In 2013 Eminent Technology was contacted by the BBC about providing a sound source for an documentary film they were producing. They were interested to find out whether elephants would react to very low frequency (infrasonic) sounds from a distant thunderstorm.

Sam Hodgson, the director, suggested using a VW Bus as the speaker box. The VW Bus is known as a Kombi in South Africa – and has the correct internal volume needed to produce very low frequency sounds. The BBC contacted a supplier of classic Kombi's and decided to use "Jackson" a 1970 Westfallia camper.

In January 2014 Bruce Thigpen and Eric Flament traveled to Nelspruit, South Africa.

Elephant Whispers (website), a conservatory in Hazyview, South Africa near the Kruger Nation Forest, allowed us to film and experiment with their elephants for one week.

The BBC film crew.

The BBC even helped us install our equipment into Jackson, the camper van. The baffle had to be constructed to fit and latch to the camper van without any air leaks.

The TRW-17 installed and spinning.

The pressure from the low frequency sound inside the Kombi caused the roof to flex so we strapped the roof and taped the windows.

Jackson made an excellent portable infrasound source and we were ready to see how the elephants would react.

With the rotary woofer playing a thunderstorm recording, the elephants all stopped eating and turned toward the camper van.

To help visualize the sound wave, a sheet was placed in front of the rotary woofer.

control room
rotary woofer

Another photo of Jackson.

Looking at the elephants from Jackson's position.

launch control electronics

Bruce and Eric with the presenter, Patrick Aryee

finished manifold getting wired

The South African landscape.

After filming, the team rode the elephants up and down the mountains.

launch video
first launch demos with sound

The elephant handlers on the 12,000 pound elephant "Timbo".

cv writers

André Kotze was our host at Elephant Whispers. We highly recommend Booking an Elephant Ride Tour and staying at The Hippo Hollow Hotel which is on the same premises.

Paul Cochrane was the owner of the company that rented Jackson to us. His company is Classic Kombis which rents the kombis for special events.

The Team: Eric Flament (Eminent), Bruce Thigpen (Eminent), Sam Hodges (director), Pete Hayns (cameraman), Patrick Aryee (presenter), Nick Allinson (sound), Kat O'Dwyer (researcher), Alex Williamson (series producer, not shown)

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