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big doco shoot in the jungle


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I am posting in the hope for some insight into the logistics of shooting documentary in the humid jungle, as it looks like I will be doing just that in the near future, on a month long shoot.

I’d appreciate any advice really, but am also after a few specific things. I’m interested in what people have to say about the best way to approach the situation, as there will be between 14 & 16 talent, based in the jungle, on an environmental mission.

There will be a 5 day hike thrown in as well, so i’ll obviously need disposable batts for that. A recce is underway to ascertain the conditions, and to find a HQ for power and storage for the majority of the shoot.

Having two sound recordists with 788‘s and miking everyone is already out of the question.

Even having one 788 I feel may not work, as power will be a problem on the hike, and it will mean powering all the extra mics, and possibly having to much to handle with the weight, as there will be very long demanding days, 6 days a week.

It looks like i’ll have to make do with a 552, a boom, and 4 radios. The leader of this group will stay miked the whole time, and I guess i’ll strategically use the other 3 mics on the other talent. Would I be best to mic the ones that talk the most, or the quietest ones?

The main cam will be a Sony F3 with a roaming Z1. I’ll send an SRa link to the F3, and possibly a senny to the Z1.

I own a CS3e and a MKH-50 by the way, but may look into getting a new rode or a 416.

Any advice on this situation will be really appreciated!

Thanks so much for reading

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Sounds like you are doing fine...

there have been other discussions of jungles, humid conditions, keeping the load light, and all the rest, so spend some time searching here, and reading/learning...

but most important you and the production company have to realize the capabilities and limitations, as you seem to be doing.

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I have no specific experience with the intense humidity of work in a jungle but thought I'd mention that you can purchase reusable silicon moisture wick packs (is that the right terminology?)* from Location Sound Corp. These are larger and more effective than the little (don't eat this) packs that come packed with new gear.

Also, the Stuart Cody company makes solar battery chargers that are intended for expedition use. Not sure if you'd see enough sun to use them effectively but good to know about. Link to Cody Company:

http://automatedmedia.com/

David

* desiccant was the word I was floundering around for. And it seems to be made by Pelican Products:

http://pelican.com/miscellaneous.php

Edited by David Waelder
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Hi,

Apart from equipment concern, do go to your local GP to check how high is the risk of Malaria, in that jungle you are planning to go into. Something not to be taken lightly. I did write in a little on it another forum, and there are also others which gave advise as well, which you may want to take a read. (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.movies.production.sound/browse_thread/thread/c7be758d82dce00b/1666c32375161734?lnk=gst&q=malarone#1666c32375161734).

Btw, I'll probably be in the jungles of Borneo again next month. PM me should you be in this region.

Best Regards,

Lawrence

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I work on one of the Jungle based reality shows and we face similar problems although never that far from power and civilisation! To answer your question of who to mic, we go for the ones who talk the most and use omni lavs to try to pick up everything and everyone around them. If you have them covered then swinging a boom to cover the rest becomes much easier and you will quickly ascertain who is worth chasing and who will utter 3 words for the entire trip!

As Doug has pointed out the 416 and NT3 both have humidity protection (although I have completely destroyed a 416 in very wet and humid conditions) but take care to make sure your radio camera hops are well protected against the wet, if they fail you will be in real trouble. Silica or desiccant as David suggested is a good thing to have onboard. I put all my valuable electronics in zip lock plastic bags with a desiccant to keep them dry and I take everything apart each night and manually dry it to protect it.

Personally I would use your SRA to the F3 splitting the pan of your mics as best you can for isolation and let the Z1 go top mic so they can pick up additional atmos sounds as well as voice.

