Tag: 688

Ronan Hill, CAS

Fairfield Cliff Face Season 7 - Photo Credit: Helen Sloan - HBO

Production sound mixer, Ronan Hill, keeps Sound Devices “at the heart of every setup” for capturing incredible, Emmy award winning sound on an epic scale for HBO’s Game of Thrones.

Ireland – Emmy® award winning sound mixer, Ronan Hill, CAS, credits his father for introducing him to the entertainment business.

“My career in sound started when I was a child, working on occasion with my father, Patsy Hill, who was a freelance news cameraman. If there was a soft news story local to our home in Ballycastle on the North Antrim coast, I would hope to be involved. This is where I got my love for film…. Little did I know, that years later, I would revisit some of these picturesque locations as production sound mixer on Game of Thrones.”

Fairfield Cliff Face Season 7 - Photo Credit: Helen Sloan - HBO

Ronan Hill on Fair Head cliff face (Behind the scenes of Season 7) – Photo Credit: Helen Sloan – HBO

Since the pilot for HBO’s ultra-successful and critically-acclaimed Game of Thrones, Hill has worked as the production sound mixer, seven seasons so far, and counting. In all that time, he has recorded hundreds of characters, but one character in particular is special.

“You might think that with over three hundred principle characters it would be difficult to choose a favourite. But one stands out beyond the rest. His name is Varys (played by actor Conleth Hill), and his voice has been familiar to me all my life as he is my brother. It is always a pleasure to listen to him at work!”

Conleth Hill as Varys - Photo Credit: Helen Sloan - HBO

Conleth Hill as Varys – Photo Credit: Helen Sloan – HBO.


While choosing a favored character might be easy, after recording audio on at least sixty-seven episodes, Hill has a harder time picking just one that posed the biggest challenges.

“Each episode has its own way of testing your abilities. ‘Blackwater’ season 2 was the first mammoth episode. ‘The Rains of Castamere’ (The Red Wedding) season 3, was dramatically charged. Then there was ‘The Watchers on the Wall’ and ‘The Children’, season 4. Season 5 saw the successful entry of ‘Hardhome’, and season 6 had ‘Battle of the Bastards’.”

About Battle of the Bastards (BoB), he adds, “I watched the episode at a crew screening in a Belfast cinema, and it was amazing. The post sound team did a fantastic job and brought every frame of the epic pictures to life.”

Battle scene from BoB - Photo Credit: HBO

Battle scene from BoB – Photo Courtesy of HBO

Three of those episodes—Blackwater, Hardhome, and BoB—earned Hill and the Game of Thrones audio team coveted Emmy awards for Outstanding Sound Mixing.

“One great thing about Game of Thrones is the meticulous planning which goes into every episode,” Hill says. “‘Battle of the Bastards’ was a fine example of this with every sequence mapped out in advance. With a plan at hand, we prioritized characters with dialogue to radio mic and action to record with stereo effects.

“For me, it’s never enough just to record the dialogue, and we try to record stereo effects in addition to a mono boom where possible, to get a real sense of drama. We also fitted mics to cameras on tracking crane arms and radio mic’d a few horses placing the capsule on the girth to get clean horse hoof effects for the charge into battle.

“In addition to boom and stereo mics, Jon Snow would have been radio mic’d with particular attention to mic capsule placement and transmitter placement. When you fit a radio mic to a person their body absorbs some of the signal. The fact that he is surrounded by a large compressed crowd, makes getting a radio signal from his transmitter very difficult, but it is essential to record the integrity of the original performance.”


To capture such incredible audio for epic battle scenes, Hill has relied on Sound Devices audio recording gear, season after season.

Ronan Hill on set in Dragonstone - Photo Credits: Helen Sloan - HBO
Ronan Hill on set in cave beneath Dragonstone – Photo Credits: Helen Sloan – HBO

“At the heart of every setup is the Sound Devices 788T-SSD. I use one 788T SSD as my main recorder on the cart and a second for portable over the shoulder work. The 788T has proved extremely durable and reliable for the job…. I have replaced the Sound Devices 744T with a Sound Devices 688 as backup on the cart.” Hill adds, “The (newer) 688 is a lovely piece of kit. The menus are intuitive, and it functions well. I use it to record a backup of the mix and ISOs from my Cooper 208 mixer, and it gives me greater flexibility with the track count.”

