For Audi’s latest R8 commercial, the task of capturing the ambient engine sounds was handled by LA-based sound mixer Bob Tiwana who employed wireless technology from Lectrosonics.
A seasoned audio pro with a wide background, Tiwana has served as a guitar tech, mixed monitors and FOH for acts such as The Greg Kihn Band, Jefferson Starship, and Santana, and provides both location and studio sound services.
Lately, he’s been working as a location sound mixer on Skyline, a new feature film from Greg and Colin Strause.
Capturing the R8’s ambient engine sounds was a challenge given that the car was moving at a rapid rate much of the time.
Recognizing that wireless microphones were the only real choice for this task in addition to the need for solid audio performance, Tiwana chose five matched sets of Lectrosonics UM400 beltpack transmitters and UCR411 compact receivers.
These were used in conjunction with Lectrosonics ALP500 shark fin and SNA600 dipole antenna kits to ensure the best possible reception.
Tiwana discussed the challenges of the project, stating, “We filmed the commercial at the decommissioned Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, near Irvine, CA.”
“Since this commercial was intended to showcase the vehicle’s performance capabilities, I was responsible for capturing all automobile sounds, including high speed passes, the engine’s compartment’s high-revving tone, exhaust sounds, as well as the sound in the cockpit.”
“To do this, I paired the Lectrosonics transmitters with Heil Sound PR 40 and PR 20 microphones, as these handle high SPL’s really well and sound very much like studio condenser mics.”
“Since one moment I’d be recording the engine at idle speed and the next as it was driven fast, I needed a wireless transmitter with the ability to handle the dynamic range of the SPL that provided first-rate sonic clarity, and could take a fair amount of abuse. My UM400’s were the perfect choice.”
“For the engine compartment sounds,” Tiwana continued, “I wedged the UM400 transmitter in between the radiator and the body of the car using some foam pack. The transmitter got really hot – in the 150-degree range.”
“I must admit I was concerned about this, and yet I encountered no problems at all. The UM400 delivered great results. I also had a mic/transmitter combination on the back end of car for exhaust sounds and another such setup in the car’s cockpit.”
Concluded Tiwana, “They loved the way I mixed going straight to camera. In this business, you only get one chance to get it right. I’m not one who believes in fixing everything in post. I want the sound as close to perfect as I can get it up front, and my Lectrosonics gear helps me deliver that.”