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Working in Extreme cold


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51 replies to this topic

#1
BWilson

BWilson
  • LocationCanberra Australia
I am looking for advice for working in extreme cold climates. I have a job coming up where we will be spending a few days in Mongolia and the expected temperatures will be around the -35f mark. It's a corporate/industrial video, but we may(always be prepared for the worst) be undertaking some interviews outside.
Some of the questions I have are;
How do the maha rechargeable AA's(or any rechargeable battery) perform. It may be a scenario where I may have to use a radio mic for the interview. Would anyone from experience suggest that it may be better to get lithiums.
I have Lithium NP1's to power the mixer and radio receivers, would the this sort of cold also affect their performance?
Is there any advice for cold proofing your cables?
I will be taking a Sound Devices 442, Lectrosonic Radios, MKH416 and MKH50. The usual duration for each interview will be around the 15-20 minute mark, and may only end up being 3-4 interviews while I'm there, so not a huge expectation to be out in the elements for long durations.
Thanks in advance

Bronson

#2
Olle Sjostrom

Olle Sjostrom
  • LocationStockholm, Sweden
Ni-Mh are a better chemistry for cold if I'm not mistaken..
I live and work in Sweden, and we sometimes get temperatures like that, and SD gear has always been fine, and lithium batteries too. Just make sure to have a lot of spares, and dress properly. If shot gets too cold, put newspaper under your jacket. It blocks wind. Good luck! And have fun!
http://www.tjockishjartafilm.se

#3
chrisnewton

chrisnewton
  • LocationOttawa, Canada

nothing much to add to Olle's comments. if you use your wireless, putting the transmitter under the subject's coat will keep it toasty and warm. maybe bring along a set of in-ear 'phones so you can wear a warm hat. good boots are a must. SD products rock in cold conditions, cables not so much. be careful if it's really cold as cables can crack. Nothing much to do about it. let cables warm up before you try and coil them. Mongolia's about far as you can get from Canberra. It'll be an adventure. Enjoy,



#4
rcoronado

rcoronado

my buddy Tim did a nice blog post on cold weather recording.  You can find it here.



#5
Wandering Ear

Wandering Ear
  • LocationSeattle

Mogami makes a specific cable for cold conditions that is supposed to stay flexible in extreme cold.  May be worth looking into.


Call sign: WQSC710
http://wanderingear.net

#6
aristotle_kumpis

aristotle_kumpis
  • LocationLos Angeles

Make sure you wear gloves before you grab that boom pole!



#7
michaelmoote

michaelmoote
  • LocationBrooklyn, NY

If you're doing the shoot in UB, in the winter be ready for some really awful pollution. 



#8
LarryF

LarryF
  • LocationRio Rancho, New Mexico

Ni-Mh are a better chemistry for cold if I'm not mistaken..
I live and work in Sweden, and we sometimes get temperatures like that, and SD gear has always been fine, and lithium batteries too. Just make sure to have a lot of spares, and dress properly. If shot gets too cold, put newspaper under your jacket. It blocks wind. Good luck! And have fun!

+1 and don't even think of using alkalines unless deep inside a body cavity.

LEF



#9
Olle Sjostrom

Olle Sjostrom
  • LocationStockholm, Sweden

+1 and don't even think of using alkalines unless deep inside a body cavity.
LEF

Oh the horrible images...
http://www.tjockishjartafilm.se

#10
dominiquegreffard

dominiquegreffard
Loon makes a great coiled boom cable that doesn't get stiff in the cold. Also in extremes temperature i wouldn t want to be cabled to camera (ie dealing with a snake cable). i d rather record double system.

#11
BondAudio

BondAudio
  • LocationMelbourne, Australia

Hi Bronson,

 

I did a 2 month shoot in Mongolia a few years back. It got to -30 C (-22 F) 

I didn't have any problems with equipment. Lectro block 26 Radio Mics worked fine,

although the batteries did seem to die quicker. These were however batteries bought in UB, and not rechargeables. 

Go lithium. My NP-1s seemed to hold up fine.