About his Cooper 208D, he says, “It sounds as good as ever and the only reason I can imagine changing it is for a desk with more channels.”

As one might expect for such a big production, Hill’s kit includes a large variety of mics paired with his Cooper and Sound Devices equipment.

“I have used Audio Ltd 2040s since Season 1 and hope to start integrating their new digital radio mic systems on Season 8. An internal SD card recorder seems like a great belt and braces idea and encryption I imagine will become mandatory in the future. I have three Sennheiser MKH 60s and an MKH 70, which I use for exteriors. For interiors, I have four MKH 50s. I also have two MKH 8050s and two MKH 8040s with all the accessories, which allow us to break them down and place them in areas too small for the 50s.

“For wireless headphone monitoring I use the Sennheiser IEM 2050 transmitter and 2000 receivers which allow great flexibility. I don’t run a return for video playback to the mixer; instead I provide a transmitter for video on an adjacent channel. By pressing one button on the IEM receiver it can be switched from ‘Sound’ to ‘Video’ depending on whether you want direct sound or playback. It can also be utilized for two-zone use.

“For Season 6, I purchased three of Rycote’s new Cyclone baskets and suspensions for the 60 to cope with the local weather. They sound more open than the old baskets and are proving to be an asset in our fight against the elements.”

Ronan Hill on set in Dragonstone - Photo Credits: Helen Sloan - HBO

Ronan speaking with Marc Atherfold (B camera focus puller) on set in Dragonstone Castle – Photo Credits: Helen Sloan – HBO
Hey GoT fans: Check out who’s in the background!


With such massive-scale battle scenes shot outdoors—something for which the series is well known—portability and the weather are challenges Hill faces every season.

Massive battle scene from season 6 Game of Thrones- Photo Credit: HBO

Massive battle scene from Season 6 – Photo Courtesy of HBO

“The battle scenes give you a sense of the scale of the battlefield and this huge area required a degree of flexibility,” Hill says about Season 6. “I tend to find the best plan is for the sound cart to be on the edge of the shot, as close to the action as possible. The sound cart is powered by lithium batteries which means it can be moved quickly to facilitate the setup when there is no handy corner to hide. A second Sound Devices 788T is rigged for run and gun situations or when the setup does not allow me to be cart-based. The Audio Ltd radio mics performed very well with good range using high gain Yagi antennas and as you have the flexibility of using the 2040 transmitter as a body pack or with a phantom power lead as a radio boom, setups can be quickly changed.

“Mud is part and parcel of Dragon Unit and ‘Battle of the Bastards’ was no exception. The equipment was cleaned on a daily basis. My sound van was covered in mud from BoB which dried and ended up on the floor of my garage. As I placed the last of it in the bin I wondered if I had missed a classic eBay opportunity!”

Location Collage Season 7 Game of Thrones- Photo Credit: Helen Sloan - HBO

Behind the Scenes in Iceland for Season 7 – Photo Credits: Helen Sloan – HBO
Massive battle scene from season 6 Game of Thrones- Photo Credit: HBO

L-R: Boom Op. James Atkinson, Driver/helper Davíð Logi Gunnarsson, Assistant Jonathan Riddell, & Production Sound Mixer Ronan Hill CAS
Photo Credit: Helen Sloan – HBO

Season 7 took Hill and crew to Iceland for more extreme shooting on glaciers and mountain tops in the middle of winter.

“Most of the locations were remote, traveling in by four-wheel drive and then walking and pushing the rest. The weather was hostile with snow, rain, hail, high winds and temperatures well below freezing. The first day we had gale force wind in excess of 60 mph and wind chill below -30C.

“I had been to Iceland once before with the show, and you soon realize that it’s not suitable for a cart based system. (So) I had a Polar Bag made for the 788T by KT systems in the UK. The bag was thermally lined and had arm holes and a clear cover to allow mixing in any conditions. It also had space for two Audio Ltd. RK3 racks with seven 2040 radio mic receivers for the seven cast who were wired every day.

“When you are traveling for hours to a location facing the worst of the weather and temperature and having only a few hours daylight to shoot, you need to be able to rely on your equipment. With my experience over the years, I have total faith in Sound Devices.”

