Wireless system ‘on patrol’ in Afghanistan
Camp Eggers, Kabul, Afghanistan… Military operations such as those conducted by our US forces in Afghanistan require extensive planning, highly specialized training, and a host of additional considerations in order to maximize safety and efficiency. Documenting activities is a crucial part of this process, as it enables others to learn from previous situations and be better prepared for the realities of life in a hostile environment. The process of documenting these activities is one job of Jack Pagano, and included in his equipment arsenal is a wireless system from Lectrosonics.
Jack Pagano is a Senior Strategist of Video Documentation and Production for the Combined Security Transition Command in Afghanistan (CSTC-A). The organization’s main goal is to train, equip, mentor, and advise the Afghan police and Afghan army. Hence, Pagano’s job is to capture and document everything the CSTC does in regard to these forces.
“My job,” says Pagano, “is to make certain the soldier’s story is told—whether it’s to worldwide audiences or for internal use here in Afghanistan. There are roughly 50,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines from 27 NATO countries in Afghanistan, with 25,000 members of this force being US military. Documenting what takes place here is a huge part of the training and advising process as well as that of keeping people safe—with the ultimate goal being that of improving the quality of life for the Afghan people.”
Pagano’s job involves videotaping everything from combat missions through training seminars and while his gear may not be the latest and greatest, it speaks volumes about Lectrosonics’ reputation for performance and reliability. Currently, Pagano uses a Lectrosonics CR175 Compact Receiver and an M187 Belt-Pack Transmitter. Both units are VHF-based and were among the company’s 80s-generation product offerings.
“While this equipment certainly isn’t new,” notes Pagano, “it consistently delivers excellent audio quality and has been 100% reliable. When I go into the editing room, it’s all about the quality of production. My Lectrosonics wireless system does a phenomenal job capturing the activities with extremely high audio quality—frequently under some very challenging conditions—and the sound that accompanies the video footage is what enables the viewer to gain a first-hand perspective and appreciation of what we’re doing here.”
Pagano reports that his CR175 receiver is mounted to the rear of his video camera via a special mounting plate. “In addition to placing the M187 transmitter on the subject,” explains Pagano, “I frequently use the camera’s microphone to augment the wireless system. In doing so, I capture the actual audio as my subject performs his or her responsibilities, while the camera mic picks up ambient sounds. This method enables me to get high quality audio of the subject communicating with others while also capturing the surrounding sounds. Combined, the finished product takes the audience right to the heart of the activity.”
“I’ve actually wired up a soldier for documenting conflict,” continued Pagano, “and while I may be behind him or documenting his activities from the relative security of an armored vehicle, I’m capturing actual audio from the front lines. In cases like this, I’m actually in the fight—showcasing the activities of America’s great patriots.”
While Pagano speaks enthusiastically about his current Lectrosonics setup, he is equally cognizant of the advances offered by more modern equipment. “With my VHF gear, I need to closely monitor my distance from the subject,” said Pagano, “or I can find myself losing signal. I’m presently looking at Lectrosonics’ SR Dual-Channel Slot Mount ENG receiver and the MM400C miniature transmitter to upgrade our capabilities in the field. I’ve been making my case to the military leadership that the enhanced capability of the newer equipment will have a huge payoff for us.”
Both the Lectrosonics’ SR Dual-Channel Slot Mount ENG receiver and the MM400C miniature transmitter employ Lectrosonics’ Digital Hybrid Wireless™ technology, which uses a proprietary algorithm to encode 24-bit digital audio information with no compression and low distortion into an analog format that can be transmitted in a robust manner over an analog FM wireless link. The result is much higher dynamic range—free from sonic artifacts— than wireless systems using a compandor are able to offer. Digital Hybrid Wireless technology delivers long operating range, graceful signal decay, and a small spectral footprint, facilitating more channels to be operated simultaneously.
Before heading off to document yet another event, Pagano offered this closing thought. “This is all about telling the great patriot story,” Pagano said. “We have military personnel from all walks of life participating in the global war against terrorism. We must never forget that freedom isn’t free. So if I can tell their story properly, we have succeeded. We need to tell their story. It's an inspiring story and one that must be told so that people understand what it is that we do as we strive to bring a better quality of life to the people of Afghanistan.”
Well respected within the film, broadcast, and theater technical communities since 1971, Lectrosonics wireless microphone systems and audio processing products are used daily in mission-critical applications by audio engineers familiar with the company's dedication to quality, customer service, and innovation. Lectrosonics is a US manufacturer based in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.