Cables did get frozen. Note my avatar photo - headphone cables frozen solid! Still worked.

I was using a Fostex PD-6, and it didn't miss a beat. It was so cold the TC numbers were lagging on the LCD screen, 

but did not drop a file all shoot. SD should be fine, but have not used in those temperatures.

You will get really cold. Make sure your feet are warm, this was my major issue.

Enjoy the shoot. Its an amazing country!

 

Steve



#12
JFGrijalva

JFGrijalva
  • LocationPortland, OR

put newspaper under your jacket.

+1 for hobo tricks. Newspaper makes for an excellent insulator. If you do this, make sure to separate and crumple the pieces.(although I could see it making noise... ecgh.)

LOTS of layers, tuck in your shirt/s, get those little hand warmers, grow a beard, get a scarf, Garfield headphone cozies, etc.

One mixer I worked for even had his wife knit him a boom cozy. I never used it, but I bet it's not a bad idea for keeping your hands from freezing to the pole.

Be adamant in doing all of your wiring indoors. 

I also have what I endearingly call my "hobo jacket." It's a 3XL jacket that I can put on that completely covers me and all my gear on my person. I think I got it at Walmart. 



#13
BWilson

BWilson
  • LocationCanberra Australia
Thank you for all the useful tips. Also thanks to Scott Jason Farr who sent a great pm as well. I'll start investigating those cables. I'm not sure about secreting things in my cavities, but hell, I'll give anything ago! The nice thing about this trip will be the extremes... Starting in the middle of Australia, then the tropics of Australia, onto Malaysia, then Nigeria, finally ending in Mongolia.. Many thanks again Bronson

#14
Dane Cody

Dane Cody
  • LocationMelbourne
Found all of this very useful. Thanks guys.

#15
Constantin

Constantin
  • LocationGermany
Although I have never had problems with mics in the cold, you should allow them some time to get used to the temperatures when going outside (before applying phantom). This is especially true when going back inside

#16
BondAudio

BondAudio
  • LocationMelbourne, Australia

I forgot - Going inside to warm air conditioned interiors from the freezing temperatures will cause metallic equipment to gather a layer of ice. Make sure you have a cloth handy to wipe down gear.



#17
LarryF

LarryF
  • LocationRio Rancho, New Mexico

I forgot - Going inside to warm air conditioned interiors from the freezing temperatures will cause metallic equipment to gather a layer of ice. Make sure you have a cloth handy to wipe down gear.

You could take a metal cookie tin (no plastic), open it to the outside cold dry air, put delicate stuff inside and bring it into the warm, humid indoors. The gear could warm up inside the tin, in a very dry environment before you open the tin. Anything vapor tight would work that you could unseal and reseal in the cold. My guess is regular baggies wouldn't work. Somebody has to have thought of this a and made a product (container).

 

Or you could warm it up outside, in the very dry air, before coming inside. No container necessary.

Best,
Larry F
 



#18
tonetripper

tonetripper
  • LocationToronto
I shot out in Mongolia and even stayed in a yert whilst there. Rechargables are fine. A good thing to do is to bring some descant sacs with you and put it into your bag and possibly in pouches with the wires. They will absorb any moisture that happens when you come inside. Bring plastic bags (garbage bags) and before you enter indoors put your gear in the bag with the descant sacs and tie the bag airtight before you come in. Once in, wait til the gear climatizes before you remove and this will stop the condensation to some degree. Also buy some hot shots with the adhesive backs and stick them to your mixer and to the batteries and wireless units if shooting outside. Even the NP 1. It'll prolong the life of the batteries to some degree. I've shot in arctic conditions many times and this is a tried and tested method for cold weather shooting.

#19
Mungo

Mungo
  • LocationHamburg - Germany

+1 for the cables. My colleges in Sweden have been using them as standard.

 

A problem could be the rustling noise of the functional weather clothing the subjects wear. Horrible.

