Currently working on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," a companion to NBC's "Law & Order" franchise that is now in its sixth season, Daly, who has been with this show since it started in 1999, reveals that he relies on Lectrosonics for all of his RF gear. At the heart of his rig is a full rack comprising eight industry standard Lectrosonics UDR200C dual-channel, half-rack, diversity UHF receivers.
"Everything in my world is done wirelessly - the boom operator, the cast members - and we move so quickly that we don't have time to deal with cable." Daly is also responsible for wireless headphone feeds to everyone on the set, including Lectrosonics IFBs to several key people.
With the production shot very quickly in the streets of New York - up to ten script pages a day, compared to three pages on a feature film - the Lectrosonics gear has to be 100 percent reliable in an environment thick with background RF signals. "In New York, you've always got the potential of getting hits from competing productions in the area," says Daly, who is thankful for the 256 user-selectable frequencies that the UDR200C receiver offers. "Having the ability to switch channels is great. Sure, everything works when you're standing next to the receiver, but go 50 feet away and everything can change."
Having taught electronics in the Navy before starting his career in the film business, Daly has a strong background in RF technology and was attracted to the Lectrosonics frequency-agile system as soon as it hit the market in 1995. "It was so intelligently done, with the LecNet software. It's genius. With LecNet you're able to actually look at the RF spectrum and see what's happening on the next block. That really sold me." LecNet provides remote computer control and monitoring of the receiver via the unit's serial port.
"So I've been a fan for a couple of generations of Lectrosonics products," continues Daly. He was already using the company's original VHF system when, after 21 years of working as a sound mixer on films such as "9 1/2 Weeks," "JFK" and "Six Degrees of Separation," he moved to television and "Law & Order." That was well before the diversity receivers, that are now so commonplace, were available. But as he notes, "The thing that was generally missing at the beginning of RF mic use was the solid RF link. When Lectrosonics came out with their original VHF system it was like a miracle. I had a solid RF link that sounded great."
Indeed, the Lectrosonics system is so rock solid that Daly experienced only his first failure in 15 years just recently. Not bad for a system that gets pounded in an eight-day per episode shooting schedule, 18 hours a day, nine months a year, for the two dozen episodes that make up a season. "But that's nothing compared to what the actors do to the transmitters - all the fights and chases, as well as getting slammed against walls and rolling around in water and mud," he points out.
But if anything does go askew, Daly says, Lectrosonics - and Gotham Audio, who supply much of the show's gear - are there to support him. "When I first got the system both Lectrosonic's president, Larry Fisher, and vice president, Gordon Moore, came in to meet with me. Now we've got sales support from their east-coast rep, Howard Kaufmann, who has been invaluable. Howard has been to the set a dozen times over the past years and brings his frequency spectrum analyzer with him for in-depth measurements."
Daly, who has worked on various Dick Wolf productions since starting in television, reveals that sound mixing is "one of the few jobs in the film business where you are not told what to use. In fact, the less they know the better they like it. The only caveat is that it had better work. You have to be able to clearly hear the dialogue. When you're spending millions a week on a show, you can't afford audio screw-ups. So Lectrosonics is the lifeline to my work."