sallymon

Independent Inauguration and March Coverage

18 posts in this topic

Hey all,

I am traveling down to DC this weekend to document the Women's March and the scene surrounding Trump's Inauguration. Our team is very small (3 people total). Our cameraman will be shooting on a discreet camera and I'd like to do my best to keep my audio gear discreet. We aren't affiliated with any company or organization, we are filming entirely independently, for our own use. Our goal and focus is loose as this is the first piece of the doc we are shooting. We are hoping for general event coverage and some select interviews with subjects as we encounter them.

I'm wondering if anyone has experience in these type of very high security environments - and more specifically, does anyone have experience shooting independently of a major production company at these high security events. Obviously, I have concerns about what gear I'll be allowed to walk around with.

My gut feeling is to bring as little gear as possible. A Mix-Pre or other small mixer directly into camera with 1-2 lavs to capture interviews and an ambient shotgun mounted to camera. However, this is not my ideal setup. 

Ideally, I'd want to have my 744t with me, a shotgun mic on a boom pole  and a wireless lav setup ready to go. I have strong reservations about walking around with my boom pole and shotgun mic. Are these breaches of security? Could they be construed as breaches in security? Same goes for the recorder...

On a similar note: I have Lectro blocks 21 and 26 that I can bring down to DC. I imagine RF will be crazy at the event but in terms of legality - are there any special restrictions in place for an event like this?

Any information is appreciated - links to restrictions, links to press restrictions, personal tales...

Thanks for any info and knowledge you all can spare. This is my first time running into such a high security event with no press credentials. Trying to be as prepared as possible...and I assume I'll still be in for a surprise.

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I am sure someone will chime in who can answer most of your questions. I could only gues...
But whatever you do, do not tether yourself to the camera. You'd have a terrible time in the crowd. Use a recorder and/or a wireless link if possible.

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As with any big high-security event, there will be RF Police and an FCC event frequency coordinator, etc., and they will be both scanning for unauthorized use of the spectrum as well as visually checking wireless gear if they see it, at least within the actual venues of the events.  I would suggest not cabling to the camera unless you really need to (restricts your mobility a lot, esp in crowds) and using a double system approach w/a TC box on the camera jam synced to your recorder TC, with a mic on the camera as well (as opposed to depending on a wireless audio hop).

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1 of your 3 needs to take charge, carry what ever documentation helps and have the chat for whoever. Press card, college IDs may be useful in this situations. Mixer with cable to camera is quite conspicuous and another practical element to manage in a tricky environment - if you can go with small cameras, with top mic for sync and atmos, recorder-mixer with option of radio hop to camera. Small boom mic and pole to go in backpack when not in use, maybe use a discreet pair of DPAs or similar for stereo atmos (mounted on bag, clothing, hat etc). If you're using radios, a spectrum scanner will be useful, if your freqs aren't legal only turn on TX when you have to. A recorder-mixer will give the option of going direct to camera when you can but also record wild stuff - you'll maybe wondering around for a long time with a bit of gear on you and not doing much while camera does B roll, being able to roll independently gives you chance to record a times when camera is not available.

 

 

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I would echo what Philip said above.

and add: bring a hand-held stick-mic - if the style you are shooting allows for it.

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As others have said;

Recorder in bag for you to record on.

1 or 2 radio mics in case you need them. I'd just have 1.

Boom pole & say Sanken CS3 that has excellent rejection & huge reach. Remember you can get to anybody quickly with a boom pole,

totally flexible.

Wireless audio hop to camera, not cable.

Directional mic on camera, to 1 channel - on auto.

All of you to have ID of some sorts & 3rd person to run interference with officials.

Look there will be so many crews there just be out & proud, don't hide, you will blend in with the rest of the media - n law against it.

And you probably don't want to be where the rest of the media is anyway.

Have adapter leads for radio  to hook into PA if opportunity arises..  I have used a Comtek for this many times, just plugged it in & walked away.

My experience is to be independent of camera, there are always wonderful sound grabs to be had as extra.

Often you can capture 2 handed confrontations with your boom & the camera mic.

Make sure you ID them on the tracks & maybe even write them down in a notebook.

Sounds old fashioned, but you could do a small handheld slate (end) for ID purposes.

Sounds fun, have a good time.

