Mutiny on Channel 4

Mutiny on Channel 4

Our very own @dannyeth survived in some of the toughest conditions possible for a new @channel4 series Mutiny. He sailed across the Pacific Ocean in a small sail boat to recreate one of the most treacherous voyages in history.  Watch this space for more about his epic journey and the filming and survival challenges he had to overcome to deliver the ground breaking series.

Mission Survived – adapt and survive to capture adventure audio

Adventure Film Collective sound man Pete Lee, tell's us what it takes to capture audio while being thrown down a river Canyon in Africa

The audio challenge

Sometimes you just get dropped in it….

"It" in this case, is a canyon, filled with water, caves and waterfalls, some can only be swum, and some of it must be rappelled down - including a waterfall or two, with full sound kit, while running contributor’s 7 radio mics. There’s never a chance for a 2nd take so kit failing wasn’t an option despite the tough location. 

The audio kit

The sound kit - Sound Devices 664 mixer/recorder, and Lectrosonics WM waterproof radio mic transmitter packs.

The show is Bear Grylls’ Mission Survive (Series 2, South Africa), and the challenge starts with a 30-foot cliff jump into the canyon for the contributors. 

We have a local canyoning company assisting us with safety, and our own safety team lead by Adventure Film Collective’s Stani and Meg in front of the camera with the contributors. 

So how can I survive this particular mission? Wetsuit, helmet and buoyancy aid for me but it’s keeping my kit alive and delivering quality audio that’s my biggest challenge. When you film in remote locations you have to adapt to survive and combine a whole range of kit to get the result you need.  

 

So, I borrow a roll top Ortlieb waterproof bag, big enough to carry my sound kit. It’s been around the block and has a few small holes, but should hold out with a little electrical tape to cover them over. The canyoning company has some boogie boards, and our camera dept have a cinesaddle bean bag. All bound together with a trusty roll of gaffa tape. Sorted. 

It wasn’t a pretty rig, but with the Cinesaddle bag gaffa taped to 2 x boogie boards for buoyancy, I could keep my recorder out of the water and swim with it. I needed to be mobile and keep up with the cameras and contributors as they swam, climbed and crashed down the canyon. With the dry bag rolled up I could keep the whole thing dry and actually it was pretty stable, and at times I could swim with the dry bag open, properly monitoring my recordings on headphones over my helmet. When the canyon got shallow I could stand up and hang the whole thing from my regular audio harness and film as normal. Then when faced with a waterfall climb I closed it up and could rappel down, recording sound no matter how much water was being thrown at me!

And the contributors? We built a standard helmet rig, which served us well for the whole series. Transmitters were mounted on the outside back of the helmet, tidied up with black gaffa so not to be too intrusive, and Countryman B3’s, my go to adventure mic, were mounted under the helmet rim. Sometimes the mics would get waterlogged, but they can be cleared pretty easily, and since I was there and listening all the way I knew when to intervene.

Oh, and yes, I did take my boom pole with me all the way, and by some small miracle managed to keep my Sennheiser MKH416 out of the water, even if my Panamic boom pole acted mostly as a rudder whenever I was swimming!! 

Mission Survived! True adventure audio delivered. 

Jungle boots

 People often ask me how you keep your feet dry in a jungle or swamp environment when on a shoot. Well the short answer is forget it. Water will find its way in whatever you do so my go to boots are #altberg jungle boots. They let the water in and out so your feet get wet but don’t turn into sloshing paddling pools. My pair in the picture were put through there paces directing a shoot in a West African jungle. The key is to dry them out over a fire at the end of the day or your feet will start to rot and you’ll leave the jungle on a stretcher! #adventurefilming #wildernesssurvival #wildernesssurvivalskills #jungleboots #altbergboots #altbergs #survivalkit #survival #jungletrekking #ghana #footrot (at Dominase, Western, Ghana)

People often ask me how you keep your feet dry in a jungle or swamp environment when on a shoot. Well the short answer is forget it. Water will find its way in whatever you do so my go to boots are #altberg jungle boots. They let the water in and out so your feet get wet but don’t turn into sloshing paddling pools. My pair in the picture were put through there paces directing a shoot in a West African jungle. The key is to dry them out over a fire at the end of the day or your feet will start to rot and you’ll leave the jungle on a stretcher! #adventurefilming #wildernesssurvival #wildernesssurvivalskills #jungleboots #altbergboots #altbergs #survivalkit #survival #jungletrekking #ghana #footrot (at Dominase, Western, Ghana)

