Los Angeles, CA (November 14, 2016)—With the help of Sound Devices and Video Devices recorders and a new microphone technology, Remote Acoustic Sensing (RAS), Dan Slater is merging aerospace and cinema.
Slater worked in Hollywood in the 1970s and early ‘80s on special effects system design under the tutelage of SFX wizard Douglas Trumbull, eventually winning technical Academy Awards in 1980 and 1988. He subsequently transitioned to a career in aerospace, working primarily in rocket and spacecraft flight and ground systems engineering, antenna measurements and optical systems design.
Slater typically captures extreme telescopic images of rockets and other aerospace vehicles, very distant terrestrial scenes and microscopic images. He has also been developing a new microphone technology that recovers sounds undetectable by conventional mics, such as distant rockets and sounds produced by microscopic organisms. But after a digital video recorder crashed and lost all data during a 2013 rocket launch, Slater acquired a Video Devices PIX 240i and purchased a Sound Devices 633 mixer/recorder to support his RAS development, along with a Sound Devices MixPre-D compact field recorder.
“The 633 has delivered perfect reliability,” says Slater. “I have never had any operational problems. The wide dynamic range with analog limiters and low noise preamplifiers has been helpful as the rocket acoustic signal levels can vary unpredictably over a very wide range. This includes when the rocket is a few miles away to the much fainter sounds when the rocket is hundreds of miles away.
“The easy-to-use, configurable headphone monitoring has also been important. The intuitive user interface prevents mistakes in the adrenaline-charged launch environment, often with long hours, late nights, and very early mornings. The four-way, high-reliability power system prevented the loss of audio data during one cold weather launch.”
The MixPre-D is primarily used to add two low-level audio channels to the 633, he says.