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Scheller Fires Up Sound Devices

Production sound mixer Blair Scheller uses a range of Sound Devices gear to record audio for the NBC show, "Chicago Fire."

Boom operator Jason Johnston, production sound mixer Blair Scheller and sound utility Jim Gaudio.
Chicago, IL (May 3, 2013)-Production sound mixer Blair Scheller uses a range of Sound Devices gear to record audio for the NBC show, “Chicago Fire.”

Scheller’s recording setup includes Sound Devices 788T with CL-WiFi interface, and 744T digital audio recorders, 552 and 442 production mixers. Filmed primarily at Cinespace Chicago and in and around the city, Chicago Fire chronicles the lives of the men and women of Chicago Firehouse 51.

Along with his sound team, which includes utility Jim Gaudio and boom operator Jason Johnston, Scheller’s approach to production sound on Chicago Fire is typical of today’s dialog-oriented episodic productions. Much of the photography is done with two cameras, so boom mics, typically Schoeps CMITs, are not practical for large ensemble group shots. In these cases, all actors with speaking parts have a wireless microphone.

Scheller utilizes 12 channels of Lectrosonics wireless with SR transmitters and Venue receivers. Wireless receivers are connected to an Audio Developments AD 146 analog console. The production recorder on set is Sound Devices 788T, recording simultaneously to both CompactFlash and the 788T’s internal hard drive. For backup, a Sound Devices 552 records the mix to SD cards. CompactFlash cards are turned in, transferred and then cleared after breaks in the day.

“The more I can provide to post production, the better the chance of getting great audio, as the post production team can do quite a bit with isolated tracks,” says Scheller. “We often shoot in on-location environments that may not be ideal for sound, but with both my mix- and iso-tracks, we dramatically minimize the need for ADR.” The series typically relies on ADR only for those scenes where the actors are suited with respirators.

“The CL-WiFi is essential for the way I use the 788T,” he adds. “I can quickly reset after a false take right then and there with it.” For more portable applications on location, Scheller’s bag rig consists of a Sound Devices 744T recorder, 442 mixer and a Lectrosonics VR field receiver.

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