One 'hell' of a sound challenge

  Adventure Film Sound Recordist Pete Lee, lets us in on the challenges of capturing sound in the midst of a brutal, Special Forces TV shoot in Africa    Primary Kit Used:   Zaxcom Radio Mics     Inspiration comes in many forms; from places or events, but most of all from extraordinary people. I was lucky enough to spend the month of April with a whole team of people who left me hugely motivated, inspired, and also humbled.  The fact that I was in a very beautiful and rugged part of South Africa was an added bonus. The location was near Stellenbosch, home to world-class vineyards and fine dining restaurants. On this shoot, however, I wouldn’t see a single grape or Michelin star.  This was BBC’s ‘Special Forces: Ultimate Hell Week’ – moved from South Wales to South Africa for its second season.  In case you missed  Series One  the idea is to take a bunch of super fit civilians, and put them in a military style training camp. Each episode is a 48 hour intense physical and mental training session, from representatives of six of the world’s toughest Special Forces.  I had my own challenges ahead as sound supervisor. I had to put a plan in place to record audio from the Special Forces leader, 7 military Directing Staff, and over 20 ‘recruits’, up to 24 hours a day!  50 wireless frequencies, 15 or so main cameras to synchronise, 8 additional sound recordists and assistants on my team, I was notching up many personal bests here and more than a little nervous it would all work.  On top of this, we were running game-changing Zaxcom radio mics.  These little beauties have the seemingly simple addition of being able to record audio as well as transmit. This frees us up from the limitations of short wireless range, or the need for an OB truck to cover so many radio mics on location!  But it does add quite a workflow - there’s a lot to put into place to make sure they work smoothly and efficiently.  Oh yeah, and then there were the physical challenges the recruits would be put through. Just imagine the hardest, most extreme PT session possible, go to town with your imagination, get painful, nasty – these are genuine special forces training techniques – try and get a microphone to stay in place, without its wires being ripped apart, on recruits having the beasting of their lives, while still delivering usable sound and keeping the transmitter alive and recording, protected from being bashed, soaked, overheated or crushed into the ground!  It wasn’t all a total success. We lost 3 transmitters to seawater damage, and had many imperfections along the way, but this wasn’t a scripted drama, and just capturing the events with minimal intervention was critical to the integrity of the process.  It was a pretty stressful shoot at times, but observing the 23 hyper-motivated recruits, all going through the toughest experience of their lives - real pain and exhaustion, not quitting and still smiling (well, sometimes), makes you raise your game accordingly, and forget about your own worries for a while – that’s motivation!  And behind the scenes, an incredible bunch of people, working to make the show, including the rest of my amazing sound team who definitely eased my stress and made it a huge amount of fun.  But the real heroes? The military team, on camera and behind it – a real privilege to work with, these guys and girls who do that stuff for living! That was the really humbling part!  Do look out for the show hopefully around Autumn on BBC, I hope you gain just a little of the motivation and inspiration that I got from it!

Adventure Film Sound Recordist Pete Lee, lets us in on the challenges of capturing sound in the midst of a brutal, Special Forces TV shoot in Africa

Primary Kit Used: Zaxcom Radio Mics  

Inspiration comes in many forms; from places or events, but most of all from extraordinary people. I was lucky enough to spend the month of April with a whole team of people who left me hugely motivated, inspired, and also humbled.

The fact that I was in a very beautiful and rugged part of South Africa was an added bonus. The location was near Stellenbosch, home to world-class vineyards and fine dining restaurants. On this shoot, however, I wouldn’t see a single grape or Michelin star.

This was BBC’s ‘Special Forces: Ultimate Hell Week’ – moved from South Wales to South Africa for its second season.

In case you missed Series One the idea is to take a bunch of super fit civilians, and put them in a military style training camp. Each episode is a 48 hour intense physical and mental training session, from representatives of six of the world’s toughest Special Forces.

I had my own challenges ahead as sound supervisor. I had to put a plan in place to record audio from the Special Forces leader, 7 military Directing Staff, and over 20 ‘recruits’, up to 24 hours a day!

50 wireless frequencies, 15 or so main cameras to synchronise, 8 additional sound recordists and assistants on my team, I was notching up many personal bests here and more than a little nervous it would all work.

On top of this, we were running game-changing Zaxcom radio mics.

These little beauties have the seemingly simple addition of being able to record audio as well as transmit. This frees us up from the limitations of short wireless range, or the need for an OB truck to cover so many radio mics on location!

But it does add quite a workflow - there’s a lot to put into place to make sure they work smoothly and efficiently.

Oh yeah, and then there were the physical challenges the recruits would be put through. Just imagine the hardest, most extreme PT session possible, go to town with your imagination, get painful, nasty – these are genuine special forces training techniques – try and get a microphone to stay in place, without its wires being ripped apart, on recruits having the beasting of their lives, while still delivering usable sound and keeping the transmitter alive and recording, protected from being bashed, soaked, overheated or crushed into the ground!

It wasn’t all a total success. We lost 3 transmitters to seawater damage, and had many imperfections along the way, but this wasn’t a scripted drama, and just capturing the events with minimal intervention was critical to the integrity of the process.

It was a pretty stressful shoot at times, but observing the 23 hyper-motivated recruits, all going through the toughest experience of their lives - real pain and exhaustion, not quitting and still smiling (well, sometimes), makes you raise your game accordingly, and forget about your own worries for a while – that’s motivation!

And behind the scenes, an incredible bunch of people, working to make the show, including the rest of my amazing sound team who definitely eased my stress and made it a huge amount of fun.

But the real heroes? The military team, on camera and behind it – a real privilege to work with, these guys and girls who do that stuff for living! That was the really humbling part!

Do look out for the show hopefully around Autumn on BBC, I hope you gain just a little of the motivation and inspiration that I got from it!

The best shots take a little effort

 Sometimes the best shots just take a little effort to get there. We mostly use static lines to get crew into position, the ones from @mammut_absolute_alpine, @petzl_official and @marlowropes have proven to work the best through an array of environments; jungle, desert high mountain or arctic. It becomes second nature to hide ropes from the camera angles but its is adding a whole new dimension to the safety rig #challenges #bringiton @dannyeth @jimmyanderson98 @nickomeally @ozbac @megan_hine @stani_greenway #adventurefilmsafety #ropeporn #climbing #ropeaccess #stunts #adventurefilm

Sometimes the best shots just take a little effort to get there. We mostly use static lines to get crew into position, the ones from @mammut_absolute_alpine, @petzl_official and @marlowropes have proven to work the best through an array of environments; jungle, desert high mountain or arctic. It becomes second nature to hide ropes from the camera angles but its is adding a whole new dimension to the safety rig #challenges #bringiton @dannyeth @jimmyanderson98 @nickomeally @ozbac @megan_hine @stani_greenway #adventurefilmsafety #ropeporn #climbing #ropeaccess #stunts #adventurefilm