RS

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1 hour ago, daniel said:

1 of your 3 needs to take charge, carry what ever documentation helps and have the chat for whoever. Press card, college IDs may be useful in this situations. Mixer with cable to camera is quite conspicuous and another practical element to manage in a tricky environment - if you can go with small cameras, with top mic for sync and atmos, recorder-mixer with option of radio hop to camera. Small boom mic and pole to go in backpack when not in use, maybe use a discreet pair of DPAs or similar for stereo atmos (mounted on bag, clothing, hat etc). If you're using radios, a spectrum scanner will be useful, if your freqs aren't legal only turn on TX when you have to. A recorder-mixer will give the option of going direct to camera when you can but also record wild stuff - you'll maybe wondering around for a long time with a bit of gear on you and not doing much while camera does B roll, being able to roll independently gives you chance to record a times when camera is not available.

 

 

Do not put yourself and your project in jeopardy by thinking you can circumvent RF spectrum usage rules at a major event like this, at least inside the venues.  Having a scanner with you makes you even more suspicious to security people.  Do some research on who is running what show RF wise, although it is probably too late to get on a cleared-freq assignment list.  The Inauguration is going to be a Super-bowl-size event for RF, and organized similarly.  Do not count on being able to use wireless anything within the venues unless you have permission and assigned freqs from the event coordinator. 

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3 minutes ago, Philip Perkins said:

Do not count on being able to use wireless anything within the venues.

... and therefore I'd 2nd the advice to have a boom mic with good reach that enables you to pick out your source from the crowd - plus on-camera mic, and something with a wider pattern for general ambience.

Don't rely on wireless hops (neither being allowed to use them nor being able to make them work reliably), and don't tie yourself to camera with a cable. Use properly configured and jammed TC boxes - in the general hectics on such an event you want to cut down on things to take care of.

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I've covered plenty of marches, protests, and uh non-nonviolent disobedience. Others know more, but a couple things:

Here's a PDF with basic RF guidelines for the event. Note that the Women's March starts near one of the RF control points. Looks like using wireless mics anywhere around where you want to be might not work, at least not without risk:

http://broad-comm.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/rf-guidelines-for-2017-presidential-inauguration.pdf

Read through the march's FAQ to get a sense of what you will be allowed to bring...and what might get you kicked out of the march. For example, items not allowed in the rally area and presumably along the route include Backpacks and Bags exceeding size restrictions (8"x6"x4"). And boom poles are probably out: "Flags are allowed, but not on a pole. Posters and signs are allowed, but not with the use of wooden sign posts."

https://www.womensmarch.com/faq/

This page, from the sadly defunct Digital Media Law Project, about the 2009 inauguration might be helpful:

http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/documenting-2009-presidential-inauguration

So if you don't have press credentials, you may need to keep things down to a hardwired handheld mic...maybe a handheld short shotgun mic (don't call it a "shotgun" mic during the events...I'm not kidding) and the smallest recorder you have in a bag that fits the size restrictions. Then as Phil says, perhaps TC on camera (which should also have its own mic).

Or two cameras with mics on each camera. B camera mainly/frequently used to primarily capture sound...i.e, you'll position the camera as you would your mic if it wasn't attached to the camera and don't worry about the picture it's getting. So you'll have two "nothing to be scared of" cameras, which could be handy, no scary "is that a bomb?" audio equipment, and you'll still be able to get decent voxpops...

 

Good luck and let us know how it goes!

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from that doc:
 
            WIRELESS ADVISORY
 
**         Limited Spectrum Availability**
Due to the high volume of wireless devices being used at the Inauguration, the
   following rules apply to all wireless devices (excluding mobile phones)
 
* All wireless devices must be on an approved frequency
* Approved wireless devices must have an approval label affixed to the approved device
* Frequency Coordinators will be monitoring use and checking for approved label

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I just re-read the RF Guidelines. It says the restrictions run "approximately four days (beginning 01/16/2017) before the Inauguration, until conclusion of the Inauguration on January 20th within 25 km of City Center."

The Women's March is on Jan 21st. So you're probably OK for the march itself ("probably" because there still might be plenty of RFI flying around), but before the march no such luck in central DC...

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I'm definitely going to be there. Pretty sure production will have some sort of pass/credentials. It's going to be crazy me thinks! 

Got booked for the Inauguration and the Womens March. Then I found out about these shows at the black cat. If I have the energy I will be at the Anti-Ball show with some very cool bands and acts. On the 20th there's going to be the No Thanks show. Also looks very promising. So if anyone is in town and going to the black cat on the 21st for the Anti-Ball show, I already got my tickets! Join if you like any of the bands!

EDIT to insert the Black Cat links:

 

http://www.blackcatdc.com/shows/antibalas.html

http://www.blackcatdc.com/shows/no-thanks.html

 

 

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On January 12, 2017 at 8:55 PM, ivanovich said:

I'm definitely going to be there. Pretty sure production will have some sort of pass/credentials. It's going to be crazy me thinks! 

