A Publication of the Association of Motion Picture Sound
w w w. r i c h m o n d f i l m s e r v i c .u k
We thank all our Sustaining Members for their continuing support
# 68
News and Items
The Journal Page and Chairman’s Comment
Membership matters & new members
Who’s At What : Dave Humphries brings us your news
Remote Control : Tim White explores the Digital Snake
Dennis Weinreich : Interview by Peter Hodges
11: Testing the Digital Snake
The Hugh Strain Interview by Rob James, from 1999
Yellow Submarine : Sound Post from 1968 by Antal Kovacs
Angel Heart : Eddy Joseph recalls a memorable production
The (Mainly) Technical Crossword by Peter Musgrave
The Editor’s Oddments
Hugh Strain AMPS Fellow : An obituary by Norman Brown
Peter Lodge : An obituary by Michael Johns
Reg Sutton AMPS Hon : A tribute from Sir Sydney Samuelson
Picture appeal : Can you enlighten the Journal?
22: EJ in LA in ‘86
08: Who’s At What
Cover is a regular montage of images to be
found in features in this issue.
17, 20, & 27: Hugh Strain
BE ON THE COVER - or at least a photo taken by you. We’re always on the
lookout for pictures suitable for the Journal cover - things, people or a clever image that relates to AMPS members. They need to be portrait in shape
with nothing crucial where the Journal logo would go, and of sufficient
resolution that the image is still good at A4 size (300dpi or greater). We’re
working on some small reward for those that we use. Contact [email protected] More details to follow.
If you are an individual member of
AMPS, and live in the UK postal area,
you should have received FirstFrame,
the publication of the Guild of British
Film & Television Editors (GBFTE) in
with your copy of the AMPS Journal.
While this is a trial we very much
hope that this will become a regular
The GBFTE approached AMPS for
some assistance with upgrading their
quarterly newsletter some years ago.
After much discussion it was decided
to make it a physical part of the AMPS
Journal but inverted and starting from
the opposite direction – you probably remember it. Both organisations
received feedback showing that access to the content of each other’s
publications was found interesting by
the respective memberships and the
arrangement was positive.
However, the one difficulty was that
both publications had to synchronise
their production times and schedules,
and that is always a problem when
relying on members providing the
majority of the written content.
This was solved by a new editorial
team in the GBFTE with all the needed
production skills taking their publication fully back ‘in-house’ as an independent magazine. However, there
was still the interest in seeing ‘the other’ publication and so we have come
to an arrangement with the GBFTE
where they distribute the AMPS Journal to their membership while AMPS
adds FirstFrame to the Journal mailing
– hence your ‘bonus in the bag’.
Any one receiving the AMPS Journal but not FirstFrame and who would
like to receive a copy, just e-mail
[email protected] with that
request and a copy will be sent.
This issue of the Journal has several articles that recognise
the career, and importance to the formation of AMPS, of Rerecording mixer Hugh Strain who died recently. An article on
the Post Production Sound process of Yellow Submarine from
1968 gives a clue as to his versatility and the way he managed
to successfully pull a team together.
We also have the only known interview with Hugh from
1999, just two years before he retired. We are grateful to the
interviewer/author Rob James for permission to print this
insightful article in the Journal.
Hugh’s friend and work colleague, Norman Brown, has
compiled a detailed tribute to Hugh which is accompanied
by many personal memories from AMPS members about the
side of Hugh that they knew.
Hugh was very important in the formation of AMPS and
he was made Member No 001 in recognition of this. The best
description of the formation of the Association and Hugh’s
role is given in the citation of his Fellowship award made in
1999, excerpts of which are below.
Hugh Strain was one of the people who had long considered that
there should be a special organisation to foster the interests of those
working in Motion Picture Sound, where all grades and crafts could
meet and discuss problems and ideas common to all.
In February 1988 he was one of the eleven sound people nominated to investigate the possible formation of an association or guild
for people working in Motion Picture Sound. Later in April, at a
general meeting of sound workers, called by the eleven nominees
to present their findings, Hugh was one of those elected to represent Post Production Sound on a working party of 12 made up of
Production Sound, Post Production Sound and Sound Editors. The
working party’s job was to decide upon ways and means of establishing an organisation dedicated to the interests of Motion Picture
Sound, the people employed in the various crafts concerned and the
Film Sound Industry in general.
Hugh played a major part in the discussions that ensued during
the many meetings that took place during the following 14 months.
His suggestions were always constructive as were the ideas he contributed. The generous amount of time he gave proved his dedication and desire to see an association successfully launched.
On June 25th 1989, the working party called an inaugural meeting at which the Association of Motion Picture Sound came into
being. At that meeting, the first Council was elected where Hugh
topped the poll.
Subsequently, at the first Council meeting on 4th July 1989,
Hugh was elected first Chairman of the Association unanimously,
a post he filled with distinction for the following three years. During his term of office, besides arranging Council meeting venues at
De Lane Lea, Hugh’s enthusiastic Chairmanship created an informal approach to meetings that has remained a Council style to this
...from AMPS Chairman
The AMPS Journal (‘The Journal’)
is published quarterly by the
Association of Motion Picture Sound
It is distributed to all members and
associated organisations. The Journal is
a forum for discussion and it should not
be assumed that all opinions expressed
are necessarily those of AMPS
A version of the Journal is also available
via the AMPS website (
All contents © AMPS 2011
Edited by Keith Spencer-Allen AMPS
Tel: +44 (0)1732 740950
Fax: +44 (0)1732 779168
For general communications use :
[email protected]
For press releases, images etc use :
[email protected]
The Administration Secretary,
Association of Motion Picture Sound
28 Knox Street, London W1H 1FS, UK
Tel: +44 (0)207 723 6727
Fax: +44 (0)207 723 6727
For general communications use :
[email protected]
Should be addressed to the Membership
Secretary at the AMPS office address as
above or direct to:
[email protected]
It sometimes feels that the pace of change in the Film and
Television Industry is so fast that there is hardly time to pause for
breath. The exponential slope of technological advancement can be
of such steepness that it is impossible to find a handhold and get a
grip on the latest development before others arrive to supersede it.
When I began working in sound Post-Production, the transition
from analogue to digital formats was taking place. The main studio
in the small facility I was working in was home to various pieces
of equipment and formats, ranging from analogue cart machines
to the new and terribly exciting Tascam DA88 digital multi-track
recorders. Location sound arrived on DAT cassettes, pictures
were played from Sony U-matic or Beta SP tapes, and the final
soundtrack was laid back to Digital Betacam masters.
Now, only fifteen years later, one would be hard pressed to find a
facility that has any of these systems in permanent use. The Production and Post-Production process of the project that has occupied most of my time this year was entirely file-based. Even though
the shoot and cutting rooms were located on the other side of the
Atlantic, thanks to the internet and file delivery solutions, as far as
I was concerned they could have been on the other side of London.
Audiences, too, will not have failed to notice how swiftly the
changes in technology have altered the way in which they interact
with the work we are involved in creating. Sound for the moving
picture now appears in so many more places and spaces, from
multiplex cinemas to the devices carried in pockets. The boundaries between film, television, gaming and online content have never
been less distinct, and will continue to become more diffuse as the
new media platforms are exploited.
As Production Companies, Studios and Distributors embrace
these opportunities, the role of the experienced, adaptable and
creative practitioner in this sector of the industry has never been
more important. The individuals represented by AMPS have often
proved themselves to be the best placed to analyse, understand
and interpret how best to implement and utilise the new technologies, ensuring that the best possible soundtrack is delivered.
I hope that AMPS members feel that the organisation continues
to be of use in expanding knowledge and developing skills. It is
always great to see how much information and experience is freely
exchanged within the AMPS Connect e-mail group. The recent and
very well attended Sample Rates, Frame Rates and Workflows meeting
organised by the AMPS Events team was an excellent opportunity
to bring together manufacturers, developers and members to address some of the issues that have become priorities in Production
and Post-Production in recent years.
Change is a constant. By constantly engaging with producers,
colleagues and manufacturers as we learn, develop and adapt the
new technologies no matter how revolutionary a new approach
may be, the underlying principles to creating a good soundtrack
will remain the same.
Chris Roberts
[email protected]
from the
[email protected]
Dear Members
We are now a long way into 2011 and it is with regret that we have to
report that a number of members have failed to render their subscription
for this year, consequently their membership is considered to have lapsed.
The Council realises that at the present time, people may be pushed
for funds with necessities coming first and is keen to re-iterate that when
members find themselves in this situation, there can be ways found to
keep them on the list. Do let us know, in confidence.
Another factor came into play, in that the subscription rates were
increased last year but some members did not adjust their Standing
Orders either for 2010 or this year. As the Association has received the old
amounts, Council decided to allow a pro-rata period of membership up to
the end of August, whereupon those memberships would be suspended
for the remainder of the year.
The membership tally, as at November 2011, is as follows :
Patrick Heigham AMPS
Membership Secretary
• Number of members
• Members resigned
• Members passed away • Members lapsed • Members suspended 7 (retired, left industry or went abroad)
14 (non-payment of any subscription for 2011)
22 (subscriptions short of full amount)
I’m still working on the last two categories, hoping to persuade
payments to be made!
Some of our student members have been fortunate to find work in
the industry following their graduation from their various courses. We
should like to remind our students that if you are happily working, then
promotion to Supplementary level requires a fresh application with
sponsorship by two Full AMPS members to back it. Please remember to
inform us when this applies to you, and don’t forget to advise us of any
change of address and contact details!
On a more cheerful subject – the AMPS On-line Directory has a link to a
page if members have attained Awards or Nominations. Please take a look
if you were honoured, and if there isn’t one for you, and you have an entry
to advertise, then please forward all details to the Membership Secretary.
As most are aware, AMPS runs three e-mail group lists for communicating
with members:
Allmembers - the complete membership, for notifications of meetings
and general administration matters.
Connect - a forum style network for exchange of information amongst
members, but not all members subscribe to this, although it’s proving to be
a terrifically helpful research tool.
Screenings - for notifications of films that are shown in Pinewood’s
Theatre 7, run in conjunction with other film industry Guilds and West End
shows at Moving Picture Company.
Some members are not on the Screenings list – if you are not receiving the
Pinewood films notifications, and wish to, please let us know:
[email protected]
We welcome the following New Members:
Production Mixer
Sound Editor
Boom Operator
Full (Re-joining)
Boom Operator
Supplementary (from Student)
Sound Assistant
Catherine DUFFY
Supplementary (from Student)
Sound Assistant
Supplementary (from Student)
Sound Assistant/Boom Operator
Production Mixer
Changes in Membership:
Production Mixer/Boom Op
Student Member
Student Member
Re-recording Mixer/Editor
Production Mixer
Sound Editor/Sound Designer
Dolby Consultant/Re-recording Mixer
Boom Operator
Who’s At What ....
- a listing of members’
activities, based entirely
on information provided
by yourselves.
The productions listed
are in no particular order.
AMPS members are in
coloured bold type.
If you would like to
let everyone know what
you’re doing, send a short
e-mail with the relevant
details to :
[email protected]
and you’ll be in the next
We’d also be pleased to
hear any additional
technical information
such as what key
equipment, recording
format etc, you were
Many thanks to those
who’ve sent pictures
- more are encouraged.
Looking forward to
hearing from you.
Dave Humphries
.... Sound Editor Jussi Honka posted (a bit too late for the last issue) that he
was part of a three member team who won ‘Best Sound’ on a feature film at
the ‘Finnish Oscars’ (called Jussi’s) in February. The film was Rare Exports:
A Christmas Tale, it was a fantasy/horror/thriller/comedy. Although his
credit was as Sound Designer, he really did all Sound FX and Dialogue editing for the film. It is distributed in UK by Icon.
He adds that another of his projects, The Confession was nominated for the
Short Film (Live Action) Academy Award this year, but unfortunately didn’t
win. The same film was also an MPSE Golden Reel Verna Fields Award in
Sound Editing nominee, but luck wasn’t on his side there either.
.... Production Sound Mixer Bob Newton AMPS and Boom Operator Richard
Pilcher completed The Inbetweeners, shooting in the UK, Crete and Mallorca,
with Rikki Hanson AMPS on dailies and assisted in the UK by Johnny White
and in Mallorca by Jose Maria and Pablo Lopez - using Sonosax ST8D mixer
- Fostex recorders - Schoeps, Neumann and Sanken mics with the Holophone
being used for 5.1 acquisition. The project was shot for the most part on two
Arri Alexa cameras with all timecode locking
being taken care of by Ambient products
Arty creativity during The Inbetweeners
shoot on a Mediterranean beach taken on
a phone at night (well, 5am) so not great quality but effective.