Iceland scenery comparison - season 7 Game of Thrones

LEFT: GoT’s John Snow & Jorah Mormont (Season 7)-Photo Credit: Helen Sloan – HBO | RIGHT: Ronan Hill, same location in Iceland – Photo Credit: Ronan Hill
Game of Thrones season 7 - Photo Credit: Helen Sloan - HBO

Icelandic scene in Season 7’s “Beyond the Wall” – Photo Credit: Helen Sloan – HBO

# # #

Based on the fantasy novels A Song of Ice and Fire written by American author, George R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones airs on HBO. For more information, visit their popular, official fan website at: www.gameofthrones.com.

Chris Duesterdiek, CAS

Chris Duesterdiek with his boom op on set of Mountains Between Us

Oscar® nominated sound mixer switches to Sound Devices 6-Series mixer/recorders (688,664 and 633) to overcome intense production and environmental challenges on location for films – The Mountain Between Us and The Revenant.

A Career in Audio

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA, CANADA – Chris Duesterdiek, CAS has had sound running through his veins from an early age. Starting with a job in radio in his native city of Winnipeg when he was 17, Duesterdiek has taken every opportunity to keep learning, both from technical practice and from veteran sound mixers willing to share their insight.

“Sound was always a bit of a natural curiosity for me,” he says. “The basics you learn before you get into film sound still apply… Understanding signal flow, pickup patterns of microphones, gain structure, and how to record good sound from a source without over modulating.”

Chris Duesterdiek with his boom op on set of Mountains Between Us
A beautiful day on the job for Chris Duesterdiek in Canadian mountains. Photo credit:Kimberly French.

After a brief stint as a musician and live sound mixer for music festivals and theater companies, his career progression into production sound mixing for television and feature film was a logical next step. Fast forward over 20 years in the film industry, with several TV series and movies like Snow Walker, The Interview, The Company You Keep, and Night at the Museum 3 under his belt, Duesterdiek got a call for the Oscar-winning film The Revenant. Duesterdiek had become familiar with a variety of audio recorders for his projects over the years. For The Revenant, he knew that a gear upgrade would be necessary to capture audio for several of the scenes, which would feature nine characters talking.

“I wanted to have wireless mics on nine characters, but I also wanted to have the boom and potentially room for either a couple plants or an MS mic for atmosphere 100-feet off in the bush in the other direction.” When he started looking for the recorder that would serve this job best, he noticed that most of his peers were using Sound Devices, a brand of equipment he had not used up to that point. After a trip to his local audio shop, Duesterdiek decided on the Sound Devices 664, an analog 12-input mixer with integrated 16-track recorder.

New Gear & New Plans for The Revenant

For the movie, Duesterdiek planned on using his cart rig as his main setup, with a bag rig prepped that he could use as needed, every now and then. Once on set, however, he quickly realized that his original plans were not going to work. “When I got to set and started, it became obvious that I couldn’t get the cart anywhere. We were crossing rivers, doing 360 degree shots where I had to be mobile and hide behind trees or crouch behind bushes, and there was no way to do it other than to be portable.”

Chris Duesterdiek sound bag on location for The Revenant

Duesterdiek on location for The Revenant… Photo credit:Kimberly French.

In addition to the 664 in his bag, Duesterdiek used Lectrosonics 411 receivers—opting for more range above comfort. Though his bag was heavy, the receivers allowed him to get further away and to hide out from the shot. For mics, his team used two Schoeps CMIT 5U shotgun mics for double booming, as well as a pair of Schoeps MK41 for booming and plants. Whenever that those were too high profile or large, he also had a few Sanken CUB (01)’s on hand. The Sanken COS11s were the preferred choice for lavs, and finally he used both a Pearl MS8 microphone and an H2-Pro 7.1 surround sound microphone system for ambiance and atmosphere.

After the conclusion of filming, Duesterdiek spoke about the 664 and his experience as a first-time Sound Devices user. “Sound Devices equipment worked flawlessly. It was easy for me to learn; I basically took it out the box and started working with it and did the movie. And it performed great. We spent nine months in nature. We didn’t do a single studio day. Every day was out in the elements. We got out there before sunrise and wrapped after sunset…and it worked in the cold, it worked in the moisture, it worked in the dust and the wind…. Yeah, I was quite happy with the 664. Fantastic first experience.”

