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Production Mixer Takes on Shogun Challenges

Michael Williamson C.A.S. had his hands full capturing the overlapping dialog and action of FX and Hulu’s reimagining of Shogun.

Michael Williamson C.A.S.
Michael Williamson C.A.S.

Vancouver, BC, Canada (June 26, 2024)—Michael Williamson C.A.S. turned to his collection of Lectrosonics equipment to capture the overlapping dialog and action of FX and Hulu’s reimagining of Shogun.

“We’ve done a lot of big things in Vancouver,” says Williamson, who worked on The X-Files beginning in 1993, “but we were amazed at the size and scale of Shogun. Much of Shogun was shot anamorphically, which means boom operators can’t get in where you want them unless they’re swinging 25-foot poles—which we actually did. That puts more onto the radio mics [wireless] to do the job. I was glad to have the ability to mix a boom and a wireless together and try to make it sound like one microphone.”

If all this sounds like shooting an action movie, it’s even more demanding. “There’s a lot of action in Shogun to be sure, but in most action films, dialogue is shot up close,” Williamson explains. “In Shogun, you could start with people waist-deep in water tugging something out, then they walk onto the beach, the shot gets closer in, and there’s dialog the whole time. Capturing all that involves a lot of RF complexity. I don’t think I would have depended in anything but Lectrosonics for making it through Shogun in one piece!”

Production Mixer Details The Zone of Interest’s Sound Challenges

One reason for Williamson’s confidence is Lectrosonics’ tenacity at finding, retaining and isolating clean carrier frequencies, something he relied on well before Shogun. “On the first season of [the 2018 Netflix series] Lost in Space, not only did I have to wire the entire cast, but each actor needed their own IFB so they could talk to the director while they had their space helmets on. Grips and electric crew had to have IFBs to hear their various cues. It all got tricky because you’re working around camera and their wireless video. I thought we’d be running into some serious issues simply because of all the RF in the air.

“Again, I found the isolation of the Lectrosonics gear to be just great. I never got a single complaint from any of the actors about their comms. Over the years, I’ve been in lots of studios where there are multiple crews shooting at once, everyone is on wireless, and I’ve never had a problem with crosstalk—either getting stepped on or stepping on somebody else.”