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Danish company Bubblebee Industries helped sound recordists responsible for delivering this year’s ABB FIA Formula E coverage to the BBC circumnavigate the impact of Covid 19.
According to the Danish company, its microphone windshields and in-ear monitors permit the sound crew deliver “safe, intelligible audio” for the completion of its sixth season.
Normally the fully electric, single seater cars race around major city centers in front of thousands of spectators. But due to the pandemic that wasn’t possible. They thus decided to complete the season by holding six races over nine days. The races took place behind closed doors at Berlin’s iconic Templehoff airport.
For the Berlin races, the sound specialists changed the way they captured audio to comply to Germany’s social distancing rules. They couldn’t use handheld microphones shared between interviewers and drivers so they switched to boom microphones. They also used Bubblebee Industries’ Spacer Bubble to get the right balance between wind protection and audio transparency.
“Switching to boom mics was a major safety protocol and we used them for more than 80% of our ENG and live presentation audio,” Scott Morton ENG crew manager explains.
“In this new landscape, presenters are unable to get close enough to the drivers to share a handheld mic. And our sound engineers can’t touch the talent, so we can’t easily fit lavaliers. We decided to give presenters their own stick mic and use a boom mic to capture the interviewee’s responses.”
Morton adds that the Spacer Bubble system proved useful because they were able to adapt it to suit the weather and ambient noise levels.
“The modular nature of the Spacer Bubble system was perfect for us because we could get variations in the shielding,” Morton said. “We like the flexibility this system gives us because it means we are able to adapt to changing weather conditions more quickly. We used them with various Røde and Sennheiser shotgun microphones and got excellent results.”
Another innovation adopted by the Formula E sound team was Bubblebee’s Sidekick In-Ear Monitor. This virtually invisible earpiece allowed the sound crew, presenters and talent out on the track to communicate with the sound mixers back in the studio.
“The earpieces were great at blocking out noise. I was able to communicate very easily with everyone out on the track,” said Paul Halstead, Formula E sound supervisor.
“Formula E is not as noisy as Formula One, which I have also worked on. But you still require a discrete solution where the presenters can hear the gallery. You can get away with earpieces instead of headphones for comms. That makes a big difference to how the presenters look on the show.”