Part of what I enjoy as a production sound mixer is thinking on your feet to handle problems. Every production day presents unique challenges to be solved on the fly. Even with the best preparation, you still have to stay sharp and actively engaged.
In June of 2020, American Experience came to Charleston SC to film some on location interviews for a program released last year: The Blinding of Isaac Woodard. The filming took place in an historic downtown Charleston library. The building was multi-level, with open space around the floor perimeters in some areas. HVAC systems were on automatic and could not be completely disabled. The result was that the air handling systems created a significant amount of noise which reverberated throughout the location.
For this scenario, we used a number of sound blankets to surround the main HVAC air handler fan enclosures. In addition, we reduced the amount of open air space between the floor levels to minimize sound travel from lower levels. This mitigated the unwanted sound enough so that it wasn’t a major issue. By using microphones designed for film production with proper placement, we were still able to achieve a high quality result.
PBS occasionally provides complete access to the film online. Even though I am a small part of the overall process, I’m very grateful to have been a part of the project. The full episode is available for free on PBS until 02/28/2022.
The Blinding of Isaac Woodard
Gotham Sound – Sound Blankets
Disclaimer: I receive no compensation from the manufacturer for discussing these products (sound blankets). They are purchased at standard retail rates and are an integral part of the gear of a production sound mixer.