Category Archives: On Location with Brian Gilbert

Watts Polyribbon At Work

Here’s a link to a project that I worked on recently. The band is called Spinster… they’re three sisters with classical music training. One lives on the west coast, one in Chattanooga, and one in Costa Rica, so they don’t get to play very often. We recorded a series of three songs this summer, they’ll eventually be posted on YouTube

We set it up as a live multitrack recording with no overdubs, so it’s very much a live performance video.  It’s also the first chance that I got to use the Polyribbon. I used it on lead vocalsfor two songs… very smooth. And just to change things up a bit, we tried it on the upright bass for one song, which gave a teriffic sound. No EQ was used on the Polyribbon signal.

Recorded on the Sound Devices 664. It was mixed using the Harrison Mixbus 32C using Universal’s EMT 140 plate reverb on the vocals. Instruments are pretty much dry. Noise reduction and mastering via Izotope RX Pro and Adobe Soundbooth.

Hopefully I can get them in the studio this summer for an album. Enjoy!



I’m Not Ashamed

Here’s a trailer for a feature that I worked on last spring. I just filled in as a relief mixer on the second unit, but still, it’s a feature… in theaters now. It was a last-minute call… their main mixer woke up one morning with carpal tunnel so bad that he couldn’t move his arm! But after a night off, he was back to work. They called me for another scene, but I was scheduled for something else, unfortunately.



The location for the party scene- a house near Franklin TN


The Party Scene

Loretta Lynn at Cash Cabin Studio

I was lucky enough to be called on a Nashville shoot recently. All I had was an address, didn’t know who or where. It turned out that we were shooting at Cash Cabin studios… as in JOHNNY Cash… shooting IBMA and Grammy winner Shawn Camp with country music legend Loretta Lynn. We recorded not just interviews, but several duets with Loretta and Shawn, and I had the best seat in the house. At 82 years old, her voice is still as strong as ever.

LorettaLynn CashCabin2 CashCabinAmps LynnCamp CashCabin1

Loretta Lynn with Shawn Camp

Loretta Lynn with Shawn Camp


Cash Cabin studio is just rotten with country music history as well. It was originally built in the seventies as a getaway for Johnny Cash. As his health began to decline in the nineties it was converted into a studio to avoid trips into Nashville studios. There are artifacts galore all over the place… like a letter to his 10-year-old son John Carter Cash showing the chords for I Walk The Line, photos, classic amps, mics… about the only thing missing was a nice big old analog console. Like most folks, they do everything on ProTools now, as it’s still a working studio.

While it’s generally frowned upon, I couldn’t resist a few quick photos. Enjoy!

With The Alabama Shakes- CBS Sunday

I recently completed a shoot for CBS Sunday Morning in and around Athens and Decatur, Alabama. This is where Brittany Howard and Zac Cockrell grew up, and formed The Alabama Shakes in 2009. They have a new album coming out in a few weeks, and CBS Sunday Morning did a segment on them that will air April 19th.

Bar scene interview

Bar scene interview

Chris Conder and I shot at a couple of locations- first at the bar where they did their first show, and where their single “Hold On” was first performed. Then over to Brittney’s Dad’s place, where spent a lot of time playing in the creek, and where her dog and pet pig roamed the nearby farms. Third location was bassist Zac Cockrell’s house for another quick interview. A few scenics at their school nearby, then it was time to transfer files and wrap for the day… a pretty good shoot overall.

At Brittnay's Dad's place

At Brittnay’s Dad’s place

Their new album, “Sound And Color” goes on sale April 21, 2015.

DP Chris Conder, Point Of View Productions, Sony F800

DP Chris Conder, Point Of View Productions shooting on his Sony F800

BamaCovered Story for NBC Nightly News

I just completed work on a story for NBC Nightly News about an organization called BamaCovered. Daniel Liss is a 25-year old recent graduate of Harvard who was, until recently, working in London as an investment banker. He and a friend Josh Carpenter were dismayed by the state of health care in Alabama and the amount of difficulty (and downright false information) people were receiving navigating the health exchanges to get insurance. So they started a foundation called BamaCovered. This is a group of volunteers, mostly college students, who are canvassing the community, trying to help people get health care coverage.


