- Focusing on the lives of musicians, chefs, Mardi Gras Indians, and others in New Orleans as they attempt to rebuild their lives, their homes, and their unique culture in the aftermath of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, HBO’s made for TV series Tremé is, without question, a success. To ensure the show’s continued good fortune, Lectrosonics wireless microphone technology has become a regular part of Tremé’s audio production.
New Orleans-based Robert C. Bigelow is the Live Music Recordist for HBO’s Tremé. With a career in music and film that spans the better part of 30 years, Bigelow’s credits include recording artists such as Ted Nugent, Dr. John, and Elvis Costello while his film work encompasses everything from documentaries to major motion pictures. He is particularly proud of his work with the BBC’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated documentary In the Land of the Free and HBO’s Tremé.
To ensure the best sound quality, Bigelow relies on his Lectrosonics gear. For Tremé, he regularly uses two SMQv Super Miniature beltpack transmitters and two UM400a beltpack transmitters with his two SRa5P dual-channel slot mount ENG receivers and two UCR411a compact receivers. All of his equipment utilizes Lectrosonics’ Digital Hybrid Wireless® technology.
“I’ve been working with Lectrosonics equipment for over 10 years,” Bigelow states. “The sound quality is truly, hands down, second to none. Lectrosonics’ Digital Hybrid Wireless® technology delivers a pure, unadulterated low noise signal with full frequency range and no pumping or other sonic artifacts that I’ve encountered with other manufacturer’s wireless equipment. Lectrosonics is the only wireless system I’ve encountered that delivers the sonic quality necessary for critical music recording.”
Bigelow is equally complimentary of Lectrosonics’ construction and the ease of finding open radio frequencies. “Build quality is second to none,” he said. “The way the UM400a transmitters are built, I’d bet you could run them over with a tank and they’d keep working. There’s simply no destroying them. The membrane switches in all my Lectrosonics transmitters are remarkably durable. They just keep working – even in cold weather, where the membranes in similar products tend to crack. I also love the RF agility of this equipment. For various reasons, we’re constantly changing frequencies on the set. These receivers have the best spectrum analyzers I’ve encountered. You can actually see a graph that makes everything very clear as to what’s going on in the immediate area. That’s not necessarily the case with the competition.”
Bigelow described a scene from Tremé where his Lectrosonics gear helped him address a vexing production issue. “We had a scene that included acoustic guitar and, with the camera angles that were in place, it was virtually impossible get any hard line mic involved. To address this, we placed a UM400a transmitter inside the guitar’s sound hole, along with a mic that we positioned up close toward the neck. It was all held in place with tape and everything worked beautifully!”
While Bigelow is very comfortable with his Lectrosonics equipment, there are occasions when he needs a question answered or seeks advice. He finds Lectrosonics’ customer support services exceptional. “I love the fact that, when I call in for assistance, I don’t get bounced around before getting someone qualified to answer my questions. Everyone really understands the gear and the application. I’ve even had the local company representative come out and visit me to ensure I understood various aspects of the equipment.”
As he prepared for another day’s shoot, Bigelow offered these parting thoughts, “I’m not one to sugar-coat anything and, if I had an issue, I’d tell you. I honestly can’t find any flaws with this equipment. Lectrosonics gear is extremely durable and the audio quality is first rate. This is precisely why my next planned acquisition is the Lectrosonics Quadra IEM system, which I’ll use for the music supervisors and to run four subgroup feeds to other mixers on the set. I’m also looking forward to getting my hands on the new Lectromote remote control app that will let me access my SMQv transmitters via my phone. Living in Louisiana, I do a lot of work in the swamp and high heat where the humidity just seems to destroy other equipment. I would never rely on any other wireless brand than Lectrosonics.”