New York, NY (October 8, 2008)–New York-based sound design/audio post house Big Yellow Duck has been handling the demands of The First 48, an A&E reality show produced by Granada USA, since early in its run.
“We’ve been doing the audio since episode 32, and we’re up well over a 100 episodes now,” says Keith Hodne, audio engineer at Big Yellow Duck. “We record the narrator here in our studios, but some of our most challenging work each week is dealing with audio that has been recorded during these very fast-paced, very tense investigations.”
Each show follows different detectives as they race against time to find clues, determine timelines and identify a suspect. The title alludes to the fact that if detectives don’t establish a solid lead in the first 48 hours following a homicide it’s estimated that the chances of bringing the perpetrator to justice are halved.
“The vast majority of the audio is recorded through small lav microphones or through the boom microphone,” explains Hodne. “If a body or significant clue is discovered, for instance, the microphones may not be ideally situated to pick things up. Then it’s up to us to manipulate the audio to the point that it sounds natural and clear, but not overly processed. There is a delicate balance that must be achieved because the lav mics will provide good presence, but are sometimes boomy and lack room noise/ambience; while the boom mic can pickup the room clearer, but sound further away from the dialog. Since all ambiences and dialog are married to each other, we blend the two.”
Hodne works closely with the video editors at A&E, who both warn him of, and seek advice for, potentially problematic scenes. “I’ve pretty much run the gamut,” he says, “whether it’s incoherent sound or old and dusty VHS surveillance tapes.”
Big Yellow Duck