For their work on The Revenant, Duesterdiek and his team were nominated for numerous awards, including an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Sound Mixing. They also won a BAFTA Film Award for Best Sound and a Cinema Audio Society (CAS) award for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Motion Pictures – Live Action.

Chris Duesterdiek sound bag on location for The Revenant

Amid rugged terrain, Duesterdiek mixing audio for The Revenant. Photo credit:Kimberly French.

More Gear & Automixing for The Mountain Between Us

Based on such positive results, when it came time for Duesterdiek to upgrade his kit again, he once more turned to Sound Devices. With so much location work for feature films, he wanted to stay mobile while still having the option to work from a cart. So, he moved his 664 to a backup, and upgraded the primary recorder on his cart to the 688 mixer/recorder alongside the CL-12 Alaia linear fader controller.

“I also added a 633 for my bag kit because with the six inputs on it, that’s enough tracks for most bag work. That allowed me to have all three of the 6-Series mixer/recorders, and I can go cart to bag on any given setup.” Duesterdiek finds using the entire 6-Series family of mixer/recorders and accessories for his workflow makes “everything just that much more seamless when you’re having to go back and forth. I’m really happy with how they work.”

Chris Deusterdiek with 633 in bag on site for Mountains Between Us

Duesterdiek with 633 in bag on site for The Mountain Between Us. Photo credit:Kimberly French.

The 633 is a compact digital mixer capable of recording 10 tracks of audio to CompactFlash and SD cards. Like the 664, the 688 digital mixer has 12-inputs and can record 16 tracks of audio. The 633 and 688 also have two-second boot-to-record capability with QuickBoot™ and can protect vital recordings with PowerSafe™, an internal 10-second reserve for safe shutdown in the event of unexpected power loss.

Duesterdiek says powering his gear has never really been an issue for him, even on location. “Although I run with two 7.2 L-type Lithium-Ion batteries, one lasts me a full day, and one NP-1 for all the wireless usually lasts me a full day, so I don’t even have to switch batteries, which is another mind-blowing part of it, because usually in the cold your batteries are a huge issue. I have plenty of batteries on hand, both NP-1s and L-mount, so even in the extreme cold, swapping an NP-1 at lunch is simple and I’m good for the day.”

One invaluable benefit of the 6-Series product line is that both the 688 and 633 have auto-mixing capabilities. They are the first and only portable field production mixer/recorders to include Dugan Speech System.

Duesterdiek relied on his 688’s Dugan automixing feature when, in a particularly tight scene within the fuselage of a small bush plane for The Mountain Between Us, there was no room for booms. Duesterdiek had to use eight plants for three characters, and turned on automix. “Dugan automix was extremely helpful,” he said, “because it was very intuitive and easy to adjust. At the end of the day, all of the mics sounded like one microphone, which is the goal. Production was happy, and I was happy, and success all around at that point.”

Chris Duesterdiek's cart on set of Mountains Between Us

Chris Duesterdiek with his cart on the set of The Mountain Between Us. Photo credit:Kimberly French.

He has also discovered that Dugan automixing has made him a better production sound mixer. “Dugan automixing is making me better,” he said, “and I’m also making the automixer better by manipulating the faders as we go. You think, ‘OK, if it’s picking up a signal and deciding which plant mic to open, and there are several people talking at the same time and so many plants in close proximity…’ I have a map in my head of where they (the plant mics) all are, and I know as they move around where it might focus more on, so I’m taking out the ones I don’t want it to focus on and the automix is helping to deal with what’s left. It’s a really great tool. It’s really helpful.”

Loving New Challenges

Duesterdiek continues to take on challenging opportunities, as he loves to keep learning and growing as a production sound mixer. “I really feel it’s important to keep challenging yourself whether it’s environmentally or technically. I don’t necessarily want to be hanging off the side of a mountain in minus 30 degrees weather; it’s not an easy way to work, but it’s challenging. I know that I’ve done enough outdoor shows where it’s pushed me to see how far I could go and how far the gear could go. I have a good idea of what I can do in these extreme situations. That’s great to get those challenges…. And sometimes you take a gig because it’s technically demanding, and you haven’t been pushed that far before in a technical sense with a show that’s stretching the boundaries, so I’m going to take it to see what I can do with it.”

