TV Timecard and Sound Report Writer apps

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Cans Can - Sony 7506 Case

Ok, "The Cans Can" may be a bit over the top, but I think you'll like this. The airlines and TSA seem to put my gear through a firestorm every time I'm off to a new city. We just finished shooting our 50th episode of Catfish on MTV and I'm actually quite surprised that, to date, I've only had 2 real "incidents" directly caused by packing. Once one of my CL-8 posts was bent after an agent "tried" to repack my gear after inspecting it. This was after it was checked and I wasn't there, so I couldn't repack it myself. Oh well. The other time was when my pair of Sony 7506 ($84 on Amazon, btw) headphones were knocked around one too many times and the plastic from broke off. A quick gaff job got me through the next day until I could properly fix them. However, I recently thought there should be a relatively simple and cheap preventable option to not destroy one of my favorite cans. So I found this great little hard clamshell case on Amazon. They fit perfectly and the case definitely gives me the protection I need while not taking up much extra space. At around $12 right now, it's certainly cheaper than fixing a broken set. It also comes with a little velvet pouch for the excess cord, but I don't really find that useful. The only real drawback of this thing is that it reeks of arsenic or some other chemical. I mean BAD. As in you have to let it air out for at least a day or two before you put your trusty cans in there. I used a dryer sheet to expedite that process, but it didn't seem to get rid of the bad smell. My cans just smelled like arsenic AND Bounty sheets. It does go away, but it takes a couple days.

UPDATE: My wife says to use some baking soda or charcoal to get rid of the smell faster.

I let the cable run to the outside of the bag

It still has plenty of room to fully close even with the cord running out
Packed away all nice and tidy 
That's about as fancy as a headphone case needs to be

Thursday, April 9, 2015

R.I.P. Lectrosonics R1a #25629

Lectrosonics R1a #25629, also referred to as "that IFB" by friends and family, passed away suddenly in a tragic drowning accident in the Gulf of Mexico on the morning of April 7, 2015. Number 25629 is remembered for its reliability and toughness in extreme environments. Unfortunately, the tenacious saltwater was ultimately too much for the time-tested piece of equipment. However, it went down doing what it loved best; making TV gold in the warm, open waters of the Gulf. Sound Supervisor Jason Strickhausen recalls the incident; "She was on the dock stepping on the boat and it fell off her hip. The IFB murdering producer's name is Jac!" The alleged killer was seen with a replacement just one day later and is still at large.

Number 25629 was born on September 12, 2012 in Rio Rancho, NM and is survived by its 29 other Block 22 siblings, 5 T4 transmitters and 3 LMa transmitters. It has worked all over the contiguous United States since entering this world. From Hollywood, FL to Hollywood, CA, Number 25629 will be missed by at least two or three people, namely its fathers, Jack Cline and Tyler Faison. Lest we forget.

Tragedies like this can be prevented. When a piece of gear is taken from us at such a young age, it brings to light the harsh realities of an age where shows are made without regard to the life of electronics. Please, folks, hold on to your damn IFB!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Can You Trust Your Ears?

My guess is no. What do you think?
Audible Illusions are pretty rare, but the guys at ASAP Science took aim to demonstrate a few principles behind why a producer with an IFB might say "Why can't I hear them?" other than A) turning it on and B) plugging the headphones in. Check it out below.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

ProductionHACK: DIY RF Explorer Stand

Sorry, it doesn't work too well with glass cups
We've been doing a good bit of scanning for the RF repository since both Jack and I are traveling a lot right now. Sometimes I have time to scan on-location and other times I just snag a scan at our hotel. Wherever I might end up, I always find it annoying to hold the RF Explorer upright while it scans. The USB port is on the bottom and can't stand upright by itself because of that. I've thought about building some sort of stand that clips onto my laptop screen, but I just haven't had the time or willpower to do that. Obviously, you don't want to lay it flat on a table for optimal results so I built this crafty base for the unit. It's cheap (free), readily available and interference-free! I never need the buttons when I'm connected to my laptop, so this provides a perfect solution.

Just poke a hole through the side and you're done!

Friday, February 27, 2015

DIY Lectrosonics SRb Firmware Update

Note: This post contains links to external websites that may or may not be permanent. I will do my best to keep them updated for future reference, but understand that Lectrosonics may choose to change their site at will. Links are current as of 2.26.15.


SRb in UPDATE mode
Over here at Vandelay Sound Exports, Inc. we operate a heavy wireless arsenal to keep our productions running smoothly. We like to be prepared and flexible should any sudden need arise, from replacing a damaged unit in the field to accommodating an out-of-town crew for a day. For us, those abilities require having 40+ channels of talent wireless. Of those units, we operate 20 Lectrosonics SRb receivers. Of those 20 SRb receivers, 18 were running on "out of date" firmware. We were missing out on new features, bug fixes and other various enhancements that would typically require us to send in the units for an upgrade. Instead, we have the LectroLink. This hardware accessory gives us the ability to update the firmware of Lectrosonics SRx, 401 and T4 units, as well as customize channel assignments (more on that another time) for each of those units.