.... Production Sound Mixer Julian Willson AMPS, writes, “I’m just wrapping
on the Noel Clarke horror film Storage 24 with my Boom Ops Daniel Tudor
Owen and Matthew Hansel.
.... Supervising Sound Editor Colin Chapman AMPS says that he and Ross
Adams are working on Silent Witness at Molinare.
.... Re-recording Mixer Alan Sallabank AMPS writes, “I have been mixing
Combat Hospital - a 13 x 1hr drama series for ABC / CBC / Artists Studios,
along with David Old, Supervising Sound Editor - Chris Roberts AMPS,
Dialogues - Peter Shaw & Mat Taylor, FX - Jack Gilles & Richard Fordham,
Music Editor - Andy Glen AMPS, Assistant - Jay Roach, and Foley by
I then moved on to eight episodes of the new Doc Martin series for ITV.
Dialogues - Sarah Morton, FX - John Downer AMPS, Foley by Everything
And in between, I’ve got married! (Many congratulations Al! - Dave)
.... Sound Editor Ash Tirabady AMPS has been working on the Dialogue and
ADR of Shameless’s 100th episode in its 8th series. A 100min special to be
broadcast on Channel 4 in Autumn.
NB: For anyone without ready access to
e-mail, send details by post or fax to the
usual AMPS office address.
.... Production Sound Mixer Simon Koelmeyer AMPS writes, “I’m finishing
a film in London called Papadopoulos and Sons with Boom Ops William
Whale AMPS and Johnny White. Shot on Arri Alexa and recorded on Deva
4. Two radio booms, multiple Steadicam and playback scenes with induction
loops and in-ear monitors keeping us busy. Post and orchestral scoring are
being done at Air Studios.
.... Production Sound Mixer Simon Bishop AMPS says, “I spent
the greater part of last winter recording all the location audio for
my fifth series of New Tricks, a job which I have loved since I was
lucky enough to be asked to work on it a while back. Jason Bennett AMPS was on the boom, and Sarah Howe was our assistant.
The picture (right) was taken at a zoo in the spring, and, yes, there
was some glass between myself and the tiger!!
We finished about two months ago, and after a well earned holiday, I have been working on various shorter term projects. I am
currently running a 48-track SADiE on the X Factor Bootcamp,
and next week will be reinstalling, for the 5th time, a 24-track rig
on the coach for the Coach Trip series.
Incidentally, the sound department on X Factor is currently
running four Digico mixer desks, and an Allen & Heath iLive
series. It is a bit of a techno fest!”
.... Production Sound Mixer Richard Manton AMPS has been
shooting Series 6 of Lewis with Boom Op Steve Fish AMPS and
Assistant Caroline Singh.
“In addition to my professional duties I am required to keep the
unit up to date with the Test Match. Here (right) Kevin Whately,
Laurence Fox along with Producer Chris Burt lend a keen ear to
my little old handheld analogue radio.”
.... Production Sound Mixer Richard Flynn AMPS is based in New
Zealand and says, “I have been recording a film called The Orator
or ‘O le Tulafale’ - what is to be the first feature film from Samoa
entirely in the Samoan language.
Saili, an unassuming villager & taro farmer, lives happily with
his beautiful wife Vaiga and her teenage daughter Litia. Their
existence, whilst happy and peaceful, is unconventional. Vaiga
has been banished from her ancestral village for many years. Saili
faces serious threats to his plantation as well as his family & has
been denied his fathers chiefly title. Life is complicated further by
Litia’s blossoming beauty that is getting the attention of the young
men in the village. Matters ultimately come to a head, requiring
Saili to speak up, speak out & defend all that he holds precious.
Whilst there were temperatures in the high 30s most days with
high humidity, my trusty Cantar behaved flawlessly.
The concept of an ‘interior’ in Samoa is somewhat misleading
as most of the fale (houses) have no doors, windows or walls.
Hence the ever-present natural tropical ambience of birds and
insects really was always present. I ran a stereo ambience mic the
whole time as there was not much chance of getting clean production dialogue.
The other sound issue was that everyone in the villages we
filmed in loved to play loud amplified music all day and most of
the night! Luckily, without exception, people were very understanding and helpful when told what we were doing. Though our
runners lost a lot of weight tracking down the remote sources it
was well worth the effort. One of the most memorable times was
the nightly curfew in the village when every family returns to
their home for prayer and hymns for half an hour. All work - even
filming - stops, and sitting in the middle of the village green and
surrounded by the sound of choirs from all directions while the
sun sets is a sublime experience. Surround sound has never been
more justified!”
(continued over)
Richard Flynn in meeting house
Boom operator Matt Cuirc by bathing lake
“I was fortunate to be able to go down to the mix
at Park Road Post Production in Wellington - Peter
Jackson’s state of the art facility - to meet up with the
post production sound team of sound designer Tim
Prebble, dialogue editor Chris Todd and re-recording
mixer Mike Hedges. I was pleased to learn they had
managed to use most of the location ambiences along
with additional effects and music and even though it
meant a lot of work for Chris in preparing the tracks.
I think it captures the unique sounds of Samoa
perfectly. They did some ‘location’ ADR back in
Samoa at the radio station, which is pretty much the
only quiet interior space on the island.”
The film premiered in the Orizzonti section of the
Venice Film Festival in September.
.... Sound Editor Nick Lowe AMPS is supervising
Sound Editor on My Week With Marilyn.
.... Grant Bridgeman AMPS has been production
sound mixing on the BBC Drama Bert and Dickie
working with Boom Op Phil Cape and Sarah Howe
as Sound Assistant. It’s been an incredibly busy
four-week shoot for a 90 minute drama that tells the
story of Bert Bushnell and Dickie Burnell in the 1948
“Make Do and Mend” Olympics. We’ve had a lovely
time, filming around west London with the usual
plane issues (one every 24 seconds at Windsor) and
with lots of dialogue taking place in authentic 1948
two man sculls - all I can say is that those aquapacs
for the 2020’s and COS11x’s are certainly worth their
money, as the actors fell in more than once and everything worked through to the end of the job.
.... And finally your ‘Who’s Doing What’ Editor &
Re-recording Mixer Dave Humphries AMPS has been
back in the chair mixing a series of Danger: Diggers
At Work for Channel 5 and Models, Misfits & Mayhem for ITV 2 at Run VT, with Sound Editor Ricky
Martin tracklaying the material.
This will be my last Editorship of the Column.
Although I have enjoyed putting this part of
The Journal together over the years, I feel it is now
time for someone else to take up the reins and inject
some new blood into Who’s Doing What. Thank you
to all the contributors who have helped keep these
pages full over the years. Please keep them coming
in as this is all about what we do on a daily basis for
our livelihood.
Dave Humphries AMPS
Members may recall that a few
years ago, AMPS Honorary member, Production Mixer John Mitchell
sadly passed away. His family kindly
gave us the remaining copies of his
book Flickering Shadows to distribute to members for a donation to
the Association’s current supported
charity. And all copies went.
However, there have surfaced two
further copies up for grabs.
John enjoyed a truly splendid career in feature movies, amassing an
enviable credit list, and with many
stories, both technical and behindthe-scenes, it’s a totally fascinating
read and a worthwhile addition to
your bookshelf of film history.
We ask for a sensible donation: we
leave the amount up to you, but bear
in mind that the postage will be in
the region of £7!
If you wish to obtain one of these
copies, please e-mail [email protected] to reserve, and send your
cheque to the AMPS office address.
With increasing amounts of
wireless gear and other equipment on-set that may compromise clean radio spectrum, the
Production Mixer’s use of radio
microphones can be less than
straightforward - particularly
when work practices are
dictating a position for the
sound cart that requires
wireless transmission over
greater distances. Accepting
that this is not likely to
improve, Tim White AMPS
has been exploring
another approach
- the Digital Snake
Roland promotional image for the RSS S-0808
Digital Snake 8 x 8 I/O Unit
Body worn radio mics in the UK are street legal at 50mW. That should be
good enough for 100m - and more if you use high gain antennae on your
receivers. Well it is when your bit of radio spectrum is clean. More and
more equipment on the set is wireless and not all of it is as well designed
as radio mics. You can check your radio mic frequencies on a recce - I scan
using a 2040 receiver and an old Palm organiser - and the background RF
is low. By the time the unit has set up and a myriad of equipment is turned
on, that background RF has increased and the range of your radio mics has
decreased significantly. We are not alone: wireless follow focus units can
be affected by other equipment on 2.4 GHz that is very close or exceeds the
permitted power and wi-fi can be knocked out by IEM on 2.4 GHz if it is
not set to a low power output. And there are high power video senders. It
is a situation that is unlikely to improve. After all, wireless is the future and
so I started looking for a way ahead.
Three years ago I read an article about Mark Ulano, the American production sound mixer with an Oscar for his work on Titanic and too many
credits to list. On big sets where he could not always be close to the action,
he had started using a stagebox system with a digital snake so that his
radio mic receivers and comms could be in a box right on the set, but he
could be up to 100m away connected by a single Cat5 cable. Whilst normal
for theatre or live music, this was certainly an original approach for a film
set but for me with all my kit compact enough to be transported in the
back of a VW van, the size of his system and the fact that it was mains or
inverter powered, made its practicality almost zero for the likes of me - and
then there was the cost.
Fast forward a few years and the radio environment is more crowded
and we are frequently under pressure for radio mic range. The range of
the new video senders means that video village is even further from the
action, to be out of shot of up to three cameras and the sound cart is either
in an Easyup or in a room with the playback some distance away and possibly with a steel reinforced wall or two between the sound cart and the
action. With radio mic range compromised some imagination is needed.
We need sufficient RF at our receivers and this in theory could be achieved
by a combination of higher gain antennae, getting closer and using higher
power equipment. I am already using 7-element yagi antennae and getting
myself closer is not always easy as video village where I have direct contact
with the director and the script supervisor tends to be some distance away.
Higher power transmitters will eat batteries compared with 50mW and
anyway, in the UK we are legally limited to 50mW for body worn transmitters. So, if I cannot get closer, what about getting the receivers closer? This
is nothing new: I know several sound mixers who have a remote flight case
containing their radio mic receivers on the end of a multicore, getting their
receivers closer to the action. This is fine but as you increase the number of
channels the multicore becomes bigger and heavier and there has to be a
limit to its length due to the snake’s physical size and weight. Add to that
the cost of a multicore that could be run over by a riggers cart and ruined
leaving you up the creek without a spare. I know of one sound mixer who
takes a different approach and uses a preamp on the set with 4 x AES outputs that he sends down the 4 pairs of a Cat5 cable. I have read that AES
over Cat5 is good for up to 400m (and Canford sell variations of Cat5 for
digital audio). This is a good system but is unidirectional and you have to
control the input levels of your preamps on the stage. This is where Mark
Ulano’s system using a Cat5 is starting to seem attractive.
Browsing through the pages of a recent CAS Quarterly, I noticed that
Roland were advertising an 8 x 8 digital snake that is 12v powered and
costs about the same as a radio mic. Clearly, in the States they are actively
marketing it to production sound mixers. This aroused my curiosity and
I arranged for a demo kit, which I got directly from Roland Systems from
their base in Swansea. Andrew Boulton found us some space at NFTS and I
had a testing session with Stuart Wilson and a bunch of students, ever keen
to get their hands on new kit. What we had was a pair of identical S-0808
stage boxes, a remote control and a 100m drum of Cat5 cable.
Roland use their own protocol known as ‘REAC’. The stage boxes
are set up as Master and Slave and the Remote Control connected
to the box that will be at the sound cart. We had a number of listening tests we wanted to carry out to check quality and latency. With
a pair of Schoeps CMIT microphones, we plugged one directly
into the mixer and we plugged the other via the S-0808 units. The
output of the S-0808 is at line level but you have to adjust the input
gain and this is done with the remote control along with phantom
powering and stereo pair switching. The first impressions were
good. The preamps of the Roland did not have quite the range of
the Sonosax but they sounded very clean and with both the booms
and the radio mics they worked well. We also tried two identical
mics through the Roland, one direct and one through the preamps
of an Audio Developments mixer and the difference was very
small. So as a working system it certainly had potential. Latency is
quoted as 375 microseconds, which was not an issue, and we could
not detect any phase issues with two side by side microphones
mixed to a single track. I connected the 12v power from a block
battery to one of the S-0808 boxes and measured the current drain
at a little under 1A, phantom power having a negligible effect.
This was all very positive, so much so that I had no reservations
about using a digital snake system, clearly intended for live sound,
in the recording chain of my film sound setup.
