Rob Stalder - Location Sound Recordist
| Laurie Gilbert &
I in India.
Willesee at 7 special.
| Its 3am in Kings cross.-
| The paperwork has to be done
sometime. The cattle King
|On the road again, the
|2 mates, DOP..Tony Gailey &
Dave Roberts - Uluru an Anangu story
| The late Hans Heidrich & I
something dangerous - Army recruiting
| Back in China (again) - Roads to
||David Perry & I - Safe
||In the bush, just landed.
Rob Stalder's main CV as Word document
Rob Stalder's secondary CV as Word
document or html
Who I am today...
( I posted this AUG 2009 on JWSound group. In January 2010 I did my last sound recording job. )
In my last year in high school I spent as much time
as possible at Homebush ice skating rink - which was unusual for
Sydney, Australia. I played ice hockey, ran cross country (at a state
level) and I smoked cigarettes.
I passed my leaving certificate, mum didn't want me
to be a tradie so she got me a job in an insurance company. I just
wanted to go work at the ice rink.
I had never heard of the film or television industry, but a year later,
in 1966, the year that Australia adopted decimal currency, fate landed
me at the door of Channel 7.
Mr Llewellyn gave me the guided tour, at the end of which he offered me
either a job in lighting or a job in sound - I took sound.
In the beginning I spent hours practicing on the Mole Richardson booms
(that I loved) or washing the Outside Broadcast van.
Channel 7 lived up to its expectations, they started the ground
breaking Bathurst - Mt Panorama - car race OB's. Running miles of audio
& video cable & linking back across the Blue Mountains by a
repeater. It started out as the Bathurst 500 (miles) & became the
Bathurst 1000 (kilometres).
It wasn't long before I was booming on things like "The Mavis Bramston
Show", "My names McGooley" & "You Can't See Round Corners, plus the
pop show "It's All Happening".
On McGooley we would run 3 pedestal cameras with 2 booms and the
lighting director would be atop a 12 ft ladder jumping it around during
rehearsals trimming barn doors for boom shadows. We revelled in our
By 1970 I had become a junior Audio Director, it was fab, but a little
duller. Mostly morning show & daytime B studio production, like
(Romper Rooms) and lots of "on air studio".
The On Air studio had its own little control room which was like a
little goldfish bowl with glass windows all around & videotape (2
inch) next door. We all sat (A technical director, a vision switcher, a
program director and an audio director) in a row with an announcer in a
booth to the right & a little studio through the glass window in
front. They would do news there on the weekend. It was situated
adjacent to the main back entrance & as such was the social centre
of Channel 7.
So much so that one day while we were all out at the tea trolley in the
corridor, not paying attention, the program segment ended & the
station quietly went to black...
I left in 1971, maybe because there were too many ahead of me. I spent
a while being a driving instructor & doing manual labour in a paint
One night at the 729 club (channel 7, channel 2, channel 9), I ran into
Terry, one of the O'Brien brothers who was the head Audio Director at
channel 9 - he was leaving & invited me over.
I joined channel 9, there was me and Ray. We were behind Max
& head Audio director Paul.
There was an incident, Paul & Max left &
there was me & Ray...fast track.
I did a drama series called the Spoiler & Ray did a drama series?
Ray took over the Don Lane show for a year, and when it became the
Ernie Sigly show, I did it for a year.
It's interesting doing a live tonight show - if you make a mistake you
have about 3 seconds to dwell on it, or your dead. It's a bit like
stalling your car on a 5 lane freeway.
We had a resident band & often a guest band as well. We would setup
& rehearse in the afternoon, have dinner & go to air about 7.30
Studio A audio booth was behind the vision area & we usually had
the interconnecting glass windows open for instant yelled communication
during minor meltdowns.
The console had round faders & was hopelessly inadequate - I
usually borrowed 2 extra outboard consoles & a reverberation unit
from OB's. Patching was a serious challenge.
