A Sound Lifestyle

A blog dedicated to the lifestyle of a professional Production Sound Mixer. Location sound tips and tricks. Healthy habits while working on the road. Jim Dineen- Texas Location Sound Mixer

Waste Not, Want Not - Or- How to stay hydrated without pissing off Mother Nature

As discussed in my previous post, hydration is key to staying cool and feeling good on long, hot shoot days. The reality is staying properly hydrated is important no matter what conditions you're enduring! Anyone that's watched Saturday morning cartoons or attended a grade school health class (is there a difference? Woah... burn!) knows that "your body is mostly water. You need to drink water. Blah, blah, blah"

But how much do we need?

As a society that's obsessed with quantifying and measuring things so we can stick them into a "one-size-its-all" mantra, someone in a lab coat came up with the 8x8 rule way back in the day. It basically suggests that you consume 8 ounce servings of water 8 times per day. That's 64 oz, roughly 2 liters, half a gallon or 4 of those 16 oz water bottles you buy by the case at Walmart. Other folks, like this guy, suggest that your BARE MINIMUM of daily water consumption should equal approximately 1 oz water per 2 lbs of body mass. I weigh about 220 lbs (it's all lean, I swear...) so that means on a day of rest I should have at least 110 oz of water and more when  I'm being active. I would err on the side of option 2.

Personally, I think you should listen to your body and constantly be drinking water throughout the day. Lethargy, headaches, lack of focus and dry mouth are all signs that point to dehydration. Even just being slightly dehydrated can effect your performance. Don't know the language of your body? (Mine always talks more after a bean burrito... I'm 12, I swear) Well then read the signs in your urine! Crystal Clear Pepsi = happy body. Yellow Gatorade = drink some more water. Maple Syrup = GET ME TO A HOSPITAL! You get the idea.

On my previous job here in Panama I have been drinking water like crazy! I normally have 3-5 bottles before leaving my house in the morning for work and averaging 1-1.5 bottles per hour during the day. So that means I'm personally consuming, on average, anywhere from 13-20 bottles of water a day. That's a lot of water.

But, more importantly, that's a lot of plastic and waste. 

Let's say, for argument's sake, I drink 10 water bottles per day. I'm on this job for 50 days so during it's run I personally use 500 water bottles. Each bottle is approximately .5oz of plastic. My plastic waste totals 250oz or, about 15.5lbs. That may not seem like a lot but there's almost 50 of us on this job. That's 775lbs of plastic! And that's JUST one tv crew on JUST this little island in the course of JUST one job. See how quickly it adds up?  Surely we all try to recycle, but even so it's estimated that almost 50% of what we toss into the recycling bin never makes it to a processing plant. In fact, there's so much waste floating in the World's oceans they have created massive floating piles known as a "trash vortex." I've always wanted waterfront property, but that's not what I had in mind. 

See, I'm not making this stuff up!

Beyond the concern for all the cute little critters swimming around out there is the recent surge in awareness of BPA and how it might have a negative effect on us. Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a chemical commonly used to harden plastic. It's found all over the place, including plastic bottles and other food storage containers. The FDA has ruled it safe in humans at low levels but some animal studies have suggested that it may lead to a laundry list of health problems if over exposed. Cancer, funky hormone levels, heart conditions as well as brain and behavioral problems are all being linked to BPA. I'm no scientist, and no human studies have confirmed these claims, but why not make the effort to NOT consume a chemical that is leaking in to your water?

I have always thought a BPA-free lifestyle was simply out of my reach based on the sheer quantity of water I consume throughout the day. I would need an entire case of Nalgene bottles and that's simply unrealistic. On this current / past job I had the distinct pleasure of working with my friend (and camera operator extraordinaire) Colleen Laffey and she turned me on to all this crazy talk about "saving our resources" and "protecting our environment" (She also kept the tech room stocked with killer cold brew coffee!) She has a system in place that allows her to stay properly hydrated with cool, clean water, all day no matter how remote her location! A big round of applause for her forward thinking!

She has been kind enough to be my first guest blogger and to share with the interwebs her process for staying hydrated, BPA-free and leaving behind as little waste as possible. 

The human body is 50-65% water.  You can live a few weeks without food, but only 3-5 days without water.  

For the most part, I have a small ecological footprint.  I reuse, recycle and make an effort to not buy overly packaged goods.  One trip to almost any river or beach can show the impact of our disposable lifestyle.  I hate adding to the piles of plastic that, sadly, are ubiquitous.

But I work in production and I need to stay hydrated, so it was not unusual for me to go through as many as ten bottles of water during a work day, especially those sweaty hot summer days or on tropical shows.