A couple of jobs later and I was off to Budapest for the Sky HBO
project Strike Back. This is an action series and was going to be a
challenge with gunfire and explosions, up to 5 cameras and some
of the locations would have difficult access. If ever there was a production that would benefit from this technology, this was it. I made
the decision to buy the Snake system, build it into my sound cart
and to make a satellite cart which would be on the set. I bought the
two S-0808 stage boxes and the remote control from the Southern
Sound Kit Company, as Barry Smith was one of my regular equipment suppliers. On the advice of Mr Sands of this parish, I made
up my own drums of Cat5 using Canford ‘deployable’ cable that
lies on the floor like a good quality mic cable and fitted the rugged
Neutrik XLR style RJ45 connectors. My sound cart is quite compact.
It is easy to acquire more and more kit and for the sound cart to get
ever taller. I wanted to stay compact and if possible make everything more integrated so there was less to plug up between set-ups.
Removing the radio receivers from the cart gave me more space for
the video monitors to be recessed into the cart giving them better
shade and it released space for the stage box’s remote control. I also
removed a 1U switching box that had evolved over ten years or so,
much of which was now redundant and could be accommodated in
a much smaller box. I was also able to lose the antenna mast from
the main cart along with the transmitters to my boom operators. I
bought an off the shelf 4U box with wheels and a tow handle. Not
the highest quality but at £70 it was a starting point that I knew I
would replace with something more substantial after a few jobs
when my gear and my working system had panned out. As well as
containing the stage box, the satellite box contained a 33Ah lead gel
battery, an XP-Power power supply, my existing Audio Ltd RK4 receiver rack, either a 5th receiver or my Audio Ltd RK3 rack, various
re-used power switching boxes and two Sennheiser G2 transmitters for my boom operators. On the outside of the box, I mounted
two BNCs for the receiver antennae, input XLRs for the booms and
plant mics, an aux output, a Neutrik Powercon mains input and
a Neutrik RJ45 for the Cat5. I seriously underestimated just how
much change I was making and by the time the system was up and
running, I had spent several days drilling, soldering, crimping and
generally reconfiguring my kit. I also took the precaution of stashing a 10m 8-way snake in the van so if there was any problem with
Tim White’s DIY satellite box for radio recievers etc
NFTS tests: Henry Dyer, Thomas Fennell, Stuart Wilson
Stuart Wilson: listening tests at the NFTS
the system, I could quickly link the radio receivers directly
into the mixer – which I’m pleased to say wasn’t necessary.
It was a lot of change to make just before travelling to a
remote job and I was slightly uneasy about this. But in for
a penny, in for a pound, I was confident that any teething problems would be worth the end result. I had a prep
day with my crew in Budapest a couple of days before
we kicked off and after the kit was unloaded and demonstrated, there was a slightly sceptical look on the face of
my boom op Péter Schulteisz as he said “so this is basically
untested”. We had a soft start in that there was relatively
little dialogue for the first two days: it was all special effects which I could have recorded directly to the Cantar
on the small cart if I had wanted to keep it lightweight. It
was however a good opportunity to shake down the new
system for real as day three was dialogue intensive and we
would need to be up to speed. The first two days went well
and I quickly got used to reducing the input levels for the
gunshots via the remote control. No one blinked an eyelid
at this strange new box on the set and it all worked well
from day one. The 33Ah battery had plenty in reserve for
the stage box, the receivers and the transmitters. I calculated it would last 19 hours so we recharged every night and
we had the facility to mains power if we were set up for the
day with power available. By the time day three came, my
crew were used to positioning the satellite box in the best
position and running the Cat5 back to the cart. This was a
minefield scene where we had limited access as the grass
had to be kept virgin. We were filming everything from a
narrow track and for the first time I realized how distant
I was going to be when the Easyups were set up some
distance from the action. We ran out about 75m of Cat5 and
for the first time we ran all the radio mics and two booms
down the Cat5. I use Sennheiser G2/G3 transmitters for my
boom ops which are only 30mW so having them mounted
in the satellite box, close to the action was another major
advantage. The day went very well. Technically it was
faultless. It was different trimming levels using the remote
control rather than directly on the mixer but I soon became
used to it. It is a system that sounds complex but once set
up, it takes off so much pressure knowing that radio mics
will be OK regardless of the set, the distances involved and
the other equipment in use, such that I was soon wondering why I had not sorted out a remote system before.
The job lasted 12 weeks so the new equipment had a
good shake down. Interestingly on about day 5 when we
were using a big ex-Soviet Mi8 helicopter, we had an EPK
crew with us and my crew were demonstrating my system
to the sound recordist and eagerly pointing out its advantages, so we had already come a long way from “so this
is basically untested” just a week before. The system was
flexible. We had 8 x sends, which could be a combination
of radio mics and cabled mics. On the occasion when we
needed a ninth, the boom could be cabled. The Sonosax
also deals with a whisper to a scream incredibly well with
an extra 12dB gain for the whisper that can be switched
into the linear fader (see my Sonosax report Journal Spring
2008) so on those occasions I cabled directly. I have two
100m Cat5 cable drums so if changing sets in the same
studio, one Cat5 can be pre-routed to the other set whilst
using the other Cat5. After two episodes the new director
came on board and he worked slightly differently. Whereas
Sound cart, over the author’s shoulder
Sound cart showing position of Snake Controller - vertical behind
the first director always came back to the monitors for
a take, the new director had a portable monitor that he
would often use on the set. With the distances involved, he
would get breakup on his IEM with the IEM transmitter
back at video village. We sent the aux feed for the IEM via
the Cat5 to the satellite box so it was easy to use the plugon transmitter on a different frequency to that at video
village. That way, the director had two receivers, one for
the set and one for video village, which he plugged into as
required. The sends were also used for the playback speakers via the Cat5 from the mixer. It was incredibly flexible.
To some this system will seem like overkill or far too
complicated but to others it will be a sensible way of making a 50mW radio mic system effective in a challenging RF
environment. I reckon that Strike Back would have been
a nightmare without a remote system and it proved to be
an effective bi-directional system at an affordable price.
Perhaps it would be better with a few more sends so that I
can use the duplex comms system that the Sonosax offers
but the bigger 12 x 12 system is in a different price band,
needs mains and has a fan: I think on balance I prefer this
more limited but compact 12v system. No system is future
proof. Digital mics and digital radio mics with their AES
outputs will change everything and I will have a rethink at
that stage. In the meantime I have a system that takes a lot
of stress out of the filming and enables me to get on with
the job of mixing what I hear.
Tim White AMPS
The Roland digital snake system is available from familiar suppliers such as
HHB, Orbital Sound and the Southern Sound Kit Company – amongst others.
My thanks go to Phil Palmer at Roland Systems for the loan of the equipment.
Tom, the Editor, was also involved as a director of porn
films for a chain of ‘Pussycat’ cinemas in LA. Every six
weeks Tom created a new 16mm feature length film and it
wasn’t very long before Dennis was recording the location
FROM SOFT PORN TO POST PRODUCTION sound for the shoot and then track laying the films as well
under the pseudonym of ‘Mike Cable’. He also got roped
into the filming as second camera using an Éclair NPR and
fairly quickly he was able to learn about lighting and what
shots worked and what didn’t.
Dennis confessed that as he learnt a lot about all aspects
of filmmaking he became more certain that his number one
interest was sound whether that was creating a sound track
or recording a band. Dennis recalled a ‘Heath Robinson’
device created by Steve Bosustow to draw the waveform
of the sound track onto a roll of paper running at the same
speed as the film so that a timing frame count could be
created for the animators, quite an innovation for 1969. It
was Steve’s influence that helped Dennis to ‘think outside
the box’ when, many years later, he was later trying to solve
early digital problems at Videosonics.
While Dennis was working with Steve he was involved
with the editing and sound for an animation called Is It
Always Right To Be Right? that won an Oscar for Best Cartoon in 1971. The film was to be narrated by Orson Welles
so at the age of 19 Dennis found himself at the Beverly Hills
Hotel with his portable Uher ¼” machine to record Orson
who was his usual brusque self. After watching Dennis set
up the equipment Orson got very impatient and shouted
out, “Where the f… is he?” Dennis enquired, “Who?” and
Orson said “The sound recordist”. Dennis replied “I’m the
sound recordist” but the response was “You’re just a kid”.
Dennis managed to calm Orson down and proceeded to
make a successful recording. When they had finished Orson
said “Lets go and lay it up”. So Dennis drove him back to
the production company in his VW Beetle and transferred
the tape to 35mm magnetic stock. They worked together for
the whole day selecting the takes and fitting the narration.
Dennis has fond memories of that experience and recalls
that Orson was superb in getting the best out of his own
performance. While they were working together, Orson
This year, AMPS was pleased to announce the
kept saying that Dennis, and the Director Lee Miskin, must
appointment of two new AMPS Fellows, one of
come over to the UK.
whom was Dennis Weinreich. Peter Hodges met up
The next year, Lee Miskin came to the UK to work on a
with Dennis to learn more about his early life in
series called The Jackson Five being shot by Halas & Batchthe Music and Film Industries, how he came to set
elor for Hanna-Barbera. It was Lee who suggested that
up Videosonics in the early 1980s, and future plans. Dennis should come to London to do some rostrum camera
work as the shooting was going much slower that expected.
LOS ANGELES: EARLY YEARS: By the age of 11 Dennis had
Dennis duly arrived to help speed up the shooting. Whilst
already begun to offer his recording talents as ‘Weinreich
he was here in London he hung out with Lee Miskin and
Custom Recordings’ and even found a disc cutting engithey were to meet up with Orson again on a couple occaneer who let him cut his own discs for sale to customers. It
sions. Dennis remembers them spending an evening togethwasn’t long before he had set up a recording studio in his
er in a club and getting very drunk with Orson telling the
garage in a suburb of Los Angeles. He was a bass guitarist
most amazing stories!
and along with his brother, a drummer, they did sessions
Dennis admits he made a ‘stink load’ of money on that
and gigs around LA but Dennis eventually decided that he project having negotiated to be paid by the foot. Eventupreferred to be on the other side of the glass as an engineer. ally The Jackson Five was finished but a year later another
Through his brother he was introduced to an animation
series was produced called The Osmonds. Before this new
production company ‘Stephen Bosustow Productions’ and
production got underway Dennis had started some music
there he started recording music for their films. This led to
recording work in the UK. And there was another distracrostrum camera work, editing, and creating guide mixes
tion - while working nights at Halas & Batchelor in 1973 he
using 35mm magnetic sound followers linked to the cutting met his wife to be, Li, who was there as a temporary receproom Moviola.
tionist. Very soon she became his camera assistant.
This meeting combined with the more open attitude and
friendship that Dennis experienced within the film and
music world in the UK, convinced him that he should make
his home here - the die was cast.
Building on his US ‘credibility by association’ as a music
engineer, he did some freelance work at Advision, the
Who’s Ramport Studio near Battersea Power Station and
at the Beatles’ Apple Studio in Savile Row. He was then
approached to work with Scorpio Sound, a new studio associated with the then fledgling Capital Radio situated in
the Euston Tower. The original object of the studio was to
provide some specially recorded music for Capital Radio
and so it had a regular weekly booking to supply that new
material. Dennis was asked to just help out at the studio for
a few weeks and ended up working there for ten years.
At this time he also started doing some part time work at
the London Film School because Li had decided that she
wanted to study filmmaking. The work at the school continued for about two years, tutoring students and helping
with the sound department. Through one of the students
Dennis met Pete
Brown, a percussionist who was
keen to record an
album. This led to
work with Jack
Bruce, Eric Clapton,
Barbara Dickson, the Walker Brothers
and many others.
His music
engineering work
took off.
Dennis (left) with Trust guitarist After a time Dennis
Nono Krief at Scorpio Sound 1979
also began producing some artists and working in Europe. He produced a
French hard rock band called ‘Trust’ and after one of their
albums was particularly successful Dennis found himself
with enough spare cash to think about investing in a sound
for video facility, so he decided to create Videosonics.
VIDEOSONICS: I asked Dennis why he started Videosonics? He answered that during the 70s he’d really enjoyed
being involved with the music business as engineer and
producer. However, as the 80s dawned, he found that the
role of the producer was changing and it no longer had the
appeal, which led to his becoming increasingly disenchanted with the business.
He was asked by VCL, the company that took over
Scorpio Sound, to act as Musical Director for their music
videos. As well as mobile recording of the shows he started
to get more involved with the post production. He wanted
to maintain the quality of the recordings and to keep the
process ‘modern’ using Dolby, multitrack tapes etc.
