Wireless Mics Prove Seaworthy on Deadliest Catch

  • It’s no secret that water and electronics don't play well, and yet location sound professionals frequently find themselves having to contend with wet surroundings. Compound those water-logged environments with saltwater, heavy surf, wind, and ice and the prospect of acquiring production level sound becomes all that much more daunting.
  • For Doug Stanley, 7-year producer and director of photography for Discovery Channel’s "Deadliest Catch," this sort of production issue is tackled with Lectrosonics wireless microphone equipment.
  • Stanley has been involved in TV production for the past 20 years. With a background that includes work in live, dramatic, and reality TV formats for shows such as Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch and Lobster Wars, NBC’s America’s Toughest Job, and Animal Planet’s Last American Cowboy, he’s seen, firsthand, the havoc that Mother Nature can unleash on electronic equipment. Stanley relies on the performance of his Lectrosonics MM400 water resistant miniature beltpack transmitters, UM250C transmitters, and UCR411a compact receivers.
  • “Deadliest Catch portrays the real life events aboard fishing vessels in the Bering Sea during the Alaskan king crab and C. opilio (snow crab) crab fishing seasons,” Stanley said. “Following the day-to-day activities of the fishermen out on the open seas is never routine production. This is one of the most ferocious environments on Earth for anyone working in audio. Not only do we have to contend with spraying saltwater, we also encounter ice and wind. A typical production season runs for approximately 90 days and, during that time, you simply never know what the gear might end up being subjected to.”
  • “The MM400’s have held up remarkably well in this environment,” he said. “We’ve tested the MM400 in places where we thought it would never hold up, only to be surprised by its robust performance attributes. We’ve never experienced any corrosion issues with these transmitters. Usually, the transmitters are worn ‘around the neck’ on a lanyard, so they’re exposed to everything the fisherman encounters. These transmitters—mated with Countryman B6 lavaliere mics housed in a custom-built gooseneck with a protective windscreen that protrudes from inside the fishermen’s coats��enable us to capture the realities of what it’s like working on the open seas.”
  • Stanley also stressed the importance of range and signal strength. “It’s important to remember that production takes place on a steel ship,” he said. “Though we’re never more than 150 feet away from the transmitter, that transmitter must function reliably in an unusually harsh environment. The signal must pass through steel bulkheads and, yet, neither the environment nor the steel ship ever seems to create range or other transmission issues for the Lectrosonics equipment. The gear just keeps on working.”
  • Stanley reported that he’s never had reason to call Lectrosonics for service. “The MM400’s are as close to indestructible as you’re likely to find. After a day in the saltwater, we simply rinse them off with fresh water and get ready for the next day. I’ve only had occasion to speak with company representatives at trade shows.”
  • “This gear has proven itself under what is, unquestionably, some of the toughest conditions on Earth. We’ll be using MM400’s this summer as a man swims from Japan to San Francisco on The Longest Swim. This is likely to be the ultimate test of an MM400.”
  • To learn more about Doug Stanley and his endeavors, visit ridgelineent.com or thelongestswim.com.