Posts filed under ‘legal’

Be Like James Bond

Perhaps you always wanted to be like James Bond.  I always loved the gadgets Q developed.  Now you can obtain spy gadgets without being enrolled the secret service. These are not cheap and they can be used for evil purposes.  Just knowing what is available makes me want to be more aware.

A Tracker

Recently some innovative Germans placed a GPS tracking device on the Google street view car We have all seen Hollywood dramas where people are tracked with a GPS device.  Thanks to Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) this is now easy to do. Just  buy a small box, less than half the size of a cigarette box, then stick it on a anything using the built in magnets. Then you can monitor it’s position anywhere worldwide. Some GPS trackers can be found at this website.

Biometric Security

Now you can own a security device with voice recognition, palm, hand and fingerprint scanning, iris and retina reading, hand vein imagery, facial 3d modeling verification, and DNA testing. These security devices are harder to buy as they require you personal information, what you need it for, and a price quote these high end security devices were too cool not to be included on my list.

Virtual Secret Surveillance

This is very scary … now you can know every single thing somebody does on a computer? And all their passwords? Well, this is now possible. Using simply a small plug-in device, the size of a nickel, between a person’s keyboard (even a wireless one) and their computer, you can see hundreds of pages of text that they type no matter what it is. You can even monitor every single button they press on their keyboard. No software is involved in this process; you simply set a password on the device and plug it in.

Once the information has been recorded – just take it out and plug it into your own computer and enter the password. You can see everything they’ve typed. Also if you do not want to retrieve the device, it can send the collected info to a website, email, or FTP server.



February 8, 2010 at 5:08 pm Leave a comment

Production Incentives Passed for Texas!


TXMPA and other supporters made history! 

texasfilmTons of calls were made to legislators and Texas now has production incentives! 

It was close and very late in the Texas Capitol when the film incentive grants bill passed. Now the $22 million bill must be signed into law by the governor and that looks positive!  I wish to thank Hector Garcia, Texas Motion Picture Alliance -President, the legislature and all of the supporters of this bill.

The film business has been good for the economy and now Texas can be competitive with other states offering incentives.



Dwight Cook – Only In Houston Chairman

also see – Production Incentives Passed for Texas!

April 17, 2009 at 10:32 pm Leave a comment

Solved by forensic audio detection

Some TV crime scene investigation programs tend to be more fiction than reality for the sake of drama. But even if you disregard the drama, today’s audio evidence restoration possibilities are truly amazing.


What is audio restoration? It’s more than someone running your audio program through an equalizer (a glorified tone control with multiple frequencies). The process actually seeks to repair the sound. If you are faced with restoring audio evidence, here are some aspects in regard to the process to familiarize yourself with before speaking with a forensics audio engineer:

Audio Recording

Audio Recording

  • Decide exactly what sections of the evidence need to be restored.
  • Know the time length of the audio to be processed.
  • Identify the media format of the recording (example: micro or standard cassette).
  • Provide the original recording, if possible (copies introduce more noise).
  • Make sure the restoration process is non-destructive to the original recording.
  • Get an evaluation sample and listen to what can be done to improve your recording before you commit to having the whole recording processed.
  • Have the restored audio supplied in a trial-ready format.

There are many resources in a forensic audio engineer’s restoration toolbox: volume leveling, analogue and digital EQ, compression, expansion, scientific filters and advanced analysis software. Many projects require a combination of these be applied. Even projects that are less demanding or cost-sensitive may still benefit in the intelligibility aspect of the recording.

What can be restored? Conversations made on hand-held recorders, audio from video tape, phone conversations, and surveillance recordings. An experienced forensic audio engineer can repair, improve or eliminate unwanted noise and improve the intelligibility of a recording suffering from issues such as:

Get rid of the NOISE

Get rid of the NOISE

  • AC hum

  • HVAC units
  • Cameras
  • Generators
  • Motors
  • Noise from mechanical damage to the recording
  • Wireless microphone noise
  • Distortion caused by overload
  • Ambient room noise
  • Buzz
  • Fixed frequency noise
  • Clicks and pops
  • Crackle
  • Background noises

SoundWorks has over 25 years of experience in forensic audio and has restored hundreds of sound recordings. We also supply expert witness services and have testified in local, county, state and federal cases

March 18, 2009 at 8:10 pm Leave a comment

What a wicked soundtrack!

In the same sense of not needing to know the chemical makeup of the ink to use a fountain pen, this article offers some important considerations in audio post production that can make the difference in your product sounding The directorprofessional or amateur. One of the most common requests made of sound editors is to “clean up” the dialogue. The process used to accomplish this depends on what issues the soundtrack has to overcome. While the removal of clicks and pops may be relatively easy, the more complex removal of background hum, noise and ambience may be required.

Location Sound

sennheiser-mkh-416On location, TV and film projects utilize a shotgun microphone on a boom for long shots, while many close up shots use a microphone hidden on the subject. Both recording methods bring challenges to audio post production. The difference in sound quality between the close up shots and long shots must be matched as well as the varying backgrounds, unless the sound is recorded in a “controlled environment” like a sound stage. But even if the dialogue to be matched is from two different close up angles (like over the shoulder shots for a conversation), the general ambience differences may still be extreme. Hum, mouth noises and background noise should be removed or reduced.

ADR & Dialogue Replacement

ADR process described by Director Peter Masterson and Actor Gene Hackman during dialogue replacement for “Full Moon Over Blue Water” ~ 1988.  Although the process has not changed the technology is now all digital. Sound Works has been doing ADR since the mid 80’s.


