Caracol Televisión, the Colombian private national television network, owned by the Santo Domingo Group, produces a wide variety of programming in the region, from entertainment reality shows such as La Voz, Yo Me Llamo, Colombia’s Next Top Model, and Desafío; to morning news shows like Día a Día, talk shows such as Suso’s, to tv series and soap operas including La Nocturna and Tu Voz Estéreo.
Camilo Peñuela, head of sound at Caracol, is in charge of proposing and supervising all the various processes when it comes to audio, from location sound recording right through to transmission. And to meet the production demands for each of the unique program types, Peñuela is ready with a full arsenal of Lectrosonics Digital Hybrid Wireless equipment, including SMQV, UM400, SSM, WM, HH, HM, LMB, LT, and IFBT4 transmitters and IFBR1A, UCR100, SRc5P, Venue and Venue 2 receivers.
Each format of programming naturally brings its own set of requirements and special challenges, according to Peñuela.
“The entertainment programs are the toughest in terms of setup, the number of channels, RF issues and wireless microphone range. TV series and soap operas don’t require big audio teams, but deserve attention and good quality audio from field capture until post-production. News programs have their own demands by being live with a constant stream of remote broadcasts,” he says.
“Adding to all these challenges are the unexpected factors that might possibly come up during shooting, which could greatly impact the production. Among the most important considerations are the RF Spectrum, the number of channels required for a production and if any backup equipment might be required.”
Attention to detail and careful organization are Peñuela’s first steps to ensuring that the demands are met for each individual show. His practice is to put together a careful audio design plan for each, select the specific equipment to fit into the plan, and test the gear thoroughly again and again for each situation.
“It is important to choose gear carefully for to the needs of the production and make a design plan on how it will work in the various situations, and then test the whole thing very carefully,” he says. “I always work with equipment that I trust. This is certainly the case with Lectrosonics wireless, which I know is durable and robust and will give us great sound quality. Not to mention that the human support at the company is also unsurpassed.”
One of the biggest production challenges for Peñuela is the rugged environment on Desafío, the “Survivor-like” reality television competition. For the show, contestants stay on a beach on an isolated island and compete for cash and other prizes in a system of progressive elimination. Along the way, they have to survive by building shelter and hunting and fishing for food, water and other necessities in challenging terrain as well as rough and wet environments.
“Desafío really has unique challenges in that we have to cover a full 800 meter playground from end to end,” adds Peñuela. “For this show, we have been able to solve the RF loss issues and cover the range of the island by making a mixed arrangement with passive SNA600a and ALP650 antennas. The HMs help us capture background audio with the shotguns we have deployed in the games.
“We use 24 channels of wireless in a mixed combination of SMQV, UM400 and WM because there are also some water trials. And with the IFB-T4s we are now able to send IFB feeds to contestants at ranges that we couldn´t cover before. Thankfully, with Lectrosonics I can cover great distances, and I really appreciate the robustness and reliability of the equipment.”