Okay, you mention a documentary, by which I’m assuming you want to make the Neanderthal equivalent of Human Planet or a David Attenborough wildlife film. If you actually meant something different, ignore this answer.
Your documentary will be a bit dull. Scientists and TV producers want different things from footage. 3 hours of the Neanderthals lying about belching, scratching and picking their noses is useful to scientists, since it tells them something about Neanderthal daily activity cycles, metabolic needs, and so on. But for television, it is deadly dull. TV wants ‘interesting’ behaviours.
Documentaries featuring humans involves getting the folk featured in them to sign Contributor Consent Forms and agree to have the camera crew following them about, living in their pocket. Without consent it is more like the paparazzi harassing celebrities. Yet even then the celebs tend to know the paparazzi are there. Your set up is way more difficult than that – the camera crew has to effectively be invisible.
Wildlife documentaries very often feature habituated animals. The animals (usually because scientists have been studying them for years) are accustomed to the presence of humans and/or vehicles. They go about their daily business, ignoring the cameraman. If the animals are too twitchy for human proximity, you habituate them to a hide. Then the cameraman films from inside the hide. Again, you have crossed these two options off your list.
Camera traps. Most animals are, quite frankly, a bit thick. If they notice a camera trap they’ll maybe sniff it, lick it or paw at it, but it is an unthreatening, inanimate object so they’ll quickly lose interest. To them it is just an odd shaped rock. However, humans (including Neanderthals) are smart. They might classify it as ‘rock’ but they’ll be well aware it is like no rock they’ve ever seen before. They’ll spend a lot of time and effort trying to work out what it is, where it came from, etc. And because it is weird, it may get classed as ‘dangerous’ even if it is just sitting there doing nothing. After all, evil spirits might have left it there…
So your cameras have to be hidden, but not disguised as anything. The only solution I can see is to put them far away from the action. Halfway up a cliff. High up in a tree (scarce on the tundra-steppe). On a hill on the opposite side of the valley. Your cameraman will be doing a lot of long lens work. You won’t be able to get the variety of shot sizes that you are used to seeing in a wildlife documentary (no close ups, for instance).
Microphones. Compared to cameras, microphones have a very limited range. Your cameraman can sit on a distant hillside, filming everything on a long lens, but your sound guy can’t. The sound guy needs to get really close – ideally within 10 or 20 metres. As a result, a hell of a lot of wildlife is filmed mute, and the soundtrack is recreated later in the dubbing suite from recordings of animals taken elsewhere.
This is the best I can come up with for safety and minimising contact:
- Send a ‘scouting’ expedition through to somewhere you know has no Neanderthals. An island they never colonised. On a glacier. Up a mountain. Somewhere way out on the permanent sea ice. The harshest bit of the tundra, further north than Neanderthals could cope with. Set up Base Camp 1 there. (My personal favourite is sea ice, as all you’ll encounter is the occasional polar bear or arctic fox, so no chance of spreading disease or being attacked by sabretooths. Take flashbangs and stink bombs to scare off any polar bears).
- Launch UAVs to find out where the Neanderthals actually are. I know you banned these, but I can’t figure out how you can work out where your explorers need to go/avoid without some sort of high altitude aerial recon UNLESS they want to risk being seen and/or encountering something dangerous.
- Spend a year mapping out where the Neanderthals go. As this year progresses, you’ll start to discover places they inhabit periodically. For instance, they spend the spring in a cave by a river and the summer out on the steppe. Or they visit the lake about once a week. As you map these, you can start to hoverboard your explorers into these places to plant hidden cameras, when the Neanderthals aren’t around. You may also need to have a series of hidden relays to transmit the signal all the way back to Base Camp 1.
- If possible, identify a more suitable (hospitable) site for Base Camp 2. Closer to your cameras, so less of an effort to swap out batteries, clean lenses, fewer relays needed, etc.