When production on the upcoming action thriller Altitude took flight, Jesse Parker, a production sound mixer from Los Angeles-based location and post-production audio company ToneMesa, was on board.
Starring Denise Richards, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Liddell and Greer Grammer, Altitude is about a team of thieves who hijack an airliner in search of diamonds stolen from them by a former cohort. Richards plays an FBI agent who forms an uncomfortable alliance with the hijackers’ target, a master thief, to save the passengers before it’s too late.
“I recorded the entire movie on a Sound Devices 633 mixer/recorder, two Wisycom MCR42 Receivers, four Wisycom MTP41 Transmitters and DPA d:screet 4061 and d:dicate 4017B shotgun microphones,” says Parker. “I never would have needed more than four wireless inputs or one boom, so the 633 was a great fit that also allowed me to carry less weight. It was the perfect tool for the job.
“On a majority of movies, the production uses a lot more inputs, which in turn requires big rigs with full cartridge systems. With Altitude, there were only a couple of people on camera at any given time, primarily due to the space confinement of the entire movie taking place inside of an airplane. It was easy for me to put the 633 in a bag with two Wisycom receivers. My footprint was very small and I could get in and out of the extremely tight set. The 633 was the clear choice.”
For his microphones, Parker once again turned to DPA. “DPA mics have a great dynamic range, the frequency response is excellent and from my point of view, there is no other lavalier microphone that is as crisp and clear as the d:screet 4061. The d:screet 4061s capture flawless audio when they’re planted on someone, and you can also hide and use them to get awesome sound effects, which was crucial for this movie. It allowed me to capture more of the subtleties when I couldn’t boom on the wide shots. I could just set the microphone near the action, and it was like my ears were right there in the middle of it. I don’t find that same frequency response with a lot of other high-end lavaliers.
“The d:screet 4061s are so versatile, there are so many applications you can use them for. The d:dicate 4017B was great for extending my reach during any of the tight shots, giving me the ability to capture pristine dialogue. I knew I could rely on my DPA mics to give me the quality audio I needed, no matter how small of a space I’m working in.”
Parker also used Wisycom for all of his wireless needs. “I chose Wisycom for this production because my devices have never failed me on any project, and I knew timing was going to be a big issue. Wisycom is perfectly thought-out hardware and software; all of the different menu options are very straightforward, relative to other wireless systems that can be particularly confusing.”
One of the key features that drew Parker to use a Wisycom system was its flexibility. “With a lot of other wireless systems, things are automatic and there’s minimal information given as far as RF noise floor and your channel selection are concerned. With Wisycom, I can be confident that one frequency isn’t going to be stepping on the range of another.”
Another feature Parker praises is Wisycom’s user-definable squelch settings. “The squelch settings allow me to run an initial scan of the RF noise floor when looking for clean channels, and also provide visual meters of the RF level. The system stores that information over time, so the longer that screen is on, it will actually give me a better idea of where the RF noise floor lives for that given channel. It’s extremely accurate and precise.”
Parker has been using all three companies together for quite some time, and doesn’t see himself deviating any time soon. “The quality of sound captured by the DPA d:screet 4061 mics going through the Wisycom transmitters and receivers, and into the Sound Devices mixer/recorder is amazing. For me, the holy trinity of sound is DPA, Sound Devices and Wisycom. I’ve used many other manufacturers’ products, but those three are the pinnacle of getting that perfect sound. In my opinion, they just fit my workflow perfectly. The movie looks and sounds great. I am looking forward to seeing it on the big screen.”
Daniel McCoy, owner of ToneMesa, Inc., echoes Parker’s sentiments. “ToneMesa was proud to book Jesse Parker and be able to supply great cinema audio equipment for the production. We have a long history with Taylor & Dodge providing elite sound to their features, including Blue Line, Emmas Chance, and now Altitude.”