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15/02/2001

TOTAL AUDIO SOUND OUT THE SCARIEST PLACES

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TOTAL Audio Solutions have recently completed their toughest television wireless microphone challenge to date in a ‘haunted’ Scottish castle.
The Scottish location shoot for the ‘The Scariest Places on Earth,’ a television series for Triage Entertainment, gave Total Audio director and sound recordist Richard Meredith and sound recordist Scott Harbor (pictured) a number of logistical problems, not least of which was the need to run over 1000 metres of aerial feeder to connect the 27 UHF antennae.
Meredith said: “Some of the RF runs were up to 100 metres long – total radio coverage was required, as the contestants could all be in different places at the same time, and the castle has walls six feet thick.
“Also, all our cables had to be hidden, so where a direct run may have been as short as 20 metres, the actual route would go out of the room, through a window, up and over the castle battlements to meet the receiver. This was undoubtedly the largest aerial network that we had ever attempted, some of the aerial runs were huge, and we made heavy use of RG103 low-loss cable. The fact that the Sony active antennae have an LED indicator was essential, as we were making the runs up on site and one non-functioning antenna could have been disastrous. We went through the whole night without one dropout."
Meredith used a Sony WL-800 series system, designed around two radio ‘hubs’ located in the castle’s watchtowers. A total of six WD-820 Antenna Distribution Units were used to feed WRR-855 receivers, which provided audio-frequency signals to the Sony DMX-R100 digital mixing console installed on-site. Audio tracks were recorded onto Tascam DA-98 multitrack machines, with a mixed feed being provided for VTs. Body-worn transmitters (Sony WRT-860s) were fed by ECM-77 mics fitted to miniature DVcam booms mounted on each contestant’s vest.
In addition to the main camera feeds, each contestant was kitted out with a Minicam and miniature DV recorder. Rather than using separate microphone feed, duplicate WRR-810 portable receivers were used to provide each contestant’s DV unit with controlled audio. The final test of the Sony UHF system was an introduction piece to camera. This was picked up from a distance of a kilometre thanks to a Prolink booster.
Meredith pointed out that even though the dynamics coped with ranged from a quiet whisper to ‘scared witless’ screaming the Sony system performed flawlessly.
The series sees five contestants and two presenters set free overnight in a series of remote locations, where their every move and word are recorded as their scary adventure unfolds. (SP)
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