Good luck it sounds like a fun gig, send us some pics

Chris

PS I would be running NP1 batteries to get maximum life from your mixer and receivers. 1 x 70 wh will last me 3 days to a week depending on conditions, if you take 2 fully charged it should get you through the hike and means you only have to carry batts for the transmitters

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hi, some thoughts when shooting in very humid environments:

my cs3 regularly started to make trouble in very humid environments such as rainforests. i wouldnt even take it with me anymore but go for a 416 -> peace of mind

as said before, drybags with silicagel are useful for storing the delicate pieces of equipment.

if you are hiding lavs in t-shirts etc. , they will be drenched in sweat in no time.( especially on a hike ). same for transmitters worn on the body. the lavs i took with me regularly crapped out ( vt506, dpa 4061 ) and had to be dryed. luckily i had enough spare lavs with me. one transmitter died because of moisture.

think about some kind of backup for the most critical pieces of your equipment, especially if the days are long/hectic and time to pamper your material is short.

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  • 3 months later...

A 442 should draw significantly less than a 552 since there is no A-D conversion taking place.

Taking about throw away batteries, do you expect to come around proper disposal facilities in the jungle? I'm not really a green-cop-kinda-guy but I'd have scruples throwing batteries around in nature. When I planned a 788t based bag with up to 5 Evolutions for an employer, I calculated the best capacity/weight relationship within the V-mount brand the employer already used. In my case it was the Bebob V140.

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vs. proper charging facilities...??

Well, a desert would at least put a thought to backpack mounted solar panels.

Take only pictures (with sound!), leave only footprints!

Carbon Footprints? >:D;)

Thinking this thread over, I first thought about 2 pure analog stereo mixers in one bag, e.g. sqn4s or sd302 or equivalent, whatever is lighter and draws less power. Moist environments should both manage. But then, the Sonosax mini R82 came to my mind in combination with a 552. You'd save the 4 Track radio link to cameras and remain camera independent for wild-tracks and atmos which will probably be terrific. Weight and power draw probably do not differ much to 2 camera links and with a Cable Techniques RX Emergency you'd have full 8 tracks.

If you are free to chose your wireless system, I'd go for a Wysicom 6x MTP30 and 3x MCR42 system since the latter can feed the miniR82 with AES signals. This way, you could leave the heavy 552 at home. The drawback would be, no real mix, only 8 Isos or a fixed mixdown with 6 or 7 tracks, but production remains most flexible in post. The QRX100 also offers the possibility of AES out. I've read some issues here about bag usage in dual/quad mode, but they might be an option too.

However... both Sonosax and Wysicom might be hard to rent since it is not standard bread and butter gear.

Correction: I did a bit of research... afaik the minir82 does not do sample rate conversion and the Wysicom receiver does not clock externally. It would probably be a good idea to clock AES input pairs from independent devices. To use tracks 7/8 you could either use a 3xQRX100 Zaxpaq loosing true diversity or use something like this or this to input tracks 7/8. If you take an Aja ADA4 you are free to choose any line-out-wireless-system and exclude the much heavier 552 I don't know anything about it's sound quality though. This adds some weight and power draw, but even without input 7/8, you could still use these tracks for a simple mixdown. I'd always prefer recording to 6 tracks in my bag with way less weight to radioing 2 tracks to 2 different cameras.

Some more stuff that might be useful:

I read good things about Powerpax battery caddies

I'd think about bringing a figure of 8 along for MSing the wildlife ambience, in your case an MKH30

Check out aquapack.net they also provide desiccants but also useful electronic bags. However, don't buy the radio microphone case for senny evolutions. They don't fit. Aquapack provides a bigger bag, however it'll be a bit bigger than necessary.

I have not much experience with tropical climate, but I'd try to keep the boomic(s) in a wind screen and stick and replace a desiccant within the basket as late in the evening as possible (before you go to bed) and warp it in a plastic (shopping or garbage) bag. In the early morning, when air moisture is the most thread to condensate on the still nightcold equipment, the plasic-bagged microclimate is as dry as possible. If this theory is true, it also applies to all the other hopefully wrapped sensitive elecrtonics.

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  • 1 year later...

Take backups of everything

 

Plastic waste bags in the event of a downpour to protect the gear

 

Clean and dry equipment at the end of each day

 

Make sure that radio mike input sockets are free of dust and dirt as moisture can generate noise!!

 

Always check you boots in the morning as something may have crawled in

 

Hvw fun

 

mike

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