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The art of attaching & hiding lapel mics
Old 7th August 2009
  #1
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Question The art of attaching & hiding lapel mics

Hi all, i'm about to start recording for a short film for which i will be using 1* shotgun and 2* wireless lapel mic's!.

could anyone please give me tips or links to video's & sites, about the fine art and craft of attaching & hiding lapel mics to minimize the sound of them rustling against clothing.

some fellow recordists have suggested I hide the mic behind the ear or in the hair, but unfortunately the main character is completely bald.

any tips would be greatly appreciated.

Marty

Last edited by ktime; 7th August 2009 at 12:50 AM.. Reason: forgot to choose icon for message
Old 7th August 2009
  #2
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ktime ➑️

some fellow recordists have suggested I hide the mic behind the ear or in the hair, but unfortunately the main character is completely bald.
The only time I've used the behind-the-ear method was when providing sound reinforcement for 'Dame Edna' when she appeared at Wigmore Hall (about which I have many anecdotes...)

On that occasion the whole thing was handled by her dresser/makeup artist who clearly knew far more about how to do it than I did.

So I guess I have little advice, apart from suggesting that it's not only the actual attachment of the mic that is important but also the routing and restraint of its cord.
Old 7th August 2009 | Show parent
  #3
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Smile

If using a clip - loop the cable and trap it in the clip to decouple the cable from the mic. and minimise cable noise.

You will find the Rycote "Undercovers" useful for hiding under clothing - it's worth also checking out the "Overcovers", "Stickies" and "Furries" as well - start here.
Old 11th August 2009 | Show parent
  #4
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Jim vanBergen's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Use TRAM lav elements and gaff tape them to the clothing.

What has worked for 20 years on TV and film production will work well for you.

JvB
Old 11th August 2009 | Show parent
  #5
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pkautzsch's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Double-sided tape helps well in fixing the mic to the chest and to the clothing, so nothing will rustle. Doesn't work with very light clothes as you'd then see they are taped to the chest.
Other typical places are inside the knot of a tie (or any other kind of cloth arount talent's neck) or between the buttons of a shirt (again you might use double-sided tape). I've never seen lavs in actors' hair or behind their ear in a film shoot. They'll always be seen there.
Oh, and make sure you got quick access to the transmitter to change batteries.
Old 11th August 2009 | Show parent
  #6
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Jim vanBergen's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by pkautzsch ➑️
I've never seen lavs in actors' hair or behind their ear in a film shoot. They'll always be seen there.
Agreed. Hair, wig, attached to glasses & over-the-ear are de facto standard miking for Broadway theatre, but a big no-no for TV and film.
Old 11th August 2009 | Show parent
  #7
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
If you have to tape the mic directly to the body, use medical tape (you'll find this in any pharmacy) so that it won't hurt the actor when removing it and that his skin will keep on breathing.
Old 11th August 2009 | Show parent
  #8
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hbphotoav's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Location Sound in SoCal (Location Sound Corp: Pro Audio's Resource for the Sale / Rent of Sound Equipment) and Trew Audio in Nashville, Vancouver and Toronto (Trew Audio: Location Sound Equipment Sales, Rentals & Service for Film & Video Production throughout the US, Canada, and the rest of the world.) both can provide info, rentals, purchases, mics, xmitters and receivers, and accessories to do the job right. Certain omni elements (TRAM, DPA, PSC) with a HF boost are necessary under clothing... and a nice selection of vampire, tapedown and magnetic clips (Lavalier Accessories - Mic Accessories - Trew Audio) can't hurt. Be sure to practice before arriving onsite... placement and EQ are crucial to maximize intelligibility and minimize "chest" resonance and clothing rustle.
Old 23rd July 2014
  #9
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chewedrock's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
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Old 23rd July 2014
  #10
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Bruce Watson's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ktime ➑️
could anyone please give me tips or links to video's & sites, about the fine art and craft of attaching & hiding lapel mics to minimize the sound of them rustling against clothing.
This topic has been discussed in depth at the JW Sound Group forum. These guys are Hollywood dialog recording pros; they don't take kindly to newbies asking FAQ level questions, so search the site thoroughly before asking a question. You've been warned.

