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Nice Day for a Wireless Wedding

Recording actors for the big screen wirelessly is all in a day’s work for production sound mixer Chris Howland.

Los Angeles, CA (March 31, 2020)—Production sound mixer Chris Howland, a seasoned veteran of films, TV series and second-unit shoots, has been packing an arsenal of Lectrosonics wireless gear for his work the space epic Ad Astra, Jordan Peele’s horror flick Us and Dennis Villeneuve’s upcoming remake of Dune.

Lectrosonics’ SMV and SMQV compact belt packs and SMWB wideband pack are Howland’s transmitters, and HMa plug-on units attach directly to microphones for boom work. Reception is handled by a trio of UCR411a receivers, plus a Venue system hosting VRT receiver modules.

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Howland finds himself adapting on a near-daily basis to different locations, directors, crews and talent. “On any given production, once they settle into a certain way of doing things, they don’t like to change it,” he says. “So, when I’m hopping from show to show doing pickup work, my gear has to help me fit into their workflow with no delays or disruptions.”

During 2018’s Destination Wedding, a romantic comedy starring Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder, the gear’s long-range performance literally made a scene.

“The wedding of the title was set in a vineyard in Paso Robles, California,” Howland recalls. “It’s beautiful there, so they wanted a lot of wide shots to establish a sense of place, which means you can’t use a boom for dialogue.

“We had only nine days to shoot the whole thing, so our goal was to let Keanu and Winona concentrate on their performance and not distract them. There was this one long walk-and-talk shot with Keanu and Winona on a pathway in the vineyard and the camera on a hilltop. Because we had to ride up this hill on a Gator ATV shared with two other departments, we didn’t have room for a boosted antenna rig; we were just running on whips.

“They’re walking towards us and they start as two specks maybe 150 yards away. I’d wired them both with the SMQV, which I chose because the output power can go up to a quarter-watt. Via the UCR411a, all the dialogue was captured without a single dropout.”

Lectrosonics •