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Gotham 'Conquers' HBO Mini-Series With Yamaha QL/Rio Assist

December, 2014

Yamaha QL5 "Hero" for Mini-Series

HBO’s miniseries Show Me A Hero from The Wire co-creator David Simon, is based on a non-fiction book by Lisa Belkin. The six-hour mini stars Oscar Isaac as Nick Wasicsko, the youngest big-city mayor in the nation, who finds himself thrust into the center of a racial controversy when a federal court orders him to build a small number of low-income housing units in the white neighborhoods of his town, Yonkers, New York during 1988-1992. His attempt to do so tears the city apart, paralyzes the municipal government and, ultimately, destroys his political future.

Gotham Sound and Communications in New York City was brought in to augment the audio production using a new Yamaha QL5 Series Digital Console and Rio1608-D input/output box. The system was purchased through Schaff Weisberg/Worldstage. “We recreated many meetings in the City Council Chamber, during which there were large heckling crowds hurling insults at the Mayor and Council, states Frank Stettner, production sound mixer for the show. The Mayor and Council all had microphones in front of them that we wanted to make practical to cover their scripted dialog.”

The heckling crowd consists of five different scripted hecklers plus a yelling crowd. “My normal setup is an 8-channel Cooper CS 208 D mixer with its direct outs feeding an 8-input Dante device, but it would not provide me with enough inputs, says Stettner. The show's workflow requires me to mix mono all audio sources in real time to Track 1 on a pair of Sound Devices 970 64-track digital recorders for syncing to picture for the Dailies. I record all stems used in that mix to isolated tracks for use in post-production.”

Stettner said the big council scenes got beyond both his number of inputs and his number of fingers. With 15 total speaking parts, it became necessary to expand the system so he contacted Peter Schneider at Gotham Sound who suggested the Yamaha QL and Rio as the best way to meet the scene's needs. “It seamlessly integrated with my existing Dante based gear,” notes Stettner.

Paul Padilla, the on-location consultant from Gotham Sound, put together and installed the QL and set up the computer network that tied all parts together. “Using the Rio with the QL gave us a lot of flexibility, Padilla said. It allowed us to route audio to and from a remote room without the need to run additional cable. Interfacing the Yamaha QL with another Dante base rig made for a very pleasurable experience.”

Once Stettner rolled his cart into the room where the QL was setup after finishing some smaller scenes elsewhere in the building, the team connected the network, time code, word clock, and assigned the direct outs to the 970 inputs quickly via Dante; ready long before the lighting and camera setup was completed.

“Specifically, the workflow consists of the Yamaha Rio connected to the 12 practical, historically accurate, Shure SM57s. This was then brought via Cat5 to Gotham's network hub, which connected my system and computer to the QL, Stettner continues. The mics were routed to the QL inputs and the 970 Iso tracks via Dante. Larry Provost, my colleague, then used the Yamaha QL to make a mono sub mix of the fixed mics following the script. I took this sub mix into my Cooper and added it to the mono Dailies mix along with the five radio mic sources I had on the scene’s protesters plus a boom mic for the crowd.”

“Augmenting the show’s main audio package with the Yamaha QL mixer has worked out rather nicely and seamlessly integrates, thanks to Dante,” notes Peter Schneider, Gotham Sound and Communications.

Stettner said the flexibility of using the Yamaha QL and Rio made what would have been a long, stressful and time-consuming cable mess in the old analog days, into a fast efficient setup. “Gotham and Yamaha make the good work we do even more possible.”

Show Me a Hero will air on HBO during 2015.

For more information on Gotham Sound and Communications, visit www.gothamsound.com

Frank Stettner

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