Another site that's covered the same ground in the last few months is DVXuser forums. They've got a forum on location sound that you might want to search. And it's a much more newbie friendly place, but with less specific group knowledge of audio. Lots of knowledge of video though, especially low budget stuff, indy, documentary, etc.

One of the things you want to do if you can is influence the decisions about what clothes to use -- synthetic fabrics like nylon can drive a microphone crazy, whether or not it's rubbing on the mic. It can rub on itself and make an incredible amount of noise that the mic can't help but hear. Natural fabrics like cotton are much nicer for audio via body mics.
Old 23rd July 2014
  #11
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tourtelot's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
All the above is good advice. But your first 200,000 attempts will probably not be pretty, either acoustically or visually Hiding lavs is something that just gets better and better with practice.

And sometimes, even really experienced "wire-men" have problems; perhaps it is awful wardrobe or perhaps an uncooperative actor.

Have on hand: Joe's Sticky Stuff, black and beige moleskin (Dr. Scholls), Rycote "stickies" and over-covers, pore (medical) tape. I find that the simpler the "hang" (usually) the better. Massive amounts of gaff, foam, pins, etc only seem to typically make the hang noisier.

It is unprofessional to ask an actor to modify his/her body to make your hang easier but I have had super-chill actors shave a little patch on their sternum so that I could place a lav. These have mostly been men. Always their idea, not mine!

Hair mics work really well but they are fussy and involve more crew members; a hair stylist will almost certainly be involved, and actors don't like to be fussed with as a rule. Oh, and wardrobe will always be up "in there" criticizing your hang. Sometimes, they have valid points. But have had many who viewed the lav from six inches away and declared to all within 10 feet of the camera that they could "see the mic." Stirs up a storm, that statement.

TRAM lavs (or the uprated Sonotrims) have great hanging hardware. Countryman B6 lavs are teeny-tiny and I frequently hide them in plain sight poking out from behind a shirt button secured with Joe's. Lots of soundmen love Sankens but although they sound great, I think that they are a bit of a pain to hang. And after you bury a lav under two or three layers of wardrobe, secure it to somebody's chest and tape the snot out of it, none of them sound that great anyway.

Outside, you will probably need wind protection and the Rycote over-covers really do work well. Used them in a 40+ MPH wind in the desert and although I could hear the wind whistling through the actors' hair, the mic was solid.

The easiest hangs are polo shirts on men with a Sonotrim in a vampire clip. The hardest are chiffon bridesmaids' dresses (or bikinis)

Good luck, and there are a lot of tips and tricks over at the JWSound forum. As you know, everything you read on the internet is true even if they directly contradict each other so proceed with open eyes and ears.

Good luck.

Oh, and hire a good boomman who knows how to wire.

D.
Old 23rd July 2014
  #12
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🎧 15 years
All good stuff from Mr T. Read his reply over a few times, make notes. My only adds:

--apologize to the actors for messing with them, encourage them to speak up if your rig is making them uncomfortable, thank them for wearing the rig each time you take it off them

--make the wardrobe dept your best pals. We're in this together right?

--you absolutely have to pull out your gear and experiment on yourself, all sorts of clothes, fabrics, actions etc so you can imprint on your brain what various sorts of hangs sound like. Include wind in this experimentation as well. Experience really helps in this work, and you can accelerate your experience by trying a lot of methods out on your own.

philp
Old 24th July 2014
  #13
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
there's a really useful e-book (on the apple i-books store) by a guy named Thomas Popp called "Down To The Wire" that covers in great depth the various basic methods for fitting lavs. After that, it's just experience of wardrobe scenarios that didn't work. Head / over-the-ear mounts are the standard for Live Theatre, and sound way better than any sort of concealed chest mount, but are almost impossible to hide from the camera in closeup - so are rarely used in film/video production.
Old 24th July 2014
  #14
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🎧 5 years
Im not sure about that
Last year we had 50 yrs of National Theatre from South Bank on BBC 2,they used behind ear mount and a 400Hz eq
It was all live and went from WA to BCU all the time and I only saw the hint of a wire possibly once
It sounded terrific, just like a boom, even when they were semi naked.
Old 26th July 2014
  #15
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jwh1192's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
what type of Film is it ??? .. beach scenes or full on parkas in the winter / men, women, kids, animals - hard to know what to do other than general info unless you can share this with us .. you have heard some great advise and have some great links ..

