The plan comes together for "A Simple Man"

For Steve Treviño’s “Simple Man” special on Netflix, everything came together from the very beginning.

Filmed on location at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts in San Antonio, Texas Crew location sound man John McKallip made sure to cover the entire venue with a variety of microphones and placements that were designed with the 5.1 delivery format in mind.

John had an MS microphone in the center of the stage, two crowd microphones on either edge of the stage, and a balcony microphone at the rear. These placements provided beautiful coverage of the entire venue.

John also had an excellent sense of gain staging and used his taste and aesthetics to set the balances in a very realistic way at the baseline recording level.

From there, the process moved to editor Rick Cikowski. In addition to finding and placing all of the best takes, beats, and angles, Rick shepherded all of the source audio tracks through the entire process intact. This is an incredibly important step because even though Rick wasn’t using all of the crowd iso tracks for the edit reviews, he had them in his sequence and available for export once the edit was approved and ready for mixing.

John’s meticulous metadata moved into Rick’s sequence in the form of long track names that spelled out both mic choice and placement for every track. This was invaluable on the mixing stage as no other documentation was required to figure out which tracks needed to go where in the panners.

On the stage, mixer Roy Machado directed his efforts towards carefully time-aligning all of the audio sources to create one big, clean, coherent source.

The main handheld microphone actually came in 4 frames out of sync due to some Dante routing at the venue. Once that was fixed, each stage and crowd microphone was manually time-aligned to the handheld.  The time alignment created a natural room reverb where every crowd reaction naturally flowed in and out as it happened.

Once all of the tracks were aligned and balanced, the 5.1 mix came quickly and with very little processing. 

From the theater through the edit to the mixing stage, every step was done with care, and the end result really feels like being there.

Upon its release, “Simple Man” shot up the Netflix rankings, peaking at number 2 nationally.