The wireless microphone technology of New Mexico-based pro-audio manufacturer Lectrosonics are being used by Robert C. Bigelow during his work on HBO’s series Tremé.
Tremé, named after a historic neighbourhood of the Louisiana-city New Orleans, follows the lives of a variety of New Orleans residents as they attempt to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina. Musicians, chefs, Mardi Gras Indiansand more feature as the series traces their attempts to rebuild their lives, homes and unique culture piece-by-piece.
Bigelow, who is based in the city itself, serves as the show's Live Music Recordist. It is the latest of a string of credits in music and film that spans almost three decades. He has used Lectorsonics technology for nearly a third of that time, including on his current project with Tremé.
“I’ve been working with Lectrosonics equipment for over 10 years,” explained Bigelow. “The sound quality is truly, hands down, second to none.
Serving duty on the Tremé set, Bigelow regularly uses two SMQv Super Miniature beltpack transmitters and two UM400a beltpack transmitters. These work alongside his two SRa5P dual-channel slot mount ENG receivers and two URC411a compact receivers.
Each of these pieces of Lectrosonics kit incorporate the companies acclaimed Digital Hybrid Wireless technology.
“Lectrosonics’ Digital Hybrid Wireless technology delivers a pure, unadulterated low noise signal with full frequency range and no pumping or other sonic artifacts that I’ve encountered with other manufacturer’s wireless equipment,” continued Bigelow. “Lectrosonics is the only wireless system I’ve encountered that delivers the sonic quality necessary for critical music recording.”
Bigelow is also highly complementary about the RF dexterity of the Lectrosonics equipment he uses.
“For various reasons, we’re constantly changing frequencies on the set,” he added. “These receivers have the best spectrum analyzers I’ve encountered. You can actually see a graph that makes everything very clear as to what’s going on in the immediate area. That’s not necessarily the case with the competition.”
Bigelow is also as impressed by their ability to withstand the sometimes brutal treatment dished out to equipment on set.
“There’s simply no destroying them,” he explained. “The membrane switches in all my Lectrosonics transmitters are remarkably durable. They just keep working – even in cold weather, where the membranes in similar products tend to crack.”
The Lectrosonic equipment has, in Bigelow’s experience, been more than up to all the conditions that he has thrown at it.
“Living in Louisiana, I do a lot of work in the swamp and high heat where the humidity just seems to destroy other equipment,” he said. “I would never rely on any other wireless brand than Lectrosonics.”
Previously he has worked with recording artists such as Ted Nugent, Dr John and Elvis Costello. In addition, his film work reads just as impressively, including a stint as sound recordist for the 2009 film, Final Destination.
Although encompassing documentaries and major motion pictures, Bigelow considers his work with the BBCs Pulitzer Prize nominated documentary In the Land of the Free (2010) and his current work with Tremé (which is created by David Simon and Eric Overmyer) as his proudest moments.
Certainly, his work with the New Orleans drama has offered up some notable production issues which his Lectrosonic equipment helped overcome.
“We had a scene that included acoustic guitar and, with the camera angles that were in place, it was virtually impossible get any hard line mic involved,” explained Bigelow. “To address this, we placed a UM400a transmitter inside the guitar’s sound hole, along with a mic that we positioned up close toward the neck. It was all held in place with tape and everything worked beautifully!”
Bigelow is already eyeing up his next Lectrosonics technology acquisition.
“My next planned acquisition is the Lectrosonics Quadra IEM system,” he explained, “which I’ll use for the music supervisors and to run four subgroup feeds to other mixers on the set. I’m also looking forward to getting my hands on the new Lectromote remote control app that will let me access my SMQv transmitters via my phone.”