one piece of info is - no matter how far you are away with the boom .. still boom it as best you can .. perspective is important - a Lav will always sound like it is close .. and do not mix lav and boom on the same track unless absolutely necessary and if you do make sure your Phase is correct between the 2 .. (simple way to know is nice Fat sound is in phase, thin should is out of phase) but try to avoid this at all costs .. hard to fix later IF there is any post .. better to have 2 lab's on one track and boom on the other if you ONLY have 2 tracks …

you have said nothing about the gear you will be using or what camera they will be shooting with .. we are gear sluts and this info may get you some other advise as well ..

where are you located ???

a friend of mine and I figured we have mic'd over a quarter of a million people .. it can add up fast on game shows where you have No Time to mic and un-mic 5 people in under 3-5 minutes shooting 5 shows a day ..

be very careful when mixing women - do not get touchy feely - you may not think you are but you may make someone uncomfortable without knowing it .. talk to them and tell them what you are doing while you are doing it .. they will love you if you do and hate you if you are the quiet type .. I lost 2 good A2's with women complaining to me about them .. they could hang a mic but one had bad breath and the other was touching them in the wrong places over and over ..

kids - have their mother or father help you and be there every single time you put a mic on, take one off, or make an adjustment ..

you have already been warned about wardrobe people .. make them involved and they will help you .. or maybe not sometimes

remember also that hair and makeup people will mess up anything you do whenever they can - just kidding

looking forward to hearing how you are doing with the Short … post us a Link if you can when it is done ..

cheers john
Old 26th July 2014
  #16
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🎧 5 years
Why hide any way
Les Mis used 4060s in shot that were painted out later
Thats the ticket, booms too.
Old 26th July 2014
  #17
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
In addition to the excellent advise given previously, try to acquire and maintain every attachment accessory that works with your chosen microphone. My main mic's are Trams that are front facing, and Sony's that pick up from the top. Having the two designs has made hiding a lot easier. This link (If it works) is of a particularly challenging shoot where while shooting the interior scenes the Steadicam was either seeing the boom shadow, or I was getting in the way of the operator. Had to quickly switch to wireless. If you look closely the mics are visible but barely. I thought it came out OK considering I had only a few seconds to wire everyone up. Having a bunch of different clips available saved my @$$ that day.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBRZDKa6JFw
Old 26th July 2014 | Show parent
  #18
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by dinog ➑️
In addition to the excellent advise given previously, try to acquire and maintain every attachment accessory that works with your chosen microphone. My main mic's are Trams that are front facing, and Sony's that pick up from the top. Having the two designs has made hiding a lot easier. This link (If it works) is of a particularly challenging shoot where while shooting the interior scenes the Steadicam was either seeing the boom shadow, or I was getting in the way of the operator. Had to quickly switch to wireless. If you look closely the mics are visible but barely. I thought it came out OK considering I had only a few seconds to wire everyone up. Having a bunch of different clips available saved my @$$ that day.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBRZDKa6JFw
Both mics are omni, so it doesn't matter which way they face. When Trams (and Sonotrims) work in vamps, esp with their windscreens, we often face them backwards into the mount for more wind+ nose blast protection. We also often position top-facing mics pointing downward for the same reason. The reason to switch between two lav mics has more to do with the sound of the mic with that voice and how well it will hide in a given wardrobe.

