Production Sound Mixer Nelson Stoll Chooses Shure UHF-R Wireless

Mar 12, 2013 1:31 PM

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photo of Nelson Stoll's audio cart

Nelson Stoll’s audio cart, which includes Shure’s UHF-R wireless

Chasing Mavericks, a surfing movie filmed largely on the beach and in the water, posed a number of logistical problems. “That job really helped me appreciate the flexibility and quality of the Shure radio link,” Stoll recalls. “First, we needed excellent range. We had several scenes where we were on a bluff above the beach, with the acting taking place below, a hundred yards or more away. Then we had sequences on the water, with the actors in wetsuits, which we modified with an acoustically transparent panel just below the chin for the microphone. We also made waterproof pouches for the transmitters, and made antenna extensions so we could put them in the lower back of the actors’ wetsuits, but with the antenna at the neck. It’s pretty tricky business, because obviously you don’t want anything to show on camera.”

One feature of the Shure system that Stoll appreciates is the UA845-SWB wide-band antenna combiner, which enables him to run all four of his dual-channel U4D receivers through a single pair of antennas. “I use a pair of Shure UA870 active antennas in most situations. They have switchable RF gain, which is very important,” he explains. “When there’s a lot of RF activity in the area, you never want more gain than you need for the distances you’re working with. I’ve done tests with helical antennas, which are theoretically better with frequencies matched, but I’ve found that, in general, for the most flexible deployment in the work I do, the Shure combiner and antenna system is better in more situations.

Stoll’s audio cart is outfitted with everything he needs to capture the action without fail. Currently, his equipment list includes eight channels of UHF-R wireless, the UA845 antenna splitter, plus a small Neve mixing console recording to a Mac Mini computer. He uses Shure’s standard UR1 and UR1M micro-bodypack transmitters, as the situation requires. “My job is to be self-contained and fail-safe, so I design my set-up accordingly,” he says. “I split my wireless systems between two frequency bands, the G3 and H4, so I’ll have enough channels, regardless of location. Even shooting outdoors around L.A., I can always find enough channels. I also carry some Shure UR5 portable receivers, plus small omni antennas and low-loss cables—whatever tools will give me the reliability and sound quality the job requires.”

Having gone to a computer-based recording setup has proven to be another boon to Stoll. “We now can run software tools like Shure Wireless Workbench, allowing even more powerful capabilities,” he says. “Even though my Shure systems basically configure themselves, it’s nice to view a detailed RF graph of the entire bandwidth, just to see what’s going on. Wireless Workbench also allows me to save templates for every shooting location, which is really going to help me in the planning phases for future shoots.

“When you’re working in the open air, especially in a major city like Los Angeles, it’s not uncommon to suddenly have one of your open channels get hit with interference,” Stoll notes. “Since going to the Shure radios, I’ve always been able to find enough channels, and it’s very easy to quickly reconfigure a channel if there’s a conflict. It’s just a very well-engineered system, perfect for what I do. I’m very impressed with them.”

Find more information about Shure UHF-R wireless systems.






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