London 2012 Olympics captured by Sound Devices for Summer Games film

Audio production specialist Sound Devices has seen its 788T digital audio recorder deployed at the London 2012 Olympics to capture the sounds of athletes in action for Beat 2012, a new documentary detailing Mark Ronson’s creation of Coca-Cola’s anthem for the 2012 Summer Games.

Ronson, along with location sound recordist Diego Sanchez, utilised the 788T to record the sounds of the five different athletes from five different countries and five different disciplines chosen for the film.

Sanchez travelled with Ronson and a crew of five people to Singapore to meet an archer, Moscow to meet a 400-m runner, Mexico to meet a Tae Kwon Do fighter, Denver to meet a 110-m hurdler and London to meet a table-tennis player. While the crew observed the athletes’ individual routines in the arena and at home, Ronson listened to the principal sounds of each sport. And with the technical support of sound designer Henning Köphnel and location recording advice from Sanchez, Ronson recorded the sounds of each athlete’s performance.

“We decided to record the sport sounds to two linked Sound Devices 788T digital recorders, as we anticipated a multitude of different microphones in each situation,” said Sanchez. “We opted for Sound Devices for several reasons. First, I have used these recorders for years, and being the only member of the sound crew with location experience, it seemed logical to stick to them. Second, their small size meant a small package for a 16-track recorder, allowing the crew to relocate and reset, while filming with ease. Also, the amazing headphone monitoring and track routings of the 788T allowed crew members to each listen to a different mic or mix, while still recording all of them.”

Sanchez also claims that the 788T’s reliability was another key consideration in selecting the Sound Devices recorder for the project. “From shooting outdoors in Singapore in the middle of summer to dealing with a 20-degree temperature change in the weather from day to night in Denver, not once did the 788T experience a crash, a file corruption or a failed recording. Also, the simplicity of the device’s L-style batteries meant we could have many of them and recharge them anywhere, even in the car. And the backup recording to compact flash cards meant an easy format for DITS in four different languages to load.”

With eight full-featured inputs and recording to up to 12 tracks, the 788T accepts either microphone or line-level signals. It also provides 48-V phantom power for condenser microphones, offers peak limiters for microphone inputs and features fully adjustable high-pass filters. Its routing flexibility is designed to allow each input to be routed to left/right mixed tracks, isolated tracks or aux tracks. The 788T has several options for recording media; an internal 160-GB SATA hard drive (256-GB SSD in the 788T-SSD), CompactFlash media with UDMA support, an external FireWire hard drive or DVD-RAM (with bus powering) – all of which can be used simultaneously.

To capture dialogue, Sanchez recorded to another 788T, using the Sound Devices CL-8 controller to mix. While he didn’t have the luxury of a boom operator while recording multi-tracks, he did need a mix for the edit, and therefore had to mix with one hand, which he claims was simple with the CL-8.

“Thanks to the reliability and advanced capabilities of the Sound Devices equipment, we were able to capture some amazing audio,” concluded Sanchez. “The final documentary is a beautiful, inspiring and a very aurally rich 60-minute piece.”

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