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Mobile Questions & Answers
Old 30th September 2002
mwagener's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Mobile Questions & Answers

Since in a mobile truck everything is on wheels, so to speak, how do you store things for transport? does everything have it's own compartment to live in during drives or is everything pretty much installed in it's place?

What are the needs to interface with different venues, is there a standard, so you can just plug into existing patchbays or do you bring all your own stuff?
Old 1st October 2002
Super Moderator
Remoteness's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Certain things are in belly bins underneath the truck body. Bins 1 thru 3 are mounted on the passenger's side of the mobile unit. Bins 4 thru 6 are on the driver's side.

Bin one has various chemicals, cleaners, degreasers, plus crew supplies like, work gloves, rope, towels, sandbags, etc., plus 4" plastic bag roll which is used to cover up connections that live outside during gigs with damp conditions.

Bin two has all the feeder cable, that is, all the AC power cable with Camlok connectors. We carry over 400' plus of feeder on board.

Bin three is where we place all our Camlok tie in's, extra Edison cable, extra single channel video cable and all sorts of AC fuses, circuit breakers, wire bugs for nearly all types of situations.

On the other side in Bin four is all the truck supplies like oil, antifreeze, plus extras like headlights, wiper blades, fan and engine belts and emergency stuff like flares, reflective triangle, etc.

Bin five stores all our stands.

Bin six has extra subsnakes, XLR fan outs, Snake interface cables, various audio/video snakes and more sandbags. Oh, plus a bag of spring clamps that we use to hang sound blankets and stuff.

We store our audio/video adapters and extras in our double sized crew cab. When the cab is not used as a crash pad or office with computer and all the extras, it has been used as an voice over room or extra mix position or even an additional machine room. There are tie lines between the cab and control cabin.

Inside the Teak control cabin, the standard gear (that comes with the truck) is mounted in two front and back overhead racks. The patch bay and interface panels are also mounted in their own racks. Various outboard gear can come and go as per the client or engineer's request. The gear that is not mounted in racks are tied down via ratchet buckle straps off of the surrounding walls. The truck body rides on an air ride suspension, so the ride is very smooth.

There is a (kind of) standard when it comes to AC power. Most venues and/or sound companies use Camlok connectors to interface to power. If Camloks are not available we have Camlok to bare end and/or Camlok to Trico clamps adapters that attach directly to the lugs of a main power panel or cutoff switch.

Audio is another story.... We usually supply the splitter and XLR fan outs that connect to the sound company's stagebox. Sometimes the sound companies supply the splitter system. In those cases, we just get their XLR fan out tails and patch directly to our stagebox. We like to address these issues during the preproduction survey via the phone and/or walk through.

If we're on a teleproduction, we also need to interconnect to the TV truck or TV studio via BNC connectors for video and XLR's for all the audio send/return feeds. SMPTE timecode and video sync also show up on XLR and BNC connectors. If applicable, we sometimes ask for a video router head, so we can independently switch and view the multiple cameras that maybe are online.

Depending on how elaborate the communication system is, COMM interfacing can be as simple as an XLR cable or as awesome as a McCaurdy (sp?) or RTS ADAM multichannel system.

When there's no video or film production present, we almost always set up our own remote pan/tilt/zoom camera for closed circuit viewing. Nowadays, I like to record our PTZ camera (or video feed) to our new Sony DSR1500 DVCAM recorder, locked to the multitrack. During the mix, I can see what's happening on stage as if I'm mixing FOH. You just look up and the band's right in front of you on screen.

Some new facilities have existing audio, video and comm patch bays that make it a lot easier when interfacing, but we still bring all our own stuff just in case...
Old 1st October 2002
mwagener's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Wow, interfacing with others adds a whole new twist to the setup. Do you run into hum and ground loops if you connect to other trucks or how is that prevented?
Old 1st October 2002
BTW folks, Steve takes FORWARD PLANNING to another level! His brain is racing like a military strategist!

Old 1st October 2002
Super Moderator
Remoteness's Avatar
🎧 15 years
When we show up to the gig, we already know our system is rock solid within itself, but nothing is perfect... Anything can go wrong!

With the proper isolation of power, audio and video, along with a solid grounding system, we have a better shot at a clean recording. We try to focus more on the interface then on our stuff, unless it's on us.... ouch!

I tend to look at it from their perspective, back to us. The minute we hear a buzz and/or ground hum, we do a test disconnect of the snake system, and other interconnections, etc. If the hum or buzz goes away, we know it's on us. If the noise is still there, we know it's on them. One by one, step by step, you try to figure it out.

I must say, it can get very interesting on huge shows where there may be multiple video trucks, a satellite truck or two, ISDN or radio feeds, TV audio and music mix audio set-ups plus the band monitor rig, openning act's mix rigs, house sound system provided by the venue, et cetera, etc. and they all have to talk to each another with the last minute ENG camera crew that shows up five minutes before the performance and wants a mono mic level feed of the show...

