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Alan Gerhardt

Lavalier on Chef

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I am looking for suggestions on lav placement on a chef wearing an apron and a T-shirt.

The shoot is for a series of website demos and recipes for an upcoming "Masterchef" show.

I did this last year and the problem I am trying to obviate is the 'on-mic/off-mic' effect of the chef looking at what he is doing and then glancing at the camera for the occasional phrase.

We will be shooting with two cameras - wide and tight. Conventionally on cooking demos the cut-aways are shot seperately and the chef knows to address the camera more often than the dish he is preparing.

Our chef is not a professional presenter; but rather a successful restaurateur.

He does not wear a chef's hat and has very short hair.

Any suggestions?

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Be kind and friendly to him and ask if you can hide the mic directly on the middle of his breast. If you don´t have to hide the mic, place it on the apron. If it´s ok, you can also use an ear worn mic. I would use a boom mic, cause it can´t be shot wide! It´s a kitchen, nobody want to see the studio. There are to many ways to do the job.

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What is your placement? I find that lower on the chest works much better for me in most cases than up by the neckline. Not only does the lav sound more natural in that position but on/off mic differences are not so accentuated. The disadvantages are possibly scratchy mics, especially for males, particularly the non-athletic body shapes, and in general a little bit more room noise compared to dialogue levels. Some males can also have an odd sound, due to ? maybe boominess from the actual chest cavity?

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B6 on the apron.  White of course.  Sounded very good and the B6 is impervious to liquids or whatever might hit the apron...

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B6 or tram very good. Kitchen could well be very loud so sometimes close micing is best. I have a white B6 for chef uniforms. Hide in plain sight (if it's a white suit of course). The B6 is a -10 version. I got it because of a loud presenter on a cooking show I worked on (he's an ex quarterback).

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B6 or tram very good. Kitchen could well be very loud so sometimes close micing is best. I have a white B6 for chef uniforms. Hide in plain sight (if it's a white suit of course). The B6 is a -10 version. I got it because of a loud presenter on a cooking show I worked on (he's an ex quarterback).

Oops sorry about the double post.

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I've done a number of cooking spots and shows and usually go with lav on the chest if the chef is wearing regular clothes and just inside the apron (white b6) if that's the wardrobe. Usually there's also a spot wear they will want direct to camera lines given - great place for a hyper to be mounted from above, or on a boom. Watch out for peaks from dish old knife hits during process!

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Pat, I wish I had a pin mic! This is the obvious mic to use for this shoot. As for the suggestions to use a B6, I was contemplating this, The chef's apron is dark blue with black stripes, so this could work since my B6 is black.

I still feel I am going to get a lot of "on-mic/off-mic" effects with a mic in the middle of the chest. This guys head movements are hectic! Was thinking I should maybe go for the strap that runs from his apron around his neck. Just have to decide whether left or right is the favoured side. Last year I ran boom on track 1 and lav on track 2. Was hoping to lose the boom as we do long takes on two cameras for five days in a row and I am working as a "one-man band"!

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This guys head movements are hectic! Was thinking I should maybe go for the strap that runs from his apron around his neck. Just have to decide whether left or right is the favoured side. 

 

Just use 2 lavs for left and right side on apron, then everything is fine.

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I've been doing cooking shows for the past 4 years and have tried everything.

Avoid the apron straps, too scratchy.

The best solution is to get some chennile sticks or pipe cleaners and fold them, twist them to strengthen. Tape it to the top of the apron, bend it out a little and stick the mic in the bend so nothing is touching it. The bend should be a nice curve so it looks natural. Use matte black gaffer tape if it's a black apron or white if it's white.

Aprons tend to be very starchy and stiff. This method will give best results. If your worried about on/off mic proximity, just lower the straps a little. Ask them to buy aprons with adjustable straps.

If the apron has a front pocket, you can cut a hole on the inside and run the mic cable through and have the tx in the pocket of the apron. This way it's self contained and the talent can take the whole apron off for breaks. If you choose to put the tx in the pocket, you should bag the tx to protect from water/splashes. Otherwise just pop the tx on his belt near his pocket of his pants and the apron will cover it.

Good luck

Mega

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"The best solution is to get some chennile sticks or pipe cleaners and fold them, twist them to strengthen. Tape it to the top of the apron, bend it out a little and stick the mic in the bend so nothing is touching it. The bend should be a nice curve so it looks natural."

 

Any imagery of this I can conjure seems weird/unsightly. I must be misunderstanding it.

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Peters work on the cooking shows is outstanding. If that's his technique, then from listening to the results, that's a definite way to go

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I've been doing cooking shows for the past 4 years and have tried everything.

Avoid the apron straps, too scratchy.

The best solution is to get some chennile sticks or pipe cleaners and fold them, twist them to strengthen. Tape it to the top of the apron, bend it out a little and stick the mic in the bend so nothing is touching it. The bend should be a nice curve so it looks natural. Use matte black gaffer tape if it's a black apron or white if it's white.