NBC Nightly News correspondent Peter Alexander with BamaCovered Organizer Josh Liss in Huntsville, AL

One of their success stories… a woman on a fixed income of $800 a month was told that insurance through the exchange would cost her $700 per month. With the help of Josh’s volunteers, she received a quote of $25 per month.

NBC Nightly News Producer Doug Adams and White House correspondent Peter Alexander flew into Huntsville, AL where DP Roger Herr (In Sight Out Productions) and I met up with them. We shot at several locations around Huntsville- a free health clinic downtown, Peter’s Barbershop, Big Spring Park downtown, and Huntsville radio station WEUP, Alabama’s first black-owned radio station.

It’s a great story that should air sometime late next week… don’t miss it!

UPDATE: Producer Doug Adams sent me a link to this story, which aired on the 30th…


Roger Herr on camera, Brian Gilbert location sound, Peter Alexander and Josh Liss. In the WEUP parking lot in Huntsville, AL. Photos by Doug Adams.

664 Media Management

Just in case anyone was wondering, I thought I’d outline my typical 664 workflow as it relates to media management.

The Sound Devices 664 is kinda particular about the media cards that it likes, and  while SD and CF cards are quite common, there are only a handful that work in the 664. For this reason, I never release my cards at the end of a shoot… I wait while the DIT copies them to a hard drive. If there’s no DIT working on the set, I’ll copy the files myself to whatever is available. It’s fairly rare for a photographer or producer to show up without a computer, but I always try to bring mine along, just in case.

My 664 media department... cards, case, and reader

My 664 media department… cards, case, and reader

When I first bought my 664, I went out and bought three of each… three 16GB Delkin CF700x UDMA6 CompactFlash, 105MB/s read, 67MB/s write, and three 16GB Delkin SD163x Class 10 Secure Digital, 24MB/s read, 17MB/s write. I also picked up an inexpensive card reader and a case for the cards. One thing you DON’T want to do is use cards that are not on the list of approved media for use by Sound Devices. Go to their website, the list is updated every so often.

These are the cards that I use in my 664. They work fine and are approved by Sound Devices.

These are the cards that I use in my 664. They work fine and are approved by Sound Devices.

I have my 664 set to record the day’s audio files mirrored, so that each card has identical audio files. I use the SD card to transfer the data. It’s difficult to get my fat fingers around the edges of the CF card, plus the CF slots are a little more delicate… I’ve already bent a pin on my card reader, and if that happens on the 664 then it’s back to the factory for a very expensive repair. So the CF card stays in the machine, and I treat it like an internal drive most of the time unless I get some sort of data error on the other card (hasn’t happened yet, knock on wood!)

Transcription recordings are always the fly in the ointment. These are often requested as MP3 recordings with linear timecode on one channel, and audio on the other. It’s possible to do this internally with the 664, but you’ll need a special cable and an open channel. If you patch the timecode out to, say, ch6 input, then you can assign that signal to whatever card will record the MP3. Because, I’m such an old fart, I’ve always been a bit nervous about doing it this way. Back in the day, we had lots of trouble with linear timecode signals bleeding onto other tracks, as it’s generally very hot. If this happens to the main audio tracks, then you’re screwed.

Alternatively, you can use an entirely separate recorder, and that’s how I did it on a recent shoot. I used my Sony PCM-10, and built a special cable for it. The cable has a 3.5mm stereo plug on one end, and the other has a fanout with a single 3.5mm plug and a BNC connector. The BNC gets the timecode and the 3.5mm goes to the 664 tape out. If the cable is built normally, then the timecode signal will be really hot while the audio signal will be really low. I added a teeny resistor inside the connector shell to drop the level of the timecode signal, and get the levels on each channel to match a little more closely. It worked like a charm.