So I'm going to walk you through our experience and hopefully warn you of any pitfalls you may encounter. It's rather easy once you're all setup, but setting it all up properly was the toughest part for me, honestly. Running into unexpected issues like out of date drivers, out of date software, UPDATE mode procedures were all figured out the hard way and gathered here for your consumption to be presented as the "easy way." Before you get too far down this rabbit hole, see if you even need to update your firmware by checking out the master list of firmware history for your unit. If so, carry on. Beware, if you don't already have the firmware in hand, expect this to take at least one business day to finish.

First, gather these items

  1. Computer running Windows XP or higher (32-bit or 64-bit)
  2. Lectrosonics LectroLink hardware kit
  3. LectroLink utility software
  4. Current USB drivers
  5. Most recent firmware for each model to be updated
  6. Lectrosonics SRa or SRb (w/external plate , 401 or T4 IFB transmitter

Some notes before we actually start...

A) I use a Mac, as does nearly everyone I know, aside from my accountant/wife-unit. So I'm running Parallels (virtual machine) with Windows 8 installed over a Mac OSX Yosemite (10.10.2).

B) We purchased our LectroLink hardware from our 'usual suspect', Gotham Sound, for $145. To begin your DIY upgrades, ask your favorite dealer for the LectroLink, also known as item number "SLECLECTROLINK". It includes all the additional hardware and cables you'll need for upgrades and adjustments (USB cable, Serial adapter, Communications cable)

C) The LectroLink hardware package also comes with a CD-ROM chock full of potentially outdated software. Check the Lectrosonics website to verify that you have the most current version of LectroLink Utility (v1.02 as of this post).

- LectroLink Utility is a component of the LecNet2 software suite. Download here (see also

D) The USB Drivers that came with my CD-ROM didn't install correctly the first time because they were outdated. See Lectrosonics' website for the current version or download them here.

E) To see what the most recent firmware is for your wireless unit, go to the firmware revision history page on Lectrosonics' website, or see below. There is no difference in firmware between the regular SR(a/b) and the 5-pin version of the same SR. However, there IS a difference in firmware between the SRa and SRb. 

- SRa or SRa5P
- SRb or SRb5P
- 401
- T4

Once you figure out the version you need, you MUST to contact Lectrosonics directly to obtain the .hex firmware file. I talked to them about me posting the files directly, but they feel (me too, really) it's best to contact them directly so they can make sure you are getting the correct file for the correct hardware you have. You never know, they could find something and not update the website in time or something crazy like that. Send an e-mail to to request the firmware you need.

F) Grab your gear and let's go!

Now let's actually update the damn thing

For the T4 and 401, it's easy:
  1. Make sure unit is OFF.
  2. Unscrew the top faceplate and outer metal housing (6 screws).
  3. Plug the USB into your computer with all software and drivers installed.
  4. Plug the communication cable into the designated pin slots (see the documentation provided with your LectroLink for proper pin placement) while paying particular attention to the orientation of the RED and GREEN pins. The documentation can be a bit confusing on which color is "Pin 1" and whether it faces left or right. Just pay close attention to this.
  5. While the unit is still OFF, provide a stable power source (break out those old CH20 AC power supplies!)
  6. Put the unit in UPDATE mode by holding UP and DOWN simultaneously while powering the unit on (transmit or tune is fine)
  7. Open the LectroLink Utility application and go through the proper selections (see video below). Select the .hex firmware file you received from Lectrosonics for the appropriate model of your wireless unit.
  8. Once the application has successfully updated the firmware, turn the unit OFF and then back ON again to verify that the firmware you have loaded is displayed on bootup.
  9. Turn unit back OFF and reassemble.

