“When using lavaliers in very windy situations, it’s a kind of dark art to get everything to work perfectly. That’s when I go to my trusted Bubblebee lavalier accessories.”
Sound recordist Henau Marais has over 18 years of professional audio experience working on commercials, reality TV shows, feature films, documentaries, news and much more. He’s helped capture some incredible sound on broadcasts/productions for the likes of Disney, the BBC, Discovery, RedBull, Microsoft, Warner and HBO.
We took some time out from Bubblebee HQ to have a chat with Henau in Cape Town, South Africa.
Find out more about his work here
What’s your background and how did you end up becoming a sound recordist?
How do you travel with your sound gear, and do you have any tips on how to travel safe/light?
Going through airports is always a major headache, particularly when you have hand luggage. I always take my fragile and expensive items on-board, including my Think Tank backpack and mixer bag. The rest of my gear goes in Peli cases in the hold.
Sounds like lots of fun at the airport! Talking of kit, what three tools do you use now that you can’t live without (or wish you had five years ago)?
I don’t leave home without my Bubblebee Invisible Lav Covers FUR OUTDOOR and a Piece-A-Fur. As the industry grows and demand gets higher, companies like Bubblebee are there to make our lives easier on location with accessories that weren’t available in the past.
Are you more of a boom or a lav mic kind of guy?
Sound recordists love the sound of top-quality boom mics, but it’s important to remember that that’s not an opinion shared by a lot of producers and directors. Plus, a lot of projects are shot in ways that make using lavs a must. Not all shots can be boomed.
Having said that, lavs bring other challenges like clothing rustle, wind exposure and RF issues. These are substantial enough to make me use a boom where possible.
So, a lot of it is really about craft and adapting to challenges in the moment. With that in mind, what was the most challenging production/project you worked on, and how did you go about overcoming its challenges?
I wouldn’t say it was a pleasure, but it was very rewarding. On shoots like that, you really get to know yourself and your capacity to adapt and improvise. It wasn’t easy to work on a boat that was constantly rolling and getting pounded by the waves: you always had to hold onto something, and sleeping/bathroom arrangements were pretty basic.
The food was interesting, to say the least! One of the cast members had to cook, and what was on the plate would often end up on the deck because of the rough seas. On top of this, lots of people were getting seasick. That’s never a good thing to look at when you are eating dinner…
For me, the best approach through all of this was to get into a routine as quickly as possible. At the end of each day after filming, I’d start prep work for the following morning, cleaning kit, charging batteries, and preparing lav mics so they were ready to go straight onto cast members at 5am.
I really had to get into a rhythm and stay focused. I was running eight wireless microphones simultaneously, and had to constantly follow conversations that could lead to any drama or action. If something did happen (or sounded like it could happen), I had to let the camera team know so they could go in and get coverage. That kept me on my toes!
So ultimately, I guess I overcame challenges on that Diamond Divers shoot by staying focused on the job, and not letting things like the dangerous and difficult working conditions get to me.
For jobs like that, what’s your basic equipment checklist? Does it differ with each production?
Cape Town can get pretty windy. How do you go about dealing with that?
I also like to be proactive in windy situations and make sure everyone’s reassured about the quality of the audio: I might try things like asking for closer shots, or turning the talent’s body so it naturally shields the wind.
When using lavaliers in very windy situations, it’s a kind of dark art to get everything to work perfectly. That’s when I go to my trusted Bubblebee lavalier accessories.
What’s the best moment of your career?
Sometimes you get a call from a Producer, Director or Editor, and they compliment you on your work. That’s always a highlight, and it makes everything worthwhile.
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Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Henau!