Dennis ended up working with some engineers at Molinare
to do the post-production. Together they managed to
cobble together a system using MagLink timecode synchronisers but while it wasn’t an easy process it did maintain
the sonic quality of the music tracks.
At around this time Li was picture editing a number of
videos for Roger Morris, a former LFS student who Dennis
had taught. Both Li and Dennis agreed that audio post for
video was very cumbersome and thought that it would be
good to use equipment from the music world and apply it
to video post production. It’s interesting to note that in the
early 80s another new company, VideoLondon, had just
started up to address this market but their equipment was
still predominantly sprocket-based; the BBC were using
their 8-track SYPHER video dubbing suites and London
Weekend were working with the ‘Q-Lock’ synchronising
system. Dennis became convinced that a better method for
audio post for video was needed.
As part of his research he went to LA to find out what
was going on there and to see what ‘technology’ was being
used in the States. He also met with Mark Crabtree of AMS
because Dennis had already been using an array of AMS
15-80 digital delay line/samplers to record sounds and then
trigger their playback using timecode and tone cues. He
asked Mark if there any way to store audio cues on floppy
disk so they could be quickly loaded into the 15-80s to be
used again as required? This idea led to Dennis helping
AMS develop a prototype AudioFile in early 1984 - he then
bought one of the first production models to be made.
Initially Videosonics was based around multitrack tape
machines and BTX time code synchronisers but as the
AudioFile developed it took over from the tape machines;
eventually they had 21 AudioFiles.
Once Videosonics opened it became phenomenally successful - there was no doubt the company was fulfilling a
need. The timing was indeed fortunate because Channel 4
had recently started broadcasting; and also a Government
White Paper suggested that within a certain period of time
21% of British TV programming had to be produced by
independents. As a result there was no shortage of clients
who needed sound mixing for their video productions.
The location of Videosonics is interesting too, Dennis
had originally negotiated to take some space in Palladium
House in Argyll Street, which was owned by ATV, but at
the last minute the lease fell through and so they managed
to secure some space in a building with Research Recordings in Camden. Finding themselves in Camden enabled
the company to grow and develop in a different way to the
Soho facilities.
In the early days they were fortunate to employ a talented
electronics engineer, Mike Bradley, who designed and manufactured equipment to address many of the early technical
problems. Dennis admitted that, whilst they did the job,
some of the solutions were often complicated and over time
they found that keeping things simple was always best.
One of the shows they worked on was Treasure Hunt
with Brian Saunders as dubbing mixer. The show combined
many different elements of real time studio and location
action to make up each programme - and Anneka Rice,
in a brightly coloured jump suit, climbing in and out of a
helicopter. They managed to lock up a MCI 24-track tape
machine with the video edit suite and so when the master
edit was created the equipment auto-conformed all the various source tracks onto the 24-track tape in a checker board
fashion. Although they were using an automated desk mixing it was still complicated. Despite the difficulties Dennis
feels that the exciting, breathless quality of the sound tracks
of those early episodes added greatly to the enjoyment of
the shows.
He is very proud of the fact that in the early 1990s Videosonics was the first facility anywhere in the world to mix
a movie completely in the digital domain rather than converting the digital signals to analogue to overcome some
of the problem issues such as syncing, film speed, sample
rates etc. Dennis recalls a THX meeting at Skywalker Ranch
in California when the discussion was about digital mixing
for film and the consensus of opinion was that it couldn’t
be done but he was able to announce that Videosonics were
doing it right then using an AMS Logic 2 desk in Studio 3.
With the help of Smudger, Dave Turner and special boards
from AMS they had been able to overcome all the problems.
Although Brian Saunders was now working at Delta
Sound in Shepperton, he and Dennis were still thinking
along the same lines and Brian helped AMS-Neve develop
their successful DFC console. VideoSonics placed an order
for the first DFC to be sold, so once again Dennis was right
there at the leading edge of technology. They were lucky
again - the timing of their digital film dubbing theatre was
perfect and with Tim Alban at the desk they were to work
on many medium budget British films. They were so busy
that soon another film mixing room was opened and they
eventually had three DFC desks in their studios.
Despite their continued use of the AudioFile they gradually found that pressures from the industry, clients and
their staff made them move over to Pro Tools although
they did try out some other systems along the way. They
were still keen to get the best sonic results from the Pro
Tools system and so they found it worked best to take the
discrete outputs and mix them together in their digital
desks. However, because of time and budget restraints on
some projects they found that sometimes they had to ‘mix
in the box’. Dennis has recently bought a Pro Tools version
9 system and is very impressed by the current sound of its
‘mixing in the box’.
By 2008, changes in film funding over the previous
couple of years led to a decline in the type of film projects
that Videosonics was working on. Despite looking for other
ways of diversifying the business they eventually had to
take the tough commercial decision to close the business
in a controlled and dignified way. It was a sad day for all
concerned, and for the industry.
Dennis went on to discuss how he felt sound equipment
had evolved over the past 40 years and he is quite convinced that ‘Sonic Quality’ probably peaked in the late 60s/
early 70s. In some ways the quality has gone down since
then but the ability to manipulate it has become far easier,
first with automated desks like the SSL and clever outboard
gear, to today with the sophisticated digital editing and
mixing packages we have at our disposal.
thinks that sometimes if you feel that you (or your facility)
is not right for the particular job don’t be afraid to recommend someone else who is right for it. It will make a good
impression because you have been honest about what you
are good at and next time they need some help they’ll come
back to you and ask your opinion again. And if the job’s
for you they will be pleased to work with you because you
gained their confidence. After all, clients want someone to
be part of their team who they can trust to deliver them a
good product.
(Sound equipment) ‘Sonic Quality’
probably peaked in the late 60s/early
70s. In some ways the quality has gone
down since then but the ability to
manipulate it has become far easier
On a personal front Dennis has now decided that he
needs a change and although he enjoyed working with
Pinewood (as Managing Director of Post Production) he
wants a new challenge in his life. What seems to be happening is a revival of his music roots and he’s finding himself
working with musicians in the studio again. He thinks that,
because he left the music industry in the early 80s while he
was on a high, his reputation is still good and he’s found
that the phone keeps ringing asking him to work on interesting music projects. It’s like the clock stopped in the early
80s and now it’s just started again. One project he’s worked
on recently was recorded on a 24-track analogue machine.
He had no idea that his working life would jump back to
the music world but the knowledge he gained about such
things, about who is going to be the audience, the type of
album the artist wants to make, still holds true today. As
a producer Dennis often thought to himself that making
a record is similar to making a refrigerator - you need to
understand what you are trying to make, do it the best
way possible and as well as you can with the tools you
have available, and you have to understand who is going
to want it. The same ideas apply whether it’s a Pop or Jazz
record or a refrigerator.
Dennis finished by recounting a sequence from a movie
where the main character, who is making a film, is thinking
about the fact that when you start off you know that you
are going to make one of the greatest movies that’s ever
been made. As you work on the film you realise there are
flaws but you know its still going to be a good movie. As
THE FUTURE: Dennis still feels that the UK is still one of
it continues you think, yes, it has some problems but it’ll
the best places to work for those people involved with the
be fine, and in the end all you want is to get it done and
creative industries in general and with sound in particufinished. The moral of the story is that it doesn’t mean the
lar. He listed a number of UK facilities that he considers
compare well with the best in the world and thinks that we movie is not good but your expectations change along the
still need to keep reminding the US producers of big budget way and that you have to re-evaluate and make changes to
films that we have the talent and facilities in the UK to cre- the film so that it is as good as it can be.
Peter Hodges AMPS
ate excellent sound tracks. He admitted that “we may not
do it the ‘American’ way but we do it really really well”.
He would like to see AMPS doing more to reinforce the
quality image of our members to our audience (Producers,
Directors, Line managers etc.) and to remember that we
need to focus on their needs and expectations. This will in
turn help us to secure good projects to work on but he also
This interview by Rob James dates from 1999
and is of particular note because, unfortunately,
this may be the only time that the late Hugh
Strain was interviewed. It was first published in
Studio Sound.
As Michael Caine might have put it, “His name is Hugh
Strain but not a lot of people outside the film industry or
those with a penchant for reading the small prints of the
credits will know it.”
This is because he’s a Dubbing (Re-recording) Mixer. Music engineers have become famous in their own right but,
with the possible exception of Walter Murch who is more
renaissance man than most, the Dubbing Mixer remains in
the background, a long way down the credits roller.
Fifty years ago in 1948 Hugh began work as a general
trainee at the Borehamwood studios of Metro Goldwyn
Mayer, MGM. In those days it was common to spend time
in several departments before specialising. Hugh had always been interested in sound but worked in production,
editing and cameras before coming to rest in the sound
“I had use of a large house in Ayrshire and it had pathway
beside it with a big wall. I used to love running through there
and listening to the change of sound with my footsteps on the
flagstones, the changing reflections and that sort of thing. It just
intrigued me the difference in sound. To this day when I shave
in the morning with my electric shaver, in fact I use two, there
is still this awareness of the differences in the way they sound as
you move them.”
The first movie Hugh worked on was While I Live.
“It starred Sonia Dresdel and I remember it had this piano
piece in it, Dream of Olwen. I was loading magazines for the
light valve and so on.”
This was before the development of magnetic film recording and all sound recording for film at MGM was still
being done on optical sound cameras.
“We were using 200mil push pull (mono) which gave a very
nice result.”
Hugh worked in all the junior roles, operating the sound
camera and assisting on the boom.
“Just before I went into the army I was part of a team loaned
out to 20th Century Fox to shoot Night And The City with
Richard Widmark and a lot of very fine English actors.
We shot all over London. I think it was the first film to use so
much location shooting in London. We filmed from a bus
attached by cable to a generator on a truck, right through
Piccadilly Circus.”
Returning from National Service in the Royal Signals he
spent a couple of years in various roles including doing
playbacks to accustom horses to loud noises for Ivanhoe.
While still at MGM Hugh also worked on Knights of The
Round Table, the first CinemaScope film to be shot in the
UK, and Fred Zinneman’s The Nun’s Story and The Sundowners.
Moving on to the Associated British Picture Corporation,
(ABPC) also at Borehamwood, saw work on The Dambusters and John Huston’s Moby Dick.
In the middle of shooting, Hugh made the move into the
Dubbing Theatre, working on sound camera.
“I was one of the crew members involved in the dubbing of
Moby Dick. We were on magnetic by then, still without rockand-roll, with Selsyn interlocks. Because John Huston had to
keep leaving the country for tax reasons it took about six months
to mix.”
So long schedules are nothing new.
I think it was the first film to use so
much location shooting in London.
We filmed from a bus attached
by cable to a generator on a truck,
right through Piccadilly Circus
In 1954 dubbing was still done a reel at a time with
rehearsals and ‘takes’. You continued until the whole reel
was as good as it was going to get and ‘printed’ that.
“Sometimes, when I was working sound camera they would
get me in to play in a few loops. No easy thing, if you do it well
and feel them around the dialogue. A lot of guys, I’ve watched
them, just open the fader and leave it.
By 1955/56 the demand for television films was increasing and
we needed another dubbing theatre at Elstree. Two of us were
made up to Assistant Dubbing Mixer on the same day. and I
ended up in the features theatre.”
The other was the late Bill Rowe, a legend in the British
film sound industry.
Among the movies Hugh worked on at this time was Ice
Cold in Alex with John Mills.
“A while later they asked if I would swap because Bill and the
mixer weren’t getting along. This guy, Len Abbott, was quite a
nice, charming man socially but difficult in the theatre. I remember working with him on one occasion when I was playing effects
and him saying ‘Take that down! Take that down. Take it down
more! Take it down more! TAKE IT OUT!!’ and having to say
‘I’m sorry I’m not playing anything. I think it’s on your dialogue
I’ve done the same thing myself, since. You forget just how bad
the backgrounds are. But if you do your dialogue premix properly and fill it in there and then as you go you can do it in a way
which doesn’t interfere with the dialogue.
I think it’s very important, dialogue premixing, you can
sometimes leave things (extraneous noises) where you know there
is going to be music or whatever but generally you must get it
It’s a combination of things, dip (notch) filters, the Dolby Orange Box, the Cat. 43a and the newer one, the Cat. 430 or even
graphics. The best graphic I’ve used is an Orban which has variable Q on each band. But it is the combination which counts,
After some changes at Warwick, Hugh was offered a job
in Canada and accepted the opportunity with alacrity. Before this came Caspar Wrede’s One Day in the Life of Ivan
Denisovitch and the Beatles’ cartoon, Yellow Submarine.
