC, a specialty audio electronics manufacturer based in Wisconsin. Jon developed and managed sales, marketing, finance, technical support, and brand strategy for the company. He was managing director for its first 15 years. He is a member of the AES, SBE (Society of Broadcast Engineers), and National Association of Broadcasters (NAB).

Jon gave a course on the past, present and future of how sound is handled for productions such as film or video. He began by describing the elements (stems) of a typical sound mix for a production, with emphasis on recording dialog, and the problems involved. Microphones come under scrutiny, and the frequent need for wireless mics with their attendant shortcomings. Modern on-set recording also usually involves multiple tracks and auto-mixing (such as the Dan Dugan system), timecode/camera synching, and detailed metadata (pertinent information for the file) on the recorded files. Modern productions may utilize data networks such as Dante.

One innovation beginning to appear is recording with extended dynamic range by means of 32-bit floating-point files. This offers a way to record audio with such a huge dynamic range that overload (clipping) is impossible, potentially a big help in recording where the levels cannot be predicted or have a large range. Jon enlisted an audience volunteer to scream into a mic for recording, demonstrating that it can be recorded without any overload or distortion. The downside is that the files are, of course, larger than 24-bit files. Since the physics of circuits have limitations, Sound Devices has their own patented method of implementing this process.

Afterwards, door prizes were awarded to:
Everett Moran & John Sullivan — headphone cases courtesy of Digipen
Ariel Kim - DMM courtesy Rick Rodriguez

Jon's visit was celebrated with a cake, courtesy Opus 4 Studios/Dr. Mike Matesky.

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AES - Audio Engineering Society