Maybe you get the chance to boom. Cold places are often quiet places  :ph34r:


--- The truth lies somewhere between M and S. ---

#20
BondAudio

BondAudio
  • LocationMelbourne, Australia
This is the moment I decided to go wireless to camera. Notice the frozen loom! -30C

Attached Files

  • Attached File  Ice.jpg   291.56KB   19 downloads


#21
Robert Flaherty

Robert Flaherty
  • LocationLos Angeles

I carry a gallon ziplock bag full of hand warmers and foot warmers (larger) for dealing with cold weather. Available inexpensively at WalMarts etc. excellent to helping taking off the cold edge for humans as well as equipment. Batteries are definitely a cold weather issue!



#22
jason porter

jason porter
  • LocationToronto
Hotsnapz.com

#23
johnpaul215

johnpaul215
  • LocationPhiladelphia - PA - USA
Ok, a few more cold weather questions.
What about booms? The coiled cable to the pole, and the cable in the pole. Would you give that up and use some sort of straight external XLR cable that'll hopefully fare better? I would hate to lose the convenience of a coiled cable while being all bundled up... But that's better than a broken cable.
I'm guessing a blimp is better than a softie (to protect the mic and XLR plug, but it seems like a blimp will be really fragile in extreme cold. Kinda wish the K-Tek blimp was out. That appears a bit tougher than the Rycote.


johnpaul golaski - Philadelphia PA USA - www.JOHNPAUL215.com
FCC LP Call Sign WQQM443


#24
Olle Sjostrom

Olle Sjostrom
  • LocationStockholm, Sweden
External cable would be the way to go.. When working with reality TV, chances are you won't be outside for any long period of time, whereas in a scripted world you'd be more likely to be in the cold longer. At least that's my experience.. On the reality shortsighted actually shot in like - 15 c, I've used k-tek internal cable and no problems. I don't think they'll last a while day, but as long as you don't flex the cable too much they can probably last a bit...
http://www.tjockishjartafilm.se

#25
Wandering Ear

Wandering Ear
  • LocationSeattle
I've done long days into night in below 20F and the internal cable on my ambients has been fine. That may not be cold enough to cause a problem i guess. Ice would form on the pole at times, and scrape off as i collapsed.
Call sign: WQSC710
http://wanderingear.net

#26
Christian Spaeth

Christian Spaeth
  • LocationStuttgart, Germany

My advice for extreme cold:

Put chili powder in your shoes. Seriously.


www.tonperson.de

#27
taylormadeaudio

taylormadeaudio
  • LocationCoeur d'Alene, ID.

My advice for extreme cold:
Put chili powder in your shoes. Seriously.


interesting... I wonder what the physics behind something like that would be...

I typically just put hand warmers inside my boots on TOP of my toes (it helps if the boot isn't too terribly snug to begin with.). This keeps my feet warm all day (or night.)

~tt
I feel more like I did when I first got here than I do now

http://www.taylormadeaudio.com
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1286483/

"in the beginning, God SAID,'Let there be light'"

#28
Christian Spaeth

Christian Spaeth
  • LocationStuttgart, Germany

Same physics as in eating very spicy food and getting a red HOT face from it! Accelerated blood circulation?


www.tonperson.de

#29
taylormadeaudio

taylormadeaudio
  • LocationCoeur d'Alene, ID.
Ahh, that makes sense. I could see that -- will have to give it a try... though it may produce some interesting "aromatic" anomalies come wrap time?

~tt
I feel more like I did when I first got here than I do now

http://www.taylormadeaudio.com
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1286483/

"in the beginning, God SAID,'Let there be light'"

#30
studiomprd

studiomprd
  • LocationHollywood CA

" Put chili powder in your shoes. "

tip of the month!


SENATOR Mike Michaels, c.a.s.
Studio M Productions

#31
atheisticmystic

atheisticmystic
  • LocationLos Angeles, CA

Same physics as in eating very spicy food and getting a red HOT face from it! Accelerated blood circulation?