“We never did manage to get our hands on the stereo tracks
and all the Beatle voices in the movie were done by impersonators
except the songs.”
During the Canadian years he mixed Mahoney’s Estate
and The Whiteoaks of Jalna.
On his return to the UK he went to Worldwide Sound.
“At Worldwide we also did a lot of TV shows. The Sweeney,
Special Branch and The Professionals were all mixed there.”
Leaving Worldwide on a matter of principle Hugh
worked at Trevor Pike Sound and Delta Sound at Shepperton before getting together with Richard Paynter, Norman
Brown, Malcolm Stewart, mixer Peter Maxwell and editors
Vic Vine and John Carr to take over De Lane Lea in Dean
Street, Soho. De Lane Lea had been started around 1948 by
Major De Lane Lea and later his son, Jaques. It was taken
... it is the combination which counts; over by Humphreys Holdings and then in turn by BET. By
1984 it was running down and in need of a change.
you can’t say this works better than
It was here he mixed the first Monty Python film, and
that, you need all the tools for
later, The Holy Grail and Life of Brian.
different problems. (On sound processors)
“Working with the Pythons was marvellous, crazy! Armour all
over the place and chaos but it was really just a matter of adjustIn the ten years at Warwick Hugh mixed more films than
ing to their way of working. They would ‘drop disks in’ in BBChe can remember. The Longships, Genghis Khan and a
style with Terry Jones beside me cueing them and I’d watch him
number of Joe Losey films including The Go Between and
and open the fader.”
Figures in a Landscape amongst the more memorable along
Dolby Stereo came on the scene at this time and Hugh
with the seminal Mike Hodges film, Get Carter, possibly
Life of Brian in this format. At Trevor Pyke’s Hugh
Michael Caine’s best performance, not to mention The Termixed
John Mackenzie’s Long Good Friday, another landminal Man and a couple of Bill Forsyth movies.
which set a style for the time and it was also an
The equipment used to mix this formidable body of work
to get a glimpse of Pierce Brosnan.
seems rather spartan by todays standards.
“He was the guy in the showers and also the IRA guy in the car
“We had a triple track recorder which was custom built for us
the end.”
and ten or twelve followers for mag or optical. By the time we did
movie, mixed at Shepperton, was The Honorary
Genghis Khan most of the tracks were mag but you’d still ocConsul
Michael Caine.
casionally get the odd effects or loop on optical track. The console
and De Lane Lea Hugh returned to
was a mono Westrex we converted to use as a triple track console
of pictures. One of these was the
which meant an extra switch on each channel to route to the three
and Desperate Men regarded by
tracks. The faders were sliders but were operating rotary pots with
a flawed masterpiece with notaa bit of string.
It was a passive desk so everything was attenuation, the limited
supply of equalisers, were patched around to suit what you were
“It had been mixed in Montreal and we didn’t have access to
all the original tracks so it was a bit of a patchwork quilt with
the new music. The technical quality was not as good as it might
This was the precursor of the current multi track premix
have been but it was an interesting film although perhaps suffers
and ‘stem’ recording where dialogue, effects and music are
from over editing. Alexis goes over and over a picture and maybe
recorded separately at the final mix stage.
“We only had one echo device, an echo chamber, and when I did gets lost in the detail. With too many re-cuts you can’t see the
wood for the trees. I used to go over it with him at night, maybe
the dialogues I used to lay it down with echo on a separate track
so if I needed echo at certain places I would have it without tying two o’clock in the morning asking him ‘would the characters
really do this? And then I said to him ‘this way lies madness’.
up the chamber. Dialogue mixing was interesting but you could
patch things around really quickly and the general quality of loca- You make could make one film and spend the rest of your life on
tion recording was far better so cleaning up was less of a problem. it. You go on and on and on and that way death lies. On Mahoney’s Estate after about a year of editing he went back to the
We get such horrendous changes now with the use of directional
rushes and started all over again. But he’s a great character. He
microphones. The room tone was higher but that usually didn’t
matter and of course there was the Academy roll-off which worked was over here recently getting backing for a new project.”
So where does the dubbing mixer’s role start and stop
in your favour to hide it. We always did premixes 4dB high to
it comes to affecting the outcome?
keep the mag noise down and then backed them off on the final.
Even in optical days we did the same. With digital the wide dy“You’ve got to come up with suggestions and put your head on
namic range is fantastic.”
the chopping block as far as the director’s concerned. Then he
you can’t say this works better than that, you need all the tools
for different problems. You can use a dip, maybe to get rid of a
dominant then a harmonic annoys you so you filter that until you
end up with broad band noise and then you can use the Cats. You
can find all this attacks the dialogue quality and you’ve got to be
careful about that.”
The first film Hugh mixed as ‘lead mixer’ was The
Hellions made in South Africa with Richard Todd. The Producer said to one of his henchmen, ‘We must get this guy
Wilde,’ meaning Oscar, and they ended up with Marty.
Moving to Warwick sound meant building up the busness with commercials and some of the overspill from other
studios, post sync for the first Bond film, Dr. No and a temp
mix. Various movies followed from the directors such as
Richard Donner. Hugh mixed What’s New Pussycat with
Peter Sellers and remembers,
“Sellers when he came in for post syncing was charming, he really was, but he came over as rather flat until he took on a part.”
says yea or nay and takes the final decision, quite rightly. But
you’ve got to be able to have your say. I particularly remember
Fred Zinnemann coming out into the camera room at Elstree and
turning round to me and saying ‘What do you think?’ I wasn’t
sure if he was taking the p*** but I answered him and he listened
carefully and changed a few things.”
Film making is a truly collaborative process. One great
director said if there were to be a god of film making it
should be the Norse god Heimdallr who mysteriously
declared, ‘I am the child of nine mothers, I am the child of
mothers nine.’ and if so, that the dubbing mixer would be
the midwife.
Hugh mixed a total of fourteen Michael Winner pictures
including The Joker, I’ll Never Forget Whatsisname, Hannibal Brooks and Death Wish 1,2 & 3. This almost constitutes a career in itself.
I had the privilege of working with him on the Dennis
Potter series Blackeyes at De Lane Lea. We had both
worked with Potter before independently, but this time I
was hired as lead mixer. I learnt a great deal from Hugh,
particularly about using dynamic range in the cinema.
Hugh is gracious enough to insist he also learnt from
me. Either way, we both enjoyed the unusual amount of
freedom to experiment along with Sound Designer Michael
One might suppose someone with Hugh’s experience
might by now be resistant to new technology. Nothing
could be further from the truth.
“I like it. But not for the sake of it. Sometimes with multi-track
recording, which is what we are doing, there is a quicker way of
doing something. The idea that in a hard disk system you have
the whole picture in one roll means if there is a problem you have
to stop and let the editors take the whole thing away. If it is in
reels of ten or twenty minutes there is usually something else
you could be doing. In the old days if you wanted to reprise a bit
of music from reel 2 in say reel 4 you just put the track up on a
spare head, ran it down and bang there it is. It is only recently
we’ve been able to work as quickly with digital. Digital dubbers
took a long time to get close to what we already had with mag.
Direct and replay switching and being able to hear sound going
backwards, why change until the new technology offered at least
the same performance along with the advantages.
I love the speed you can move music around and dialogue.
But the equipment is only as good as the operators. There are
too many people who know how to work the machines but slow
you down because they have no idea about laying tracks. But
don’t get me wrong, we had that in the old days as well. One
idea is to edit as much material as possible onto one track. That
makes it very difficult to match things if there is camera noise
or something which isn’t heard when tracklaying. With the new
technology you can do finer work. Some people always did fine
work, cutting in some cases to less than a sprocket, (1/4 frame) or
actually scraping the oxide off, like blooping on optical, but the
technology now makes it easier”
Many film sound mixers are disparaging of those working in television.
“I have a very strong opinion about that! In a lot of cases, not
all, the discipline in television is better than in cinema. People are
doing good work and it’s underrated. It’s how the tracks are laid
out for you. In television, if you can overlap, you overlap. A lot
of features people cut the sound on the picture cut regardless and
miss the useful moves and so on. With background problems, if
you don’t overlap you don’t stand a chance so you end up adding
unwanted sound to cover. Loops of background can help you but
it’s not the same as having the correct overlap.”
“I still like good films. As Good As It Gets or The Shawshank Redemption, that was a lovely film. A good story that’s
what you start with. No matter how good the technician is, if
you’re working on something with a lousy story, The Avengers
for instance. Adrian (Rhodes) did a very good soundtrack on it
(A good dubbing mixer is ....)
A guy who can clap his hands
without lifting them
Of all the movies is there one which stands out as the
‘best’ mix?
“Its really difficult to pick a single film. Whenever I look at a film
I’ve mixed even a year later I always think I could have done it
better. I always think, Oh god, if I had noticed that I could do so
much more. I enjoyed a lot of films, working on them. The Go
Between I enjoyed a lot because we did three mixes on it. One
with a score by Richard Rodney Bennett, one with no music, just
effects and a third with a score by Michel Legrand. This was because Joe (Losey) didn’t think the original score fitted the picture.
Legrand came up with a piano theme which really worked.”
What makes a good dubbing mixer?
“A guy who can clap his hands without lifting them. Coordination is very important and a trained ear, a detailed ear. A
feeling, an emotion to feel when something happens. You’ve got
to be technically good as well from the point of view of dialogues
and so on, getting things in the right place and premixes, but
then, when you’ve actually got everything up and you’re playing,
you’re mixing it, you’ve got to feel it. You’re on the go, it’s really
going and it’s great. It’s the greatest feeling you can have. Maybe
you get that tingle at the back of your neck and it’s great.
There is a simple approach to life but we are involved in a
highly artificial life. A simpler approach without the tricks is a
breath of fresh air. Like Dances With Wolves. Theatre though
I like, you have to use your imagination like a child does. It’s
almost a ‘virtual reality’ experience, less literal, educating your
audience into the grammar. The greatest art form is still literature, the most direct communication. But once you are convinced
you can be led up the garden path gently. Cinema is, after all,
based on persistence of vision and it applies equally in sound. I
always used to think sound was at most, 40% of a picture. What
we are trying to do is make it believable. There are times when
you can only do this by being surreal. In Losey’s Figures in a
Landscape, when the real mayhem was going on, the effects were
pushed back to heighten the effect. There is a helicopter scene
which goes to silence.
Silence is the thing most people are afraid of, afraid to use. I
don’t know why.”
Rob James (1999)
Yellow Submarine was an
influential animated cartoon
released nearly 45 years ago with
interest in it having been sustained
by the Beatles connection.
This article was written in 1998,
around the time of the 30th
Anniversary re-release, by Antal
Kovacs, a dubbing assistant on the
original production and relates the
story behind the original sound
We have dug this previously
unpublished article out of the
archive as part of our tribute to
the late Hugh Strain, the film’s
dubbing mixer who, as you will
see, was pivotal in making this
eccentric production work. It also
shows the respect that Hugh
inspired in the sound post crew.
* Ken Rolls worked as an Editor for the New Zealand National Film
Unit during the 70s, retiring in the 80s to run a tourist souvenir shop
on the Pacific island of Rarotonga. Orig Ed
On 14th October 1998, the 30th Anniversary Reunion Party took place at the BBC’s Maida Vale
Studios. Doctor Bob Hieronimus and his wife Zoh organised the event. I missed it because I was otherwise
engaged. Doctor Bob lives in Maryland and lectures
at the local university. I believe he runs a full-time
year long course based on Yellow Submarine.
My connection to all this is rather tenuous. I was
one of the two dubbing assistants on the picture and
spent six months of my life searching for spot effects,
then charting them. The picture editor was Brian
Bishop (who works as a prison officer as I write).
Brian had his own assistant, Torque (if my memory
serves me right) (actually Torquil Stewart, Ed), and the two
of them were responsible for all the dialogue tracks.
There were two dubbing editors, Don Cohens (who
went on to become a cinema manager) and Ken Rolls.
Ken went to New Zealand as far as I know. * I was
Ken’s assistant.
Don Cohen and his assistant, Jeff (I think) looked
after all the Yellow Submarine noises. Some electronic
wizard composed special sounds for the Yellow
Submarine on some early form of synthesiser. There
were over fifty sounds: up and past, idling, tick over
and stop, start and away etc. As I said, Don and Jeff
diligently laid all the Yellow Submarine sounds.
Ken and I concentrated on all the spot effects. I was
detailed to find some surreal sound effects and have
them transferred to 35mm magnetic striped film.
They came from all over the place, I went through
the catalogues of most of the sound effect libraries in
Soho; I begged and borrowed from animation
editors and as far as I can remember, we even took
some comedy effects from BBC steam radio.
