When Jeff Touzeau of Hummingbird Media emailed me late August with a subject that read “Wireless opera at L.A.’s iconic Union Station,” I didn’t think much of it. When he circled back a few days later wondering what my thoughts were… I began to take notice. I mean, most operas use wireless nowadays so what was this “huge deal” he was mentioning? I reversed, read it and realized what this stoic moment was about: Audio specialist Sennheiser was helping to create LA’s first opera where the audience would be able to wander around freely listening on wireless headphones. Experimental? Yes. But so was Ben Franklin and look where that got him? History books. Meh. Who wants that?
Coined as a “headphone opera,” artistic director Yuval Sharon took on Invisible Cities to pave this historic moment for his company, The Industry. Just their sophomore production, Yuval mentions the real credit for the idea belongs to sound designer Martin Giminez. “Martin came to me and said ‘what if we did an opera with headphones’… I liked it, but I wanted something bigger. More grandiose,” says Sharon. It wasn’t until Invisible Cities came along and grounded it to the architecture inside Union Station that it made sense. When Sennheiser stepped in to assist from a technical standpoint, they knew they had something.
Thank you Liam Neeson for making the Internet more badass this week. The first trailer for his new suspense thriller, Non-Stop, has officially taken flight. Yep, pun. The film is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, who also worked with Neeson on Unknown (2011). This time around, he plays hardened U.S. Air Marshal Bill Marks, who will put his particular set of skills into use at 40,000ft.
Marks is settling in for a long transatlantic flight from New York City to London and is jolted into action by a string of threatening text messages. An unidentified hijacker is demanding $150 million from the government. The mysterious messenger threatens to kill a passenger every 20 minutes if Marks refuses to initiate the transaction. Which makes sense. I mean, he paid $5 for Wifi, so what else is there to do? Neflix? Nope.
When the funds are nearly transferred off-shore, the owner of the account is identified as Marks himself. Now he has two jobs: saving the plane and clearing his name. Or, if Hollywood wanted to be less predictable: save the plane and then live grossly rich on some sweet island. My suggestion: Palawan in the Philippines. Either way, things get intense when he finds a dead hostage and a ticking time bomb on board. Luckily, no snakes – though they wouldn’t be a problem.
The Australian Screen Sound Guild announced their 2013 sound friendly award nominees… The annual event will take place Sunday, November 17th at The Establishment Ballroom in Sydney. Sponsored by fine folks over at Sennheiser, the event provides recognition in TV, film, documentary, commercial and interactive media in various crafts from production to post.
If you’re a DSLR shooter and care about audio, you should know the name Beachtek. Developing an extensive line of solid audio adapters for the last 16 years, the Canadian company’s low noise preamplifiers can put a smile on any post sound mixer’s face.
To me, the DXA-SLR Pro is their flagship piece. Built from an aluminum chassis, the first thing that made me clap was when I saw the two Neutrik XLR inputs. There’s Neutrik, then there’s everyone else. Each channel provides up to 20db of gain on the unit’s high setting, and for the more sensitive condenser mics, you can set it to 0db. 12 or 48v phantom power is standard on this guy, and it has a limiter feature for those unforeseen audio level overloads.
Another gem is its ability to cut Auto Gain Control (AGC) aka the “we-do-what-we-want-with-your-audio” feature found on most DSLRs. If you own a 7D, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The audio capabilities on these first generation DSLRs were not as robust, and some of them still aren’t today. I mean, could Canon/Nikon have predicted filmmakers would use their budget-friendly 1080p images for feature films? Maybe. Either way, at least they’re listening.
Besides the Pro version, they have a slew of adapters including the DXA-SLR Mini. It’s an active adapter that boasts a VU meter, limiter and gain options as well as the AGC kill. This box is more suited for connecting wireless mics and microphones that use a mini connector (3.5mm).
The DXA-SLR Pure is a passive adapter that’s good when running your audio through a mixing board or when you don’t need any additional amplification. Beachtek also created the DXA-BMD designed to work perfectly with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera.
Side tech tip: The term “passive” is used to describe a clean audio pass through where no electronics get in the way nor does it require power to pass the signal. While “active” boxes usually require power to pass an audio signal and provide more complex gain structure and limiter options.
One of their newer boxes is the DXA-Connect. The adapter has an ingenious top mountable design. It carries 2 XLR inputs, phantom power, and the multiple shock mount options attached allows you to slip on additional mics, receivers or record directly into an Atomos recorder.
The two fresh products they let us see at DV Expo this year were their recently released PRO 5180, a rechargeable 9V battery system, and the DXA-Ultra, an adapter system complete with rails. To us, manufacturing batteries makes sense for Beachtek. Their adapters run off 9V so why not provide a system for users that works great with their products. The lithium polymer batteries provide 10 hours of battery life and the entire kit which comes complete with two batteries and a charger only costs $89. Additional batteries can also be bought separately.
