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-   -   American Chopper audio? (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/all-things-audio/40596-american-chopper-audio.html)

Bob Harotunian March 6th, 2005 01:29 PM

American Chopper audio?
Well, not just American Choppers but I was wondering how these type programs are broadcasting such good audio. I can't see any lavaliers but it sounds like the mics are very close to teh sources. Even when there are 2 or 3 people in the scene, they all sound like they're wearing a wireless. Are they using boom mics or something else?
Just curious if anyone knows.

Douglas Spotted Eagle March 6th, 2005 02:41 PM

I might be wrong, but I've been told that they are using Sony wireless' with AT pinheads, plus room mics for the 5.1 ambiences. Their sound is excellent, and one of the benchmark shows for the new millenium, IMO.

Matt Gettemeier March 6th, 2005 03:35 PM

I'm gonna' see what I can see... 'cause I've asked about this before. There was one episode where I saw a boom mic... and there have been a couple times where I KNOW that they did some ADR.

"Gimme' a few more 'Get that done or I'm gonna' bust you over the head with a wrench'..." Seriously don't you hear the audio change sometimes when Paul Sr. turns away from Pauly, so that he has his back to the camera, and then you hear one final insult? Think some of those weren't added later and what really happened was nothing? I'd wager that's the case.

Just like on The Apprentice there's several times where Trump's audio changes completely in the middle of a scene.

Booms, Lavs, and ADR...

Richard Alvarez March 6th, 2005 03:37 PM

Ive seen a pak on the back of a belt occasionally, so I think some lavs are used at least part of the time. Boom shadows pop up now and then... I think it's a full array of gear.

Douglas Spotted Eagle March 6th, 2005 05:28 PM

I'm sure it is. They also have a LOT of packaged audio that gets dropped in ala Steve Barron style, but for the most part in the show, I think it's lavs and booms. If it's anything like Monster House, which is a similar production value, I've seen that one. Lots of lavs, plus at least 2 booms on always. Plus a library of sounds.

Richard Alvarez March 6th, 2005 06:43 PM

And hey... isn't it a fun show!

Patrick King March 6th, 2005 08:55 PM

Man, you guys are ruining it for me. I used to just WATCH the show. But noooo...now you've got me thinking how they gather their sound assets during the shoot, and in no time I'll be having to STUDY the show to figure it out.

But I guess deconstructing a production of any sort is a pretty good teaching tool. Live and learn. But don't say a word about Extreme Makover: Home Edition...I just want to WATCH the show. ; )

Bob Harotunian March 7th, 2005 07:03 AM

Since I got involved in this industry, I can't help but try to figure out how the broadcast pros are getting better AV than I am. Aside from higher budgets, I'm curious about their techniques or anything else I can benefit from. I do weddings and audio has always been a challenge so If I can find out what the broadcast people are doing, I'm all ears.

James Emory March 8th, 2005 11:17 AM

The big thing in reality now is hidden mics on the cast which includes hiding the belt packs (transmitters) as well. It's like a competition the audio guys are having with their peers, just like shooters. This is usually done with adhesive mole skin tape (available at any drugstore) and careful placement on the inside of the shirt of course with the mic head facing outward. The soft backing on the mole skin allows the mic that is stuck to the inside of the shirt to slide across the skin when a person moves mininmizing subtle clothing noise because it is attached to the surface that is moving and not the opposite way where the clothing surface would slide across the mic head. The real trick is when the castmember is wearing layered clothing and trying to prevent that rubbing noise. That's when you see the sound guys getting all uptight. Most shows have the cast, at least main characters, lav'ed up and they also boom it for back up and ambient noise, especially when an person not mic'ed shows up and joins the scene.

Bob Harotunian March 8th, 2005 12:22 PM

Interesting insights. Thanks guys.

John Britt March 8th, 2005 12:32 PM


My assumption is that it's not ADR, per se, just clever editing. They're taking something said a few seconds/minutes later and placing it in a different scene. I've done similar things with my little amateur interviews -- I especially like to cut to a graphic or B-roll so I can edit down a long, rambling response to a coherent, quick(er) statement.

I can't imagine with the tight schedules and budgets these shows have that they'd bother with ADR. Just my assumption, though...

James Emory March 8th, 2005 12:39 PM

John is right. It is some slick editing and there are no rules. If it makes it more interesting, then they'll do it. It sounds like a simple audio insert covering that section of video. They probably have a list of comments that they have assembled and just pick the most appropriate one. It's all in the editing just like the typical over the shoulder reaction shot where if you look close, you can see it's out of sync. I don't think the average viewer catches these tricks though.

Bob Harotunian March 8th, 2005 01:13 PM

It's probably true that there is creative editing being used for these type shows. But, my original post was trying to find out how they're getting such clean and warm audio without apparent lavs. I'm talking about scenes where 2 or 3 subjects are facing the camera, yakking away and they all sound like they're wired. I'm not about to use boom mics at a wedding but I sure would like to know what audio gear they're using. Maybe some audio guy from the show might cruise into this forum and enlighten us someday.

John Britt March 8th, 2005 01:47 PM


Well, I think DSE and James have both answered your question, at least in part. Douglas has a lot of experience and when he says "I've been told they're using Sony wireless," I'd almost bet that "someone" who told him is someone in the know, not just some random dvinfo member. As for James, he has worked on reality shows and gave a pretty good explanation of how audio guys are trying harder and harder to hide lavs. "But, my original post was trying to find out how they're getting such clean and warm audio without apparent lavs." -- as James is saying, just because you're not seeing it doesn't mean it's not there. Obviously, you won't have a specific answer about American Choppers unless one of their audio crew posts here. If that's what you wanted, then you might want to contact the production company directly. As for the aside about editing/ADR, well, that happens sometimes in a thread.

Bob Harotunian March 8th, 2005 01:52 PM

Thanks John, points taken.

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