Adventures In Audio with Audio Masterclass
Recording SoftWare for Blind people. Can anybody Please help?

Sound at the BBC Television Center (part 6)



There may be anything from two to ten people working in the studio and control
room of TC1. In charge would be the Sound Supervisor who would probably be mixing
the programme. “The Supervisor here is largely self scheduling. If you
give him a programme to do it’s his job to arrange everything that’s
required for that programme including all the planning and the booking of equipment
and the booking of staff. By the time he sits down to mix the programme he will
have done most of the work. The Supervisor, he or she, will be there mixing
the programme and there may then be nobody else in the control room and there
may be just one person on the studio floor. If all there is to do is just one
boom or maybe just put personal mics on people that would be all that’s
necessary. Or there may be another assistant in the sound control room when
there is grams and tape work to do and he would be called a Deputy Sound Supervisor.
On a major program, say a light entertainment spectacular where there are significant
quick changes to do there might be a sizable crew. There would be another deputy
in charge of the crew on the floor, working himself, and there may be several
booms to operate, an orchestra to rig, guests to get on and off and a band on
the stage to set up and strike, and for the continuity of the programme you
may have to set and strike from both sides of the studio so there would be separate
crews because you can’t cross the stage. There is also a significant use
of radio mics now. Radio mics are all very well but personal mics usually need
to be placed on artists before they go into the studio. They don’t want
to be seen half undressed in there so it requires people to be free to fit them
in the dressing rooms. Not only do we have to fit them we also have to get them
off and pass them on to someone else very often, which is a fairly tricky business”.

Talking about radio mics made me wonder why so often you see them clipped to
a newsreader’s lapel upside down. Is this just an eccentric fashion or
have the microphone manufacturers got the design wrong?

“It started here quite a long time ago when people first began to realise
that although the microphones are omni and therefore you should be able to talk
to them from any direction perfectly successfully, they don’t pop nearly
as much if you talk at them from the cable end. Rather than put windshields
on which would make them much bigger and more obvious we tend to use them upside
down, the effect is the same. Also, it’s convenient because of the direction
the cable approaches the person you actually get a neater loop on the cable
if you do it that way round, but that’s incidental. The real reason is
to stop them popping. The only ways a manufacturer could stop them popping would
be to put windshields on them or tailor the bass response. We don’t want
them to do either of these things, we want to be free to do it ourselves. They
work perfectly well upside down but I know it draws some people’s attention”.

I would have imagined that using grams live on air might be something of a
nightmare. Apparently not…

“The way it doesn’t go wrong is to train people so they don’t
make mistakes. Obviously these days we don’t put much in the way of effects
and music onto programmes which are entirely prerecorded and will go through
a lot of editing because it makes no sense. It makes the editing difficult and
you have to go through post production anyway. So we avoid the complications
and only play in material which is essential for the artist to work to. You
can have quite significant parts of drama where it is necessary for them to
hear music and sound effects otherwise they have nothing to work with. Sometimes
it’s on the track. Sometimes we do it without it going on the track. Obviously
on live programmes, or programmes recorded as live, they must be played in and
we still have, I am happy to say, people who are very expert at handling disc
players and several tape machines all at once, getting them all in the right
place at the right times. It’s especially important with comedy material.
If your comedy sketches rely on sound effects there is no way you can put the
stuff on afterwards. It has to be there if artists need it to work with and
the audience needs it as well”.

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David Mellor

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