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Equipment suggestions for Africa Shoot

Rich Gedney

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Pretty much most all production gear is tried and tested as "rugged".  Can't go wrong with Lectrosonics.  Zoom F8 "could" be a good rugged unit, but it hasn't been out long enough for that to be tested in real world conditions, therefore fails the first test in operating in mission critical conditions - test everything.  Sort of odd question, though, no?  I work in Hawaii, doesn't get much tougher than that with salt water / air, 50' waves, high winds, heat, and humidity.  Others have worked on Mt. Everest.  Rugged conditions is a given for our profession, not the unusual circumstance.  In my mind it's more so the preparations, safety equipment on hand, and mindset to know enough to find out he conditions ahead of time and experience to translate that into a plan of action, more so than the gear itself, that will allow your gear and yourself to survive intact on location.

...and for mic, as everyone else will say it, sennheiser MKH416, and your backup, another 416.

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Rent the correct gear. 

For high heat and humidity and possibly sweaty talent you need equipment that can stand up to the elements. Being penny wise but pound foolish will not help. You can probably rent all that you need for at or near the cost of buying new sub par equipment. For multi week shoots the rental house can probably cut a deal on the package.

My recommendation is to check out Sound Devices mixer/recorders and Lectrosonics wireless. Both very rugged products. You can even get a waterproof lectrosonics transmitter for really nasty conditions. The tried and true Sennheiser 416 should be all the boom you need. 

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I did sound on a documentary in Ethiopia several years ago. I'll point out a couple obvious things:

1. Make sure you have the correct power adapters. 

2. Have spare cables for all your critical cables. 

3. Have a backup mixer and/or recorder. Something that can work in a pinch. Worse case scenario but I'd  find a workflow to get at least a boomed shotgun mic into camera if everything else fails. 

4. Agreed on 416, but if budget doesn't allow another copy for backup, you could grab a sennheiser me66 or a rode ntg. 

Travel safe. 


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@Tom Visser,@Matthew Marzano, @Matthew Sonnenfeld, @jrd456

Thank you all for your reply's. They have been a big help in my deciding what equipment to purchase.

Due to type of shoot and me being a one man band I will be going with the wireless B6 Lav,sennheiser wireless transmitter and sennhneiser MKH416. Due to the tight budget will have to go with a Zoom 6 for the field recording. I've been saving up for a Sound Devices 688 which will eventually be my primary mixer. However that's months away. 

Thank you.

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The B6 is a great mic. When hidden 'under' clothing, wind is usually not a problem. but if exposed to open air, even the slightest air turbulence can be an problem. Pack Under and Overcovers and other windscreen materials.
I have a 416 and a AT4073a. The AT is equally rugged, sounds good and has a hot output (about 71mV), which may be a plus (or minus).

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