Owner of Watson Wu Studios sought portable audio gear built for the harsh rigors of field production. He chose Sound Devices for recent video game projects, Metro Conflict and Assassin's Creed.
BOCA GRANDE — Specializing in providing professional audio content for film, television, commercials and video games, Watson Wu Studios has come to rely heavily on Sound Devices portable mixers, recorders and interface gear for field recording, voice-over and music recording session projects.
Composer/Sound Designer/Field Recordist Watson Wu has worked on several projects that utilize Sound Devices gear. Most recently, his company completed a project for Korean video game Metro Conflict by Red Duck, which is slated to be released next year. Sound Devices 788T, 552, 442, 744T and MixPre-D were all used on location in order to capture several firearms recordings. Watson Wu Studios also recently completed work on the AAA video game Assassin's Creed 3, where Wu was contracted to find, arrange and record the sounds of full-scale cannons being deployed. With an abundance of microphones placed strategically around the cannons and in the background, Wu and his team captured more than 24 channels of audio using various Sound Devices 744T and 722 Recorders, 302 Mixers and a 702 Recorder.
“Many years ago, I had the opportunity to listen to various unedited firearms recordings from colleagues who used Sound Devices recorders,” says Wu. “I was extremely impressed with how the microphone brands sounded so different from each other. Before that, most of the guns sounded like popcorn, and this was true from one brand of microphone to the other. My experiences and observations in the field prompted me to rent, and then eventually buy, my first Sound Devices field recorder, the 702. Now I’m using several Sound Devices products regularly, including the 442 Mixers, the USBPre 2 Audio Interface and the 788T-SSD Recorder.”
During the production for Dodge’s Guts, Glory, Ram TV commercials, Wu relied on his Sound Devices 442 Mixer to maintain control of beefy truck sounds. Wu has also worked on projects for the NBA, NHL and Lexus, where he composed and recorded music utilizing various microphones connected to the Sound Devices USBPre 2 Audio Interface.
“Sound Devices has always been the most reliable recording gear I’ve used,” adds Wu. “Since I often carry my entire rig on location, the lightness and thinness of Sound Devices gear is essential. Most of my recordings are done in super hot weather. Rarely do I encounter freezing temperatures, but the few cold-weather sessions I have been in have proven the reliability of the Sound Devices systems. Sound Devices also records true high-resolution sample rates, which is important, since most of my clients need 96 kHz and sometimes up to 192 kHz. There are other brands to choose from, but I really need the features and the robustness provided by Sound Devices.
During a few projects, Wu worked particularly long days at outdoor sessions, where the temperature rapidly rose by 30 degrees. “At the peak of the super hot day, the non-Sound Devices brands started to fail,” he recalls. “They either stopped responding or we had to keep adjusting the uncontrollable recording gains. During all of this, the Sound Devices gear we had just kept going without any problems.”
For current undisclosed projects, Wu is using his Sound Devices 442 Mixers, along with a 552 Production Mixer, to go in front of his 778T-SSD Recorder, as well as a 702 Recorder. This setup is being used to record full automatic weapons and exotic vehicles.
Wu incorporates Sound Devices gear into his portable setup for vehicle engine recordings by rigging DPA, Rode and other lavalier mics inside the engine compartment. He then routes the mic cables to 442 Mixers and sometimes a rented 552 Production Mixer. In addition, he also places various Sennheiser, Rode and Shure dynamic mics onto the body of the vehicle to capture exhaust sounds. The Sound Devices mixers’ incredibly fast responding limiters allow the recorders to capture these controlled extreme sounds. For external pass-by shots, Wu either uses Sennheiser MKH-418s or Neumann RSM-191s stereo shotgun mics connected to a Sound Devices 702 recorder.
“What I really like about all Sound Devices recorders is that I can use both external as well as the attached Sony L rechargeable batteries,” concludes Wu. “There were a few crucial takes where the 788T-SSD alerted me that the external battery was running extremely low. With an always-attached Sony L battery (while the recording was still going), I removed the external battery and plugged in fresh new one. You can do this same process again and again without interrupting the recordings. This is absolutely fantastic for my long session days. You just can't match this feature. In addition, I've also had two CompactFlash memory cards fail on me where the internal SSD in my 788T-SSD retained the sound files. It's a blessing to have this redundancy. Another great feature of the 788T is that it can record all eight channels at 24/96 on to single poly wave files. After a session, I can simply drag and drop a poly wave file into my editor, and all eight channels are perfectly lined up, ready for playback and editing.”