Working in Extreme cold

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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

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Posted · Report post

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!

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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,

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

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

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

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

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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

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Posted · Report post

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

LEF

Oh the horrible images...

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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.

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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

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Posted · Report post

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. 

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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

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Found all of this very useful. Thanks guys.

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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

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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.

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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

 

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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.

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+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:

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This is the moment I decided to go wireless to camera. Notice the frozen loom! -30C

post-4435-0-07785900-1384903067_thumb.jp

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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!

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Hotsnapz.com

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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.

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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...

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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.

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