A Tribute to Sarah Jones

A letter from Richard Jones

On February 20th, six years ago, my wife Elizabeth sat down in front of me and flatly said… “Sarah is dead.”

It is hard to fathom hearing and accepting such horrifying words. On this sixth anniversary of my daughter Sarah Jones’ passing, while I could talk about her life, I would rather talk about how much Sarah has accomplished since her death. I would rather share with you her legacy. 

Before doing so, Elizabeth and I wish to remember the other victims present six years ago on the set of Midnight Rider in Georgia, each with their own grief and journeys. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with them. 

As for Sarah’s ongoing legacy, I still marvel at how a 27-year-old camera assistant could possibly change the culture of an entire industry.

Mike Miller, VP IATSE, said, “We need to remember Sarah Jones, and we need to know that she will always be protecting us from this point forward… This tragedy has brought together the filmmaking community in a way that I have never seen. Much of that is due to the person Sarah was… hardworking, fun, and a friend to very many people.”

Sarah’s epitaph reads: “TO HAVE KNOWN SARAH WAS A BLESSING. IT WAS TO FEEL AN ENERGY THAT WAS INFECTIOUS AND KIND.”

The Sarah Jones Film Foundation was created to help foster awareness and accountability around the message to NEVER FORGET, NEVER AGAIN. 

The SJFF conducts forward-thinking outreach through initiatives that include Safety Grants specifically designated to cover the costs of appropriate set safety on student films across the United States and Canada. Our goal is to change the culture of the film industry by teaching young filmmakers to treat set safety as a necessity, not a luxury.

Another initiative is naming the first shot of the day “The Jonesy Shot.” By calling out the Jonesy after each day’s safety meeting, crews can remember Sarah and affirm the vital importance of safety on set each and every moment of the day.

Also, the Sarah Jones Field Day is held every October in Atlanta to allow cast and crew members to gather and to once again encourage safe sets. In these and other ways detailed on our website (SafetyForSarah.org), the Sarah Jones Film Foundation raises awareness and fosters best practices around set safety, fueled by who Sarah Jones was… and continues to be. 

Richard Jones

Father of Sarah Jones

#safetyforsarah #slatesforsarah #wearesarahjones

Here’s what happens when you DON’T hire sound…

I stumbled across this video this morning in my news feed. My guess is that CNN didn’t think this story was important enough to send out a full crew, but just a shooter. You can’t hear the reporter-why? You can see the lav mic on the talent, but there’s nothing on the reporter. The result is all the questions are buried in the background sounds.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/07/tech/uber-hyundai-flying-taxis-trnd/index.html

This could’ve been because of a number of things, but a plausible explaination is their shooter’s camera kit only had a single lav and a camera mic, and they tried to get away with the camera mic on the reporter. The camera dept had their plate way too full with setting up two cameras (and since they were both locked down, the camera operator might have been the reporter.) Almost any decent soundperson would have prevented this from happening

This seems to be more and more the case, where production companies squeeze budgets tighter and tighter, and they think they can get away with not hiring a soundperson because “they’re too expensive.” Sometimes it works, but more often than not you get this kind of result. File this away under#hireasoundperson, #audiomatters, and #don’tcheapoutonyourcrew!

Splenda-Stevia campaign

Here’s some of the videos that I worked on this past spring for Humanaut. I am so lucky to be associated with these folks… they’re the best client that a sound mixer could ever wish for! I’m headed back to Chattanooga in a few weeks for yet another project, and I can’t wait to see what these folks have cooked up. Special thanks to my son Kyle Gilbert for his help on this project, he was boom op/audio utility, and a huge help. I’m definitely spoiled now & want him along on all my jobs (and I’m doubly proud that Humanaut specifically requested him for the next job!)

 

Heading to Chattanooga!

I’m about to embark on a road trip back to Chattanooga for a three-day commercial shoot and a recording session with Spinster, and a possible 2nd 3-day commercial shoot with another production company. Can’t wait to work with my peeps again!

Also on my to-do list is to pick up my Otari MTR10 tape recorder and bring it back to Savannah. I’d loaned it to Brett Nolan at The Soundry. While I don’t really have room for it here, I’m anxious to get it back so I can master some projects. There’s no emulation that can match the sound of real analog tape, and this was among the best machines ever built. The downside is the size… about the same as a large dorm fridge, and it weighs about 150 lbs, so moving it is a bit of a thing.

New Music- “Here You Are” by Spinster

Here’s a video I worked on for Spinster in Chattanooga. Capture was done in six tracks- no overdubs- using my Sound Devices 664. Look closely and you’ll see the Watts Polyribbon being used on Amelia’s vocals. A very slight touch of Universal Audio EP34 tape delay was added to the vocals.

 

Their Facebook page is Spinster@callmespinster

How I met Bootsy Collins!