So just putting the powder in your shoes allows your sweating feet to absorb the irritant cutaneously, and THAT keeps you warm ?
(hmmm...I did cook with habaneros once, went to the restroom without washing my hands, and had a rather...uncomfortable cutaneous event in an unmentionable area...so who knows !)
best
-Steven S. Deichen
FCC LP Call Sign WQOI403

http://deichen.us
818-400-6817

#32
taylormadeaudio

taylormadeaudio
  • LocationCoeur d'Alene, ID.

...a rather...uncomfortable cutaneous event in an unmentionable area...


Ha! Priceless! Thanks for that

~tt
I feel more like I did when I first got here than I do now

http://www.taylormadeaudio.com
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1286483/

"in the beginning, God SAID,'Let there be light'"

#33
studiomprd

studiomprd
  • LocationHollywood CA

" uncomfortable cutaneous event in an unmentionable area. "

TMI


SENATOR Mike Michaels, c.a.s.
Studio M Productions

#34
Christian Spaeth

Christian Spaeth
  • LocationStuttgart, Germany
Ouch!
www.tonperson.de

#35
RPSharman

RPSharman
  • LocationLos Angeles
Thanks for this thread.

It's barely 60°F on this stage today. I'm considering putting up my tent and getting out the space heater.

Robert

#36
johnpaul215

johnpaul215
  • LocationPhiladelphia - PA - USA

Same physics as in eating very spicy food and getting a red HOT face from it! Accelerated blood circulation?

 

1) with your face, it usually burns the eyes, nose, mouth 

2) with your feet, I wonder how much is the right amount, and if you get a blister....... ouch! 

 

i've definitely rubbed my eyes well after cutting jalapenos and yikes. I guess I didn't quite wash my hands well enough. 

 

I do keep a bottle of cayenne pepper pills with me in winter. Same theory as eating spicy food, but you can take the pill with anything and it will get your blood circulating. Some people get an upset stomach from them, so maybe test them out when you are not working a long day in the woods. 


johnpaul golaski - Philadelphia PA USA - www.JOHNPAUL215.com
FCC LP Call Sign WQQM443


#37
johnpaul215

johnpaul215
  • LocationPhiladelphia - PA - USA

+1 for the cables. My colleges in Sweden have been using them as standard.

A problem could be the rustling noise of the functional weather clothing the subjects wear. Horrible.
Maybe you get the chance to boom. Cold places are often quiet places :ph34r:


What cables are they using?

johnpaul golaski - Philadelphia PA USA - www.JOHNPAUL215.com
FCC LP Call Sign WQQM443


#38
BWilson

BWilson
  • LocationCanberra Australia
I just got back from Mongolia. Thanks for all the tips. The Wodka is good, horse wasn't so good.
When we landed in Ulaanbataar, it was -20 degrees Celsius at midday. When he had made our short journey from the terminal to car the clear plastic cover on my Petrol bag cracked. It was only outside for no longer then 5 minutes. Apart from that, everything else worked a treat. 442, 416, mkh50, Canare cables. Battery wise, the NP1 lithiums dropped to about 80% capacity, and the Powerex AA's dropped to around 60-70% capacity.
Here's a few photos I took, hope you enjoy

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image



#39
Christian Spaeth

Christian Spaeth
  • LocationStuttgart, Germany

great photos! Doesn't look that cold :)


www.tonperson.de

#40
Rick Reineke

Rick Reineke
  • LocationNYC

-20C (= -4F) That's cold but not extreme IMO. I've worked a few times in the NYS Catskill and Adirondack regions @ -10F w/ wind. Don't know why the Petrol plastic would crack unless it was bent sufficiently when cold. Never had cold temp issues with a Portabrace... though I now have a Petrol but haven't worked with it in the extreme cold.

Great pictures for sure and looks like an interesting shoot.


Refugee from the spam infested RAMPS

#41
rcoronado

rcoronado

beautiful photography!  glad the shoot went well.



#42
mikewest

mikewest
  • LocationTitirangi - Auckland - New Zealand

Well done brave man, I hate cold and love all the tropical countries I've worked in.

I guess chilli toe jam has got be be a first though!

 

mike



#43
Nathaniel Robinson

Nathaniel Robinson
  • LocationPittsburgh, PA

Recently returned from a shoot in Lake Placid, New York at the Olympic training facilities. The temperature was in the -10F to -30F range throughout the day (with wind chill, I believe).

