DIY- Hard Hat Mount

27 posts in this topic

Posted

Hello everyone. I've been working on a reality show on a construction site last summer as well as this one, and wanted to demonstrate how I've solved fast-mic'ing folks and getting a mic on people wearing crazy amounts of safety gear and entering locations inaccessible to our crew.

 

Simply put, it's a hard hat mount. I'm sure many of you have used this type of mount throughout your careers, but for those who haven't here is a very easy way of doing it (photos below). There are a couple of things I like about the mount, but in particular it does three very excellent things:

  1. It allows me to mic people almost instantly. Once the Tx is turned on I just hand the subject this hardhat and I'm done. Ready to roll. This is particularly useful since everyone on the construction site must wear a hardhat, and it's very easy to get most folks to wear this one.
  2. It greatly increases the S/N ratio. This mic is only 5-7" from the subject's mouth, so it's far superior in loud environments to a boom or even a chest mounted lav. Much of the shooting we do is right next to guys working with jack hammers, massive cranes, concrete flattening machines, etc. so the entire construction site is very loud most of the time. 
  3. Subjects are always on-mic. I can't tell you the number of times people are showing our camera crew the work that's being done and they literally do a 180 and point to work in the background, then look back to cam, look back to the work in the background, etc. It's a nightmare trying to boom that type of movement unscripted in often impossible positions on dangerous terrain and you're bound to miss some of the dialog. This solves that problem 100%.

Overall, this mount performs extremely well and I will continue to use it. I keep the SMQV set on 100mW and have not yet needed to push it to 250mW. I am able to hand this off to welders on scissor lifts, riggers on scaffolding or electricians in places that are too dangerous to boom, as well as do things as simple as interview people on the site for walk-and-talks.

 

I had originally tried to use a Rycote Overcover for wind protection for the mic (fans on site as well as exterior rooftop shots), but people were constantly looking up during the shots and it was extremely noticeable. In the end I wound up using two pieces of an old cotton shirt cut up and top stick'ed to the helmet. A subsequent benefit of using cotton as a mic cover was that the fabric seemed to very much reduce reflections from the subject's face to the bill of the helmet (note that the piece currently on the helmet is larger surface coverage than a Rycote Overcover is). I am now going to cover the entire rest of the bill in white cotton and re-do the cover to see if that works even better. Fun project for tomorrow 8). I am even considering using white felt, and might try both to see which works better since I believe felt might work slightly better as wind protection (just a hunch). The one thing the cotton doesn't do too well is protect from wind. In that regard, the Overcover excelled. 

 

Enjoy. Questions welcome.

 

The Mount.

post-3713-0-33652100-1372909699_thumb.jp

 

Lectro SMQV with stock leather pouch. The leather pouches have a really strong metal clip in them that is easily attached to the helmet with a cable tie. This is extremely secure, and the Tx does not touch the subject's head due to the way hardhat suspensions are designed.

post-3713-0-35521100-1372909701_thumb.jp

 

Mic cable secured with a cable tie and some gaff tape.

post-3713-0-57366500-1372909702_thumb.jp

 

Countryman EMW, mounted screen side out. Covered in white cotton. I'll cover the rest of the bill soon.

post-3713-0-63145700-1372909703_thumb.jp

 

A couple of holes drilled in the appropriate spot and a white cable tie and donezo.

post-3713-0-37167200-1372909704_thumb.jp

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Posted

I did this same thing a few years ago on a safety training video for people constructing wind mills.  I used a Tram or a B6, I can't remember which.  I used white felt on the bill.  Your implementation is much neater than mine was.  I threw together four of them the night before the shoot.  Its a great technique and your pictures really illustrate it well.

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Posted

thanks Alex. great job.

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Posted

Very nice.

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Posted

Nicely done!

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Posted

Love it!

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Posted

Very good and thanks for posting, I would probably take the risk myself but the helmet is a safety item and in the unlikely event someone got hit directly on the top of the head by a heavy object and injured, the transmitter presence would probably not be ignored in any evaluation of the injury.

I can't see that anyone would sign a disclaimer and even if they did whether it would have much value. Would the production company you're working for stand by you in the event of a claim?

