Calum Thomson: about creative outdoor recording

Author: Elena Bostan Date: 21/05/2014
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Calum Thomson

Being fortunate enough to travel the world and do a job you love is very special. I have been privileged with some amazing trips to far-flung and often inhospitable locations around the world.

Capturing sound in these environments presents many challenges whether it be physically and mentally demanding or an extreme weather environment, finding solutions and techniques to overcome these situations can be immensely satisfying. Many types of kit have come and gone through my career but I think the only constant and still the best all round solution for microphone shock mounting and wind protection is Rycote.

Gathering sound for “71 Degrees North” on one of the team challenges, the deep snow mad for a perfect boom holder but I wish I could find a way of operating the 788t with gloves ON. brrr

Capturing the moment the contestants are told they are about to see how far they can swim across a near frozen Norwegian fjord.


High in the Andes training to summit Mt Chimborazo 20,702 ft

Extreme Fishing with Robson Green in the crystal waters of Baja Mexico

Freddie Flintoff delivers lines while wing walking for his show “Freddie vs the World” in California.

Using a Zaxcom recorder with high SPL Cos11 and Rycote lavalier jammer to overcome engine noise and extreme wind at 130mph.

Ben Fogle delivers lines filming his series “Extreme Dreams” deep in the Peruvian Amazon.

2 weeks of heavy rain and humidity still couldn’t kill my 416 inside the Rycote. Every glimpse of sunshine I would get the jammer off and try to dry it out as much as possible in the jungle. 

Scheops CCM41 inside a frozen Mono Extended Ball Gag. Sounding a little muffled until I could take off the jammer and hack the ice away.

20,000ft up and in thin air on Mt Chimborazo Ecuador.

Hot Hot Hot

Filming Power Struggle for Al Jazeera in Wadi Run Jordan. Not only is the Rycote good for wind and rain but it also makes a good barrier against sand and dust.



Prepping mics with Kiff McManus (left) and Pete Lee (middle) on “71 Degrees North” in Norway 2011


Matching coloured wind gags to jackets blended them in and made it possible to mount away from the horrible sounding GoreTex material.

Filming with the Yawalapiti tribe deep in the heart of the Amazon in 2011.


Keeping the kit dry and free on mud was a thankless task especially when leafcutter ants decided my rain bag would be a tasty meal leaving it looking like a teabag.

I found that using two Rycote Softies was a better option than a standard basket and jammer setup as they dried out quicker next to the fire in the evenings.

Filming the final scene of “Worlds Toughest Expeditions” in Zimbabwe.

After two weeks of tracking David Livingstones route we made it to the falls which are known locally as “Mosi-oa-Tunya” or the “smoke that thunders”. This is after the amazing updraft of wind and spray that is carried past this point and high into the sky above. Still no wind noise as James Cracknell peered over the 1,708 m wide 108m high falls.


Copyrights for the text and the images: Calum Thomson, http://ctsoundrecording.com


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