So I’m here in Atlanta shooting DragonCon for Marvel, thanks to a referral from my good friend Grady Upchurch. Most all the costumes are over the top fantastic. We were down for a moment when he said, “that’s a pretty good Bootsy outfit… wait a minute, THAT’S HIM!” He was just walking the convention floor with all the other cosplayers, not attracting too much attention… he blended right in. A lot of the kids didn’t realize who he was… even our young PA Max said, “Who’s Bootsy Collins?”

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Me and Bootsy Collins at DragonCon in Atlanta.

Which reminds me of a related story I overheard at the African American History Museum in Washington DC. On the top floor, they have a reproduction of the Mothership (the original was destroyed) built by the same folks who made the original. A woman behind us said “That was the first concert I ever went to. I begged my Mama to let me go… I was only 15. She finally gave me permission. Well, when we got there, the place went dark, and this thing started floating down from the ceiling… and then all this weed came out. Then they (Parlament Funkadelic) came out on stage and played this song called ‘Light It Up,’ so we did. When my Mama picked us up, I didn’t stop talking the entire trip home. Mama said, ‘Honey, I think you got a contact buzz at that concert.’ “Oh really, Mama, what’s that?’ ‘That’s when you’re around a bunch of people smoking marajuana.’ ‘Really, Mama? What do they call it when you actually smoke it?’ She said to go lay down, Honey, and you’ll feel better in the morning.

I mentioned that story to Bootsey. He said, “Well, it sounds like she was really there!”

New equipment- the Universal Audio EP-34 Tape Delay

I’ve been looking at the prices of a real tape delay for a long time now. At the top of my list has been the Roland 501, which had balanced inputs and outputs… pretty essential for low-noise interfacing into an analog system. Unfortunately, the prices for these rarely dip below $1,500 for anything other than a total basket case, which for my situation is completely impractical.

The other option is a plugin emulation of a tape echo. Universal Audio has a couple options… the Echoplex EP-34 and the Galaxy tape echo, which is an emulation of the Roland 201. A recent mix was screaming for a good delay unit, so I went ahead and ordered the Echoplex.

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I know I’ve said it before, but I really like UA software products. They are not inexpensive, but every Universal Audio plugin that I’ve ever owned has survived three computer upgrades with no problems whatsoever.

Visually, the plugin looks just like an Echoplex, with a few additional controls- a panpot, and sync, tape tension, and wet toggles. A window that numerically displays the delay in ms was a luxury that engineers dreamed of back in the day, but nice addition for the software version.

I’d only used a real tape delay for a brief moment when I was much younger. I don’t remember much about it, except that it sounded REALLY cool. This plugin sounds about the same. I can’t speak to the accuracy of the emulation, but I can speak to the results. It’s a very nice addition for vocals if used sparingly. For mixing reggae, it’s essential… and should definitely be used un-sparingly.

I love it… a sample should be coming shortly.

Don’t Be A Yakoff for Humanaut Agency/Perception Kayaks

Here’s a short web piece that I worked on with boom op Will Taylor and A2 Kyle Gilbert. It made it to the Top 4 spot in the WeLoveAd weekly most viewed list.

Congrats to to Dan Jacobs, David Littlejohn, and Tommy Wilson, and thanks for using BGilbertSound!

Eddie Bush

Here’s a track from a former client, Eddie Bush.
Like Houdini Did by Eddie Bush“>

Delta Letters

Here’s a short film that I worked on for Delta/Smartypants:

 

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Savannah Bananas for MSNBC

Here’s a piece that I recently completed for MSNBC:

http://player.theplatform.com/p/7wvmTC/MSNBCEmbeddedOffSite?guid=n_yb_bananas_170806

New Controller for Mixbus, Take Two

As I said in the previous post regarding the X-Touch Compact, my first attempt at controlling Mixbus with an external MIDI controller didn’t go so well. (In a nutshell, the XTouch Compact does work, but Mixbus has a lot of parameters to control, and the smaller control surface doesn’t have enough knobs for the jobs.) I went ahead and ordered the larger X-Touch and got a slightly used unit on eBay. The seller posted a photo of the very latest version (with colored buttons) but he shipped an earlier version. It wasn’t a huge deal… I actually prefer the earlier version, as all the pretty colors makes the latest X-Touch look kind of Fisher-Pricelike.

Behringer Xtouch

My new-to-me Behringer Xtouch controller running Mixbus. The earlier and less-colorful version looks slightly more upscale.

But the biggest question was, “will it work?” The short answer is- oh Hell yes. The darned thing works great straight out of the box. Kudos to Ben Loftis and the other folks on the Mixbus team for their programming efforts. Most of what you need to know about setting up and using this controller is covered in their videos. Their application of Mixbus to this particular controller is very intuitive, nearly all of the commands follow the printed legends on the controller, and you can get to just about every adjustment you’ll want to make via the controller. You’ll still need the keyboard and mouse to open files and name tracks- a laptop riser like this is on my radar, or perhaps a sliding tray shelf- but once I hit “play,” I rarely need to reach for the mouse.

