Post Magazine

October 2014

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Page 15 of 51 14 POST OCTOBER 2014 BS's long-running and multi-Em- my Award-winning reality show, The Amazing Race, takes viewers on a journey to a number of unique and exotic destinations around the world, follow- ing teams as they compete against one another through a series of grueling chal- lenges. As teams lose these challenges, they get eliminated, resulting in one team left standing as the victor. Similarly, the production and post crews working on the show are also faced with challenges of their own. For instance, production crews following the contestants not only need to cap- ture video footage, but audio as well, through all sorts of environments, rang- ing from outdoor markets and river rafts to motorcycles and cross-country train rides, where there's lots of noise. Here, Post speaks with Worldrace Pro- ductions' Kevin Mueller, post producer on The Amazing Race, about some of the audio challenges that this type of show presents to the post team. It would seem that with following con- testants all around the world, and in all sorts of environments, there would be a good deal of background noise that's picked up by the mics — this is a chal- lenge for the audio post team, yes? "Yes, it certainly can be. Environments with heavy traffi c and tasks taking place on or around water always present a challenge for audio, both production and post. But chaos is part of the show and we roll with it, so long as the dialogue is intelligible. A more invisible challenge sometimes with our international loca- tions is the narrow frequency bandwidth our audio production crews are often given by local authorities for the use of our radio mics, increasing the chances of interference. When teams must perform their tasks around water or in stages of undress and can't wear radio mics, we have to introduce boom mics, which are not as direct and can pick up extraneous sound, or micro-recorders worn on the body, which have to be synced in post." What microphones or booms have you found to be particularly reliable in these situations? "The Tram lavalier mic is low-cost and robust and, with simple customization, can tolerate severe body perspiration. The Sennheiser MKH416 shotgun mic is an industry-proven workhorse. It operates reliably in extreme temperature and humidity. The Zoom H1 recorder is a widely-available, very aff ordable, non-timecode audio recorder — small, reliable, and easy to operate. "Equipment failure is problematic and time consuming, and we do not have the luxury of carrying many equipment spares with us on the road. This equip- ment has proven to be the most reliable available. Also, this equipment is easy to use. Everyone on the road is subjected to sleep deprivation, so simplifying the operation of the equipment allows our crew to better focus on story." What's the condition of the audio that's coming in? How much post work does it need? "Generally, when our teams are mic'd with lavaliere radio mics and our pro- duction sound crews can stay in close proximity to pick up a clean signal, the audio we get in post is quite good, despite the noisy environments. Some- times we have to deal with radio mic dropouts, RF interference, mic impacts or mics rubbing on clothes when teams are running, and audio recorded a little off mic or in very live interior spaces, but our production crews do a great job of remedying these situations as they arise. The biggest challenge in post is dealing with the large amount of footage and number of audio tracks. [We're] talking about as many as 22 team members, a host, and any number of locals. Teams are sometimes picked up redundant- ly by lavaliere mics, boom mics and micro-recorders. It takes time in post to determine the best sounding tracks and to sync them where necessary." Since you're referring to the large amount of footage being a challenge, is asset management/storage a factor? "Our primary acquisition format is Sony XDCAM HD and the shot XDCAM discs serve as our archive masters. Any other tape formats shot and all our fi le- based and acquired footage is bumped to XDCAM for uniformity of archive format. These masters are vaulted and managed via a Pilotware media asset database system [from Atlas Digital]. It works well." How challenging is it working on a show like this? "A run 'n' gun show like this always pres- ents challenges because you never really know where you're going to go and what THE AMAZING RACE ON CBS BY LINDA ROMANELLO THIS GLOBAL COMPETITION PRESENTS UNIQUE CHALLENGES TO THE AUDIO POST TEAM C Post producer Kevin Mueller (inset) relies on audio tools like iZotope RX for repairing mic hits while contestants are speeding on trains. PRIMETIME

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