Cory Coken Captures Olympic Sound
August 27, 2012 by Andrew Schneider
Noisefloor’s Cory Coken recently returned from an unprecedented job for him: recording hundreds of wrestling matches for the London Olympics.
“I was merely a speck on a huge global project,” Coken says. “There are so many quality controls, standards and practices that are in place and every four years they get a little bit better.”
Besides being exciting, it was a unique job, Coken says, since the primary objective isn’t necessarily capturing great sounds as much as insuring fairness.”
“It’s very equal across all sports,” Coken says. “In the wrestling arena we had three mats and three mixers and we were all required to build and deliver the same thing. The mixes were all a little different, of course, but the baseline was all supposed to be the same, which was interesting given that you’re in a totally different place from the next mixer.”
That made for a substantial challenge.
“It was challenging on so many levels, just trying to get to the specs that they wanted and making sure that everything worked every single day,” Coken says. “There’s no re-do. You can’t ask, hey, can you do that pin again? It doesn’t work like that so there’s a lot of pressure in the sense of getting it right the very first time. Once these moments are gone, they’re history.”
“There are things, if I could have done differently, I would have, but there are so many regulations you have to go through – it’s not like I was able to pick my mics,” Coken says. “I did the best with what I was given – I think all the mixers are thinking they could have done better, or different based on their styles. Did I miss one or two cues? Yeah, I probably did, but with four hundred or so matches in thirteen days, you’re going to miss a few things.”
Though it was definitely fast-paced, Coken did have the chance to play tourist a little bit, even if it wasn’t to see the traditional sights.
“I went to the IBC (International Broadcast Center) and I’ve seen control rooms at networks but I’ve never seen anything like that place in my life,” Coken says. “There was a wall of monitors that had to be eighteen feet high, and fifty to sixty feet wide, every sport, every camera angle. And the amount of hard drive space they were chewing up...it was very impressive.”
And it was a rarified atmosphere.
“It was really cool to walk around an environment where you’re in the world media center, there are reporters speaking every language on the planet,” Coken says. “It’s difficult too, because not everybody speaks the same technical language. What I call an X, they call a Y.”
It broadened him too.
“The guys on our truck were from the Netherlands and they were the greatest I’ve ever worked with,” Coken says. “They all spoke perfect English and were teaching us Dutch as we went along. By the end we were able to say ‘beer’ so we were able to communicate the fundamental things.”
But he did do some touristy things, but he didn’t want to make the Noisefloor crew and family back home jealous.
“There were a couple of moments though,” Coken says. “The Tower Bridge with the Olympics logo hanging there was quite a sight. To stand there under it and see the logo hanging there as big as semi-trucks was awe-inspiring.”
“London was amazing,” he continued. “I’ve never been to an Olympics myself, but I can’t imagine anyone doing it better than they did.”
But nothing beat the drama of mixing a gold medal match and then the medal ceremony.
“Watching these people go up, playing their national athemn for them...I’ve never done anything like that in my life and I don’t know there will ever be anything else like it,” Coken says.