Grills Gone Wilder

Here are a few photos from a shoot that I worked on a few months ago. Grills Gone Wilder is airing now on The Travel Channel. This shoot was fun because of the subject matter… barbecue… and the fringe benefits. Since everyone else on the crew was flying, they couldn’t accept the “on-camera-Q” that was offered, so I ended up with about five pounds of whole-hog pork from Martin’s Barebecue Joint in Nolansville, TN.

Shooting around the Martin's massive smoker, which can handle multiple whole hogs.

Shooting around the Martin’s massive smoker, which can handle multiple whole hogs.

I’m a bit of a barbecue junkie… I love to try out different Q stands when I travel, so I’ve sampled quite a lot. My top two places are Stanley’s in Tyler, Texas (we hit that one pretty hard when we were shooting on The United Bates of America) and Martin’s.

This shoot wass one of the first I did with my new Sound Devices 664 mixer/recorder, and I can say without reservation that I LOVE this unit. It’s a little intimidating at first, as it has ten times the functions and options of my old 442. But the folks at Sound Devices seem to appreciate the pressures of bag work, and they’ve made all the menus and functions very quick to get to & change. There’s an option to connect a USB keyboard, but I’ve entered the metadata using the rotary encoder & it works fine.

I'm running the risk of getting pig fat on my nice new mixer here, but it was so tasty I had to risk it.

I’m running the risk of getting pig fat on my nice new mixer here, but it was so tasty I had to risk it.

That’s not to say that there aren’t a few small details that I’d like to see changed. It really should ship with an external power supply, since the battery tube just doesn’t really work. I understand that a tube of AAs lasts about a half hour. I’ve never tried it, since that much time isn’t really worth the weight of the batteries, so the tube stays empty. Instead I use a Remote Audio BDS with an NP1 battery cup to power the whole bag. I get around two hours use out of a NP1, depending on the age of the battery.

I’m also using a PortaBrace 664 bag on this photo, which is currently for sale at Trew Audio. I love the company, but they have got to innovate if they are going to stay around. This is the same basic bag design as the FP32, just with bigger dimensions. Thats fine for small mixers, but this one is large and heavy, and the bag flops around and distorts in use, giving me the feeling that things aren’t secure. I’ve since gotten a Petrol bag which is quite a bit better  (though I wish it were more like the Petrol 442 case.)

The Grills Gone Wilder crew, April, Ilsa, and Joe.

The Grills Gone Wilder crew, April, Ilsa, and Joe.

Another change I’d like to see in the 664 Mark 2 is the way that data is transferred. Right now, you need to eject the cards and insert them into a reader in oder to transfer your data at the end of the day. The CF card is very difficult to remove, as I can’t get my fingers around the edges. And fragile… I’ve already experienced a bent pin on my card reader. The SD card is easier, so I write data to both cards but use the SD for transfers. The better solution is to have the data available at the USB port so the cards could stay in place.

ESPYS Video “Pat Summitt”

Here’s a link to a production I worked on for ESPN on Pat Summitt:

I made two trips to Knoxville for this production, once to shoot Pat Summitt’s final home game, and once to interview Pat, her son Tyler, and her assistant coach Holly Warlick.

Producer Becca Gitlitz interviews Tyler Summitt for the ESPSY video

My favorite off-camera bit was when Pat and Holly were chatting about her earliest coaching days, and how the team was called “The Corn-Fed Chicks…” It was certainly a different time!


DP Christian Hoagland adjusts his background… it’s just a bunch of shiny wire with bits of metal hanging off. When thrown out of focus, the effect is rather nice… see the video above for the results.

A LARGE chunk o’ glass…

Here’s a quick snapshot for all you photogs out there… some glass lust. This was for an ESPN shoot that I worked on recently in Knoxville, a documentary about Pat Summitt. The DP (Christian Hoagland) pulled out a Sony F3 with an Angenieux Optimo 24-290mm T2.8 zoom lens… the biggest piece of glass I’ve seen on a EFP shoot. It gave some gorgeous images, though it was a bear to lug around. I understand this lens probably cost more than my house… good thing it’s a rental!


