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Hawaii Five-O production relies on Lectrosonics RF

In its first season, CBS’s hit show Hawaii Five-O became one of the most watched police dramas on television. Filmed on location on Oahu, the show takes full advantage of the island’s stunning terrain, from the white sand beaches to rugged jungle and urban settings, the show’s action takes place seemingly everywhere. Capturing the show’s dialogue under these conditions is the job of production sound mixer Roger Janiger, an LA-based veteran of both the film and TV industries. Janiger chose Lectrosonics wireless microphone technology to meet the challenge.

Janiger discussed the challenges he routinely encountered while on location for Hawaii Five-O, a modern take on the classic 70s crime drama.

“We’d shoot all over the island of Oahu, sometimes multiple locations in the same day,” he said. “Due to the frequently noisy surroundings, the nature of the action, and multiple camera shoots, we were on radio mics for almost every shot.

“We typically used three to seven radio mics a day — often in very challenging RF environments. Between the international air traffic at the nearby airport, radio, TV and a host of additional signals, there’s a lot of RF congestion nearby. The ability to quickly and easily scan the area to find open frequencies is one of the strongest attributes of this equipment. This feature enables me to have the gear operational in no time.”

Range is another important aspect of Lectrosonics wireless equipment that Janiger finds indispensable.

“Occasionally, we’d find ourselves working over what I consider to be incredibly extreme range,” Janiger said. “We were working from up on a hillside, shooting down on a scene from a distance of roughly 200 yards. This is where my log periodic antennas really saved me. With multiple camera angles, there was simply no way to get any closer to the talent.”

Janiger’s equipment arsenal includes four Lectrosonics SMa, two SMQ, and two SMV Super Miniature transmitters, plus five UM200 frequency agile transmitters. His receivers include five UCR211 and four UCR411a compact receivers in conjunction with UMCWBL 4-Channel wideband UHF diversity and UMC 200D multicouplers. For IFB (interruptible foldback for in-field broadcast among the production staff), Janiger has three IFBT1’s and an IFBT4 compact transmitter as well as eighteen R1A beltpack IFB receivers. Rounding out his Lectrosonics setup is a combination of two Lectrosonics high gain log periodic antennas and two SNA 600 dipole antennas.

“The reliability and build quality of the Lectrosonics gear is most impressive,” Janiger said, “and the sound quality is the icing on the cake. I was really happy with the way my SMa and SMQ transmitters sounded with both the UCR211 and UCR411a receivers.

“Not only is the sound quality first rate, the build quality is rock solid. These transmitters had accidentally fallen and gotten banged against the pavement, yet they continued to work fine.”

As he prepared for another day on location, Janiger summed up his experience with Lectrosonics.

“Over the years, I’ve used a lot of Lectrosonics equipment,” he said. “My dealer, Location Sound Corp. of North Hollywood, has been a terrific business partner and on the few occasions that I’ve had direct contact with Lectrosonics, the company has consistently been very responsive.

“I’ve been very pleased with my Lectrosonics gear and have no plans to make any changes to my equipment inventory,” Janiger continued. “Yes, I’d certainly like to acquire a few more IFB receivers, but the reason I’m not contemplating any changes is due to the fact that I’m very happy with the way everything’s working. It’s really nice to have equipment you don’t have to worry about. You put it up and it gets the job done.”