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Best Captures Rough Race for Outdoor Channel

For Outdoor Channel’s Brigade: Race to the Hudson, audio supervisor David Best needed gear that would survive 28 days’ worth of hiking and canoeing across 750 miles of Canadian wilderness.

Rio Rancho, NM (July 26, 2019)—Audio supervisor David Best faced challenges himself when capturing audio for the Outdoor Channel’s Brigade: Race to the Hudson, in which 10 strangers hike and canoe across 750 miles of Canadian wilderness in 28 days for a $500,000 prize.

Williams Takes Lectro to Work

“For much of what you see onscreen, all 10 crew members are in a Voyager canoe and out on the water most of the day,” explains Best. “They’re completely on their own at these times, with video captured through action cams such as GoPros. We needed an ultra-rugged solution for recording high-quality audio locally, as we anticipated the canoe being out of range of our bag systems a lot of the time. That’s where the [Lectrosonics] PDRs [portable digital recorders] came in.”

Each crew member wears two lav mics, one feeding the PDR and the other feeding an SMQV transmitter. “Everyone has one of each, which we put in waterproof aqua-packs, which are then worn in fanny packs. The PDRs wound up being our primary audio source for the on-water sequences, whereas the SMQVs were for when we could buzz by with our receiver bags on a camera boat, or when we knew they were arriving at a certain spot and could do a multi-camera shoot.”

The audio gear had to withstand moisture, but not just from potentially being submerged: “The aqua-packs seal very well against outside water, but with all the varying temperature and humidity, condensation forms on the inside of the bag. By the end of a production day, the SMQV and PDR in any given pack would usually be swimming in it — I mean, we’d pour out a couple of ounces of liquid. Not once did we have a single unit go down in the 45 days we were out there,” says Best.

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The secondary system the audio team used for an IFB signal also had to ride rough. “For a monitor mix when the canoe was in wireless range, we did want an IFB send,” he says. “So, we put five SRc receivers in a dry bag with a Sound Devices mixer. We fed its output to another SMQV transmitter that we literally ran up a flagpole at the stern of the boat with a shark-fin antenna. Point being, that bag was on the bottom of the canoe all day, every day, getting kicked around and splashed. And we had zero failures during production.”

Lectrosonics •