Production sound mixer Coleman Metts, C.A.S. (pictured) has adopted Sennheiser RF transmitters and receivers to communicate quickly and privately with boom operators, allowing him and his crew to keep pace with the director, yet never get underfoot.
Metts operates a wireless communications setup comprising SK 500 G2 bodypack microphone transmitters alongside Evolution Wireless ew 300 IEM G2 personal monitor transmitters with EK 300 G2 bodypack receivers. His production sound team includes a boom microphone operator, plus a second boom, also known as a cable person.
"I ended up using the little portable transmitter because I needed two transmitters—one to talk to my guys separately and one to be able to send audio to the client, the directors and producers," Metts says. "I am actually using both of them on different channels.
"Nowadays there is just so much equipment on set as far as the camera department," Metts explains. "Everything is on a dolly and there are Steadicams, and a lot of times they have two or three cameras running at once." He says that relying on cables poses the risk of getting them tangled with Steadicam operators or run over by the dolly, and makes it difficult to adapt quickly to changes on the set, "so my guys have to be mobile as well, in order to keep up with all this new technology.
"If they're cabled to a hard line and things change quickly, they can't change quickly. Having a wireless feed enables them to change what they're doing at any time with no restrictions. And if one of them is off doing something and I need him I can just call him and he can drop whatever he's doing to put out the latest fire."
The Sennheiser RF setup proved to be a lifesaver on one recent shoot, says Metts, where both audio and picture were recorded to hard disk recorder systems. "The production used so much of my equipment that the only way I could talk back to my boom operators at all was with the Sennheiser wireless system. It was a very complex show, so that really saved me, as I had no more cables and it allowed me to stay in touch with my guys discreetly. That was a world of help."
Metts also says that the Sennheiser system has withstood the punishing production sound environment and relatively dense RF spectrum in Los Angeles. "It's been rock-solid. I've never had any problems with it. People drop these personal monitor receivers all the time on the ground; they just do. But they've held up remarkably well. I haven't had any interference and I've never even sent one in for servicing. I'm very, very happy."
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