AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - Sound Devices 744T digital recorder recently headed into the depths of the African jungle as part of the History Channel’s new eight-part series, “ Expedition Africa: Stanley and Livingstone.” Produced by Mark Burnett Productions, the series chronicles the journey of four explorers as they walk through the deep interior of Tanzania from the town of Zanzibar to Ujiji. Sound Devices (IBC Stand 8.E72) 744T proved to be the digital recorder of choice for Sound Supervisor Jacob Smith because of its reliability and small form factor.
Using only a compass and basic maps, navigator Pasquale Scaturro, wildlife expert Dr. Mireya Mayor, survivalist Benedict Allen and journalist Kevin Sites, all set out on foot across 970 miles of vast unforgiving landscape including dense swamps, dark jungles, rugged mountains and barren deserts to recapture the spirit of one of the world’s most remarkable adventures – journalist Henry Morton Stanley’s perilous 1871 journey to find Dr. Stanley Livingstone.
The four explorers were joined by the sound crew consisting of Smith, Rian Engelen, Mark Krupka, David Tofler and Michael St. Hilaire. A total of five video crews were also in tow, generally shooting and capturing dialog with two to three Sony XDCAM PDW-700 cameras at a time.
“I had to consider several factors when choosing my gear,” explains Smith. “Due to my previous experience with the product, I knew Sound Devices was up to the task of surviving the rigid outdoors for that long. Even through all the harsh conditions, there was never a problem with my Sound Devices recorder, even after I accidentally dropped it, in the rain, on some steep terrain.”
To capture the historic re-created journey, Smith knew that a six week expedition through marshes, swamps and mountains would require the very best in audio recorders, as there was no chance of receiving replacement parts once the journey began. Accompanying the Sound Devices 744T digital recorder were several Sennheiser MKH 8040 microphones. The 744T was used to record all ambient and environmental sounds as well as used to capture all the ethnic musical performances the crew encountered throughout the journey.
“I am really not sure a standard recorder would have even worked for this application,” continues Smith. “We were literally outside for days straight with nothing but rain. The production doesn’t stop - the show is centered on the harsh conditions. Just as we trekked on through the unbearable conditions, so did my Sound Devices recorder.”
“Expedition Africa: Stanley and Livingstone” can be seen on the History Channel Web site, http://www.history.com/expedition.
Sound Devices, LLC designs and manufactures portable audio mixers, digital recorders and related audio equipment for feature film, episodic television, documentary, news-gathering, and acoustical test and measurement applications. The eleven-year old company designs and manufactures from their Reedsburg, Wisconsin headquarters with additional offices in Madison, WI and Highland Park, IL. For more information, visit the Sound Devices website, www.sounddevices.com.
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