Los Angeles, CA – July 2014… On CBS’ TV show Lucky Dog, airing Saturday mornings, animal trainer and behaviorist Brandon McMillan, the host, visits his local shelter to rescue ‘hard-to-love, out-of control, untrained, and unadoptable dogs.’ He then takes the dog back to his ranch for training before finding each one a home. As should be obvious, filming with ‘out-of-control’ pups isn’t always walk in the (dog) park. That’s why wireless microphones are so essential to successfully capturing all that takes place, which is precisely the reason that Digital Hybrid Wireless® technology from Rio Rancho, NM-based Lectrosonics plays such a vital role in capturing the show’s audio.
Danny Hammer is the Location Sound Mixer for Lucky Dog. After earning his BA in Communications with an emphasis in film, television, and media from California State University Los Angeles, he’s been working in field production for the entertainment industry since 2008. With a resume that includes coordinating over 80 episodes of the Emmy® Award winning A&E TV series Intervention, plus numerous documentary and live productions such as The Los Angeles Kings on Kings Vision, Hammer certainly knows what to look for when it comes to wireless microphones. He discussed his use of Lectrosonics wireless technology on Lucky Dog.
“For Lucky Dog,” explained Hammer, “I’m using Lectrosonics SMV Super-Miniature and UM400a beltpack transmitters with a combination of SRb dual-channel slot mount and UCR411a compact receivers, plus an R1a beltpack IFB receiver. Depending upon the nature of the shoot, I’m typically using anywhere from one to five wireless channels.”
“First and foremost,” Hammer continued, “audio quality is everything in my end of the business and, in this regard, Lectrosonics is hard to beat. I also really appreciate the fact that the equipment operates on multiple frequency blocks—enabling me to find the cleanest signals in a variety of locations. The large readout on the UCR411a makes it easy for me to get a quick view of settings, frequency response, and TX battery life, and the unit’s durable construction enables me to use this equipment under harsh conditions that would be really detrimental to a lot of other equipment.”
“The SMV Super-Miniature transmitters are really valuable,” he continued, “because their smaller size allow seamless pack placement for smaller subjects without having to worry about a bulge or protruding mic pack that might otherwise distract the audience from what the subject is actually doing.”
Hammer reflected on the challenges of capturing audio on a show like this. “When working on a show like Lucky Dog, you need to be able to create distance between yourself, the talent, and the animals being trained so as not to distract the process. A dog can be keen to turn its attention toward the presence of bystanders, sudden movements, or even the fuzzy rabbit-looking thing that dangles on the end of a boom pole. All or any of these can effectively disrupt the natural process of training the animal. Knowing that you have a reliable and durable wireless system is key to making everything come together, and that’s what Lectrosonics provides!”
For any location sound engineer, the ability to capture the audio quickly, efficiently, and without disrupting the shoot is essential—so having quality equipment with responsive customer and technical support is crucial. In this regard, Hammer was very complimentary of Lectrosonics. “I’ve never had an issue with Lectrosonics equipment that required me to contact technical support or customer service,” Hammer reports. “And since Lectrosonics is so widely used, I can often call a buddy when in a pinch. I should add, however, that any time I’ve wanted to know the difference between new models, order new or additional equipment, or just had a general question, Lectrosonics’ support staff has always treated me with the highest standard of customer care.”
Before turning his attention back to preparation for another day’s shooting, Hammer offered these parting thoughts, “As a location sound mixer who handles a wide variety of field recording situations, I know I can trust Lectrosonics wireless gear for its high quality, durability, and its ability to handle a diverse range of applications. These factors enable me to focus more on the production as opposed to the logistics of operating the equipment. Lectrosonics gives me the peace of mind that, if I’ve covered all my bases, the shoot will run smoothly. You can’t ask for more than that.”