Reality TV goes wireless 'From the Ground Up'

At the start of the second season of "From the Ground Up with Debbie Travis," a reality-based TV show that airs on Global Television, one of Canada's national TV networks, audio supervisor Peter Hamilton was faced with the requirement of operating 16 wireless channels within a single narrow frequency range, as well as dealing with a 45ft by 90ft production space. To make it work, Hamilton selected the Digital Hybrid Wireless technology from Lectrosonics.

Produced by Toronto-based RTR Media, "From the Ground Up with Debbie Travis" focuses on home building and design. Throughout the instruction she provides to her on-camera protégés, the show helps viewers better understand and appreciate how various trade skills can help achieve better living. Debbie's House, as it's known among those involved with the show, is shot on location, primarily in Ottawa, Ontario.

The SM Series transmitters being used for the show each contain a group of 16 mutually compatible frequencies. By attempting to use all 16 simultaneously, the production left no room for error.

Lectrosonics Digital Hybrid Wireless technology combines 24-bit digital audio with an analog FM radio link. The Lectrosonics SM Series transmitters are easy to conceal, provide a full 100mW output, offer 256 synthesized UHF frequencies and a membrane switch control panel with LCD display. The UCR411A receivers also provide a compact form factor, auto-tracking front-end filters, SmartSquelch and SmartDiversity.

In the production, each camera mixer used a single UCR411A receiver, allowing each mix operator to dial in any of the 16 RF microphones to complement the boom mic. By the end of the season's shooting, Hamilton reported flawless RF performance throughout, with no crosstalk, dropouts or other failures. He credits a combination of skilled operators and exceptional equipment design for the reliability. Season two of "From the Ground Up with Debbie Travis" will begin airing in late spring.

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