In an effort to communicate to the world the view of the Darfurian refugees living in twelve refugee camps in Chad, photographer and filmmaker Christopher Farber, used the Sennheiser evolution 100 Series wireless microphone system with the MKE 1 lavalier for the "24 Hours for Darfur" video interviews to be viewed by high-level international foreign policy makers. (PHOTO CREDIT: (c) 2009 Christopher Farber)
EASTERN CHAD - NOVEMBER 2009: The non-governmental organization "24 Hours for Darfur" works to communicate the views of Darfurian refugees on the pressing subjects of peace, justice, and reconciliation to decision makers and the public at large. Photographer and filmmaker Christopher Farber recently traveled to nearby Chad, where some 250,000 Darfurians live in twelve refugee camps scattered amongst the shifting sands of the Sahara Desert, to record the views of refugees for compilation in a short film.
Brutal desert conditions attended the 65 days of his mission, but despite this, all of his equipment, including a crucial Sennheiser wireless microphone and receiver, performed flawlessly hour-after-hour and day-after-day.
"Previous peace negotiations have been seriously flawed by a lack of civilian input," explained Farber. "The people who represent the civilians tend to be rebel leaders, who arrive at the table with their own agendas. 24 Hours for Darfur attempts to right this situation by conducting large-scale public opinion surveys of the civilian refugees living in Chad on issues of peace, justice and reconciliation. I worked on a companion project - a short film based on the in-depth interviews of over one hundred refugees that will be presented at the next round of peace negotiations."
Farber's day-to-day work involved traveling to each of the twelve refugee camps in eastern Chad with only the help of a translator from the Darfurian diaspora. "It was all guerilla-style," he said. "I had a camera and a wireless mic. I did all the video and audio work while simultaneously conducting the interview." Farber used a Sennheiser [evolution G2 100 series and MKE lavalier] wireless microphone and receiver together with a Panasonic HPX200 video camera for most of the interviews. When interviewees preferred not to be filmed, he recorded audio on a Marantz PMD 660 field recorder.
Farber's background is in photography and videography, not audio. "Audio is new to me," he said. "The wonderful thing about the Sennheiser rig was that I was able to get great results with only a minor amount of fiddling.
Although the Marantz recorder has a built in mic, I decided to continue using the Sennheiser wireless because it was so easy and I was getting such great results."
The merciless conditions of the Sahara were a real test of his equipment's reliability. Temperatures hovered around 120 degrees with an abundance of dust and sand driven by dry winds. It's one thing to have wireless equipment work on stage or on a conventional film shoot, where the price of failure is merely inconvenience or embarrassment. Here, that cost could have been much higher; it is hoped that the contents of Farber's film will help inspire the resolution of a workable peace in a war-torn region.
"The equipment simply had to work," said Farber. "I was in a place where it would be impossible to repair or replace anything. Sending something out of the region for repairs was out of the question. The travel time would be not days, not weeks, but months and at a cost of thousands of dollars. Erring on the safe side, I brought a second Sennheiser wireless rig, but I never needed to open it."
Farber was also pleased with the efficient battery consumption of his wireless rig. "You calculate how many batteries you're going to need, but if you make a mistake or if the equipment is actually hungrier than it claims to be, you're in trouble," he explained. "Batteries are almost impossible to come by in the refugee camps, and those that are around would probably qualify as 'dead' right out of box if they were purchased in the states. The Sennheiser wireless rig ended up using fewer batteries than I thought it would."
The video will be screened for policy makers at the International Criminal Court, the United Nations, the State Department, Congressional Foreign Relations committees, and various advocacy groups working on a peace agreement between the government of Sudan and the people of Darfur.
Sennheiser is a world-leading manufacturer of microphones, headphones and wireless transmission systems. Established in 1945 in Wedemark, Germany, Sennheiser is now a global brand represented in 60 countries around the world with U.S. headquarters in Old Lyme, Connecticut. Sennheiser's pioneering excellence in technology has rewarded the company with numerous awards and accolades including an Emmy, a Grammy, and the Scientific and Engineering Award of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.