There are obviously some circumstances in which one needs to think carefully about putting transmitters on people, a child playing sports for example, I wouldn't take the risk.

I'd be interested to hear other opinions on this.... thanks.

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Posted

Neat! Cool :) you could go further and color code the helmets!

I thought about what pindrop already mentioned, and it is something to consider obviously, but your solution is the most flexible and versatile. I wouldn't hesitate in wearing it. I doubt that the smqv would inflict more or less damage if something happened...

The only thing that could make this even smarter and more versatile, is a custom built bracket that would hold the TX on the outside of the helmet.. But that would require it to be visible, obviously.

Once again, great job!

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Posted

In the feature world, I'm always happy when I learn we are going to be presented with a hard-hat.

I'm not sure how well it would work with a dual battery lectro (all of my tx are single batt SM's), but if drop-safety is a concern, you can strip that Tx out of its sheathe and any mounting accessories and tape it either in the front or rear (between the adjustable headband and the outer shell).

With the smaller Tx, this also works beautifully with police hats. The structured points of the hat give you a nice place to stash the transmitter

I would have to assume one would have success with sombreros as well!

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Posted

Very good and thanks for posting, I would probably take the risk myself but the helmet is a safety item and in the unlikely event someone got hit directly on the top of the head by a heavy object and injured, the transmitter presence would probably not be ignored in any evaluation of the injury.

I can't see that anyone would sign a disclaimer and even if they did whether it would have much value. Would the production company you're working for stand by you in the event of a claim?

There are obviously some circumstances in which one needs to think carefully about putting transmitters on people, a child playing sports for example, I wouldn't take the risk.

I'd be interested to hear other opinions on this.... thanks.

This is an issue. From a sound perspective the mic mount and TX location are perfect. From a safety perspective the TX location is problematic. Hard hats create a space between the head of the wearer and the outside of the hat in which the kinetic energy of something coming into contact with the hat can be dispersed. Not unlike the 'crumple-zone' designed into the trunk (boot) of modern cars that we embolden each other NOT to travel in for the sake of getting the shot/scene etc. Placing the TX inside the hat replaces some of the air space with a metal object! It would be less risky for the wearer to have the TX on the outside of the hat, less risky still (and perhaps easier for picture departments) if the TX was worn inside the back of the shirt etc but this will take longer to rig and leave a cable between head and shoulders to kept tidy.

Maybe there is very little risk of the contributors on this show actually being hit on the head by falling, heavy or fast objects and the hard hats are just part of the look and styling of the show (encouraging safe practices in the work place), but if this were a genuine hard hat situation I would want to mitigate against a worse case scenario and contact the hard hat manufacturer (hat) for their perspective on drilling holes in and attaching equipment to the head protection. 

 

All the best,

 

Dan.

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Posted

I have done this (a very long time ago) and the greatest benefit IU think is the mic placement --- solves so many of the typical lav on the body/wardrobe problems and puts the mic in a fixed position to the source --- no head turn problems, etc. When I first did it, I did put the transmitter inside the helmet which of course give you the added advantage, as you mention, of being able to rig the whole thing and just hand it to the talent (they do the final "rigging" by putting the hard hat on their head). I got concerned, on my own while thinking about it, that I had compromised the primary function of the hard (safety) hat, so next time I found a location on the body for the transmitter. All that was lost was the rigging convenience but I felt much better about the safety issue.

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Posted

It's not an issue to cover the lav capsule with this tape?

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Posted

**cotton**

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Posted

I applaud the problem solving demonstrated here. I have had excellent results with football helmets using the same technique.
For wind protection, I might suggest a white overcover sandwiched between the cotton shirt cover and the mic capsule. I think that this would be fairly out of sight and highly effective. Let us know how that goes.

I am with the rest of the bunch here on safety concerns. In a former life, I was a safety trainer and I can say with absolute certainty, that in the unlikely event of a catastrophic safety issue there are two things that will absolutely ruin any defense you or the production company would muster. And ultimately, I think the production company would leave you hung out to dry and claim that you, as the sound man, were solely responsible for mic placement and audio capture.