DP Christian Hoagland from NYC at Pat Summit’s house


Sony F3 with Angenieux 12x lens

The Chew at the Bluebird Cafe

Here’s a quick couple of photos from a recent interview for ABC’s The Chew with Carla Hall (ex Top Chef runner up from season 5). Carla interviewed two of the principal cast members  from the upcoming TV series Nashville, Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio.

Carla Hall interviews Sam Palladino and Clare Bowen for ABC’s The Chew at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, TN

While the interview itself was fairly straightforward, it was a bit whacky in terms of the interconnection. Three wireless and an overhead shotgun going to two cameras… simple, right? Except the producer wanted separate iso tracks on everything and I don’t have a multitrack for location work (yet… it’s on order this week).

The 442 setup with direct outs to the camera. The bag construction doesn’t allow access to the direct out connections, so I had to disconnect everything, take it out of the bag, and reconnect on the table… not something you want to do in a hurry.

Once I determined that we weren’t going to be moving around, I was able to feed two wireless signals to one camera, then one wireless and the shotgun signals to the other using my Sound Devices 442’s direct outs The downside was that the 442’s direct outs are pre-fader, so the only way to adjust levels was at the camera. Not ideal, but it did work and the client was happy… but it illustrated the real need for a good multitrack location recorder. Right now I’m going against conventional wisdom and considering Tascam’s HS-P82 over the Sound Devices 788T or the Zaxcom Nomad. While I generally prefer Sound Devices gear as a matter of course, I like the Tascam’s feature set a little better (8 XLR inputs rather than six, for example) and their pricing is a lot easier to swallow at $3,500 (vs. $6,000 for the Sound Devices). Since the 788 has been out for awhile now, I have a feeling that they’ll be announcing a “new and improved” 788 sometime soon, and the Tascam might fill in the gap until then.

Great American Manhunt Airdates

After months of wondering , I’ve finally discovered when my show is going to air.

OK, it isn’t really “my show,” but I was their main location sound mixer for the entire first season. That’s a big deal for me, since most of my work involves someone coming into town, working for a day or two, and flying out, never to be seen again. I do have a handful of clients who come back repeatedly, and that’s always nice. But this block of work for Wide-Eyed Productions in London was different, since they shot over an eight-week period last summer. A studio was built here in Chattanooga in a medical office park off Amnicola Highway… ten minutes away from my house. It’s the closest thing to a “regular job” that I’ve seen in years.

My “office” on the set of Great American Manhunt, appx June of 2011

My hopes are high for the show… if it does well, they could come back for a second season. The talent did complain about the difficulty of getting flights out of Chattanooga, though, and their hotel bill was astronomical.

Here are the airdates:

SPRING 2012, National Geographic Channel
Series Title: The Great American Manhunt
Episodes: California Hot Shot – April 19
Miracle Man – April 26
Captain Courage – May 3
Enigma Man – May 10
Adrenaline Junkie – May 17
The Daredevil – May 31
Big Dog – June 7
Superwoman – June 14

Be sure to check it out… and if you like it, don’t keep it a secret! Interview with the series producer here, and IMDB info is here. Local news article is here.

My Big Fat Greek 4-Track Setup

OK, so I’m sitting in a hotel room in Nashville, waiting for the client to arrive. It’s 8:51 PM local time. Their plane lands at 9:30, and they possibly want to shoot some tonight… depending on the party that the band has scheduled.

The client is Record Collection Productions from California, and the subject is a band called Jeff The Brotherhood for Red Bull’s Sound And Vision.

It started out simply enough… they requested two lav mics, a boom, and a 4-channel mixer. A straightforward, normal production setup that I’ve done many times before. But yesterday I was told that the post house HAD to have iso tracks, and they HAD to be timecoded. No problem, I’ve got an Edirol R4Pro timecode-capable 4-track. I’ll just bring my cart, and… no, you’ve gotta be very portable and run everything from a bag.

Naturally I thought I could rent my way out of this problem with help from my pals at Trew Audio. But no, their 788 was already out, and their Zaxcom Deva was parked in Glen’s rack for a movie he’s working on. So it’s back to the drawing board. And by the way, they need a wireless timecode slate, too.