It would be foolish to go into a job assuming that your mics can be "painted out" in post unless that has been signed off on by the people at the top of the call sheet. In my (long) experience that has been permissed perhaps twice, since it requires rotoing on a moving actor. The advent of HD video has made mic and mic wire hiding far tougher than it used to be.

philp
Old 26th July 2014
  #19
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🎧 5 years
It was a jest philp.
However it obviously can be done with the acquiesence of the director!
Old 26th July 2014
  #20
Gear Nut
 
Hamburg's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
After 25 years on location for TV drama and cinema here are some ideas how I work:

main movie mic is the boom- all lavs are 2nd choice. My main boom mic is Schoeps CMIT digital- it gives you 1 meter more "headroom" when using 2 cameras or steadycam. But this mic needs an experienced boom operator. In the right position it can eliminate even crackling wooden floor noise.

using dpa 4060 most of the time. wrap them into one layer of moleskin. Fix it to the layer of clothing that produces most of the rubbing noise. Cotton is the best choice for clothing. A good contact to costume department helps a lot- having a drink with them after wrap is never a bad idea.....

empty ball pens are a good place to hide "visible" mics on uniforms and doctors clothings

bandanas are a good place as well to hide mics at the head

Good luck!
Old 27th July 2014 | Show parent
  #21
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by philper ➑️
Both mics are omni, so it doesn't matter which way they face. When Trams (and Sonotrims) work in vamps, esp with their windscreens, we often face them backwards into the mount for more wind+ nose blast protection. We also often position top-facing mics pointing downward for the same reason. The reason to switch between two lav mics has more to do with the sound of the mic with that voice and how well it will hide in a given wardrobe.

philp
I agree.
The only difference is that the top facing capsule can be placed with the end just poking out whereas the front facing capsule might be covered with clothing. I only mentioned the different capsule locations in relation to the act of hiding mic's. The Sony ones offer different hiding options than the Tram ones do.
Old 28th July 2014
  #22
LX3
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🎧 15 years
IIRC, the lavs in Les Mis were often hidden under small bits of material which wardrobe added to some costumes specifically to hide a mic.
Old 30th July 2014
  #23
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🎧 10 years
BTW, no point now in asking the OP about the project - his question was asked in 2009. And he's not been here since April. But of course there's lots of good advice here for current readers.

I recall trying to attach a lapel mic to a famous soprano years ago, which involved having to put my hand into her clothing at a point which would normally have got me a slap in the face - with her husband watching closely. I was so nervous and fumbled so much that I could barely complete the task. Having taken an inordinate amount of time to actually attach it, making sure the cable was routed for minimum rustle had to go by the board. Sometimes you need something like a medical bedside manner for these tasks. "Trust me, I'm a recording engineer". But I digress.
Old 30th July 2014
  #24
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tourtelot's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Or the story of the famous opera soprano who had to dash for the airport moments after her gig was over only to get stymied at TSA when the metal detector went off. No keys, no rings, no belt. A wireless transmitter in her cleavage which she had entirely forgotten about

I am not making this up.

D.
Old 30th July 2014 | Show parent
  #25
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johnsound's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot ➑️
Or the story of the famous opera soprano who had to dash for the airport moments after her gig was over only to get stymied at TSA when the metal detector went off. No keys, no rings, no belt. A wireless transmitter in her cleavage which she had entirely forgotten about

I am not making this up.

D.
Similar experience with a well-known UK comic and writer after a charity gig. He left immediately after his spot, still wearing his mic, which I only discovered at the end of the gig. Luckily, he was still in range and I traced him to the pub next door where he was refreshing himself.

John
Old 30th July 2014
  #26
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🎧 5 years
You need a good bedside manner otherwise its assault or worst
We had a gorgeous pouting Dutch actress with hardly any clothes on in one futuristic opus
Her underwear was tiny indeed and the tx was double PP3 battery size....
The frocks lady was very knowing and said if it shows we may have to call a Gynacologist for an alternative position
Another time with a lovely Motown chanteusse in minimal attire, I was attatching a TX in the upper garter position, I had my head between her knees whilst she lifted her skirt, we were round the back of an ancient church in the centre of an old city.
An old gent came by, he said nothing
Obviously an every day event...
My boom ops bedside manner didnt always work,we had a busty pop star in a costume drama, he was over attentive,I over heard her say, If that sound assistant touches my tits one more time.Ill report him to the director.
I read the Riot Act to him.
Nowadays its over to the dressers, probably very sensible
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