Close ☰
Menu ☰

Ford v Ferrari sounds great with Lectrosonics

Posted on: Friday 7th of February 2020

Telling the story of the Ford Motor Company’s upset racing victory at Le Mans in 1966, Ford v Ferrari (titled Le Mans ’66 in some European countries,) has earned praise for what many car aficionados say are the most realistic race scenes ever created for a feature film. This involved capturing the dialogue of co-star Christian Bale (as driver Ken Miles) at realistic speeds, a challenge which fell to production sound mixer Steve Morrow, a 25-year Lectrosonics user nominated for Academy Awards for his work on La La Land and the 2019 remake of A Star Is Born. Morrow kindly took some time with Lectrosonics to explain how he used ultra-compact SSM transmitters and rugged UCR411a receivers to put the audience behind the wheel of Bale’s fire-breathing Ford GT40 — as well as to explain the rest of his rig including the Venue2 modular receiver system, HMa plug-on transmitters, and more.

“I always use SSMs for all the actors’ mics,” says Morrow. “They’re the smallest and lightest transmitters Lectrosonics makes, they’re ultra-reliable, and the talent barely knows they’re there. Lectro has other transmitters with higher output power, but we’ve never had a problem with range. For most of the dialogue, we have active shark-fin antennas on long coax cables, powered from the Venue 2 receiver chassis.”

Recording cockpit dialogue, however, called for a different approach, as the cars would be driven around actual racetracks. “The cars, including the Shelby Cobra and Ford GT40, were put on a vehicle called the ‘Biscuit rig,’ so named because it was used in the movie Seabiscuit,’ explains Morrow. “It has its own motor and stunt driver, a movable pod for a camera operator, and hauls the vehicle around the track at speed. Christian was focused on acting, not driving, and we miked him up with an SSM and DPA 4062 mic, then put a simple bag rig consisting of UCR411a receivers and a field recorder right in the trunk of the car. The Biscuit rig is designed for shooting and there’s no room on it for a sound operator, so we had to just start the recorder, watch them drive off, and trust we were going to get a good recording. Lectrosonics lets me have that trust, and I like the UCR411a for this sort of guerilla work because it can really take a beating.”

The method worked so well, in fact, that they were able to record an exchange in which Bale talks to another driver who briefly pulls up alongside him: “For that scene, we didn’t have a separate audio bag in the other car, just a second UCR411a feeding another track of the recorder in Christian’s car. When the other driver pulled up, his SSM came within range, he said his lines, then drove away. It went off without a hitch!”

Lectrosonics recorded the sounds of the cars as well as their drivers. “We only had one vintage Ford GT40 on set,” recalls Morrow. “The rest were film cars with more modern engines for the sake of reliability. So, for authenticity, the post-production team went to a track day and convinced a bunch of guys with actual GT40s to let them record their engine sounds. Where boom mics were needed, we put HMa plug-on transmitters on the boom poles so that the operators could move around freely.”

For on-set communications and IFB monitoring, “my team, which included Craig Dollinger and Brian Mendoza, used LT transmitters to talk to each other, because of the convenient red toggle switch on the top that can be used as a mute. We also used an older UM400a as an IFB transmitter, and we all listened using IFB-R1a receivers. I’ve recently just gotten into the M2 Duet system as well, and am looking forward to using it more.”

Morrow credits Lectrosonics’ reliability and performance for his long-term loyalty. “The Lectrosonics gear never fails, it sounds as good as if you’re running cables, and it holds onto frequencies for dear life. I now have three Venue 2 units on my main cart, so I can do 18 channels of wideband. The SSMs are wideband-capable, which is key with the available frequency spectrum being such a moving target.

“Let me give you one last example of how solid it is,” he continues. “In 2017 I did a film called The Front Runner, which starred Hugh Jackman as the presidential candidate Gary Hart. We had 21 actors miked with SSMs at all times, and a lot of it is rapid-fire dialogue with people talking over each other, like a Robert Altman movie on steroids. Scanning for frequencies at the beginning of each shooting day took no more than 20 minutes — for everybody — and we had zero problems with crosstalk, dropouts, or interference. Even if you’re starting out in sound and on a budget, I strongly recommend that you get however many channels of Lectrosonics you can afford. This is gear you won’t want to replace in two, five, or ten years.”

 



Latest News & Blog articles

  • LA-based company Groovesetter has unveiled its real-time, multi-channel audio collaboration platform for streaming, performing and recording over high-speed internet. It claims to allow musicians to perform in synchrony, with Groovesetter subscribers able to connect cloud-free with the high sound quality from up to eight remote locations. Groovesetter lays out interactive visual routing of audio signal […]
  • Lawo, the German manufacturer of IP-based audio and video products, has a new software update for users of Lawo radio mixing consoles, Power Core mixing engines, and On-Air Designer configuration software. The new radio software, v6.6 PL-003, upgrades On-Air Designer – the configuration software used to customise the functions of Lawo’s radio mixing consoles and […]
  • German company ALC NetworX, developers of the open-source Ravenna AoIP networking technology platform, have launched an updated product-specific website to support the protocol. Sporting a new, more modern look and feel the site offers information and resources concerning all things that relate to Ravenna, including standards information, use cases, webinars and other resources. Ravenna is […]
  • The Zen Q Synergy Core is Antelope Audio’s new 14×10 desktop audio interface with Thunderbolt 3 connectivity. Combining Antelope’s own AD/DA, and 64-bit Acoustically Focused Clocking technology, it offers recording, mixing, and playback at up to 24-bit/192kHz. The new unit – which serves as a more powerful version of the company’s Zen Go USB-C bus-powered […]
  • As it warms up for its 25th Anniversary celebrations, German digital audio technology stalwart RME has announced the Fireface UCX II, an update of its original UCX interface featuring 20+20 I/O channels in the same ½ rack-style unit, its SteadyClock FS clock and jitter reduction technology, 2x mic/line combo inputs and built-in parametric EQ. The […]
  • In the tracks of its UF8 DAW controller, SSL has launched a new, software-specific control surface for its channel strip and bus compressor plug-ins.  With the UF8 now established as its main DAW control option, SSL is expanding its line of controllers with the UC1 – which brings the familiar layout and ergonomics of its […]
  • FAMA, a boutique record label with an emphasis on artist development, has built a destination recording complex in the Dominican Republic with the help of WSDG Latin. Available for creative retreats, song writing camps, and recording and mixing, the FAMA facility is “their dream studio”, delivered by WSDG Partner/Project Manager, Sergio Molho. “They found a […]
  • An interesting feature of Merging’s Anubis Ravenna interface, reviewed in Resolution V21.1, was the potential for it to completely change its functionality through the update of its ‘Missions’ – essentially its configuration and operation settings. The unit launched with one such Mission – monitor control – but now an update from the manufacturers is set […]
Translate »