Tuesday, 16 April 2013

One Two... One Two... Lets Hear It For The Soundman..!

SOUNDMAN: *Taps headphones* 'One Two... One Two... OK, here we go... Turn over when you're ready...'

Dead dog on a stick... A soundman's favourite weapon.

Thank you... Following yesterday's quite brilliant blog post, I received a short, yet angry looking reply after a short, tongue in cheek conversation with a fellow cameraman in the US. To quote Anonymous, he/she simply said...

'Stop shitting on the sound guys.'

SOUNDMAN: 'Hang on... Can you say that again For level...?'


Can i go on..? Thanks... I know, it's a picture you now have in your head that won't go away... Sorry about that.

SOUNDMAN: 'Testicles, Testicles... 1... 2... Testicles'

Now, any reader of this esteemed, nearly award winning publication will know that I regularly take the piss out of working in the TV News. Why..? Because the often silly predicaments we find ourselves in lends us to a little self deprecation. (And crying in the Sat truck).

SOUNDMAN: 'Are you plugged in..? 1 2 1 2... Just checking...'

In this job we call 'The Meeja,' or 'The TeeVee Noos,' there can be no other relationship quite as acerbic / Friendly / Funny as that between a Cameraman and Soundman. For example, the friendship is so close, that every soundman knows how his cameraman likes his tea... Milk, 2 sugars, NATO standard issue. If you would like a cup of tea, just ask the soundie if you can have one too... one too..

You see many years ago, every TV News cameraman came with a TV News soundman, umbilically linked by wire and tech. More importantly, linked by a knowing ability to take the piss out of each other that is legendary, spoken of in hushed tones at the local boozer / kebab emporium / crack house.

Without the cameraman, it's just radio. Without the soundman... It's... Erm... Complicated. You see, we as news cameramen can get by without a soundman, and by that I mean get by. Nothing we film is ever as good as it could be with a soundman, who in my opinion, in any cameramans opinion, is just as important a job.

Unfortunately, It is very rare these days that TV News broadcasters realise this fact and make use of a soundman. More's the pity. I wish I had one when I'm filming.

SOUNDMAN: 'Sorry... PFFT... PFFT... 1 2 1 2... Still there..?'

Can i get on with this..? Thank you... Where was I..? The thing is, trying to concentrate on pictures and sound together can make for a difficult time in some circumstances when filming the news. Listening for clicks, whistles, mush and pings while filming can put you off your filming stroke, as it were. And the ability to detect the Boeing 747 that's just taken off from Heathrow when you're filming in Cornwall is something that only a proper soundman can do.

SOUNDMAN: 'Hang on, there's a scratching noise here... Let me just fix that... Ok... continue...'

In my opinion, anyone with a mastery of Ohms, db levels, signal to noise ratios and sibilance energy centred on 7kHz levels can plug into my equipment anytime... Just clean your XLR with Dettol before entering your male jack into my female receptor you dirty buggers...

SOUNDMAN: 'Hello..? 1 2 1 2, bugger, must be some interference 'round 'ere somewhere... Can we start again... From the top..? For level, Tell me what you had for breakfast...'

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.