Oh, I forgot about the "friendly" light department, that love to drop long huge feeder cable for the dimmers, right next to your low level mic snake runs. Remember what they say in TVLand...
"Hold for lighting." -- "Wait for Audio."
Old 2nd October 2002
Lives for gear
Steve Smith's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Originally posted by Jules
BTW folks, Steve takes FORWARD PLANNING to another level! His brain is racing like a military strategist!

Maybe if we are nice we could see one if Steve's advance sheets... he knew more about me than i did by showday..
Old 7th November 2002
Super Moderator
Remoteness's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Originally posted by Steve Smith

Maybe if we are nice we could see one if Steve's advance sheets... he knew more about me than i did by showday..

My advance sheet, which we call, a "Location File" is based on five components. Here's a link to "The five components to a successful location recording... Check it out.


Email me if you want a blank copy of the Location File document.
Old 7th November 2002
Lives for gear
cajonezzz's Avatar
🎧 15 years
So much great info in this thread Steve! You have no idea what a great resource this forum (and Gearslutz in general) has become to us. thanks for the time!

Question: On any given gig, is there a tech guy that is responsible for field repair/trouble shooting and to what degree is he capaple of repair? Will a faulty piece of gear be swapped out, replaced, or repaired in the field ( or wait till it's back in the shop?)
How many ,and what kind of duplicates will you take to a gig?

could you run down what you carry for mobile repair/tools etc.?

Thanks again!

Could I get a copy of your Location File document? yuktyy
Old 17th November 2002
Super Moderator
Remoteness's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Hey Craig,

This forum is a place where pro's can exchange ideas and listen what people are saying. Questions from the newbies and associates out there are always welcomed.

I'm happy you found that thread interesting. Thanks for helping make this new forum a great resource to many. We ask questions and tell our stories to grow and expand our minds. As more remote recording and broadcast people come on board, we will have a larger consortium of efforts. The remote side of the audio industry will in turn become a better community for all interested players, associates and friends.

Answer to your Question:
Many remote operations have the capacity to field repair and/or trouble shooting on location. Depending on the type of gig or equipment repair, a maintenance tech is a key member of the crew. Faulty equipment can be easily replaced or repaired in the field, but it really depends on the piece of gear and the time you have to repair it. Back ups are a key part of a remote operation. A quick swap out usually is the first solution. While it's swapped and there's enough time, repairing the bad unit is always a very good idea, especially if you don't have a second back up device.

We carry many extra parts, all types of tools, et cetera, etc. Extra mics, cables, modules, you name it, is the way to go when there's no room for screw ups. Believe, you / me, having back ups and a back up for the back ups, always keeps my confidence high.
Old 18th December 2009 | Show parent
Here for the gear
🎧 10 years
help me out with some mobile questions

thanks a lot Steve and thanks a lot everyone for all of this sharing of experiences! I´ve been learning from all your stories. This is like school for me. I´ve been reading about mobile recording and audio trucks. I got some questions for you teachers:

1.In Steve´s 5 components to a sucessful recording:
After you park and level your truck, Steve mentions: "install permits, etc."what do you have to do in that part. Could someone please explain what its about!

2. when mobile recording a big live event When you get to the sound check part, I guess you have to do it at the same time as the FOH is doing it or can you speak to the musician and ask him to play the snare a couple of times more. I would like to know a bit about how the sound check goes on and specially the mixing part too. I guess by the time you start recording the first song you already have the mix done from the rehearsal and you can only touch the faders very gently to adjust something. Do you go changing your mix in between songs?

2. How does a RTS ADAM multichannel system work? is it really vital for interfacing, when is it necessary? Is it the audio trucks that generally have them?

3.What kind of different Audio Trucks are there? I´m sure you can divide them into the really freaky ones and the regular big ones and medium/small sized. Can you divide them by their ultility or speciality?

Well so many questions i have, I`l go search some more and loose my self within the gearslutz posts!!

That´s all for now folks!
THanks again gear people!

keep on the great recordingsthumbsup thumbsup

Old 18th December 2009 | Show parent
Super Moderator
Remoteness's Avatar
🎧 15 years

No, thank you Chico!

I take pride in how the forum has developed over the last seven plus years.
That being said, I could not have done it without all the good and valuable Remotester members we have here.

I get monthly emails and PMs from folks telling me how much they have learned and appreciate this forum.
It's nice when someone states it publicly.

There was a guy that said he learn more about remote / location recording reading this forum over a weekend than he did in a course he took for an entire semester.

In many US cities (and, abroad) you need to get permission to park a vehicle for a recording, broadcast and such. Once you provide the particular city government with the proper information and insurance needs, they issue you a permit to be placed on the windshield of each and every vehicle that's part of the production venture.

We usually do our line check and sound check at the same time as FOH and MON.
This makes the process go a lot faster since we don't need to do it multiple times.
Sometimes there isn't even a sound check and you're lucky you got a line check done.
And, sometimes you're not ready to do a simultaneous sound check with live sound, so a second one is ordered.

For me, I usually like to follow what the FOH and MON engineers are doing and only ask for things if I really need to. I rather just have the band play a tune or three rather than spending time hitting a snare for an hour.
For me, it's more about maximizing the separation than getting each and every channel tweaked perfectly.
Getting great (sometimes good is all you can get) isolation is always my first goal.
Tweaking the channels is something I do during the actual (sound check) band performance once I got the isolation addressed and squared away.