Aprons tend to be very starchy and stiff. This method will give best results. If your worried about on/off mic proximity, just lower the straps a little. Ask them to buy aprons with adjustable straps.

If the apron has a front pocket, you can cut a hole on the inside and run the mic cable through and have the tx in the pocket of the apron. This way it's self contained and the talent can take the whole apron off for breaks. If you choose to put the tx in the pocket, you should bag the tx to protect from water/splashes. Otherwise just pop the tx on his belt near his pocket of his pants and the apron will cover it.

Good luck

Mega

Got a picture? Thanks

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Do what you can, show the producer that you are putting effort into finding a solution. It probably isn't as bad as it appears.

What I try to do is a lav up in the collar of the t-shirt closer to camera side so when he turns to camera, it is "on mic" but when he looks away, it is slightly "off mic". That looks and sounds natural to my ears.

Also, double-lav is a great idea too, especially if you have a Zaxcom Stereoline Tx.

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I'd use a sanken in a rubber mount directly on the apron or on his chest with 3M surgical on chest snot on rubber.. White or black mic with appropriate colour depending on the apron colour.

I don't think there is any fast science to micing chefs. When they bend down to cut, even low on the chest, there will always be some kind of proximity effect.

Tim's correct, the lower the mic the less off mic it will seem.

There is no boom in this kind of gig , IMO, lights are a massive factor, cameras will go in wherever they can and you'll be dead tired from booming straight for lengthy times. It's a wire gig. The audience also expects, and doesn't really understand off mic concepts. Chopping is loud, etc. just mic without rustle and all will be good.

I worked 200 + episodes on cooking shows. It's a wire game. Sanken a sound less directional, B6s tend to be thinner, and trams are bit more directional and more succeptible to proximity. Sankens work best IMHO.

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Tonetripper,

It sounds like you have considered what would be involved in using a boom. Assuming that you had the time to use a boom (i.e. a leisurely pace, no audience), do you have any comments about using a boom specific to this kind of show?

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Tonetripper,

It sounds like you have considered what would be involved in using a boom. Assuming that you had the time to use a boom (i.e. a leisurely pace, no audience), do you have any comments about using a boom specific to this kind of show?

Anything pointing down will pick up way too much cooking sound.

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"The best solution is to get some chennile sticks or pipe cleaners and fold them, twist them to strengthen. Tape it to the top of the apron, bend it out a little and stick the mic in the bend so nothing is touching it. The bend should be a nice curve so it looks natural."

 

Any imagery of this I can conjure seems weird/unsightly. I must be misunderstanding it.

I think I get it. He's creating a gentle curve in the top of the apron between the straps with the pipe cleaners on the inside of the top of the apron. The curve creates a space that the mic can live in without touching the fabric of the clothing worn underneath the apron. Hopefully the chef doesn't lean too far forward and show the mechanism.

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Tonetripper,

It sounds like you have considered what would be involved in using a boom. Assuming that you had the time to use a boom (i.e. a leisurely pace, no audience), do you have any comments about using a boom specific to this kind of show?

I just wouldn't boom it. The wire sound will generally b more present and direct to sometimes speaking head down while prepping or what have you. Or cooking then face down and, "Smell that? That's fantastico!"

If I was booming it, however, I'd be angling pretty hard for face down stuff w two cameras wide and tight. I was on a cooking show once w a boom on standby sometimes picking off effects for close ups for an edited show, but managing talent to not speak when they were prepping was sometimes hard to manage. Cooking shows are kinda live in a way. Organic. Which makes us have to be organic too. The wire really works for this kind of thing when properly placed. You can practically have a nap if he smell of awesome food isn't keeping you awake w hunger. :)

Compression can be a warm friend to the critical listening of a wire show in the world of post.

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Tonetripper,

It sounds like you have considered what would be involved in using a boom. Assuming that you had the time to use a boom (i.e. a leisurely pace, no audience), do you have any comments about using a boom specific to this kind of show?

I for one would not use a boom either, at least on the chef. In commercial kitchens (if that's where you're shooting?) you have the extraction hoods above every stove, so space for the boom is limited. The hoods are also very noisy. If the stove is powered by gas, you can't shut the extractors off, because that will kill the gas, too. Then on the stove there will frequently be something bubbling/frying/boiling, etc all very noisy.

If not at the stove the chef will probably be chopping or dicing something, again quite noisy. And if he isn't, soneone else will be.

Most likely, the chef will be looking down a lot, at the work at hand, so again the boom is pretty useless. At a stove, you will have to get right between the extractor and the stove, which is no place for a sensitive mic. Stoves get hot, boiling water may splash, and hot oil from a pan can and will leap for your mic.

Lav is your best and only viable option.

I do take an M/S rig along to kitchen shoots, however. It's great to be able to record the kitchen atmosphere in stereo and you can boom the chef's on-cam comments with it.

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