For the SRa and SRb it's slightly more physically challenging:

The steps for updating is the same, but the SR receivers present a unique challenge in order to update the firmware. Putting the SR into UPDATE mode will require some physical finesse and/or a second human being. I mean, they weren't designed to be updated by end users, so stop your bitching right here. Here's one key...your unit needs to be powered externally (i.e. not in the camera slot), so you must have the external plate to do this or make a custom serial cable for your slot receiver.
  1. Make sure unit is OFF.
  2. Unscrew the bottom external plate and remove the metal housing (4 screws).
  3. Plug the USB into your computer with all software and drivers installed.
  4. Plug the communication cable into the designated pin slots (see the documentation provided with your LectroLink for proper pin placement) while paying particular attention to the orientation of the RED and GREEN pins. The documentation can be a bit confusing on which color is "Pin 1" and whether it faces left or right. Just pay close attention to this.
  5. While the unit is still OFF, provide a stable power source (break out those old CH20 AC power supplies!)
  6. Turn the unit back ON by pressing the PWR membrane button on the front of the unit. This will let the unit "remember" to turn back on when power is resupplied.
  7. Without pressing the PWR membrane button, UNPLUG the wall wart power supply (or turn off your BDS if you went that route).
  8. Now go grab your significant other (the tinier the hands the better). Put the unit in UPDATE mode by holding UP and DOWN simultaneously while restoring power to the SRa/b. It will NOT go into UPDATE mode by holding the PWR membrane button. Don't ask why, just do. The serial connection where the plate meets the circuit board is most delicate part of this equation, which is why I recommend plugging/unplugging the power supply itself further down the chain.
  9. Open the LectroLink Utility application and go through the proper selections (see video above). Select the .hex firmware file you received from Lectrosonics for the appropriate model of your wireless unit.
  10. Once the application has successfully updated the firmware, hold down the PWR membrane button until you notice a slight strobe and the Lectrosonics text floats down to verify that the firmware you have loaded is displayed on bootup. If you mess it up, just turn it off and back on again like normal to verify.
  11. Turn unit back OFF, disconnect power supply and reassemble.

    Out with the old v1.2 and in with the new v1.7

    Voila! There you have it. So long as someone is around to help you in your time of need, it's a fairly straightforward process. It should go without saying, but you are at your own risk when updating the firmware. You could brick your unit. Remember, if you don't think you really need the latest firmware then simply don't update it. It's probably not worth the risk of you destroying your nice little wireless unit.

    Lectrosonics does provide some handy guides (links below). These also are not posted anywhere on Lectro's website, so as far as I know you have to ask for them, or just download here.

    Tuesday, February 3, 2015

    Q&A with George Tsai | Fuze Ti Timecode Slate

    I had a chance to talk to George Tsai, the engineer behind the Fuze Ti Timecode Slate, and pick his brain about his latest innovation. Check out the video below and read on after the break.

    Quick Specs

    • 2 pieces; the steel and wooden slate frame and the generator/display itself
    • +/- 1ppm clock tolerance 
    • Powered by 4 AA batteries (16 hours run time on full brightness using alkalines)
    • Accepts 1/4" and 5-pin Lemo timecode connectors (same wiring diagram as Denecke and Ambient products)
    • 5-pin Lemo wired in and out (can use it to jam other devices)
    • Splashproof and Water Resistant is standard
    • Submersible in shallow waters for a limited time (optional upgrade)
    • Dimmer dial for adjustable brightness
    • LED lights illuminate front of slate (like a flashlight)
    Before I lose you to a Katy Perry music video or something, consider visiting George's Kickstarter page. As of this writing, he has about 2 weeks remaining and has about 65% of his goal remaining. If you're in the market for a high-quality product with exceptional manufacturer response, think hard about giving the Fuze Ti a shot.

    This thing has some great features, of which I appreciate most is the fact that the generator/display unit is removable from the slate frame itself so you could use it as a traditional slate or slap it on your bag for more versatility. The clock is also as accurate, if not more accurate, as other available options in the marketplace. George says he hopes to make timecode solutions more readily available to sound mixers and productions and this is his first step. He hopes his more affordable products will ease the stress that productions induce on themselves by opting to not use timecode at all. This, my friends, is a professional product at consumer prices.

    One important note, in my opinion anyway, about timecode. The focus should be on Post receiving audio and video that are in sync with each other. If the camera "drifts" at the same rate as the audio recorder, then that is considered in sync. That never happens though, does it? That's why you can't just jam a Red Epic once from a SD/Zax recorder and expect them to stay together. They have different guts and will do different things. Let's not all go crazy and expect everything to stay sync'd for 24 hours straight. Do yourself a favor and keep good habits good by jamming everything at the beginning of the day and after lunch. If you can't do that, then you should yell at your producer or something. Having said that, check out his test with EVERYTHING you could possibly want to test.

    History of the Frame Rate

    Me: And what frame rate are you shooting at?
    DP: 30p
    Me: Ok, so you mean 29.97?
    DP: No, it just says 30p.
    Me: Ok, I'm moving to PAL land.

    What used to be the most infuriating moment of any project for me has turned into a numbness of ignorance and willful disobedience to learn what the hell you're talking about. For a little help on the matter at hand, the guys as have made some mandatory watching material. It will probably be my auto-reply to any job inquiries for the next year. Please watch and share.

    See? Science!

    LinkWithin x4

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