Did I mention I couldn't read music either, and that we very rarely
During the week I would do studio B stuff - Often doing the "Super
Flying Fun Show" or the News & "A Current Affair" live programs,
but they were pretty tame by then.
Some of the Boom operators I worked with then were George Weiss, Jack
Friedman & Paul Brincat.
Fate again took me to the News Camera department where I met all these
people who had the audacity to take their skills out into the real
I was hooked - They put me on as a news sound assistant for a few
months & then handed me the Nagra. They were an amazing bunch of
cameramen in that news department then, I think they set the benchmark
for camera people in my future life - in the field.
I mostly worked with 3 rotating cameramen - Vernon Moore, Nick Lee
& Brian Peters. Brian was sadly killed in East Timor - he was one
of the Balibo 5...
End of 1976 - Michael Willessee - the presenter of "A Current Affair"
at 9 went to 7 to start "Willessee at Seven".
I went too along with Chris - a news cameraman who used to ride dirt
bikes with me.
Six months later, Chris me & R (my wife at the time) took off to
far north Queensland in my landcruiser ute. We stayed up there 7 months
living on beaches & doing a bit of work on sugar cane farms &
at the mining town of Weipa.
1978 I tried to go freelance, but ended up back at Willessee (Chris
ended up at SBS).
I paired up with Laurie Gilbert who had just arrived there & we
became good mates. We barnstormed our way through commercial television
One excellent occasion was at Bathurst car races where channel 7 was
entering an SL/R5000A9X Torana, we went up to do a bit of a promo story.
There was a seat for LG, I had to sit on the floor under the roll cage.
I had a hard wired tram just inside the drivers helmet & a dynamic
mic for FX - mixed to mono of course, on my Stellavox. Off we went for
a very fast practice lap, I only looked at the speedo once, going up
the mountain we were doing 90 mph.
Then we followed it around in the 7 helicopter with the doors off, LG
sitting sideways on the rear seat, hand holding the ACL. I loosened my
belt & leaned over him with my 816 just inside the slipstream. You
could so hear that V8 storming across the mountain, along with the
occasional fx of the rotors snipping leaves & twigs as we slid in
& out amongst the trees.
Gilbert got me into so much strife - just one occasion was when I had
to go into no man's land at the border crossing between Pakistan &
Afghanistan - where he was about to be grabbed by Russian soldiers - I
dragged him out backwards still filming. We later had lunch with the
Khyber Rifles where he told me the round things in the stew were goats
testicles. - made my day really.
By Oct 1979 I wanted to spend more than half an hour with people I was
filming. Talk about "wham bam thank you maam"
Bill Bennett, lined me up with Peter Luck's new documentary series
called "The Australians".
In those days I would mostly hand hold my 816 &
mostly mic from underneath. I took along the trusty (David Glasser)
Nagra 1VL for a tryout with Paul Tait at a Pro Hart art exhibition.
Paul & I just blasted through the night, he was so fast. We became
Paul was also very considerate of my needs & of my skills &
contributions. It was important then, as film cost about $20 a 10
minute roll to buy & another $20 to process, so that's about $120
for a half hour. We shot at about a 10 to 1 ratio.
So you had to be able to recognise a sequence developing - when to
start shooting and when to stop.
Or you didn't get the job.
Totally unlike these days where its - keep on shooting, something might
Straight up I started my first ever real docco - Bill directed, Paul
shot & Tony Gailey was camera assistant. It was about Toots, she
drove a semi trailer load of fuel drums up into Cape York Peninsular,
FNQ. Some of the roads were barely tracks. She loaded the 44 gallon
drums by hand, in bare feet, tipping them off centre & rolling them
from the dock onto the truck tray. She was awesome.
Her husband Ron came with us in his truck (not a semi). It got bogged
coming out of a big creek crossing & even though we were losing
light I was given time to figure out how I would mic this - unheard of
these days. I went with the 816. It amazing how you can hear someone
yelling from a truck cab window with someone yelling back from the
ground along with engine & exhaust roaring & tyres spinning -
all perfectly mixed - just by the way you point & angle an 816.