Chris Duesterdiek with his boom op on set of Mountains Between Us

Chris Duesterdiek with his boom op, Jon Lavender, on location for The Mountain Between Us. Photo credit:Kimberly French.

As Duesterdiek continues to work in extreme conditions, he knows he will never be the one to hold up a shoot because of gear failure. “I’m working in these extreme working conditions, and I don’t have to use any heaters. I put it (the 6-Series mixer) in the bag, I strap it on, and it works, the screen works. It’s not slow, and everything is just fine. So I’m very happy with how it’s performed even in under extremely difficult conditions environmentally. As long as I’m not the weakest link in the chain, I feel fine. If it gets so cold that the gear stops working, it’s not going to be mine that stops working first. It will be the cameras. The cameras will die before my gear dies, and that’s always a good thing.

“On a film, they’ll take two hours for a lighting setup, but can’t take 10 seconds for sound. It seems to me, it is all physics, but I know that the speed of light is faster than the speed of sound, yet we’re still faster than light on a film set.”

688 Firmware v4.51

  • New
    • Support for Wingman app v2.00 which includes:
      • Optional password-protected control of the 688
      • Landscape orientation for iPad
      • Various other fixes and improvements
      • Added Wingman Password menu (in the 688 System menu) for setting a password that will then have to be entered in Wingman to gain control of the 688.
  • Fixed
    • Media slow errors due to SD/CF card overfill.

Brendan Beebe, CAS

Brendan Beebe, CAS

Production sound mixer relies on an arsenal of 6-Series gear – 633 and 688 mixer/recorders, and CL-12 Alaia – for hit TV shows, including Big Little Lies and American Horror Story.

LOS ANGELES, CA – With a family in theater and radio broadcasting, Brendan Beebe, CAS, grew up in a house full of recording equipment and was destined for a career in the audio industry. “I grew up with recording gear and drama in my house.”

Brendan Beebe, CAS

His journey began as a delivery driver for an audio rental supply store. “I was delivering some of the best equipment to the biggest shows in town to the top professionals in the world,” he says. “I stayed there for three years, learned all of the equipment, and then started my freelance career working as a sound utility for some of the biggest features in the 90s, Titanic being one of them.” The box-office blockbuster proved to be a big break for Beebe. “It all happened really fast. I was pretty much in the firing zone where I was trusted to handle all the communications for about six different camera operators, cranes, and there was a whole choreography of communications for filming the scenes.”

Since then, he has worked as a boom operator and production sound mixer, spending long hours behind the scenes of countless hit television series like House, The X Factor, ER, Scandal, and American Horror Story, which earned him two Cinema Audio Society (CAS) nominations. Having been exposed to a variety of audio products over his career, he recalls it was back in the early 2000s, on the set of the long-running reality show American Idol, when he first heard of Sound Devices.

“I discovered the 442,” he says. “Someone else was using it, and I jumped on it. I bought one right away, my first purchase. It was the best sounding bag mixer of its time.”

As he gained experience over the years, one thing remained the same. He stuck with Sound Devices, owning three 788Ts, a CL-8, a CL-9, and a 664. His gear now includes two 633s, a 688 mixer/recorder with a CL-12 Alaia™ linear fader controller, and the Wingman wireless interface application, running on an iOS-based mobile device.

Brendan Beebe's sound cart

Shot of Brendan Beebe’s sound cart featuring the 688, CL-12 and Wingman app for American Horror Story

“For my cart, I like to be pretty light and power efficient, so I’ve got the 688 with the CL-12. I’m also running a 633 for ISO backups,” Beebe says. “For the television I do, I’m able to get 12 tracks, which is plenty for me. I can always use my 633 if I need a few more tracks.”

Whether working on a scripted drama or unscripted reality shows, Beebe turns to his second 633 in a bag when he needs mobility in a hurry, and he credits the interchangeable nature of the 6-Series product line for making it possible.