It was extremely difficult to come up with the right
sounds, and most of the effects were transferred at
bizarre speeds (backwards, inside out, whatever). I
discovered the magical sounds one can achieve by recording through the base of the film. But I could only
find half the sounds we wanted from libraries. So Ken
organised a couple of post-sync sessions at The Gate
(or the MGM Studios) in Borehamwood. Ken, Don,
Jeff and I all took different effects and played it to picture. We had a couple of footstep artists with us, and
an extraordinary percussionist, who came with three
suitcases full of bells and whistles, wood blocks and
God knows what.
We had to be very careful to create non-musical
spot effects, after all, George Martin composed the
incidental music for the film, and we could not afford to do anything that could possibly clash with
the music (which was not written at the time of our
post-sync sessions). The electronic Yellow Submarine
effects were musical enough already - that was our
maximum limit. But we managed all right.
In those days there were no noise suppression systems; even rock and roll dubbing was a novelty. We
had to be very careful to keep background noise to the
minimum. Ken cut the effect to the nearest mod, and
the spots rode in and out. On reel 4, the ‘Sea of Monsters’, we had 47 fx tracks. Hugh Strain, the dubbing
mixer asked us to lay up all the foreground fx on one
group of tracks, the mid-ground and background fx
were also kept separately, and we also made an effort
to keep left and right separated (by the way, these
were all mono tracks).
We had some wonderful general background loops
and tapes, just in case, as Hugh wanted to be able to
play any one sequence either just on effects alone, or
music alone, or a combination of all three. I learned a
lot about sound on that film.
Hugh had two assistants sitting with him at the
mixing console. We had a number of rehearsals, then
went for a take. Hugh tried to keep the premixes
down to a minimum. As far as I can remember, there
had never been a magnetic master, only a dialogue,
a music and an effects premix on triple tracks. The
master was mixed directly onto negative film. You
cannot rock and roll like that. In fact, Hugh was not a
great rock and roller even when it came to mixing the
It amazes me just what incredible results we
managed to achieve using practically stone age
technology. I find it odd that some modern films can
have such appalling sound tracks. Films made in the
thirties and forties using optical tracks are clear as a
bell, yet films costing the national debt of Greece can
have poor sound tracks.
Yellow Submarine is worth seeing not just for the
wonderful animation, but also for the sound track.
George Martin came up with some superb music
in hardly any time at all. Hugh Strain mixed a masterpiece, and some of the spot effects are OK, too. I
believe we also broke some other records, too. The full
feature-length film was finished in under a year from
the conception to the answer print.
I used to wonder how Doctor Bob Hieronimus
could spend a year analysing it. Perhaps there is more
to the film than I thought.
Antal Kovacs (1998)
The Beatles involvement with the film
was far less than many imagined. Based
around a ‘throwaway’ track on an earlier
album, they contributed just a couple of
new tracks, finished one unreleased track
and the balance were already existing items.
The voices were all actors appropriately
imitating the animated Beatle characters.
However, they did agree to appear in a brief
section at the very end of the film where it
switched to live action that was filmed at
Twickenham Studios.
The song ‘Yellow Submarine’ was not
written for the film but was on the Beatles’
‘Revolver’ album issued in 1966 and also as
a single that did their normal trick going
straight to number one. The song used to
have a completely different spoken intro
by Ringo that only appeared in full on the
Anthology CDs in the late 90s. Beatles
producer George Martin was not present at
the session as he was suffering from food
poisoning, engineer Geoff Emerick overseeing matters. It was chosen as the subject for
the animation by the film producers.
The ‘Hey Bulldog’ song sequence was only
used in the UK prints. With the re-released
film that section is now in all versions. And
interestingly the song ‘It’s All Too Much’
was recorded and mixed at De Lane Lea’s
Holborn Kingsway music studio, one of the
Beatles’ few sessions away from Abbey
Road - George Martin again not being
The rate of change in technology, and hence workflow, makes a record of how we work, now and in the
past, a valuable resource. It needs those that did it to
record how they did it, and why, or all our history
will simply be lost. A discussion at the last AGM
revealed that sound editor Eddy Joseph had the same
thoughts and had begun to document memorable
projects in his career. And this is one.
So far 1986 had been a good year, I had gone from
Absolute Beginners to Haunted Honeymoon and knew
that I would be Alan Parker’s Supervising Sound
Editor on Angel Heart sometime in the summer. Also,
I’d been promised a recording trip to New Orleans to
get atmospheres for the film - atmospheres that would
be unique and set up the entire second half of the
In early June, Alan Marshall, Parker’s Producer,
rang me from New Orleans.
“Great” I thought, “He’s calling to arrange my
trip!” “Hullo Ed, Al’s needing to be out of the UK
for a year and wants to post in Europe.” “Oh” I said.
“Yeah we want you to recce the best for you, Gerry
(Hambling the editor) and us. We thought Paris or
Rome.” Well, I had previously worked in both cities
but knew Paris better and thought that it would be
easier for weekend trips home! “Paris” I said, “OK,
you go over there and sort it out and we’ll be
arriving in a few weeks. Oh, and sorry about your
New Orleans trip!”
I was given a contact, Glenn Cunningham (the
French pronounced it ‘Cooning gam’!), an American
assistant editor resident in France and who spoke
fluent French. We met the next week, had a look at a
couple of facilities and worked out the logistics over a
splendid lunch near the Luxembourg Gardens.
I realised that the French editorial system was far
removed from our own and that we would have
to take all our equipment with us. Glenn and I had
decided that the Billancourt Studios were best suited
and that we could base our editing rooms in some
stacked Portacabins in a space overlooking the Seine.
Travel arrangements were organised by Alicia
Eddy Joseph
and Bill Trent
explore Paris
Eddy working back at Elstree on Angel Heart
Bernard one of Alan’s London assistants and, initially,
we were housed in an hotel just off the ChampsÉlysée. We were eventually supplied apartments
according to our various needs.
I was glad that my longtime assistant Lennie Green
was to accompany me. He was guaranteed to keep me
cheerful although I would have to be his spokesman
as his French was limited. We duly arrived and set up
camp. We’d brought plenty of adaptors with us (oddly
you never have enough) so quickly got under way.
The first few weeks were very pleasant, the conditions were good and we soon found our way around.
Alicia, after sorting out apartments for us returned to
London and was replaced by Gilly Ruben, the Alans’
assistant from the shooting crew. One big happy family. Alan P, Alan M, Gerry H, Clive Barrett, who was
Gerry’s assistant, Glenn, Lennie, Gilly and myself.
Oh, and an almost inexhaustible supply of Rosé that
Glenn had sourced!
Alan Parker liked to play music with Gerry’s cutting copy track which he would lay up on a six-plate
Steenbeck. For this he had some favourite scores such
as The Mission. One problem was that we didn’t have
a large library of music for him to use; the other was
that Alan couldn’t go to London to listen to tapes and
discs. I was sent home for a long weekend with the
brief to bring back anything I considered appropriate for the film. I rang my friends Peter and Tim at
KPM and arranged to meet up. We selected a lot of
horror and mystery themes and many drones and
pulses which I had put on tape for transfer. It was
then suggested that as Tim was going to record some
new material in the next couple of weeks he would try
to ‘knock off’ a 2-3 minute piece for us which would,
hopefully, match our brief. This duly arrived and was
fundamental to Alan’s musical tool kit. I had obtained
a wonderful eerie sound effect of treated demonic
voices from Peter Pennell via Bill Trent and other
Sound Editors each of whom had enhanced the track.
I played around with it and presented it to Alan. This
formed the basis of all the ‘elevator/fan’ montages
throughout the film. Indeed, the voices were often
thrown in whenever we needed to heighten suspense.
As soon as Gerry had cut a reel (about 10 minutes
in length), Alan would review it on our Steenbeck,
make notes and return it to Gerry for changes. When
they were done, Alan and I would spot for sound
and music. He would then play with his musical tool
kit and I would track lay atmospheres, FX and tidy
the dialogues. We had found a friendly mixer called
Neil Walwer in GLPP studios in the Parisian suburbs
and went there to create a mono temp mix of the reel.
Eventually by this method we had a complete mix
of the film soon after Gerry had cut it. One problem
I had found was ‘loops’. It was usual in those days
to utilise atmosphere loops for the backgrounds
rather than lay up huge amounts of that track. I took
my loops to Neil’s studio only to discover that they
couldn’t play them as their play-off machines were
horizontal and loops required vertical machines to
prevent the loop itself from clogging the system. It
was then that Len and I held, gingerly, the loop while
it wound itself through the player and Neil rerecorded
each atmosphere on one track of a 3-track roll of magnetic. Thus atmosphere rolls were introduced to the
UK and I had multi-purpose 3-track rolls of atmospheres for future productions!
Eddy Joseph with
Mike le Mare in
Los Angeles,
early 1987
I needed some help with the dialogues as I had my
hands full with (what has now become Sound Design)
trying to perfect the lift, heartbeat and fan sounds for
the montages, so I brought Bill Trent out from the UK.
Bill had worked with me on Haunted Honeymoon and
was both reliable and fun to have around. To assist
Bill I decided on Jocelyne Cita, a French Martinique
girl with excellent English. Together with Jean-Pierre
Lelong, the ‘French Master of Footsteps’, we had a
Alan said that it was time to bring a composer
on board and he wanted Ennio Morricone. So we
patched up our temp track and the Maestro arrived.
He watched the film on his own and afterwards said
to Alan, “The film is excellent but you don’t want
me; you have already decided on a score!” Of course
that was true, Alan had ‘scored’ the film with his
tool kit. Eventually it was agreed that Trevor Jones
would score the film and would incorporate a lot of
the themes and sounds that were in the temp. He and
Alan did come up with the brilliant idea of
Courtney Pine playing counterpoint to the more
haunting drones.
I would call in on Jean-Pierre every morning and
evening to listen to the progress being made on the
Foley Stage. It was inspiring to work with a man totally in control of
his craft. He brought a lot to the multi-layered soundtrack.
We’d had nearly six months in Paris and were now due to go to
Elstree Studios to mix with Bill Rowe and Ray Merrin. I still had some
American crowd to record and had arranged for Louis Elman to cast
and supervise a recording session. When that was completed we
began to premix. It was at that time that Alan had a problem with the
US censors as they had given the film an NC17 rating. This meant that
there could be no trailers or publicity for the film and would severely
restrict admissions. After
long consultations, it was
decided that if about eight
seconds of Mickey
Rourke’s bottom were
removed the film would
be reclassified. This all
took time and we lost
our Final Mix slot with
Bill and Ray. Hollywood
In very early 1987, the
team flew out to Los
Angeles with some equipment and a lot of film to
mix at Warner Hollywood
with Bob Litt, Elliot
Tyson and Steve Maslow.
It proved to be a fantastic
exercise and experience, certainly one from which I gained a lot. They
were a lot more conscious of the use of Stereo than we were in the
UK. We were wary of using the ‘room’ as much as they did. Gerry
still had to make some changes to the cut and I was lucky that Mike
le Mare and his partner Karola Storr were available to help make the
sound alterations and fill the holes in the track. The mix went well
and in February we returned home. It was a fantastic experience for
me, maybe one of the best in my career.
At the GBFE Awards (left to right):
Barry Peters, a Film Editor;
Awards presenter, Gary Kurtz
(Star Wars Producer);
and Eddy Joseph
Angel Heart won the GBFE Award for best Feature Film Sound
Editing in 1988. A happy conclusion.
Eddy Joseph AMPS
WPA Healthcare is AMPS’ appointed provider of corporate private medical insurance (PMI) to AMPS
members. We’ve negotiated an arrangement whereby all our members will benefit from the same preferential terms and support enjoyed by the Pinewood Group for some years.
There will be quite considerable savings to be made for most members changing from their individual
PMI to the AMPS scheme and your immediate family living at the same address can also be included. If you
would like to know more about it and get an idea of costs (absolutely no obligation), please contact our appointed WPA representative, Tina Kemp.
Tina Kemp, Principal WPA Healthcare
Mobile: 07802 201011 Office: 01489 878242 Fax: 01489 878243
Email: [email protected] Web:
Office: Itchen 7, The Old Hambledon Racecourse Centre, Wallops Wood, Droxford, Hants SO32 3QY
A puzzle that draws
upon your knowledge of
words from film, sound,
technology and a little
No prizes but the
solution will appear on
the AMPS website ten
days after publication of
this issue and in print in
the next issue.