When we are not piggy-backing on a show, we usually can get the musicians to play extra stuff for us, but sometimes you only can get what you get.

If you get a decent sound check and no one is rushing you, your mix can be ready for your first song of the set.
We usually multi-track the sound check, so we can get the few songs the band played for us perfect without having to ask them to stay on stage any longer than they need to.

As long as you get the mic pres set right, you should be good to go with regard to doing your virtual sound check.

If necessary I'm continually improving the sound of my live mix.
If we have to change something that's going to the multi-track we make change in between songs.
We also make notes of the changes and reference when they happened against the show's timeline.

Most large TV trucks use a RTS ADAM system, but it is not paramount.
It's an awesome system and very flexible; if you only need a few PL drops it is over kill.

There are all sorts of Audio Trucks out there; we can spend hours just talking about that.
I don't have the time to address it in this thread since I'm busy listening to remix edits and also prepping for tomorrow's gig.

I hope this helped.
Old 20th December 2009 | Show parent
Lives for gear
Jim vanBergen's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Hey Chico,

While it's hard to add anything to Steve's posts, I had a couple of thoughts that might be worth sharing.

Whenever I do broadcast television, someone else usually gets/provides permits and determines my exact parking, as well as providing event insurance. But when it's a smaller event, like a remote audio recording for a live CD or radio broadcast, then the remote company is responsible for their event insurance, liability insurance (for example, if a person on the street gets hit by or trips on cable, a cable ramp, or a technician working on the event) in addition to parking permits for the street. In NYC, the city has a division called the Mayor's office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting that deals with the requirements for all kinds of production in NYC. Here's a link:

NYC.gov - Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting

That shows examples of why you need to have a million dollar per instance liability insurance, and what the parking permits and drop/add sheet looks like. In NYC, you have to post no parking signage and sometimes hire parking specialists to secure your parking location, as well as provide the proper permits. After 9/11 my truck was cited and nearly towed DURING A RECORDING for being in a historical block without the proper permit in Philadelphia.

Sound Check:
As far as working the sound check, you start with a line check & the critical point of doing this is the communication between departments- a Truck A1 (mixer) and FOH A1 and Monitor engineer all on comms together- and you normally have a couple of A2's, one at the split and one at the stage. For the NBC special event broadcasts we also have an A2 just for the fiber head. As the A2 runs thru each mic, each A1 checks in:
(A2 hits beater or scratches on kick drum mic continuously while listening on com)
"Good for the truck"
"Good for the FOH"
"Good for monitors"
Then assuming all is well, the A2 will move on. If there is a problem, you find out who has the issue, where, and you check the rig- including the split or fiber head, or back up to the line and see where the problem is- for example, by using a test tone at line level, at mic level, a dynamic mic, and a condenser mic- to insure all parts are good and everyone is seeing proper output level and clean signal.

Normally you will test the split this way before you wire the stage, then after the stage is miked you do it again to confirm all your inputs, and THEN you get a sound check for dial in mic levels, dynamics & EQ, and record to tweak your mixes and playback.

I hope this sheds a tiny bit more light on the subject.

Old 30th December 2009 | Show parent
Here for the gear
🎧 10 years

Thanks a lot for your replies, yes they have helped!

I have set my mind up that i will build a mobile studio. I don´t know how long its going to take me, but you sure will be hearing about it when I do.

Still, I have lots to learn, and will keep it up! SOrry for the beginners questions but here goes:

on your 10 basic needs when designing a mobile recording studio, you mention:
A transformer isolated mic/line splitter with at least two isolated feeds. I´m not quite sure how that works. Where do the separate feeds connect? I guess each to different recording systems. Is it transformer isolated to lift the ground?

Well, the 10 basic needs when designing a mobile was very cool, but what about the 10 basic steps of building a mobile? That would be even better!!!

many thanks and hope this new year brings lots of great mobile recordings!!! All the best to all you gearslutz!! HAPPY NEW YEAR 2010!!!! a

Old 30th December 2009 | Show parent
Lives for gear
🎧 10 years
The feeds CAN go wherever you want them. A typical scenario, though, would be one side goes to the house PA and the other to the record world.
Old 31st December 2009 | Show parent
Super Moderator
Remoteness's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Yes, what Thomas said is spot on.

Typically, the direct output would go the the console that is providing the phantom power. I usually try my best to acquire the direct, so I can get the cleanest feed from the mics and DIs. the first isolated (transfermer) output would go the the live sound console(s). Many times they would just take one of our ISO outs and feed their two way splitter. Other times the third output (second isolated out) can go the the second live sound console. So, FOH and MON can be feed by one of the splitter outs or we can provide two individual outs.

Sometimes there is a second record or broadcast crew, so the third out could go to them. in that scenario it would be as follows...

Direct: Music Mix
ISO 1: FOH & MON via live sound's two way splitter.
ISO 2: OB Van

I hope this clears it up for you a bit.
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