“Being in reality TV has helped me become a bag mixer very quickly. I carry a full bag rig on my cart…. Within probably one minute, I can leave the cart and be mobile, which I had to do this year on a TV show for HBO called Big Little Lies,” Beebe says. “We were in a house filming all day, and the director liked the sunset, so they wanted everyone out on the beach. Right now. The cameras never cut. They started running out of the house. I always have CF cards loaded and ready. I just turned the 633 on, put the SD card in, jammed timecode from my 688, ran down to the beach, and we filmed for an hour and a half.”

Brendan Beebe mixing on the beach for Big Little Liars

Action shot of Brendan Beebe mixing on the beach for Big Little Lies

Beebe adds, “They’re faster, more forgiving recorders that are capable of doing multi-tracks. The power-up options, where you can start recording within a second, the QuickBoot is incredible. And the power efficiency—right now I can run my cart for 20 hours on batteries alone.”

Also part of the Sound Devices 6-Series product line, the 688 is a 12-input mixer with an integrated 16-track recorder, while the 633 is a smaller, compact 6-input mixer with 10-track recorder. Both record polyphonic or monophonic broadcast WAV files or timecode-stamped MP3 files to SD or CompactFlash cards. Both are compatible with the CL-12, and both can be monitored and controlled from the Wingman app.

Brendan Beebe sound bag on the set of Big Little Liars

Brendan Beebe sound bag on the set of Big Little Lies.

“I’m using Wingman on an iPad mini for the larger display and to create sound reports and send them off to my cell phone when in the field. It’s a great extension of the 688,” Beebe says, but he admits the CL-12 Alaia is the accessory he was most eager to have. “When the CL-12 Alaia came out with the P&G faders, that was exactly what I was looking for, waiting for, and asking for. I needed a separate slate mic input, and the P&G faders were just the icing on the cake that sold me on it right away. It’s such a good feel, having all the menus at my fingertips on the board. With the amazing analog limiters on the 688, it’s just a powerhouse combination.”

For Beebe who just wrapped up work on another season of American Horror Story, the limiters are the most impressive and helpful feature found on a 6-Series mixer/recorder, especially when dynamic personalities are mic’d up.

“Working with an actor like Lady Gaga, you don’t know if she’s going to scream or whisper at any second,” Beebe says, “and these (Sound Devices) recorders have such fantastic limiters that I haven’t experienced clipping in years.”

While Beebe uses the 688 predominantly as his cart-based mixer/recorder, he recently utilized its portability on the set of American Horror Story.

Brendan Beebe mixing by the oceanfront

Brendan Beebe mixing by the oceanfront.

“The producers asked me to actually be in the show because they were going to shoot documentary-style of a show being made. So I’m well featured in episode 6 of season 6 wearing the 688,” Beebe says with a chuckle. “I had 9 ISO tracks and two mix tracks in the bag as I’m running around on camera, acting, and we had zero looping…. The 688 allowed me to get all of those tracks and do everything I needed with eight actors in a scene, including me. It’s so efficient, and the limiters are so forgiving that it’s just a pleasure to work with.”

Beebe has also finished production on G.L.O.W., an upcoming American comedy-drama series for Netflix, for which his trusted Sound Devices gear was put to the test once again on set, but he also admits he plans to expand his setup this year to include the SL-6, a powering and wireless accessory for the 688. “I think Sound Devices (gear) has evolved the same way that television has evolved production-wise. So, I’m excited for what the future holds from Sound Devices because it just gets better.”

Beebe recently started production on HBO’s upcoming series Sharp Objects starring Amy Adams, with Jean-Marc Vallee directing.

688 Firmware v4.50

  • New
    • SL-6 SuperSlot Support of Sennheiser EK-6042
    • Ctrl+T keyboard shortcut to toggle Tone On/Off
  • Changed
    • High-Pass Filter now returns to last used value when toggled on and off rather than always reset to 150Hz.
    • Recording of 192 kHz monophonic wav files is no longer allowed. In previous firmware, recording was not prevented even though it was classed as an unsupported mode. Set to polyphonic when recording 192 kHz.
  • Fixed
    • Long file names on exFAT formatted media are truncated.
    • Improved how MixAssist and Dugan AutoMix respond to LR Attenuation and Pan values.
    • Factory Option for Scene Name can be overwritten by user if Scene Name is edited during record. This can cause Scene Increment Mode to stop working.