While those inside The Magic Circle keep their secrets to themselves, a recent film by the same name allowed sound mixer Robert O’Haire to share some tricks of the trade when it comes to recording audio in challenging scenarios.
O’Haire has been fascinated with sound and recording all his life: “People would come up to me all the time and ask me what I was doing,” he reflects on his early interest in recording, which started when he was a teenager.
“This is why I do what I do. When I was 17 years old I took my dad's Walkman cassette recorder down to Stony Brook gym where Frank Zappa was starting his North American tour – a stop he made before playing larger venues.
"Me and my friend Curtis Mankoff had seats in the first 10 rows on the right side of the stage. I recorded the show from my seat, which I probably shouldn’t have done, but I was obsessed with recording!”
He had the recording bug alright, and soon was smuggling his dad’s Walkman to shows by ZZ Top, and later after being gifted an Aiwa cassette recorder by his mother, went on to record gigs by Elton John, Elvis Costello, Frank Zappa, Lou Reed, Santana and Neil Young.
“I did not go to school for film or audio engineering,” he shares. “I learned my craft as a teenager recording sounds on cassette recorders, later using my skills on film sets.”
These days, he records audio in an official capacity – his production credits include feature films such as That’s Beautiful Frank, Millie and the Lords and Santorini Blue (with Ice-T and Richard Belzer,) short films like The Keeper, My Over There and Parked, as well as numerous documentaries, commercials and indie projects.