One day, as I called on walkie for yet another bottle of water, the camera op next to me gave me one of those over the glasses-you know better looks and drank deeply from his refillable water bottle (thank you Ryan Rude for calling me out).  He knew I was pretty green as far as the environment goes.  Waiting at our cameras, we had been talking about the impact of all of the plastic that gets trashed on set.  When I thought about the number of days I worked and traveled for work, when I envisioned the mountain of plastic I was generating: 6-10 bottles a day, multiplied by 180 to 200 work days a year which meant I was generating between 1,080 to 2,000 bottles per year, multiplied by the number of years I worked.  The numbers got staggering pretty quickly. 

Next day off, I bought a reusable bottle, and I haven't looked back.

Camelbak 'Groove' water bottle with replaceable filter

Step 1: Fill with ice water

hree years in, I have a solid system that works great for me.  I have a few different bottles that I pack along with me, depending on where I am headed.  Sometimes I also take a Camelback bladder for my backpack if I will be a long way from a water source or running around in the woods.  My main two bottles are a Camelback bottle that has a replaceable filter and a Kleen Canteen insulated metal bottle that came with two lids-one that seals it completely, the other is a closable a drinking lid.  I promptly lost the lid that seals it as it was almost never on the bottle anyway.

Kleen Kanteen Insulated Metal Water Bottle

Step 2:  Hot or Ice coffee

It looks like an exotic rug, but it's really a water bottle!

Step 3: Cold brewed Green Tea started the previous night and stashed somewhere cool on set for a refresher in the afternoon

I also have another metal bottle that I pack in my suitcase and a Sawyer filtration bottle that will filter everything out of whatever water you put into it that I take if I am going to a place with unreliable water. It can be filled from a river, lake or third world tap and as long as you are conscious of the way the filter needs to be in the bottle, you are 100% good to go.

It has a ONE MILLION gallon guarantee! What the hell else do you need??

The Camelback water bottle gets filled with ice and water in the morning. The Kleen Canteen gets hot or iced coffee to start the day off right. The extra water bottle I fill with water the night before and I drop in some green tea to cold brew in my room. If there is a fridge where I am working, that bottle goes there as soon as I get to set.  If there's a cooler, I stash that bottle in the cooler for later in the day.  The water bottle gets refilled as needed with tap water and, if I am lucky, ice.  When the coffee is gone, I try to replace the contents with juice or a smoothie or another iced coffee. The ice stays cold - All. Day. Long. It is a great pick me up when you are fading to have something cold and delicious to sip on.

The other thing that makes the system work great for me is having a water bottle holder on the belt of my Hipshot.  My backpack has two water bottle holders, one on each side. This pack also has a place for a Camelback bladder and drinking tube.

Fully loaded for hydration and travel friendly!

Step 4: Ice water in the Camelbak bladder

When I travel, the main two bottles are there, empty going through security, then filled, hopefully with Coffee Bean coffee and cold water with ice, on the other side.

Some companies I have worked for have had filtered water available from water dispensers. One passed out insulated Camelback water bottles to each person on day one.  I loved seeing that.  Money wise, refillables make sense.  It takes a little more thought and effort, but it is not impossible.  It gets easier once you get used to it.  Now it's like a game for me to see how long I can go without having to use a disposable drink bottle.  

There once was a time when water did not come in disposable plastic bottles.  Whenever I am working in a remote location, I cringe at the thought of the negative impact of the mountain of plastic that is being left behind. It's nice to know that I haven't added to that mountain.


- Colleen Laffey

And there you have it folks. Colleen travels all over the world and works on location A LOT and if she can do it, so can we! 

I'm certainly up for the challenge of supplying myself with less wasteful drinking water options on set and I hope some of you will join me.

Colleen signed her email to me with this-

"If even only you make the change I will be stoked"

I'm on board. Who's next?

Road Warrior

Maintaining a fitness routine on the road is tough. I'm more of a "Let's do some heavy squats, clean and jerks and box jumps" than "30 minutes on the treadmill" sort of guy.... not so much at the Holiday Inn. 

I brought a few, simple tools with me to Panama and compiled this list of movements and have been putting them in to WODs. I hate a lot of these movements which makes them perfect for a guy like me, since I'm forced to do things outside my comfort zone. 

I brought an Ab Mat, Rings, a heavy resistance band and a speed rope. 

Air Squats

Squat Jumps


Lunge Jumps

Lateral Lunges

Banded side steps


"Box" jumps

Stair jumps

Push Ups

Hand Stand Push Ups

Hand Release Push Ups

Banded Push Ups

Ring Push ups

Bench Dips

Ring Dips

Spider Push Ups

Pull Ups

Ring Pull Ups

Ring Rows


Burpee Pull Ups

Ab Mat sit ups


V Sits

L Sits



Windshield Wipers

Double Unders

Mountain Climbers


That's a pretty thorough list of movements to choose from. I've been trying to do a strength portion ex: Hand stand push ups, pistols, bench dips and a WOD, ex: 10 RFT 10 x box jumps, 5 x ring push ups, 25 x double unders. 

I certainly miss the heavier, barbell movements but I'm not struggling to break a sweat!

What am I missing on this list?

Hotter than a witches ____ in a brass bra!