Their latest adapter, the DXA-Ultra is set to come out early 2014. It’s similar to the DXA-SLR Pro we mentioned earlier, but with a rail system already attached. The prototype had a standard 6” rail, but Harry Kaufmann, president of Beachtek, shared with me further testing will need to take place to find the sweet spot for the unit before it hits the market.
When Redrock Micro released their Cobalt Cage for GoPro HERO, HERO2, and HERO3 back in April 2013, you probably could have placed a bet that changes and improvements would come down the line as user feedback trickled its way back to the company’s desk.
The $99 Cobalt is a stellar security solution for the popular POV cameras, and the military-grade aluminum housing gives enthusiasts and creators the kind of impact, crush-proof reassurance they need.
The cage itself is saturated with 1/4 20 mounting options on all angles to add LEDs, mics, maybe even another GoPro… The team at Redrock has already introduced a Deluxe Accessory Kit that allows you to attach a GoPro without the need of its housing, but they added a few more surprises for us. Sound & Picture was the first outlet to see the new peripherals at DV Expo this year, and we were quite pleased with the new direction.
Bear in mind these were prototypes, but they’re planning to add two new accessories to the line. One of them being the Power Plate, which provides a GoPro with an additional 10 hours of battery life. Say what? Yeah. 10 freaking hours. That’s more time than if you sat down to watch the Star Wars trilogy then followed it with a few eps of Bob’s Burgers. The Power Plate runs off 4x AA batteries and securely connects to the GroPro via USB.
The plate does add a little weight, but you can also use it to provide power to another USB device simply by switching the USB plug from the GoPro into something else.
Another add-on accessory they let us look at was a standard 55mm neutral density (ND) filter. ND filters help reduce the amount of light reaching the lens so this is perfect for those bright, sunshiny days. Did I just quote Jimmy Cliff’s I Can See Clearly Now?
No word on pricing or availability, but I’m sure it will be announced soon.
Today the Television Academy is celebrating the Creative Arts Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles. With red carpet guests Neil Patrick Harris,Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn, Cat Deeley, Joan Cusack and Morgan Freeman along with the cast of the Children’s Hospital, Rob Corddry, Jonathan Stern, David Wain, Lake Bell, Malin Akerman, Erinn Hayes and Megan Mullally, it’s sure to be a stellar evening.
The awards will be televised on FXX Saturday, September 21st at 9pm ET/PT, but if you can’t wait to see who wins, we’ll be updating the results as the show goes along. Be sure to hit refresh, Like us on Facebook or Follow along on Twitter. The first award is expected to be given out about 4:30pm PST.
Casting For A Drama Series
◎House Of Cards • Netflix • Donen/Fincher/Roth and Trigger Street
Productions, Inc. in association with Media Rights Capital for Netflix
Laray Mayfield, CSA, Casting Director
Julie Schubert, CSA, Casting Director
Casting For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Special
◎Behind The Candelabra • HBO • Jerry Weintraub Productions in association with HBO Films
Carmen Cuba, CSA, Casting Director
Casting For A Comedy Series ◎30 Rock • NBC • Broadway Video and Little Stranger, Inc. in association with Universal Television
Jennifer McNamara-Shroff, Casting Director
Katja Blichfeld, CSA, Casting Director
Jessica Daniels, CSA, Casting Director
Guest Actress In A Comedy Series ◎Louie • FX Networks • Pig Newton, Inc.
Melissa Leo as Laurie
The trailer for American Hustle is a star-studded montage of disco, danger and drama. Directed by David O. Russell and starring an ensemble cast of familiar faces, the film is based on a real scandal from the late 1970’s.
Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) is the king of the con – he’s suave, sharp, and knows how to get the job done. He also knows how to surround himself with beautiful ladies. His partner in crime is the seductive Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams). He also has his alluring wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) waiting for him when he comes home. He’s living the American dream.
Things escalate quickly when rogue FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) recruits Irving for a top-secret sting operation. He’s forced to use his con artistry to expose a corrupt network of high-level swindlers, mafia bosses, and dirty politicians. State assemblyman Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) finds himself caught in the middle of it all, and Irving’s unpredictable wife somehow emerges as the most powerful player in the game.
Apparently a life of crime has its fair share of ups and downs. One moment you’re drinking the finest champagne and admiring a suitcase full of cash, the next moment you’re getting slapped across the face and handcuffed by the feds.
Catch American Hustle in theaters on December 25, 2013. If you happen to be in LA or NYC - take advantage of early screenings on December 13th.