Sound mixer/audio supervisor delivers game-changing audio with the 970 from the set of reality TV show Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge.
BURBANK, CA — As an experienced Sound Mixer and Audio Supervisor, Nathaniel “Doc Justice” Barrow has built his reputation on tailoring his workflow to each specific production. Reliability and simplicity are the hallmarks of both Doc and his company, Audio Justice, Inc. Therefore, capturing and delivering the cleanest audio using the simplest workflow is the number one priority.
As a specialist in larger control-room setups for reality TV, house reality, hidden cam, and challenge shows, Doc has come to rely on Sound Devices’ 970 audio recorder, with its 64-track Dante capabilities. The combination of the 970 with the Yamaha QL1 16-input, eight-output digital mixing console and Dante networking has completely transformed how he can build his control rooms. This new solution simplifies and streamlines routing and a production’s overall workflow.
On his most recent project for CMT’s Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge, Doc and his team at Audio Justice operated from a centralized control room. Doc employed the 970 as the main recorder for this production, while his staff of ENG mixers used Sound Devices’ 664s to record camera-focused audio.
“On shows like Broken Skull Challenge, we typically outfit all of our contestants with lavs,” explained Doc. “We also have plant mics and wireless booms, so we are working with a very large track count. Before introducing the 970, I used a lot of software-based recorders. The 970 really allows me to simplify my routing. It provides me more flexibility and, most importantly, gives me options in my deliverables. I’m now able to record directly to a CF card and back up to an SSD. This allows me to deliver the card right to post and keep a backup for myself. Another benefit of using the CF cards is that I’m not recording onto spinning hard drives, so I don’t have to worry about tripping and scratching it, and ruining that day’s audio. I can’t emphasize enough how the 970 has transformed the job.”
Unlike traditional television shows, reality TV shots aren’t recorded by episode, scene or take number, requiring Doc to be very clear about what day’s audio he is delivering. The 970’s CF cards allow him to do this quickly and easily each day, so that he can personally bring the audio files to post. Additionally, all metadata is entered directly onto the 970 for all the ISOs for any mix, with sound reports generated daily. This is especially important to Doc, as he prides himself on data management and the ability to provide post with a clear roadmap of all the audio it needs.
The 970 is a rack-mount, multi-track audio recorder that can record 64 channels of Ethernet-based Dante, 64 channels of optical or coaxial MADI, eight channels of line-level analog, and eight channels of AES digital to up to four drives. It also boasts PowerSafe™ circuitry and FileSafe™ technology to further protect against loss of vital files due to power outage or unintended drive removal. The 970 also has a built-in Ambient timecode generator and supports clock synchronization from an external word clock, video, MADI, or AES.
In addition to its flexibility and abundance of features, the 970 provides Doc with some other unique functionalities. “The fact that I can delay specific channels from the 970 and they are published back to the Dante network is amazing,” he adds. “I have been able to match the delay of the microwaves from my 970 back into my QL. I can also route some inputs that need a delay, and even some that don’t, and route them together to match the video delay.”
Having initially purchased a Sound Devices’ 788T recorder six years ago, Doc has used the company’s products exclusively for all of his productions ever since. “The simplicity and reliability of the gear is why I’m so dedicated to it,” he explains. “I know that no matter the product, there’s a dedicated record button, and I can trust that it works every time right out of the box. For the 970 specifically, the best feature is its built-in Dante capabilities. I love the fact that I can do all of my routing from the Yamaha QL directly to it. Sound Devices has been my go-to recorder brand for all of these years. It’s what my company relies on, and it’s what customers ask for by name. I know I can trust them.”