While I’ve only been using this thing for a few days, I’m already hooked/spoiled. I can’t imagine running Mixbus without it. It makes adjusting parameters much faster, and I can concentrate more on the music and less on operating the program. The little rectangular “scribble strip” displays under the top rotary encoders are a huge help… the control surface can scroll through different sections of the program, and these displays tell me at a glance where I’m at and what each encoder does.

A big plus is the price point. I got mine for about $360. I’m sure an Avid S3 would be much cooler, but since- at least for me, and at least for now- music mixing is done more for fun that money these days, I’m like many musicians and am forced to keep costs under control.

I haven’t gotten the chance to see if this controller will work with any of my other programs, but that doesn’t really matter to me since Mixbus is where I need this most. I’ve wanted a controller that works with Mixbus since version 1.1, and finally I’ve got one that works well. And while I haven’t mixed on a real Harrison console for many years now, this will probably be as close as I’m ever going to get. Thanks, Harrison!

New Controller

I’ve just taken delivery of a new Behringer XTouch compact controller to help with the mixing duties on my DAW. I tried this some years ago with an early version of Mixbus, but I never could get the program and the computer to work together. I ended up selling the controller and resigned myself to mouse-mixing, which I don’t particularly love, but since I don’t have access to my analog mixing setup, it’s mouse-mixing or nothing. Then I stumbled upon this video that Harrison posted outlining the setup procedure for Mixbus 3.4 with this same controller. Looks like Harrison has done a lot of work to the program to make controller integration fairly easy. I haven’t set it up yet, so it remains to be seen if it actually works in real life as well as it does in the videos, but I’m fairly confident that it’ll work.

I bought the smaller “compact” version of the X touch, since space is somewhat at a premium and the additional controls found in the larger version are mainly transport functions. I don’t mind using the mouse and keyboard for that… it’s been forever since I used a jog and shuttle wheel to locate edit points, and a mouse feels faster and more accurate. But we’ll see- I can always sell this one and get the larger version if I feel I need more buttons.

I’ll add a more comprehensive post once I’ve used this setup for awhile, so stay tuned.

UPDATE… And as usual, I’ve learned that while this unit works, my choice wasn’t the best choice for Mixbus. It allows fader control, pan, mute/solo/record ready, and transport buttons, but no EQ control. The larger, more expensive X Touch is a far more capable unit, plus it has the added bonus of label displays for the rotary encoders, so you can tell exactly what you’re controlling- important because the unit has several layers, so depending ot the setting, the rotary encoders control pan, individual channel EQ, or individual channel compressor dynamics. So this unit is currently listed for sale on eBay, hopefully I won’t lose TOO much money on it.

xtouch.jpg

A new Behringer X-touch controller, just off the truck!

On Location 

Working in Chattanooga this week with Dan Jacobs and Humanaut on an Organic Valley campaign.

Music Engineering Reel: Spinster

Here are a few videos I worked on last fall for a band called Spinster. Three sisters, all classically trained, living in Chattanooga, Portland OR, and Costa Rica until recently. They’ve all relocated to Chattanooga to concentrate on the band for a year. I’m hoping that we can get some more songs recorded in the coming months.

We used several microphones that I built on this recording, and we used the Watts Polyribbon on vocals and upright bass. I was quite pleased with the way it turned out, though I could’ve gotten a little bit crazier if we’d done some overdubs and added a few more tracks. This performance was recorded with six tracks, straight to “tape” (straight to CF card, actually) using my Sound Devices 664 recorder. Minimal post processing,  it was mixed using Harrison Mixbus with Universal Audio’s EMT140 plate reverb and LA4a compressor plug-ins, though most of the reverb is coming from open mics in the burned-out house where we recorded. Noise reduction was provided by Izotope RX5 Pro processing suite.

 SWIM_BW.mov

 CALL ME_BW.mov

 MULE_BW.mov

Down To The Studs

I just learned that a pilot that I worked on is airing today at 2pm on HGTV. Here’s a preview:

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FCoolfireStudios%2Fvideos%2F10155382965433426%2F&show_text=0&width=560

 

Change of address…

After many years of living in the Chattanooga market and working in the Atlanta/Nashville/Knoxville area, I have relocated my base of operation to a new house in Tybee Island, GA., just outside of Savannah. I can now work as a local in Savannah, Jacksonville, Charleston S.C., and Columbia, S.C.

While I’ll still be available to work with clients in Nashville, Chattanooga, and Knoxville, I can’t do this for single-day shoots- the driving distance is just too far. If you really want me for a single day, I’ll have to charge two travel days and a room in addition to my normal day rate. Multiple days are negotiable.