Got booked for the Inauguration and the Womens March. Then I found out about these shows at the black cat. If I have the energy I will be at the Anti-Ball show with some very cool bands and acts. On the 20th there's going to be the No Thanks show. Also looks very promising. So if anyone is in town and going to the black cat on the 21st for the Anti-Ball show, I already got my tickets! Join if you like any of the bands!

EDIT to insert the Black Cat links:

 

http://www.blackcatdc.com/shows/antibalas.html

http://www.blackcatdc.com/shows/no-thanks.html

 

 

I did sound for Jeff Lewis, who is playing on the 21st, several years ago at DC9. Thought he was brilliant at the time.

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Something like this...I'd go with as little gear as possible, and even then the smallest stuff I can. I wouldn't even mess with wireless. There are the concerns already listed, but then there's batteries, and dealing with putting lavs on people. I'd rather just stick with a handheld mic going right into a recorder that's as small as possible. I'd bring a short shotgun mic to run handheld (looks like what Jim posted says you can't bring a boom pole) as a desperate way to get audio that might be a little far away from you. Just sync everything with time code, or go low budget style and have someone clap their hands as a dumb slate before every time you roll and then line it up later. 

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so I'm wondering sallymon, how did your shoot go? did they have a media check in area and assign frequencies?  at  Super Bowl 50 they were very good about this and put stickers on my antennas to show I'd been checked in.  Also , do tell, how big was the crowd?

 

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hey rosa, sounds good! i unfortunately missed the shows. i had a last minute booking for a shoot in the DR and had to pack with only hours to get prepped for international travel. i'm sure the show was great. i gave the tickets to a friend who then gave them to people jonesin' to get in. 

inauguration was quite lame. not a lot of people. a lot of BS from both sides. women march was a whole lot more intense in a good way. for both days i just 'shot' with my 744t, zaxcom qrx235, and a boom. went wireless boom just because it's faster and quicker to do adjustments and move around without any cables. everything in the orca-or30. tiny bag perfect for run-n-gun. i was able to run, jump, keep up without any issues. i did pre-register my frequencies....

that small orca with the 744t and three channels of wireless is super compact and light. powered everything with an inspired energy battery for the whole day.

 

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Hey all - thanks for all the advice! The advice I took to heart was:

1) keep the rig as small as possible

2) avoid wireless

3) don't bring anything that can be construed as a weapon .... sometimes this is hard to do for audio rigs

I was only covering the March on Saturday, just to clarify...

So my rig was super simple. Small Zoom H6 that I borrowed from someone. I brought 2 Sanken COS-11d's with a TA5 to XLR converter and hard-lined into the H6. I wanted so bad to bring my boom mic but I didn't feel comfortable risking a pistol-grip. I recorded the ambient protest sounds on the H6 mics and interviews with the hard-lined Sanken. As the day went on, people were getting tired and a little bit hesitant to be interviewed. I ended up using an RE50, hard-lined into the H6 for the second half the day.

Overall, we got great footage, great interviews, a cool guy playing fiddle as the protest marched behind him. The RE50 was great at picking up interviewees in a loud environment. Obviously the Sanken's sounded just fine. The H6 has a bit of self-noise but its nothing I can't get rid of in post.

I'll tell you though - there was NO SECURITY. I saw several cameramen rocking their camera rig with a G3 on top. I know at least one cameraman who was down there with a G3 and they didn't get clearance. I saw at least 2 audio people with their full rig, 442/744 and a boom pole. I know none of this would have flown for the inauguration but they made it seem that the same rules would have applied for the march. Overall, I'm happy with the ninja rig I put together. Next time, I'd just get a better handheld recorder and maybe bring some kind of handheld grip (other than a pistol grip) for a boom mic...

Anyway, thanks a lot everyone. I took a lot of advice to heart from here when putting my rig together.

Oh and for the record - as someone asked - the crowd was HUGE. So big that the entire march path was filled up so a second march peeled off the main one to alleviation congestion. This allowed to seperate marches to take place and meet later on. It was a massive amount of people, all very peaceful and respectful. I think the metro counted 1.1 million riders. When we were leaving the downtown area in the evening, the metro so packed you could barley get to the ticket area. Once in, they were letting people down the stairs onto the platform, 5 at a time every 3 minutes.

Whatever your political position is, it felt pretty historic to be apart of something so massive and yet so peaceful.

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I was at the inauguration with a cmit on a pistol grip, mixpre d, the small lectro recorder and wired  to camera. We then went to cover the protest where a limousine was eventually lit on fire. That was where I regretted not having a camera hop.

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