Up up and AWAY with AOPA Live!

AOPA is the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. AOPA Live is the live streaming show they put on during their annual Summit on their website. A few weeks ago I worked as a sound mixer on the corporate ENG videos for AOPA Live at their 2011 Summit, featuring Cuba Gooding Jr. promoting his upcoming film, Red Tails.

I haven't done ENG since college working for Q30. This was my first time being a sound guy for ENG and was not sure what equipment to buy for it but I bought myself an FP Shure 33 mixer and a shotgun microphone, FR300. I didn't use either one of those, we just used a handheld microphone and my XLRs which I also bought for this project. I tested my Voco Pro Mark 12 handheld mic the night before day 1 of 4 and it didn't work unfortunately. However, the camera guy had a good handheld mic himself, a Sennheiser Md46, meant for autoraces and cancels out real intense background noises. I will look to that if I do another project requiring a handheld mic.

We had 3 teams of 2 to produce news packages at the Summit. My team was assigned mostly filming paks of seminars and interviewing speakers and attendees. Some of the people there were very interesting people with great stories. Learning about planes and flight was so inspiring it made me feel a connection with my grandfather and uncle. My grandfather designed the P-40 Warhawk in 1938 which was a fighter plane used in WWII. My uncle was a pilot during the Vietnam war and for American West Airlines. Watching some of the seminars and testing out some of the headphones and flight simulators, made me feel the experience a bit. I even purchased a GloveLite to use during my night shoots. It's been very useful so far.

For the most part on these news paks, audio was very simple. I felt almost useless, doing mostly grip and AC work. All we needed was a handheld mic and an XLR for the reporter. But there was a very difficult  sound task for one of our end of the day paks. We did a news pak on Bose headphones/headsets. They needed us to get the audio from their headsets to go directly into the camera to be recorded. They wanted to demonstrate their incredible noise cancellation. We tried getting an XLR-1/4" adapter to plug into the line output of the headset box but for some reason it did not work. We struggled for a bit but luckily one of the other sound guys suggested we put a wireless lav inside the earpiece of the headphone so that it records what the person hears. I didn't think it would work well, especially since there were so many other radio frequencies going on in that building, but it worked beautifully to save the day.

This was a great experience and I really hope to do more projects like this even though sound expertise was not needed often. It also opens my eyes to the world. That week was a pilots convention, another week could be a shoe factory, you never know, but learning about the world is always exciting.

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