Thanks!

Ikea Deal of the Year for Record Collectors

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We’re moving to a new house this year, and we were furniture shopping at the Ikea in Atlanta when I stumbled across these these little beauties… they’re called “Kallax.” Closeout sale, $16 each. Sorry, they’re probably all gone by the time you read this… Ikea seems to roll that way, as soon as I find a good record storage solution, they discontinue it. Anyway, each of these things have four cubes that are perfectly sized for albums.

They’re a good looking, solid build, and if you assemble them with glue, they’re a great solution for record collectors. Buy some while you can!

The only other mod for my record corner will be a piece of chair rail spaced out from the wall at about a half inch- to make a sort of “now playing” holder to display album cover artwork. More details to come.

New version of VinylStudio

I’ve been using a little program called VinylStudio for several years now. It makes the process of transferring vinyl records into my computer (and into my iTunes library) relatively easy. Since I have a new-ish Mac Mini that I use for my audio work, I updated my old version to version 8.8.2 and thought I’d post a review.

First disclosure, the software came to me courtesy of my wallet. It’s difficult (but not impossible) to write a truly unbiased review in exchange for a free thing-that-you’re reviewing. A pet peeve of mine is when reviewers don’t state up front who paid for the item, so I can take the review with one or two grains of salt.

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The main screen of VinylStudio. Here I’m working on a transfer for a client in Nashville called “A Christmas Delight” by Winifred Smith, cut in 1967… not likely to show up on iTunes anytime soon.

VinylStudio was designed to be a standalone program for getting your vinyl records onto your computer. At $30, its a fairly inexpensive, yet still pretty capable program. You can use it to burn CDs of your records if you like, or save the files in a number of different formats besides MP3s, including WAV, AAC (Advanced Audio Coding), AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format), ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec), DFF, DSF, (there are different types of Direct Stream Digital formats) FLAC Free Lossless Audio Codec), and OGG (Ogg Vorbis open-source format).

The program has a capable noise reduction section, but I use other programs for this job. It’s not because Vinyl Studio can’t do the job, it’s just that I’ve been using other programs for editing and noise reduction for years and I’m more familiar with them. Besides, they cost a pile of money so I’d rather use them than let them sit. I mainly use Adobe Soundbooth CS5 for editing and noise reduction, but for really difficult situations, I’ll use Izotope RX Pro.

While you can use VinylStudio to record the file directly into your computer, I record onto a Somy PCM10 recorder. The biggest reason is that my turntable is downstairs in the basement, and my audio workstation is in the office upstairs. I always clean the surface of the vinyl with a water-alcohol solution. (three parts distilled water, one part pure isopropryl alcohol, and one or two drops of Dawn dish detergent to break the surface tension. I usually make a gallon at a time). One of these days I’ll build an utrasonic/ centrifugal record cleaning machine. A somewhat risky way to clean really dirty albums is with a thin layer of Elmer’s glue. Once dry, it peels away from the vinyl, taking specks of dust and dirt with it. I’ve only done this experimentally though. Once recorded, I bring the PCM10 upstairs and download the file into my computer.

First I usually apply a rumble filter which greatly cleans up the waveform, then scan for really obnoxious pops and fix these individually. I’ll then declick the guard bands in between songs. But it’s rare that I’ll do further noise reduction… a certain amount of minor clicks and crackle is a part of the vinyl experience, and too much cleanup destroys the character. I’ll manually optimize the file and balance the tracks if necessary.

With that done, I then bring the file into Vinyl Studio for final work. This is where the program is a huge time-saver… dividing the file into individual songs, and looking through databases on the internet for the track names. This way, you are saved the work of typing in each track name individually. Sometimes it doesn’t work, like when the database can’t find a record, or more rarely, when there were several different versions of a record on vinyl or CD and the order of the songs has been rearranged. But more often than not, it works well. Then it’s a matter of trimming the breaks between the tracks to make the start and stop more accurate.

Another great advantage of the program is bringing the album into my iTunes library, which is a simple one-button affair. VERY handy.

Overall there aren’t a number of big changes with the program over the previous version, which is a relief. It’s a must-have if you’re new to vinyl. For me, it’s a super way to preserve my collection, which includes a small number of fairly expensive and hard-to-replace classics. For casual listening, I just hit the spacebar on my computer. It isn’t the same as cleaning the record and dropping the needle, but it’s really close. Vinyl has a finite number of times it can be played before it gets worn out, and this keeps your collection in nearly unplayed shape. Besides, it’s fun… and records can be traded or sold, which can’t be done with Spotify or iTunes. Buy yourself a turntable, a preamp, some old records, and this program and give it a try… it’ll change the way you enjoy music!

Fat Hair commercial

Another commercial that I did awhile back in Atlanta. Admittedly not much audio made it to the final cut, but trust me, it’s there!