Sunday, January 30, 2011


Not much, as in nothing at all, has happened yet with the filming or recording.

We are slowly establishing our household base; we had a table built to set-up an editing station, and we did a partial equipment inventory. My assistant, Lee, went over the brand new multi-track digital audio recorder which is a Sound Devices 788T. This 8 track recorder goes for about $6,000 and has everything you need to record in one box roughly a foot square and 2 rack spaces deep. It has 8 mic/line pres with all the standard features ie phantom power, phase reverse etc. programmable in the menu. I don't know what kind of clock it has, but it's extremely accurate. We just have to plug in time code as generated by one of the cameras and do what's called "jam synch" which means the 788's time code reader reads the cameras code and becomes synched to it all day long, as long as it's powered. The reader only needs to read one burst of code to synch the recorder meaning it can run without any external connections and still stay synched with the video footage. It has a 250 + gig hard drive, and the battery pack can keep it powered all day, or all night long.

We have a few great mics to go along with it: a stereo Neumann shotgun, and some Audio Technica wireless lavaliers for those scenes where they don't want to see the mics. The lavs also work well as contact mics for quieter stringed instruments like koras.

Our set-up for straight audio recording which we plan to pull out tonight, consists of a Pro Tools 03, a MacBook Pro, and Presonus mic pres. We have some good mics for this also, a Neumann U87, and a pair of km 184s, my cheap AT 3010 which gives good results, along with an assortment of dynamic mics - 57's and a couple of AKG D112's for drums.

Our house has been dubbed Chez Shelly after Shelly Salvatore, a designated field producer, mother of the two main producers, and chief naturopath health services and home hygiene caretaker. The rest of our gang consists of Dave who is the DP, Camen - an intern and camera operator, myself on sound, Lee who is the assistant sound engineer, Aja and Eo Salvatore who are Executive Producers, Producers, and Production co-ordinaters, 3 cooks/cleaning people one of whom has a 2 year old who has the strongest set of lungs that I've ever heard, and Adama, the house guardian. Our driver, Baba, also one of our translators, isn't part of the household and hasn't been around that much so far, partly because he isn't needed, but also due to his wife giving birth to their first baby. She's having a long labor, about 30 hours, so far.

Our house is on the outskirts of town. It feels closer to the Sahara than where we've stayed in the past, a feeling reinforced by seeing what looked like a Bedouin driving a camel in the neighborhood. Much grassroots type construction is going on, you see a lot of half built homes with their raw stone grey color, just the shells waiting to be finished. This gives the impression of being in a futuristic ancient ruins. Our house is salmon colored on the outside while all the completely bare walls on the inside are a fairly bright shade of light yellow making it a bright interior atmosphere when the sunlight shines through. Apart from the color, it's externally identifiable by the crimson bougainvillea flowers growing on it.

All our food is bought fresh locally from a market on the day we eat it. Vegetables, eggs, bread, yogurt, and lamb. We don't have a fridge but plan to pick up a small one.

The local economy, local meaning this neighborhood called Golf, is such that it's hard to break the equivalent of a $20 bill (10,000 CFAs pronounced Sefas) without spending at least $10. Merchants don't carry that much change.

It seems that tomorrow will be our first session, finishing an album by Mache, a djembe player. Today we might scout locations. It will be a field recording of some sort.


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