 

We were only outside for a stretch of about 4 hours. Prior to the shoot, I consulted with a hiker friend, who echoed much of the advice in this thread. I went with multiple "midweight" layers over a single heavier "expedition" layer. I would highly recommend merino wool for base layer and socks. The brand I have is Minus33, and it all performed wonderfully.

 

My intention was to use IEMs under my balaclava and ushanka hat. However, the cable on my crappy IEMs was very microphonic, and the clothing rubbing was driving me crazy. I ended up using my 7506s with Garfield Softies over the thin balaclava. To stay warm, I needed to take the phones off whenever possible and throw my ushanka back on, which was a bit of a pain.

 

Gloves were tricky. I wore a thin glove liner underneath oversized cycling gloves. I needed to take the outer layer off to hit record and ride the fader, and oversized gloves were faster to remove. I also wore wrist gaiters, which were ought on a whim. I LOVED them. I have long arms, and when the boom was up my wrists would've been exposed without them.

 

My equipment (Maxx, K-Tek boom, Sanken CS3e) all held up without a hitch. Like the previous poster, my Petrol cover cracked at some point in the day. In anticipation of the cold, I built a few cables out of Canare L-4E5C, which retained a high degree of flexibilty. The cable on my 7506s was frozen stiff within about 10 minutes.

 

The A camera was a RED Scarlet. Camera department resorted to taping hand warmers all over the thing to keep it alive.

 

Closing thought: I will not soon forget the experience of using a porta potty in this weather.

Attached Files



#44
Vasileios Alexandris

Vasileios Alexandris
  • LocationThessaloniki

Excellent thread! Will help me for upcoming job; 5 months on the mountain.

 

:)

 

Thank you


Vasileios Alexandris

Sound Recordist

Greece, Thessaloniki


#45
BWilson

BWilson
  • LocationCanberra Australia
Another tip I was given was to tie your outer gloves on a rope/string(whatever really) so you can quickly take them off or put them back on with no fuss of having to put them somewhere.



#46
chrisnewton

chrisnewton
  • LocationOttawa, Canada

good tip BWilson. when we were kids we all had mitts with strings attached. the string ran up one sleeve and down the other in a loop so we couldn't lose them. may revisit that old trick this winter.



#47
JDirckze

JDirckze
  • LocationSydney, Australia
Lovely photographs Bronson...
Jason Dirckze
Location Sound Recordist
Email: jasondirckze@gmail.com
Tel: 0417 687 492

#48
studiomprd

studiomprd
  • LocationHollywood CA

NR: " a RED Scarlet. Camera department resorted to taping hand warmers all over the thing to keep it alive. "

... until it overheated ??

doesn't like hot, doesn't like cold...pretty finicky


SENATOR Mike Michaels, c.a.s.
Studio M Productions

#49
Nathaniel Robinson

Nathaniel Robinson
  • LocationPittsburgh, PA

NR: " a RED Scarlet. Camera department resorted to taping hand warmers all over the thing to keep it alive. "
... until it overheated ??
doesn't like hot, doesn't like cold...pretty finicky


Ha! Specifically I think the touchscreen monitor was becoming unresponsive.

#50
johnpaul215

johnpaul215
  • LocationPhiladelphia - PA - USA

Ha! Specifically I think the touchscreen monitor was becoming unresponsive.


Not sure about the Epic or Scarlet, but we had a Red One "freeze up" in a cold Pennsylvania winter (so cold, but not Arctic). It wasn't the batteries. They powered it down during a move (all outdoors on Gators) and it was off for about an hour. They eventually warmed it up slowly with a propane heater. At least it kept the fan speed down when we got it rolling.

I was using my Fusion on that job and I don't remember the screen being unresponsive at all. At the most, maybe it got a little slow to draw but I don't even distinctly remember that happening.

johnpaul golaski - Philadelphia PA USA - www.JOHNPAUL215.com
FCC LP Call Sign WQQM443





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