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Dissertation on wireless microphones


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Hi!

I’m a sound for film student at FAMU in Prague. I’m writing my dissertation on how wireless microphones expanded possibilities for film making and am particularly interested in the period from around 1965 to 1975, when the technology first started being implemented. I have read George Groves’ account of first using wireless microphones in My Fair Lady and Ed Tise’s article about using wireless mics during the production of Full Metal Jacket, but would really appreciate more information about that period in sound recording. Any pointers would be greatly appreciated, and if any of you who have experienced this era would like to speak with me through a quick online call or chat, I would be incredibly grateful !! 

Cheers to jwsoundgroup, I really appreciate all of the information I have gained from this forum !

Michael

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I was an assistant to Peter Handford who used radio microphones a lot in the period under discussion. The brand he favoured were the Audio Limited type, with Sony ECM 50s or the unbranded type supplied with the radio kits. I can't recall any radio problems with the radios themselves, but clothes rustle was a constant problem, usually solved with lots of gaffer tape. This usually resulted in painful removal for make actors, and sometimes embarrassing and intimate encounters with females! We found very early on the no actor could be trusted with placing their own mic.

The other way of using radio mics was to plant them out of sight in the area that the boom couldn't cover. Murder on the Orient Express (the Albert Finney one) was a great place for this, with ECM 50s and radios stuck behind train seats.

We used up to six radio mics at a time and they kept the sound crew busy, with gaffer tape coming loose, or the actors scratching themselves.

Quite honestly, radio mics were a great pain for all concerned and only resorted to as a last resort. But we were very grateful that they were there as a fall back option. I can remember Peter telling me of an incident before radios mics - the actor had to carry an STC Ball & Biscuit mic to catch his lines as he walked swiftly along, with the Sound Maintenance man anxiously paying out the cable!

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IIRC KarlW did a quick talk on wireless mic history on the sound summit last year, but apparently, I don't remember correctly, as I could not find it scrolling through all the recordings on YT.

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On 1/1/2021 at 4:13 PM, DanieldH said:

IIRC KarlW did a quick talk on wireless mic history on the sound summit last year, but apparently, I don't remember correctly, as I could not find it scrolling through all the recordings on YT.

Hi Daniel, I think this is the video you are thinking of - it was part of my "Wireless Side Chats" series early in the pandemic shutdown: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSnAUjgZoTI

 

It is an overview of RF spectrum, how wireless mics fit in, and a brief summary of some of the first practical systems that were used for broadcast, stage productions, and TV/Film. It doesn't go into a lot of detail about the time period in question, nor specifically about wireless mics for film, per se. 

 

-Karl

 

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