The R4 is a great recorder, but it doesn’t handle mixing duties well at all. In fact, about all you can do to monitor is listen to tracks 1 and 3 in the left side of your headphones, and tracks 2 and 4 on the right… no mix outs, no solo monitoring… it’s a recorder, not a mixer.

The solution that I came up with was rather simple. Since the primary deliverables are the iso tracks, I’m running two Lectro receivers into tracks 3 and 4. The boom mic is hardwired to a splitter, with one output going to track 1 of the recorder, and the other output going to a Lectro transmitter. The receiver goes to the camera, so they’ll have a wireless link with the shotgun on one track.

The 4-track capture setup. Sennheiser ME66 shotgun, wireless timecode slate, R4Pro in a Portabrace with a second bag attached to the top containing 2 transmitters and 2 receivers, a Lectro 195 receiver for the camera, and a run bag with batteries, grip tape, extra cables, etc

In a perfect world, I wouldn’t use a setup like this, since a mono mix to camera goes against my grain a little, but this is about the best solution that can be had with the equipment that is available. We’ll see how it actually shakes out.

Be Careful What You Ask For…

I received a call from Atlantic Television in NYC awhile back… nothing unusual, they were doing some advance work for a company in London, could I do the sound. I was free for most of their schedule, so sure, I’d be glad to help out. They told me this would be for National Geographic, but that it would be a small crew shooting a reality-style show. Nothing unusual there… but then things started happening to indicate this wouldn’t be the usual shoot. One of my students was hired as a location scout, and she was looking to build a set in a commercial space, and the number of shooting days started to climb… a lot…

I was skeptical that it would happen at all, but thanks to a number of fortunate events, the shoot was scheduled for Chattanooga (originally was going to be in Knoxville) and I was contracted to be the location mixer for not just a single show, but an entire series. I can’t disclose much… we’re shooting under a working title, which may yet change. But there will be eight initial episodes.

For our little production community here in Chattanooga, this is HUGE. We’ve never had this kind of opportunity here before, so for much of the crew, it’s a large block of work. Just speaking for myself, in three weeks I’ve already surpassed the number of shooting days for all of last year. I’m a little pooped, but any day that I can go to work is a good day.

My work area on the set. I've brought out nearly all of my gear for this shoot, and having the resources available has been handy.

And thanks to some less-than-satisfactory work by freelancers in other towns, I’ve been cleared to work on out-of-town shoots with the crew as well… their policy is to use local talent whenever possible to save money, but I’ve been given an opportunity for more work. It reinforces the idea that, as a soundperson, it’s important to be on your toes and make the extra effort whenever you can. The concept of “added value” applies well here. I do all I can to make myself as invaluable as possible on (and off) the set. Getting good, clean sound is, of course critical, but there’s always more that can be done on the set. Dressing cables, keeping detailed sound reports, making sure the talent has water, helping load, carrying cameras, helping change lenses… even sending emails suggesting good spots to eat around town… it’s all important and has helped me secure  some additional dates.

And there’s more to come. While most of the studio crew takes a break tomorrow, I’m heading out of town in the morning to shoot at Cirq in Atlanta, then the next day in Collegedale, then back in Chatt, then a date in Knoxville next week, with two more possible dates in between.

My cart rolled onto the set for taping. I'm using my Sound Devices 442 mixer paired with my Edirol R4Pro, which is serving as the master timecode source for two Sony F900 cameras. Here I'm set up for a wireless camera link, but we went to hardwires after the first day. The wireless worked fine, but since the cameras are connected via coax to the monitor cart, there wasn't any advantage

Frontline’s Football High

Here’s a digital postcard for Frontline’s Football High. I worked on  a segment of this show a few months ago… it airs April 12th. Produced by Ark Media in NYC for WGBH Boston and PBS. Field Producer Caitlin McNally, DP Sam Russell. The links in the image below are inactive, but you can watch a preview here.

