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Memrise Speaks Fluent Sennheiser

Memrise Speaks Fluent Sennheiser
Memrise Speaks Fluent Sennheiser

Europe – Memrise is an innovative app designed to give everyone language learning superpowers, using a range of techniques. A key one of these is video, so when the development team hit the road this year to film native people speaking their own languages, Sennheiser’s AVX system was a vital tool to ensure every word came across clearly.

The nine-strong team travelled 12,000 miles on the ‘Membus’, a converted double-decker bus, starting in the UK and visiting France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

“The purpose of the trip was to make the videos for Memrise as exciting and as fun as possible. We felt the best way to achieve this was filming native speakers, approached spontaneously in their native cities,” says the trip’s videographer Diana Olifirova.

“Choosing equipment was a long process because there are so many products on the market, I did a lot of research, asked many sound recordists, designers and did many different tests. Normally to get the clearest sound you have to have a separate boom operator, but we didn’t want to do this because the point was to talk to ordinary people and we felt it might scare them off.”

AVX is a wireless system which helps videographers to capture flawless sound. A camera-mounted receiver communicates with a range of different Sennheiser microphones, allowing optimum microphone placement and audio capture. Working faster than the human ear, AVX selects the best operating frequency and switches to a clean channel before any interference becomes audible, guaranteeing perfect audio transmission between the microphone and camera. This was ideal for the tour as it travelled across Europe, with the team needing no previous experience in scanning for the right bandwidth, or setting new frequencies all of which would have been very difficult with a UHF system.

“Because we wanted a high quality but compact, unobtrusive solution, we settled on using Canon DSLRs with AVX,” says Diana. “As well as ensuring we had crystal clear audio, the advantages of AVX were that it has no cables, the set up takes 30 seconds, the batteries are easy to charge - the whole system is very user-friendly. It also had great reviews and, when I was invited to test it out at Sennheiser UK, I was more than satisfied.”

“Sennheiser was extremely supportive from the beginning,” says Diana. Filming on the street is always full of unexpected noises and we didn’t have much time with each person, but our post-production guys from Chimeaudio had done some tests and quickly worked out the best way to achieve the best possible sound.”

In each country, the Membus picked up a number of volunteers and each had to be familiarised with the equipment before the start of filming in each city. AVX is so user-friendly that the process only took a few minutes.

“We had two sets of batteries for each transmitter, one for each mic and they easily lasted all day. We didn’t need any support from Sennheiser for the entire trip because AVX worked flawlessly. We didn't have a single failure,” says Diana.

Once the Membus returned, the huge task of editing the tens of thousands of video clips could begin. Post-production engineer John Cohen was impressed with the results. “Of all the equipment, AVX probably had the most benefits for the people on location with its ease of use, no cables, no hassle, being robust and reliable,” he says. “The Sennheiser brand always puts me at ease, the company has some of the best microphones and professional sound equipment out there.”

“The quality of recordings is very good and we have been really happy with the results,” adds Diana. “We still use the system on a variety of productions and are very satisfied with it. AVX is a very clever design and a great piece of equipment.”

1st December 2016

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