Sound supervisor Jacob Smith,
on location in Africa.Tanzania (June 23, 2009)–Expedition Africa: Stanley & Livingstone, a new 8-part History Channel reality/documentary series, employed Sanken’s COS-11D lavalier microphones during the arduous 970-mile journey through unforgiving rainforests and desert terrain.
“It was brutal,” explains sound supervisor Jacob Smith. “We had torrential downpours, hot dusty deserts, and even a sea journey in primitive wooden boats. There were unrelenting microphone damage risks, but the Sanken lavs worked flawlessly.”
The four modern-day explorers in Expedition Africa–navigator Pasquale Scaturro, wildlife expert Mireya Mayor, survivalist Benedict Allen and journalist Kevin Sites–relive Henry Morton Stanley’s perilous journey to find Dr. David Livingstone. Using only compasses and period maps, they confronted obstacles and dangers similar to those encountered by the great explorers before them.
“We had 11 Sankens for the journey equipped with Lectrasonic MM-400 waterproof transmitters,” Smith continues. “We never had any humidity problems–the mics were even doused with water a few times, but they came right back to life. We had a few other brands of mics as backup, but they did not hold up under these conditions at all.”
Explorers in the 19th century were the rock stars of their day, and Dr. Livingstone was the biggest of them all. A true hero of his time and perhaps the greatest explorer ever, he dedicated his life to stamping out slavery. Then, he disappeared. During the 19th Century, the public’s fascination with Livingstone’s whereabouts reached a fever pitch. Enter American journalist Henry Morton Stanley. Stanley had never been to Africa, but he wanted the scoop–to find out and write about what happened to Dr. Livingstone–and set off to find him. In Expedition Africa, producer Mark Burnett has captured this historic exploration.
“To recreate this journey, we had to have complete concealment of the mics,” remarks Smith. “The vertical design of the mic capsules allowed us to use a rubber band around a Rycote softee and hide it in the clothing in a way that there was no clothing noise, even with quick-dry synthetic fabrics.
Smith was contracted from Adrenaline Films for the Mark Burnett Production. Audio was recorded by sound mixers Rian Engelen (South Africa), Mark Krupka (Canada), David Tofler (Australia), and Michael St. Hilaire (U.S.).
Sanken is distributed by plus24.