NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA: Being selective is only natural for production sound mixer Art Rochester, with a list of credits that includes choice films as "Cellular," "Master & Commander," "The Witches of Eastwick," "Poltergeist," and "American Graffiti." He's equally choosy about his wireless systems, as he tackles the tough locations of director Tony Scott's "Déjà Vu" with gear from Lectrosonics.
"This film is the ultimate motion picture challenge for a recording engineer," says Rochester, who also has received five Oscar nominations for his work. "We have to use wireless mics on every shot, and I wouldn't even attempt to do this without Lectrosonics equipment. Every production mixer that has ever worked with Tony Scott will tell you he comes up with the most challenging scenes, where the use of boom mics in the conventional sense is impossible. From the first take to the last, all the dialogue has got to be usable. Lectrosonics allows me to capture everything with motion picture quality."
Multiple Lectrosonics systems, including the SM super-miniature and water-tight MM400b Digital Hybrid Wireless™ belt-pack transmitters, R400a diversity receivers, and VR Venue receiver systems, have been critical to Déjà Vu, which stars Denzel Washington in an action-packed tale merging terrorism, time-travel and romantic intrigue. The film's creative plot called for an equally creative approach to production sound mixing, as Rochester depended on Lectrosonics for his highly engineered, totally mobile "Command Van" that accurately records every word during dangerous high-speed driving stunts.
"We've got to make use of the best wireless technology available to make any shot work," Rochester explains. "Our Lectrosonics radio mics are recording the dialogue of actors in self-driving vehicles operating at high speed. Meanwhile, that same signal is also being sent to the Lectrosonics IFB of an off-screen actor who's riding in our Command Van doing the dialogue for a cell phone conversation that's taking place with the drivers. At the same time, the director's directions have to get distributed to everybody in real-time."
For Rochester, the water-tight design and rugged dependability of the Lectrosonics MM400B miniature transmitters and ultra-compact, splash-proof SM transmitters has been a lifesaver, film after film. "We have a lot of rain in this movie, as well as some boat chases," he says. "I use the Lectrosonics systems to send information to and from the actors on the boats, and they've proven very durable in these situations.
"Because we're in distant locations most of the time we don't have the opportunity or luxury of replacing gear. Therefore we need a microphone system that's so reliable it won't break. When we were filming Master & Commander on the far side of the world - like the Galapagos Islands - we couldn't afford breakage or unreliability, so we chose Lectrosonics. When you're expected to get every word of every take, there's no room for error."
Besides delivering great sound, the low profile of the Lectrosonics SM transmitters, paired with Countryman B6 lavalier mics, are a perfect match for the visual aesthetics of Scott's ("Domino," "True Romance," "Top Gun") shooting style. "In Tony's pictures we have a minimum of four cameras on every take: two of the cameras are very tight on faces and two are wide shots that show everything but the other cameras," says Rochester. "I can put the Lectrosonics SM belt-pack just about anywhere. It's the size of three AA batteries, whereas the standard pack is probably at least twice that size."
With his select clientele and reputation for extreme innovation, Art Rochester never gets tired of redefining production sound mixing. "I'm not afraid to push my wireless systems as far as they can go," he states. "Every film I've ever worked for - from "American Graffiti" on to "Déjà Vu" - I've needed wireless mics. Not until Lectrosonics did I find a wireless system that I could use on a daily basis and count on to get a great quality sound."
Well respected within the film, broadcast, and theater technical communities since 1971, Lectrosonics wireless microphone systems and audio processing products are used daily in mission-critical applications by audio engineers familiar with the company's dedication to quality, customer service, and innovation. Lectrosonics is a US manufacturer based in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.