Producer For Hire (Don’t Try This At Home)

I was recently in Nashville and met with studio owner Chris Mara at his all-analog studio. As I drove up to the  facility, I noticed “NTC” on the side of the building. Coincidentally, his studio is located in the old National Tape Corporation building, which was the company we used at OnLine Audio back in the ’90’s for most of our record duplication.

MCI JH428 all-analog mixer

Chris works with MCI expert Randy Blevins, so as you could expect, his studio is rotten with vintage gear. The main board is a 400-series MCI, 28-channel frame, routed to a Sony/MCI JH24 2″ 24-track. He’s got just about every configuration of tape machine you can think of, including 1″ 8-track, 1/2″ 4-track, and several 1/4″ mastering machines. It’s an all-analog signal path, but he has a Mackie HDR 24-track and Pro Tools for transfer of session files. Chris was recording “The New Belgravians” when I was there, and they rocked. In QUAD, no less!

Chris' collection of analog tape machines... more are around the corner!

While I’m primarily a location sound mixer/recordist, I’ve got an extensive background as a producer and engineer in music production as well, and have been considering taking on a FEW music projects. If you have been thinking about doing some recording, consider doing it “old school.” I have contacts at several studios, both local and in Nashville. And even though I own and regularly use several DAW systems, I greatly prefer working in analog whenever I can, especially for music projects. There’s an advantage to using the real thing instead of simulated plug-ins… there’s no such thing as “latency,” for one. Latency refers to the delay in all digital equipment where the computer tries to catch up to the music being fed into it. More plug-ins usually means more delay, as your computer struggles to do the math that each piece of simulated equipment requires.  This doesn’t happen with analog… everything is processed real-time. And analog has an infinite sampling rate.

The tradeoff is self-noise, as each piece of analog gear in the recording chain adds a tiny bit of noise that can add up really fast if you’re not careful. Software simulations of  reverbs, compressors, delays, and gates have no self-noise.

But the biggest disadvantage is talent… in other words, you need it. Recording and mixing in a traditional studio, in analog, is a much more musical workflow than mixing on a computer, but it requires more musical skill and ability than the typical home-studio, cut-and-paste GarageBand demo record. (Errors and mistakes are easily eliminated with mouse clicks these days. We used punch-ins and punch-outs on a multitrack for similar corrections, but rarely did the sort of microsurgery edits that are common in contemporary music.) Software simulations of classic gear are cheaper than using the actual gear, but cheaper isn’t necessarily better.

One of several tracking rooms. Not shown is Chris' hammond B3 with Leslie cabinets, or his rather extensive collection of vintage mics.

If you have an ear for classic rock ‘n’ roll, you’ll like the results that a dedicated studio space can provide… it’s a big difference over the typical bedroom recording. Contact me for rates and more information

Teaching at Flying Monkey Arts Center

I’ll be teaching a production seminar this weekend called “Field Audio for the Underfunded Filmaker” at the Flying Monkey Arts Center in Huntsville, Alabama, Sunday (Feb 7th) from 2-4:30.

Professional grade audio hardware can get very expensive, and few self-funded filmakers can solve their audio problems by throwing money at them. But with some planning, difficulties inherent in low-cost equipment can be managed. The thrust of our discussion will be audio basics and how to capture decent sound with whatever gear you have… we’ll talk about microphones, simple wireless setups, common audio problems, post-production workflows, and planning your shoot for audio. Participants are encouraged to bring their audio gear, and if time allows, we’ll do some hypothetical setups and tests.

The class is free and open to the public, and will meet in Don’s Studio. The Flying Monkey Arts Center is located at Lowe Mill, 2211 Seminole Drive in Huntsville, AL. For more info, call Don at 457-5371. Their website is at

CNN Heroes Link

Here’s a link to Loki Films website, where I did the field audio for the segment on JordanThomas here in Chattanooga. (My clip is the second one on the page)

Camera work was by Julia Dengel, and the producer was Rachel Grady. Both were extremely professional and a joy to work with, and they produced a great story. It aired on Anderson Cooper’s 2009 Hometown Heroes Thanksgiving special on CNN.