Sometimes the location sound is distorted so badly that the director may be tempted to start over and re-shoot the entire scene from scratch. Given the cost of a production crew, location costs and rentals, this may not be the most cost-effective solution. ADR can be an effective solution for replacing individual lines. It requires the skill of the actors and ADR engineer to match the performance and sync. The engineer has a number of tools to assist with ADR. For example, Sound Works has software that will lock-step the sync of the new performance to the original recording allowing the actor to concentrate on expressing the line properly. In post production, the qualities of the performances can be matched in tonal quality and proximity to the camera. The voice “tone” is adjusted to make the voice more “up-front” for the close up reads.

Background Sounds

Location sound engineers should always record background ambience to allow the audio post people more options when matching dialogue. For example, if ADR is to istock_000001786036mediumbe used, the re-recorded line will have little or no ambience compared to the replaced location line. But the previously-recorded location ambience can be added to the ADR sections resulting in a seamless-sounding dialogue track.

But let’s say the shot is at sundown and the volume level of crickets in the background is changing every 30 seconds. It is possible to sample the undesired crickets and peel them out of the sound track leaving the desired dialogue unaffected. At Sound Works, we have several processes to remove or reduce background noise. This is the same process used in our forensic audio service. Removing undesired background noise could eliminate the need for ADR or reshooting the entire scene. And THAT makes the sound editor’s job one less headache!

February 24, 2009 at 12:08 am Leave a comment

Hold the noise – give me a double serving of that voice

Yesterday, Sound Works had to dig into its forensic audio tool kit to help restore two recordings for two different cases.  Recordings that need enhancement are rarely the same.  Depending on the location, equipment and recording process, each recording pretty much mandates a different restoration solution.

2-way Radio
police-radioThis enhancement challenge was to remove noise and increase intelligibility of a police officer’s two-way radio recording. Although taken from a digital logger, the noise at the scene had to be analyzed. We applied several restoration processes and were able to “scoop” the conversation away from the noise.  The end result was a more intelligible recording.  Our work was then prepared as a trial exhibit by indexing the critical points on a compact disc for easy access. In sum, all the work produced a professional, presentable product for judge and jury.


Phone Recording
suction-micThe second job was a recorded phone conversation for a civil case.  The phone conversation was recorded with a common suction cup telephone pickup attached to a digital recorder. Unfortunately, the pickup barely recorded the distant side of the conversation while the local side of the conversation was fine.

We were able to segment the two voices and process the audio of each side of the conversation differently.  The distant voice required the volume to be raised 80db – the equivalent to the volume of a very noisy office.  And just a couple of db improvement can make a big difference….

Perception of db changes in Sound

Level change (dB)




Barely perceptible

2 × as loud


Clearly perceptible

3 × as loud


Twice as loud

10 × as loud


As you can imagine, increasing the volume to this extent raised the general ambient noise level.  One of our applications has the amazing ability to differentiate the noise from the voice allowing layers of noise to be reduced. Once the distant voice was improved, it was then merged back with the normal voice.  Our work, again, was supplied to the client in a trial-ready presentation form.

Note that each of these projects were recorded with digital devices – THAT fact alone does not insure a good-quality recording. The recorder can only capture only what it “hears”.

If you found this interesting also see “Shhh … I’m listening”, “But it’s a digital recording” and  It seemed impossible to pick out the voice buried amongst the restaurant bedlam on the recording.”

By Dwight Cook




February 19, 2009 at 6:12 pm Leave a comment

Can Music Copyright Exist on the Web? – part one

“If I got it on the internet, it must be free!”

Continue Reading February 3, 2009 at 12:11 am Leave a comment

But it’s a digital recording

“But it’s a digital recording” – have you ever hear those words from one of your clients?

You got the phone call last week. A young lady is being dismissed from her job because of what appears to be sexual harassment.  Of course, there is the little problem of her words against those of the harassing supervisor. Then you hear the magic words, “I recorded the whole conversation on one of those tiny digital recorders.”  digital-recorder Well, all right then – We have a case and who could dispute the incident when you can hear it as it happened.  So you ask the lady for the recording in order to educate yourself to the specifics of the incident… And that’s where the trouble starts.  Sure, you can hear every word your client says but, unfortunately, not the supervisor who makes the offending statements.  Well, “it’s a Digital recording isn’t it? – Why is it not perfect?”

Here is where a little knowledge can be dangerous.  Yes, digital recording is a way to ensure “perfect” storage of the sound and/or picture that you are recording. However, this has nothing to do with the initial quality of the recording.  The problem is that you can have a wonderfully pristine recording of bad sound.  The device doesn’t know any difference; it will record and save “perfectly” both the good and the bad.  So, what can you do now?

You could see if the incident could be repeated and, perhaps, catch the supervisor in the act yet again and maybe get a better recording.  Or you could have the present tape transcribed and let the transcriber use their best judgment as to what the hard-to-hear sections contain. However, the best choice is to use an expert in “enhancing” low-quality recordings.  Whether you call it Audio Forensics or Audio Enhancement, it all boils down to the same thing – an experienced, sound technician with not only the right tools to create a usable piece of evidence, but the subjective knowledge to give you the best possible product. Today, everybody seems to have some software they got for free off the internet and is more than willing to work for next to nothing.  Beware! – As the old saying goes, “You get what you pay for.”  And you can’t substitute technology for intelligence.  Much of the time, the real problem with the recording IS the microphone is “stupid” (it doesn’t make a decision to tune-out the background noises from the voices you are trying to hear) and it is not a human brain.  Think of being at a cocktail party with a hundred other folks – You are still able to have a conversation with one other person, ignoring all the other sounds around you.  This is the miracle of the human brain’s audio ability.  It takes an experienced and trained engineer to act as the “brain” after the fact and uncover the hidden audio.

You well know that there is nothing better than a good eyewitness and what better a witness than a clean and intelligible recording of what really happened.

by Mark Meyer


January 27, 2009 at 10:58 pm Leave a comment

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