01 DC down signal wires (7,5)
06 Unaccompanied performance (4)
08 Mountainous signal (4)
09 Element of photo image (5)
12 More than one thirteenth letter (3)
14 Nautical stereo mic spacing? (2)
15 Steady juice (acronym) (2)
17 Tape container (5)
18 Undesirable tape HF product (4)
20 Imperial tyre reading (acronym) (3)
22 Slow leak (4)
25 Dangerous mike (7)
26 Signal at front end (5)
27 Rerecording (7)
29 Above our range (10)
32 Proprietary reproduction standard (3)
34 In the event that... (2)
35 Ringo Starr plays this (10)
37 No reverb (3)
39 Spreading of waves at an edge (11)
43 Change sound or image (4)
45 Alternatively (2)
47 Announcement system (acronym) (2)
48 Distant station-changer (6,7)
49 Lads become digital communications system
(acronym) (4)
The solution to the last issue’s crossword can be found on page 26
01 Element of digital image (5)
02 Top guild (4)
03 Semiconductor (10)
04 3.14159 (2)
05 One joule per second (4)
07 Space between disc grooves (4)
10 Italian broadcasting co. (3)
11 Soak up sound (6)
13 Processes after filming (14)
16 Signal to start (3)
19 Thus, as (2)
20 Sync signal in Great Expectations? (3)
21 Faraday discovered this electromagnetic effect (9)
23 Bluish metallic element used in alloys (4)
24 German standard noise? (3)
28 Tiniest item of information (3)
29 Range between 300 MHz and 3 GHz (acronym) (3)
30 Variable transformer point (3)
31 Famous music studios in Hampstead (3)
33 Early radio form of 3 down (7)
36 Inaccurate digital data (5)
38 Frequency of car hire firm? (5)
39 Information (4)
40 Really cool computers have these (4)
41 Variable type of analogue track (4)
42 Start a file (4)
44 Portable media player (4)
46 Makers of Bond films (3)
AMPS would like to welcome Raycom as a new
Sustaining Member. Based in Harvington, near
Evesham, Worcestershire, Raycom are specialists
in RF products and microphones. They represent a
number of brands including Raycom, Lectrosonics,
Wisycom, Phonak, PSC, DPA and Remote Audio.
We encourage members to have a look at their website:
AMPS Vice Chairman Ian Sands (right)
presents the ‘mic’ to Sandy MacRae
During SoundPro 2011 at Pinewood, the Association took
the opportunity to make a ‘thank you’ award to a totally
unsuspecting Sandy MacRae.
Beginning with a grass roots comment, there was a desire
Their contact details are :
in the Council to recognise the contribution Sandy made in
taking on the formidable task as our liaison with OFCOM
Raycom Ltd
and BEIRG (British Entertainments Industry Radio Group)
Langton House
for the radio frequency migration from channels 69 to 38.
19 Village St
He was a leading figure in getting OFCOM to change an
unrealistic timetable and also point out on occasions the
WR11 8NQ
impracticalities of their ‘solution’. Sandy was a knowledgeable, reasoned voice, always ready to advise and counsel.
Tel: 01789 777 040
The process is now under way and is proving relatively
Fax: 01789 881 330
efficient, although one led by and apparently for, the benefit
of the army of administrators.
E-mail: sales
As a small token of appreciation, Council commissioned
a ceramic AXBT microphone to be made by a potter in Bristol, and to have it customised with the AMPS logo instead
of the usual BBC but of course, Sandy has served both
8 The 30th September was the 75th anniversary of the
organisations in his career.
founding of Pinewood Studios. If you have a question
In reply, Sandy commented that he’d begun his BBC
about who was doing what at any of what are now the
‘re-ribboning’ these mics and while he was grateful
seven member studios of the Pinewood Group, try www.
award there was still continuing work to be done on which goes back to
RF issues that threatened our use of RF gear.
A new organisation was launched in September, the
Association of Sound Designers. They are for the theatre
and live event industry and so are in a parallel field but
it is possible that the name may cause confusion. (www.
8 Desert Island Discs: This popular BBC radio pro-
gramme has run almost continually since 1942, and they
now offer a well-linked website where you can search
for a castaway by name, or by musical choices or luxury
items they’d like to have on their island. Those from July
1998 onwards are complete radio programmes, but anything earlier is restricted to a written list of their choices
of music and luxury. There are many Director/Producers
included, such as Terry Gilliam on 10 April 2011, but those
interested in earlier famous names may like to read about
David Puttnam (17 November 1984), Otto Preminger (2
February 1980), Bryan Forbes (22 August 1966), Richard
Attenborough (20 January 1964) and Herbert Wilcox (30
August 1955).
- from the last issue of the Journal
My first meeting with Hugh was a lunchtime in
1972 at the Nellie Dean in Soho where a mutual friend
introduced me to him and the late Vic Vine. Little did
I know then that 12 years later we would all be involved in the management of De Lane Lea as fellow
board members.
After that first meeting I would often see Hugh
in one hostelry or another and we would exchange
pleasantries and anecdotes. Like many other people
who had the privilege of meeting Hugh, I was impressed by his manner, always the perfect gentleman.
He was well read, erudite and could talk about a
variety of subjects.
Late in 1983 I was invited to join a consortium
which consisted of Malcolm Stewart, the Vic Vine,
the John Carr, Richard Paynter (later to become MD),
Hugh, Peter Maxwell and myself as chief engineer.
At the beginning of 1984, our bid to take over De
Lane Lea having been successful, we began to rebuild
the dubbing theatres at which point Hugh’s input was
AMPS Fellow
invaluable. His experience of mixing in the then fairly
new (certainly to me) Dolby Stereo format was a huge
1932 - 2011
advantage and he was able to clarify all of the vagaries for me.
For the first three months of 1984 Hugh was still
Hugh Mungo Peter Carrick Gibson Strain
mixing under contract at Delta in Shepperton. This of
course meant several late night and weekend meetThe name, I think, sums up the man – different,
ings to allow me the opportunity to “brain pick” and
interesting, idiosyncratic, a little quirky and of an
for Hugh to input his ideas.
olde world charm.
We ran De Lane Lea successfully for 14 years until
we sold it in 1998. during which time Hugh mixed
Born in Renfrew, Scotland, Hugh was one of five
several major films and TV programmes, his reputabrothers, and a sister who died in infancy. The famtion becoming legendary.
ily moved south when Hugh was a child, settling in
Hugh’s technical knowledge and expertise was
Borehamwood, somewhat fortuitous in light of the
extensive. He was the first mixer I had met that, in the
industry in which he subsequently chose to work.
days of recording to magnetic, monitored downstream
Hugh started his long and illustrious career in the
so that he was able to check inserts etc.
late 1940s at the Borehamwood MGM studios going
During this period Hugh would chair many meetthrough several departments before specialising in
ings and discussion groups regarding new technolsound.
ogy, especially the advent of non-linear editing, then
After two years National Service in the Royal Signals, based in Cyprus, Hugh returned to ABPC Studi- in its infancy. I believe that AMPS evolved from these
os, also at Borehamwood. From there Hugh moved to discussions, certainly Hugh was member No. 1.
When Hugh was mixing he had no concept of time
Warwick Sound in Soho building up a very successful
and would carry on working until he felt he had got it
business in commercials, TV drama and film.
right, often through lunch and often an 8:00pm finish
He then travelled to Canada where he mixed a
number of high profile movies. On his return he went could be 8:00am the next morning. If I was on engineering cover I was frequently tempted to disconnect
to Worldwide Sound where he mixed several major
the reverse button! However, in the end with a good
TV series. Leaving Worldwide he then moved on to
job and a happy client, everybody was happy.
Trevor Pyke Sound and Delta Sound at Shepperton.
His crew, however, did buy him an alarm clock as a
Some of the most noteworthy productions in this
period were:- Our Mother’s House, Yellow Submarine, Christmas present, preset for 1:00pm. Hugh proudly
Get Carter, Death Wish, Monty Python and the Holy displayed it on the console, it was of course muted.
Hugh was nominated for three BAFTAs for the film
Grail, The Life of Brian and The Long Good Friday.
TV series Van der Valk, Special Branch, The Sweeney, The Go Between and for TV’s P’tang, Yang, KipperMinder and The Professionals. All of these, of course, bang and The Sweeney. He was also Emmy nominated
for the Josephine Baker Story.
amongst many others.
Below is a list of some of the films and TV mixed
by Hugh whilst at De Lane Lea but there were many
many more: Water (Dick Clement 1984); Defence of
the Realm (David Drury 1985); Insignificance (Nicholas Roeg 1985); The Bride (Franc Roddam 1985);
Death Wish 3 (Michael Winner 1985); Highlander
(Russell Mulcahy 1985); Shanghai Surprise (Jim Goddard 1986); The Kitchen Toto (Harry Hook 1987);
Withnail & I (Bruce Robinson 1987); Whales of
August (Lindsay Anderson 1987); Housekeeping (Bill
Forsyth 1987); El Nino de la Luna (Agustí Villaronga
1989); Howling V (Neal Sundstrom 1989); Scandal
(Michael Caton-Jones 1989); Danny the Champion
(TV) (Gavin Millar 1989); Paper Mask (Peter Morahan 1990); The Josephine Baker Story (TV) (Brian
Gibson 1991); Where Angels Fear to Tread (Charles
Sturridge 1991); Secret Friends (Dennis Potter 1991);
Close My Eyes (Stephen Poliakoff 1991); Priest (Antonia Bird 1994); London (Patrick Keller 1994).
Leaving De Lane Lea after its sale in 1998 Hugh
went freelance mixing features and TV series Monarch of the Glen and Ballykissangel before retiring in
2001. He was a true professional, a mentor to many,
and a gentleman who will be sadly missed.
Hugh died at home on 30th July after a short battle
with cancer. He leaves Jean, his third wife of 33 years,
to whom he was devoted, a son Hugh and daughters
Eleanor, Angela, Rebecca, Deborah and ten grandchildren.
When Hugh completed Yellow Submarine he was
given a fader by Ringo Starr inscribed, ‘Dubbing mixers never die – they only fade away’. Hugh’s life may
have faded away but his name will live on in the
work he completed in the industry he loved.
Norman Brown AMPS
In lieu of a floral tribute at the funeral, AMPS made a donation
to Cancer Research UK - the charity suggested by Hugh’s family.
from Chris Roberts AMPS (Chairman AMPS)
I did not know Hugh particularly well, and only met
him a few times, but he did have an effect on my career.
In my early twenties, I moved to London to work in a
very small sound department on Fitzroy Square. After
a few months, not sure if I had made the right decision, Hugh was one of the many people I contacted to ask
advice as I started out in Sound Post Production. Hugh was one of only two people to respond. He called
me, and kindly invited me to visit him at De Lane Lea one
lunchtime. It was, if I recall correctly, the summer of 1996,
and the tour of the De Lane Lea facilities culminated with
a peek inside the now famous Studio One, which was in
the process of being built. It was a project I sensed that
Hugh was very excited about and proud of.
Actually, my memory did just fail me. The tour of De
Lane Lea didn’t end there in Studio One. It was lunchtime. We finished up in the bar, where Hugh bought me a
couple of pints and introduced me to his colleagues.
I soon realised that I had indeed made the right decision, and it is one that I’ve never regretted. Thanks Hugh.
from Henry Dobson AMPS
Hugh was my mentor. I learnt so much from him... and
not only about how to mix! He was always such fun to be
with, whether mixing in the studio or the bar.
from Eddie Joseph AMPS
Many happy memories of Hugh. I was lucky to work
with him from 1969. Always professional, always aware
of audio clarity and always enormous fun.
from Dave Humphries AMPS
It was Hugh (and Harry Hutchings) who first gave me
the confidence and the introductions to leave TVS and
come and work in town.
Many a social imbibing in the De Lane Lea bar, and long
chats at dB Post when he came to mix the series Monarch
Of The Glen, which he kindly passed on to me to mix.
Always a good listener (part of his craft, after all!) and
excellent with his dry comments and wise observations.
from Peter Hodges AMPS
As a young man in the industry I always admired
Hugh’s work as a Dubbing Mixer and aspired to be as
good as him. He played an important part in the formation of AMPS in addition to his impressive body of work
in the Film and Television world. Thanks Hugh - I’m
proud to have followed in your footsteps as a Chairman
of AMPS.
from Michael Adelman AMPS
Hugh also mentored me at a number of ACTT, and I
think also BECTU, meetings and one AGM we attended
together. My timing was not as fortunate as others who
worked with Hugh. I remember feeling really well informed and guided by a wise, patient and warm hearted
gentleman. A true man of worth.