On the Red Carpet at the New Moon Premiere

I was recently asked to work a special movie opening by Paul Gussack at DVCommunications. These are usually live sound events with large, heavy load-ins and load-outs, lots of gear, and very late hours. But this event was a little different. Paul’s production involved a three-camera shoot for the Regal Cinemas corporation of a benefit movie opening in Knoxville, and he needed me to be a boom operator. Turns out I was on the Red Carpet for the premiere of New Moon, the second movie in the Twilight saga and top infatuation for just about every pre-pubescent female in the western hemisphere. There were a few post-pubescent women there as well. And every one of them was screaming.

On the red carpet in Knoxville, TN. Image by Justin Fee,

So it was kinda fun to be on the red carpet. Besides myself, a photographer… Justin Fee of… were the only ones allowed there. Everybody else had to stay behind a barrier. We had a lot of downtime, so Justin snapped a picture of me and sent it to me. Now I can prove I was there. Now all my nieces are absolutely green with envy… thanks Justin!

March Of Dimes PSA for Atomic/Johnson Group

I recently completed a quick PSA for the March Of Dimes and The Johnson Group.

Me chasing the dolly with Atomic Films.

We shot for a half day at Erlanger North Hospital here in Chattanooga. The shoot was in a busy hallway during the day… there were people constantly needing to go through. Several times there were newborns in carts, which is always a big distraction for me… “Brian loves him some babies,” as my wife likes to say. The PSA was for the Make A Wish Foundation, and star of the PSA actually had cancer as a child, and is completing her degree as a Nurse practitioner. Nine years ago, as a Make A Wish recipient, she wished for an ice cream party and a shopping spree at Toys R Us… but they were both for the other kids on the cancer floor… nothing for herself.

Bobby Stone was the photographer. We shot with their Red One camera mounted on a Super PeeWee dolly. Most of the sound was from Lectrosonics wireless… I used a shotgun for some shots, but the noise from a working hospital meant that most of the useable tracks would come from hidden lav mics. The majority of the spot was voice over, only a few lines were sync sound.


CNN’s Hometown Heroes

I recently completed two days of shooting for CNN’s Hometown Heroes with Anderson Cooper. It will air over Thanksgiving weekend.

The shoot was coordinated by Loki Films in NYC. Rachel Grady wasCNN production team from Loki Films. L-R, Ted Pio Roda, CNN photographer, Rachel Grady, director/producer, and  Julia Dengel, DP director/producer, and Julia Dengel was director of photography. Both were extremely accomplished and professional. Loki Films normally works on documentaries– some have appeared on programs like PBS’ Independent Lens. Their current projects include the Saudi Arabia Youth Project for MTV, and “Freakonomics:The Movie.” Their production “Jesus Camp” won the special jury award at the Tribeca Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award.

The subject was Jordan Thomas, who is an amazing young man. Jordan lost both legs below the knee in a boating accident. He was very fortunate to have survived, thanks to the fact that his mother and father are both doctors. While recovering in the hospital, he learned that most insurance policies limit coverage for prosthetics to $5000. His cost $24,000, and he’s on his third set, since young people grow out of them… not unlike a pair of shoes.

Within two weeks he had started the Jordan Thomas Foundation to help underinsured and uninsured families buy prosthetics for children. Once a candidate

Jordan Thomas

Rachel Grady interviews Jordan Thomas for CNN

is selected, the foundation commits to them until they are eighteen, meaning they will purchase several sets of limbs. We followed Noah–  a six-year-old beneficiary- through the Creative Discovery Museum here in Chattanooga. He went from basically a peg-leg to a real leg with an articulated knee. Where before he couldn’t run with other kids or ride a bike, he’s now EXTREMELY mobile and active… we all had a hard time keeping up.

I’ve just learned that Jordan has been selected as one of the top ten CNN Heroes, which means he’ll be traveling to Hollywood over Thanksgiving weekend for a celebration event hosted by Anderson Cooper. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer person.

Consider a donation to the Jordan Thomas Foundation, or help out by voting for CNN’s Hero of the Year here