Lemac had the pleasure of supporting Jimmy Hamilton in the lead up to, and during, a pretty exciting job shooting in some harsh and remote locations. Jimmy approached our Sydney sales office for some advice on the best compact and intuitive audio equipment that would stand up to the conditions he’d be facing. Below is a great write up on his experiences out in the wild, armed with Zaxcom’s ever reliable audio products, and the DPA 4017 shotgun microphone.

Almost two years ago I set out with Filmmaker and Adventurer Tim Noonan to film the most extreme coming of age rituals in some of the most brutal and remote locations on Earth. This has now become the television series Boy To Man, currently screening on BBC Knowledge in Australia and about 70 countries worldwide.

‘Boy to Man’ was made with just a crew of two. Tim and Myself. We had to multi-task everything, from producing to shooting to recording the sound and Tim Noonan also had to present and put himself through all the dangerous rites of passage. It was tough and challenging, but the first challenge to overcome was the sound.

That was left to me. Easier said than done. I had been an editor for 25 years and had never ventured outside the comfort of the edit suite.We needed to travel light and fast and couldn’t afford to be bogged down with extra equipment like mixers. We needed a compact sound kit that would also be idiot proof.

Zaxcom ticked the boxes. We outfitted ourselves with the, then, latest TRX742 wireless transmitter for the boom, two TRXLA2 radio mics and the QRX200 receiver, all purchased through the ever-helpful Ross Boyer at Lemac in Sydney, Australia.

We needed equipment that could stand up to the harshest environments and Zaxcom never failed to meet our requirements. From the intense heat and dust of Africa, to the humid and wet conditions of South America, right through to the sub-zero temperatures of Siberia and the tropical South Pacific. Sand, salt, heat, mud, dust, Zaxcom went to hell and back and survived and I’m happy to say I’m still using the exact same kit. Some minor replacement parts, but overall Zaxcom stood the test where most of our other equipment failed.

We had to work fast, constantly moving locations so our workflow was kept as simple as possible. At each location it was just a matter of scanning the RF environment with the QRX200 and matching the frequencies on the transmitters. Both the TRX742 and the TRXLA2’s would feed straight into the camera via the QRX200.

Also recording sound directly to the Zaxcom transmitter’s microSD cards made it possible to obtain great sound when we were filming on the run with multiple Go-Pro’s. The timecode on the audio files made is easy in post to locate and sync the sound, if necessary.

Being a totally wireless/recording kit there was no need to ‘stick to the side’ of the cameraman. I could roam freely with the boom, getting in and out of tight spots, and never miss anything.

The sound quality Zaxcom produced was outstanding. Above all, Zaxcom is compact. When you’re running through a forest fire trying to keep up with Brazilian warriors on a wild hunt, you can’t afford to be weighed down with a heavy kit. I could run with my entire sound kit in my pockets! As a first time soundo I found Zaxcom extremely user-friendly and easy to navigate, and not just for myself. As a two man crew, we sometimes had to be in two places at once, and on many occasions I would need to hand the sound over to our interpreter (or any tribal by-stander for that matter).

I wouldn’t be swapping the Zaxcom for anything less. Whether you’re a pro or new to the sound game I’d be happy to recommend Zaxcom any-day. –Jimmy Hamilton