Dane Davis Uses Sennheiser Mics for 'Matrix 3'

Aug 27, 2003 12:00 PM, Editors


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Sound designer Dane A. Davis, who is currently working on The Matrix: Revolutions, has been working with Sennheiser mics.

Davis continually amasses sound effects in the Danetracks library. While collecting sounds for use in the third Matrix installment, in which the machines invade the humans in the city of Zion, one of the machines being recorded exacted its revenge on a pair of Sennheiser MKH 800-P48 variable-pattern condenser microphones. Subsequently repaired by Sennheiser, they have now been returned to active duty.

Pictured: Dane Davis, president of Danetracks, puts the Neumann Solution-D microphones and Sennheiser MKH 800s in peril with arc welding sparks.

"We never intentionally abuse mics," said Davis, "but we put them in all kinds of difficult situations. Considering that we're firing 50-caliber rifles and machine guns and cannons at targets within a few feet of these mics, it's pretty amazing how rarely they get damaged.

"We're always trying to find new sounds," he continued. "A lot of times, these are new machines that haven't been recorded before." Having captured the sounds of an arc welder, the next session involved an electronic discharge machine. "The arcs are normally very tiny, unlike the arc welding, where I was deliberately disintegrating all kinds of small pieces of metal. This machine made these tiny arcs that are normally submerged in solvent. It made unbelievably cool, electronic gurgling sounds. The arcs were only about one-eighth of an inch long, and although the solvent would sometimes spatter, nothing seemed to go through the screens of the 800s, which were set up about 10 inches away in an X-Y pattern pointing at the arc. These tiny arcs must have been throwing microscopic pieces of hot slag out, and maybe the 48-volt charge across the capsule attracted it and somehow pulled it through the screen onto the capsule. It seems so far-fetched, but it's the only explanation. There were little pieces welded to the capsule."

Pictured: machine shards welded into the Sennheiser MKH 800.

"For that tiny of an amount to get through the screen of the microphone and adhere to the capsule, it would have to be microscopic," agreed Danetracks technical engineer Del Martin.

The recording setup also included a Pro Tools|HD system. "We do almost everything at 192k now, especially when we're using the Sennheiser 800s, because they have an absolutely lovely, extended high-frequency response," Davis noted.

For more information, visit Sennheiser online at www.sennheiserusa.com.

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