Must have been in the way I was taught back there on the Mole
I guess mixing was something you also had to be able to do - right
there, one track - or you didn't get the job either.
A great instance of mixing which I am probably more proud of than the
40 piece orchestra I mixed on the John McNally special I did at channel
9 in1972 happened a few days later.
We were heading across the gulf & it was still damp from the wet
season - Toots truck got bogged to the axles.
Ron cavaliered his way around her and without much preparation hooked
up a heavy tow . As he took up the slack Paul was standing astride the
wire rope, Tony hauled him off & we retreated to a safer (read
wider perspective) distance (read 40ft).
I had a radio mic (early AUDIO VHF) on Toots & on Ron & my 816
tucked under my arm so my hands were free to mix. On the radios I could
either do on mic voices or CB speaker of other person (having jumped in
there & set the levels). So by following the dialog & action I
had 5 choices - one go at it.
The engines roared, wire rope broke & whiplashed (Paul would have
been cut in two had he still been there) followed by the best argument
you have ever heard. We went in & tracked the argument out of the
cabs round the trucks 3 times & then boiling the billy & having
a cup of tea. (very married couple). All the while I mixed radios &
816, eventually dropping radios & going just on 816. Mind you it
was very quiet in the bush & you could wind up the gain. TOOTS
still remains my favourite docco.
On that same series I did Cabbies (my pic on Aus forum in Cinema Sound
is from that) and Radio CHY - with David Roberts. He and Tony Gailey
& I went on to do a lifetime of filming together
My admiration & respect for those 2 is unsurpassed. David is the
kind of person who will disappear from a rice field in Java & come
back 40 minutes later with coffee. Tony is the sort of a person who
does an early morning shot in a rural town in Thailand. Kneeling down
with the camera on his knee - of a line of Buddhist monks going out for
food - with a 3 legged dog & a young woman still dressed in last
night's party clothes - crossing in foreground. I still don't think he
knows what a tripod is.
With Paul & Tony we never discussed shot size, framing, panning,
coming wide, going in. We just worked together, a wink & a nod, we
accommodated each other - Much like many people along the way - such as
David Perry & Sue Lumsden, who have also been a pleasure to work
Probably Cinema Verite documentary gave me my biggest buzz. - real
people, real places, real situations. Mostly ordinary people doing
I worked on a lot of docos during the 80's, even snuck in a year at the
"Reporters", in 1982. Channel 10's version of 60 minutes - where I
palled up with Laurie Gilbert again (& he got me in more strife
again). I sold the 1VL Nagra went on to own a new 4.2 Nagra, a new 1VS
Nagra stereo & a Nagra IS - all at once.
Also no offence to you drama people, but it just didn't do it for me,
maybe because I did so much of it in television. Around 1984 I did a
few drama films but when I was offered the movie EMOH RUO & 3
months in Indonesia with DR & TG - at the same time - it was no
More docos followed in the early 90's, but as the after effects of the
recession started taking hold I took refuge doing freelance work at
I was not particularly inspired by most of the work, but I was seduced
by the amount of it & grateful for the pay.
At one stage there were 2 permanent positions advertised there, I
There was a hiccup in our relationship in early 2000 & I was forced
to leave. However it could have been fate, I really needed to take my
cart making seriously & it gave me that opportunity.
I am not afraid to say that I am a fair bit over
sound recording these days, but how you can be over sound recording
& still miss it is the juxtaposition I find myself in.
Whether I will heed the people who are constantly saying "you take how
long to make a cart!" and try to grow the business - or I let it
continue along at its current pace, remains to be seen.
However there is nothing in my sound journey (past or present) that I
have not enjoyed, and as anyone who has read "Zen & The Art of
Motorcycle Maintenance" will know it's the journey that's important.