Hugh Strain with Norman Brown
Hugh used to say that his career started in 1949 as a trainee in MGM’s
Boreham Wood studio’s sound department where his first job was “to use a
fine brush to remove dirt on optical prints in order to reduce noise”. Ed
from Kevin Phelan AMPS
In my short tenure at De Lane Lea in 1985 he was a serious mentor, a fabulous socialite and a true gent. He did
say after my unexpected redundancy that he wanted me
to train to be an assistant re-recording mixer.
from Rob James
I was fortunate enough to work at De Lane Lea for
the better part of a year in total, much of it with Hugh.
He was a superb, intuitive mixer with excellent people
skills, although not one to suffer fools gladly. I learned
a lot from him.
Apart from his more famous achievements he mixed
a film with one of the most memorable sound designs
I’ve ever heard. Very few people know of it. It was
Kings and Desperate Men starring Patrick MacGoohan
and directed by Alexis Kanner. Made in Canada, it
had a chequered genesis but the sound design is still
Working with Hugh, I achieved something rare and
desirable, in a dubbing theatre or for that matter in life.
On many occasions we understood each other perfectly
and worked in complete harmony, without a word
from Roger Slater AMPS
It was Hugh who recruited me into AMPS in the pub
in 1991. A great mixer and a true gentleman.
from Ben Norrington AMPS
Very sad indeed, I was fond of him. A great mixer.
from Andrew Wilson AMPS
AMPS would quite possibly have never got off the
ground without Hugh, and the same could be said for
many a career.
from Chris Munro AMPS
It could be argued that Hugh was the founder of
AMPS. I attended a meeting at De Lane Lea chaired
by Hugh. Non-linear sound editing was in its infancy
and picture was still cut on film. There was a great
deal of concern from Sound Editors that they would be
put out of work by the new technology. I was the only
production sound mixer there and had already started
to experiment with digital recording and editing. I got
quite a grilling! What came out of this meeting was
a decision to form an association where we could all
work together for our mutual benefit.
John ‘Spud’ Murphy AMPS Hon – BAFTA winning Sound Recordist with a record of mentoring
many established Production Mixers died in mid
October. He was awarded Honorary AMPS membership in 2001 in recognition of an influential
Alan Allen AMPS Hon – We have recently been
informed that Alan died in September 2010. Born
in the UK, he worked as Sound Recordist in the
UK film industry before moving to Australia in
1951 where he continued his career.
The Journal would welcome any assistance in
compiling obituaries for either of these Members.
1929 - 2011
Peter Lodge was born and schooled in Yorkshire; his first
job was as a typographic compositor for the family printing
firm in Dewsbury. He later spent his National Service in the
signals division of the RAF; maybe his interest in sound was
inspired then.
During that time he met Michael Johns and they became
lifelong friends; later Peter often stayed with Michael when
he travelled to London seeking a job in television until in 1953
he resigned from printing to become a Technical Assistant
with the BBC. These were formative years; he had left what he
felt were the confines of the postwar North for the freedom of
London’s media world. In 1954 whilst recording a trial commercial he met his future wife Angela, a make-up artist; they
married in 1955 and later had their children Jane, John Paul
and Graham.
Peter and Angela were recruited by ATV and there were
rapid technical changes, including colour transmissions and
the first satellite pictures across the Atlantic. During this time
he also started, with Michael, to build his own small sound
studio in the stables of the Coach House, Hampstead, where
he lived with his family. In 1966 he became dissatisfied with
being an employee and set up his own company, using all the
family’s money to build a larger studio called Sound Associates in Bayswater: over three floors it provided inexpensive
editing, recording and dubbing facilities for UK film companies. They covered features and documentaries and included
work for Eric Sykes, Pier Paolo Pasolini, John Schlesinger and
Lord Snowdon. (Once when a voice-over artiste didn’t show
up Peter spoke a test for London Underground, but it ended
up being used for years at Waterloo station: “Mind the Gap!”)
He worked long hours, it was his hobby as well as his job and
he found it hugely satisfying. Having a December birthday he
relished holding a Christmas party for friends and colleagues
that became a fixture in the industry calendar.
In 1970 Peter bought a site in the Essex village of Tollesbury, and helped to build the family’s second home where
they spent weekends and holidays, often messing about in
boats. In 1974, another boat-owner asked if Peter would like
to supply and install equipment for a cinema 200 miles south
of Khartoum. This led to six years’ work in Africa installing
generators and full 70mm setups; many adventures included
being asked to film Idi Amin in Khartoum, armed with a
six-shooter and boasting he was ‘The Conqueror of the British Empire’! Peter left quickly afterwards but it led to more
cinema installations in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Iraq
and Israel. In 1984 Cinemeccanica, the company’s Milanese
projector supplier, introduced him to what seemed a crazy
project – equipping the first multiplex in Britain, with 10
screens in Milton Keynes, but it led on to equipping 30 more
multiplexes securing the company’s and his family’s future.
In 1986, Sound Associates ceased film production work and
moved, what was now a cinema installation business, to the
London Bridge area.
Peter and Angela bought a house in France in 1991, spent
increasing time there and made many friends, particularly
after Peter retired – he recorded the choir in Toulouse Cathedral and took group photos on exotic holidays then processed
them in his darkroom, while Angela continued her interest in
textiles. Sadly, she died in 1998 and without her support Peter’s world became more confined; he returned to Britain and
later struggled with his memory and eventually died in June.
Fittingly, his company still thrives in the charge of Graham,
his son, in West Molesey.
Michael Johns AMPS Hon
car and everyone would get in and go to the OB site.
There was Durham Cathedral Evensong every Tuesday and to Whitby for the Spa Orchestra on Wednesday. This was all single mic recording using a BBC ribbon and perhaps a second mic if there was a singer/
Reg had met his future wife in Exeter. One Friday
he took an extended lunch hour and they married in a
Newcastle Registry Office without telling anyone. He
returned to work for the rest of the day before heading
off on a motoring honeymoon the following day.
By this time Reg had been promoted and was now
a full Maintenance engineer. If there were no OBs he
would be on duty in the control room as the senior
man. This continued until war broke out and everyREG SUTTON AMPS Hon
thing changed. All the regional stations were put on
Reg Sutton was born in London in 1916. Aged ten
the same wavelength so that it wasn’t possible for
he had already built a crystal set to listen to early BBC enemy aircraft to locate specific cities through their
radio broadcasts from Savoy Hill, and valve radios
broadcast output.
followed. He had an ambition to become an engineer
Reg was on the point of going in the Air Force but
at the BBC but they would not accept entrants below
was retained throughout the whole of the war, conthe age of 21 so there was some time to fill.
tinuing his BBC work and as a member of the Home
He was sent to a Methodist boarding school near
Guard on an Ack-ack battery. In 1945 he was transCanterbury because, following the death of his father, ferred to London Outside Broadcasts which meant a
his mother had remarried and gone to live in Venlot of state and political occasions. While all the newsezuela with her new husband. Leaving school at 15
reel organisations were able to attend, only the BBC
a relative got him an engineering apprenticeship at
were allowed to place microphones on state occasions
Lyons’ workshops where he spent four years trainand would provide a feed to the newsreels. Through
ing that included lathes, electronics, winding motors, this he made contact with Movietone News who
refrigeration, etc when not servicing Lyon’s Corner
offered him a lot more money than his BBC salary
Houses across London and the provinces.
and so Reg resigned and took up a position as sound
But the ambition to join the BBC was still strong and recordist.
he enrolled at the Regent Street Polytechnic to study
Working for Movietone was a very happy time for
for a City and Guilds in Radio Communications, his
Reg. Now working with a cameraman in a pre TV
Postmaster General’s Certificate in Electricity, Magworld, he enjoyed the competitive nature of the businetism and Morse Code, and later a BSc in Electronics, ness and still was part of major national occasions
mainly done over three nights a week. During this
such as the Queen’s Coronation and her Royal Tour
time his mother and family returned to England and
of the Commonwealth in 1953. For the latter he went
Reg went to live with them in Exeter, transferring his
with Movietone cameraman Paul Wyand to film it in
course to there.
Cinemascope and with a modified early Leevers-Rich
Aged 21 he was finally able to join the BBC and was tape recorder. They were away for over six months
sent to the Studio Centre/Transmitter at Newcastle as with half a ton of gear, travelling by sea but with
the first of a new grade, a Junior Maintenance Enginewsreel film flown back to the UK everyday. The
neer. It was a varied role with some days spending a
resulting footage was made into a feature film - The
complete shift just monitoring the technical quality of Flight Of The White Heron with full orchestral score.
the local programme going out; other days would be
Reg’s Movietone career continued with tours folspent on the studio control desk setting levels.
lowing Eisenhower, Franco, De Gaulle and MacmilWhile the BBC had two recording vans one in the
lan around Europe but perhaps the most competitive
North and the other in the South with the ability to
was filming the Grand National horse race at Aintree
cut discs for later broadcast, most OB work was live.
sixteen times and getting it back to London for editAs soon as Reg moved onto OBs covering the North
ing, dubbing and showing in cinemas that same evenEast he said he’d found his forte and he loved it.
ing, if possible before the other newsreel companies
There was no OB van. Instead a pile of equipment in
- whatever it took.
duplicate - amplifiers, a whole array of wet and dry
In 1960, Reg left Movietone to join a small company
batteries, about half a ton of equipment would be
being started by a cameraman friend, Sydney Samuelloaded into the back of an Austin 20. It was a large
son, whose tribute continues on the following page.
from Sir Sydney Samuelson
All pictures supplied by Jonathan Sutton
(Reg’s grandson) from the family collection
REG SUTTON, a very special man – to his family, to his
colleagues in Sound, particularly to his own staff and, most
definitely, to me. I am not the one to record here the detail
of a Chief of Sound’s lifetime technical achievements, others will surely be doing that, I merely want to refer to the
significance of his 28 years contribution to the Samuelson
companies – of which fairly well known group he was
General Manager.
During his career, I consider Reg stamped his influence
on three principal organisations, perhaps all describable as
‘iconic’, but in different ways. Firstly, it was the BBC in the
North East, then as Senior Recordist, British Movietonews
and lastly, for much the longest period, Samuelsons.
My own respect for the expertise and experience of Reg
came about very early during the development of my
company. I had perceived an industry need for an up to
date, efficient sound service to match what we were already
doing with camera rental and it was Reg who put a new
department together. It started with a single Leevers-Rich
‘Synchropulse’ recorder together with various types of
microphone for location work. Although originally housed
in one room at the back of our shop in The Burroughs,
Hendon, it was the reliability of the gear, the standard of
service he introduced - and which was maintained by the
technicians in his department - that ensured our successful progress. We offered state-of-the-art equipment as it
became available – Perfectone and Nagra recorders and
Westrex Sound Transfer. Later, Reg masterminded into our
new building in Cricklewood, the first Westrex ‘Rock and
Roll’ 16mm dubbing theatre. I do believe our company
introduced the very first radio mikes for location work
(which immediately revolutionised the filming for the Candid Camera contract which we had at the time).
I can never forget the circumstances when Reg agreed to
join me in the very early days of ‘Samuelson Film Service’. I had worked with him occasionally during his
Movietone days and we had, I suppose, mutual regard
for each other. Certainly the fact that we could both see
the funny side of things when we were working with
difficult clients and all was not going well, was helpful in this respect. In the 1950s, Reg was well situated,
career-wise, having a fascinating and very senior staff
job with Movietone (a 20th Century Fox company, no
less) with security and a pension to look forward to. I
asked him if he would consider joining my small (five
person) business and, amazingly, he did. How lucky I
was that this fine technician was prepared to take such
a risk with his future.
My good friend was not only our Chief of Sound,
he was also our ‘Chief of Staff’, even the first licensee
of our pub, The Magic Hour, at the Production Village
in Cricklewood. Apart from being such a splendid
techie, Reg was a brilliant administrator, a person who
contributed a great deal to the development of Samuelsons
over many years. My brothers and I have much respect
and affection for his memory.
Sydney Samuelson
There are some things that we know, and some that we don’t....
While trawling through the Journal’s archive I came across this image. Unlike paper photos
where we may have a scribbled clue to the identity of the image it is too easy for a digital image
to become separated from any description. And that is what has happened here.
We believe that this is a Westrex 12-channel mixer from the 1950s but where this one was installed, who took the picture, and who owns the image rights, we have no idea. We suspect that
this was from the UK but would welcome any details that you might know that we don’t. Also
if you worked on a similar mixer, some explanation of the controls, how they were used, and the
role of those vertical strips in front of each mixing position, would be very welcome.
The End
Editor ([email protected])

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