One of the perks of our job is the access it grants us to interesting and exotic places. I'm incredibly lucky to say that I've been flown around the world to do what I do. And even though it's far from a paid vacation, it's always a paid adventure!

My current project has taken me to a beautiful, tropical island off the coast of Panama! We're just now entering the rainy season and early summer so that EQUATES (that's a lame equator joke) to temps in the high 90's and humidity over 90% daily as well. 

It's hot. 

Really hot. 

Far too hot for a pudgy irish kid from New England that used to bring two shirts to school because he'd sweat through the first one by lunch!

After a few years worth of Texas summers I consider myself somewhat of an expert on dressing for the heat. I have a large portion of my wardrobe dedicated to warm weather shooting and I can honestly say investing in comfort and safety is money very well spent.

When it gets hot, things get sweaty. And that s a good sign! In fact, if you find yourself or someone else that has stopped sweating on set during a hot day that's a sure sign of heat exhaustion!

Our bodies produce sweat in reaction to a number of stimulus; anxiety, anger, spicy foods, sickness, etc. But it all comes down to one thing: body temperature regulation. We've got over 2.5 million sweat glands and they all want to keep us running at a cool 98.6.

Sweat is just a clever way of transferring heat from inside our bodies to the air around us. For proper temperature regulation we need fluids to sweat out and air to wick it away. 

Ever wonder why it feels so much hotter on a humid day? There's already too much moisture in the air! Our bodies are saying "Hey air, take this hot, wet stuff off my guy here" and the air says "Screw you man, I've already got enough of that crap. You can just hold on to it for now." That is literally what happens. It's science. 

That's also why a breeze or a fan makes us feel so much cooler- plenty of air flow and ventilation. 

But enough middle school science project, let's talk shop. 

When I'm gearing up for a warm weather shoot my number one priority is air flow. I want my clothes to be as light and breathable as possible. Some folks say light cotton is good but I say synthetic's all the way. 

It used to be Nike Dri-Fit was the only name in town but now pretty much everyone has an athletics line of clothing that offers maximum breathability, comfort and style! Because when you are sweating like a fat kid playing dodgeball you want to look good. 

Columbia Sportswear Omni Shade cargo shorts are my go to lowers. A light, quick drying and durable material make them perfect on hot shoot days. And they've got enough pockets for stashing sound guy stuff. 

Uppers are typically a dry fit material polo shirt. I try to dress a little more conservatively these days on set as my client base has expanded from strictly reality to corporate and commercial shoots as well. You can spend $60/shirt for big name sport brands or $10/shirt at your local Walmart. As long as it's wicking my sweat and keeping me cool, it works for me. 

Chub rub, monkey butt, chaffing- call it whatever you want. Get it once and you'll never want to get it again. Skin on skin rubbing in the heat is something you'll want to avoid. I use a combination of mid-thigh length compression shorts and Gold Bond powder. Everything stays where it belongs and my skin is protected from chaffing. 

My clothes laid out for the day. Thanks mom!

I keep my feet cool and comfortable with Keen Kanyon sandals. With a fully closed, rubber toe and athletic sneaker sole this are the perfect footwear for hot (or wet) shoot days. 

Full cup headphones are great on cold days, but get really uncomfortable fairly quickly when it's hot out. Not to mention, you're limited to little else but a regular baseball cap for shade. I've recently upgraded to Shure SE425 IEMs. They are dual driver and, with the proper sized sleeves, do an incredible job isolating the source material from outside noise. Just ask my fiancé who had a very one sided conversation with me the day I bought them. 

On reality sets, walkie comms are fairly important, especially when coordinating several sound mixers on bigger jobs. With a walkie surveillance in one ear you're limited to full-size headphones which cup over the ear. I recently bought the Smyles Commbiner which has given me the freedom of monitoring both my mixer AND walkie through my headphones! It's a passive combiner and comes with the custom surveillance set you'll need to get everything connected properly. This is what has allowed me to switch to IEM's and shade myself from the sun! A full review is forthcoming, but so far I love it!

Add a wide brimmed hat and you're ready to face a long, sweaty day!

Look! It's Panama Jim!

What tricks do you guys use to stay comfortable in the heat?

What is a Sound Lifestyle?

I'm hoping this blog will act as a place for me to share with you (my imaginary followers) the various things I enjoy and endure day to day as a professional sound man. 

It's easy in this business to let work consume your life. The long hours and strenuous travel schedule can keep you away from your loved ones and a healthy lifestyle is incredibly difficult to maintain. 

Aside from the obvious sound related posts I plan on sharing the other things I do that I think contribute to a well balanced life, or my best attempt at one at least! If nothing else it'll be a place for me to publicly share my current happenings, opinions on tech developments and technique and pictures of what I'm up to. 

So, if you find yourself staring at your phone waiting for the Newsfeed to update why not jump over here for a quick glimpse in to...


A Sound Lifestyle :)