Versatile Gear Holds Up to the Rigors of STARZ Series’ Busy Production Schedule
Sound Devices 788T Digital Recorder and CL-8 controller keeps the Boss happy
When Riordan Sound Services President and Production Sound Mixer Alex Riordan was called upon to record location sound for the second season of Boss, a STARZ original television series, he turned to Sound Devices for his portable audio needs. Relying primarily on the Sound Devices 788T digital recorder and CL-8 controller, Riordan and his crew captured the dynamic sound for the hit show.
An American political drama series, Boss stars Kelsey Grammer as Tom Kane, the mayor of Chicago, who has recently been diagnosed with dementia with Lewy bodies, a degenerative neurological disorder. Determined to remain in charge, Kane conceals the disease from everyone around him except his own physician. The first season premiered in October 2011, with the second season debuting recently in August.
For his work on Boss, Riordan built a new sound cart featuring Sound Devices gear. “I used a 788T as my main recorder and had the CL-8 connected to it,” he says. “I would move the 788T and CL-8 off the cart and into a bag for some of our more mobile locations. After a while, production was moving so quickly that about a month into the show I bought a second 788T and incorporated it into a dedicated bag rig, with all the wireless gear. This way, it was ready to go at all times. It got to the point where I actually had that bag rig live on the bottom shelf of my mixer cart, so all I had to do was reach down, throw a battery in it, turn it on, grab my CompactFlash card out of the cart 788T, throw it in the bag 788T, set up my folders, jam my time code and check scene and track names, and I was off.”
In terms of tracks, Riordan sent a mix to channel one. His main boom was iso’d on track two, and he used the remainder of the tracks for isos of the wireless lavs, second boom and plant mics. Boss was the first show Riordan recorded completely with wireless booms. As a result, he didn’t need to run any audio cable, saving considerable time in the show’s fast-moving production environment. Just before production started, Riordan also purchased a Sound Devices CL-WIFI and an iPod Touch that he put on the cart for displaying meters and track names. “The CL-WIFI and iPod were a last minute addition to the cart and I quickly became reliant on the display to help me keep the ever changing track names straight. Not to mention everyone on set would ask me about it and say how cool it was,” says Riordon.
In addition to the 788T, CL-8 and CL-WIFI systems, Riordan also employed the Sound Devices 442 field mixer and 744T portable four-track audio recorder on the Boss set, for times when he didn’t need as many tracks. This way, he could easily place the rig in the trunk of a car. “For most of the car scenes, we used wireless plant mics in the cars, so we had a few options in case a seatbelt rubbed up against the lav or something,” he adds. “As we moved so fast and didn’t get a rehearsal, I put a lot of mics out there, just to give us more options. Since we didn’t get another take for sound, we tried to get a lot of things recorded and then see what worked.”
In addition to his work on Boss, Riordan and his crew use his large inventory of Sound Devices gear for various film projects, television shows and commercials produced in the Chicago area and beyond. Since Boss, Riordan has mixed the Chicago portion for Season three of Shameless and mixed some additional unit sound on the new show Mob Doctor.
“Sound Devices gear has always provided me the functionality, reliability and portability I need to be able to pack and go with confidence,” concludes Riordan. “I can’t wait to see what Sound Devices comes out with next!”
The Sound Devices 788T boasts eight full-featured inputs and records up to 12 tracks. It accepts either microphone or line-level signals, provides 48-V phantom power for condenser microphones, offers peak limiters for microphone inputs and features fully adjustable high-pass filters—all in a compact package. Based on the 788T, the Sound Devices 788T-SSD includes a factory-supplied 256-GB solid-state hard drive, allowing for superior performance in the field.
Sound Devices CL-8 is a portable mixing control surface for its 788T recorder. Its large rotary faders and push buttons bring extensive mixer-type control to 788T inputs. The lightweight CL-8 can be used either mounted or remote from the 788T. The Sound Devices CL-WIFI allows users to control the already powerful 788T from anywhere on set. CL-WIFI works together with its companion iOS software app to allow iPads, iPhones and iPod Touches to control a connected 788T. The CL-WIFI turns an iOS device into a simple, portable control surface, enabling a sound mixer to move around on set, away from the sound cart, while still retaining extensive control and monitoring of the 788T recording system.