Ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t no valley low enough – a phrase that’s taken literally when shooting American reality television series Expedition Unknown…
Expedition Unknown follows explorer and television presenter Josh Gates as he investigates mysteries and legends in faraway lands. One moment he could be trekking through the remote jungles of Cambodia to find a 1,000-year-old relic used by the God King to incinerate his enemies, the next, unearthing mummies buried in 4,000-year-old tombs in Egypt, plunging into the depths of the ocean to investigate the Bermuda Triangle, or scaling an ancient mountain top shrine in Japan.
It’s all part of a day’s work for the Expedition Unknown team, which includes cinematographer Evan B. Stone. “I’m a DP who really cares about audio,” he shares.
“My life is a series of sound bites and each one needs to have quality sound. I ‘listen’ to a story as I shoot. It is possibly the most important element for telling stories. A lot of camera operators don’t care about the sound – it’s the sound person’s problem – but not me. I always have my buds in my ears, listening. It gives me a lot of confidence.”
To that end, Stone and his sound mixer Mike Curtis rely on Lectrosonics gear for capturing production audio.
Their kit includes the WM watertight digital hybrid transmitters for the talent, four MTCR recorders, LR digital hybrid receivers, SMQV digital hybrid transmitters, an LT transmitter for the camera hop and a legacy UM400A transmitter and R1A receivers for IFB.
The show’s Siberian episode took Stone, Gates, Curtis and the crew to investigate the mysterious Dyatlov Pass incident, which Stone describes as “Russia’s equivalent of the JFK assassination,” in which nine polytechnic institute students on a winter hiking expedition died under bizarre circumstances in 1959. He describes the shooting situation as “really severe weather, and I had [the receiver] just freestyle on the camera.”
However he’s happy to report that even in the freezing temperatures of the Ural Mountains, the Lectrosonics systems kept working reliably, capturing high-quality sound.
True to the show’s name, shooting Expedition Unknown involves shooting in wild, inhospitable, and sometime hazardous locations, like searching for El Dorado – the legendary Lost City of Gold – in a Colombian jungle, or scuba diving to look for the alleged treasure of New York bootlegger and gangster Dutch Schultz.
Stone and Curtis both praise Lectrosonics’ durability, toughness and consistency of quality throughout these challenging filming conditions. “The gear is top shelf,” Stone enthuses. “The best professionals use it, and there’s a reason why.”