Edirol R-09HR records Obama inauguration


When sound recordist Alan O’Duffy was contracted to travel to the USA to record interviews and atmospheres for a “feature documentary” about Barack Obama becoming the 44th President of the USA, one of the first pieces of kit he packed was Edirol’s R-09HR digital recorder.
Irish film company, Alpha Films, wanted Alan to record on location first in New York, with particular focus on the impact in Harlem of Obama becoming the first African American to be elected as President, and then on to Washington for the inauguration ceremony itself. After discussions with the director Mark Downey and his DOP Andy Jackson, it was decided that Alan’s role would be to capture as much specific background ambient material as possible, as well as interviews. The objective was to give the director, editor and dubbing mixer as much flexibility as possible in postproduction.
One of the key factors in deciding on what equipment to take with them was portability. O’Duffy explained, “In the past I would typically have had to carry umpteen separate bits of kit just to record atmospheres: flight-cases containing various mics, a bulky recorder of some description, and all the associated leads, batteries, chargers and power supplies. What a palaver! I had used the Edirol R-09HR to record atmos on projects before, and being only slightly bigger than an iPod, but with its built-in, high quality, stereo microphone and the ability to record 24-bit/96kHz uncompressed broadcast digital audio, it was the obvious choice. What a joy!”
Armed with the R-09HR - complete with furry wind-sock newly acquired from a shop off Broadway that seemed to supply everything for making movies - Alan roamed the streets of Harlem, recording everything from buses driving off in the snow along with general pedestrian/traffic sounds, to the interior atmos of various cafs, all matching the relevant camera shots. Very impressed with both the sound quality and the ease of use, O’Duffy remarked, “It’s point and shoot – hit the big red button on the front and away you go! Simple. And the sound is wonderful. High quality. Suitable for a feature film.”
As well as the built-in stereo condenser microphone, the R-09HR has both mic and line audio inputs via two stereo miniature phone jack sockets. Another welcome feature of the Edirol R-09HR is that it will run continuously for 4 hours on two standard AA alkaline batteries, so there was no concern about preserving battery life while recording. With an 8gb SD card to record onto, the machine’s capacity is almost eight hours, but Alan was keen to stress that “with its high speed USB file transfer, this can be backed up in no time. So I happily recorded radio and television spots, adverts and any relevant items which might match our film.” After each day’s shoot he downloaded the R-09HR’s WAV contents onto his laptop, thus freeing up the whole memory for the following day.
Alan takes up the story: “We drove to Washington DC on the 19th January from New York. As we reached each service station, the director wanted to interview the coach parties and myriad individuals from all over the country who were converging on the capital. There was a great atmosphere. I also managed to record TV news reports of Barack Obama’s train journey and the build up to each stop where he would make a speech. The R-09HR became a back-up to the interviews on camera, and recorded stand alone radio interviews and flavours of America anticipating this historic day.”
The following morning, 20th January 2009, the crew was up at dawn to record the event from the viewpoint of those who had travelled from literally every part of the America and indeed the world.
Holding his radio scanner in one hand and his R-09HR in the other, from his position just off the Mall, O’Duffy walked through the throng, recording Aretha Franklin and John Williams, and the crowd’s reactions. He fully understood and appreciated the importance of the occasion . . . and not just as a professional recordist. “I was surrounded by eager visitors listening to Obama’s speech, people who had come from far and wide to witness this momentous occasion for themselves. It may sound trite, but I was doubly aware of how vital it was that I capture this unique event.”
As part of the film, they visited Brooklyn to record Bishop Nathaniel Townsley Junior and his Gospel Jubilee. O’Duffy decided to employ both the R-09HR and his Edirol R-4PRO in tandem. He elaborates, “I positioned the R-09HR in the middle of the congregation and hit the red button! Behind and above this, I placed the R-4PRO recording a wide room sound from the PA mixer, plus onto tracks 3 & 4 I got a direct feed from the PA from the aux. channels. So I have 6 channels of digital audio to play with as sync sound for the two camera shoot.”
In conclusion Alan is extremely pleased he decided to choose the Edirol R-09HR to be the main recording device on this important shoot. In conjunction with his already tried and tested R-4PRO, he feels he now has an unbeatable pair of portable, digital sound recorders. He added, “If any proof were needed, just ask the Director and the DOP . . . they both want to buy one! My great little R-09HR did its job magnificently!”

Tags: sound recordist | iss028 | obama | edirol R-09HR | alpha films | dop | r-4pro | N/A
Contributing Author N/A

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