 

Here are where the difficulties will arise.

#1You placed a pack in the area of the helmet designed to be free from obstruction and that could (and likely would) induce head and/or neck injuries. 

#2 You have destroyed the structural integrity of the helmet by drilling holes in it. A careful read of any helmet literature generally includes statements prohibiting the placement of stickers or paint (stickers obscure defects, paint may attack the material the helmet is made of) or modifications of any kind. 
Personally, I think you could mount a defense for the placement of the tape and sticky for the mic based upon the idea that the helmet was/is new, and that during the course of daily preparations the sticky is removed and the area is cleaned, and those taped areas are visually inspected for defects or damage
 

 

Ultimately, a good accident lawyer or even a lazy OSHA rep would have you for "willful violations" for the pack placement and the holes. I love the ingenuity, but I'd suggest a new pack mount program.

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Posted

Excellent. Thanks for sharing that Alex!

 

I was recently on an indie feature that was about roughnecks on an oil rig. Cast was in fire retardant suits and hardhats. This method could have served me well however I am very concerned about the safety factor involved with this set up. Also, on this feature the cast was only using the hard hats on/off depending on the shots so taking the time to rig up 4 hats and then break them down when not necessary would have been too much trouble. I only have 4 wireless systems anyway. Rental was not budget-able.

 

I do like the idea of the capsule in the hat and the Tx pretty much anywhere other than the hat. I'd take the cable management over the liability any day....

 

Safety First!

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Posted

Thank you all so much for posting regarding the safety issue. I'm very happy I posted this here. This type of input could literally save someone's life or my career. I had briefly considered that concept, but wasn't sure if it was going to be a legitimate issue or if I was over-thinking it. Looks like my brief consideration warranted a bit more thought. 

 

What do you all think about moving the Tx to the rear of the helmet (a new one - sans holes drilled) and using an SMV without a holster and affixing it to the back of the helmet in the space between the headband and the wearer? I could find out about ANSI/ISEA approved adhesives and use those to affix a lighter Tx to the helmet.

 

This would mean that the Tx was:

  1. Out of the probable impact path of falling debris.
  2. Secured without any structural alteration of the helmet in any way.
  3. Secured to the helmet with ANSI/ISEA approved adhesives so as not to alter the structure of the HDPE the helmet is made of.

Seems to me like that is an excellent start at a better solution all around. Thoughts? And finally, should I take any further precautions after the new helmet is made to protect myself (meaning with the production company or even a document that each wearer of the helmet would sign releasing me of any liability)? 

 

Thanks again for the input. It's very much appreciated.

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Posted

Personally, I think you are putting yourself in jeopardy (legally) by putting the transmitter anywhere inside the hard hat. I think you are right that inside and to the back of the hard hat certainly minimizes the likelihood of the transmitter really interfering with the effectiveness of the hard hat's design, but in terms of legality, lawsuits, investigations and so forth (in the event of an accident) I think you're pretty much still exposed.

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Posted

If the hardhats are 'props', I would think that's a different story.

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Posted

If the hardhats are 'props', I would think that's a different story.

Strong point.

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Posted

I would think all speaking subjects wearing these hats have already signed a waiver releasing the production company, and you as their employee, of any liability for events that happen during production.  I'm not a lawyer though, so my opinion is legally invalid.

Might be worth asking the producer to check with their lawyers just in case.

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Posted

I would think all speaking subjects wearing these hats have already signed a waiver releasing the production company, and you as their employee, of any liability for events that happen during production.  I'm not a lawyer though, so my opinion is legally invalid.

Might be worth asking the producer to check with their lawyers just in case.

 

They do sign a release and that is a very good point. I just emailed production for a copy so I can review it. I had never thought to carefully review what the subjects are signing since those releases until now didn't seem to apply to me. This is a very good idea.

 

Thank you.

 

P.S. I'll note that I'm still going to move forward with the corrections to the mount I listed in my last post for safety reasons. I will also forgo using this at all, unless there is clearly no risk of falling objects above. If that situation arises I'll insist on chest-mounting the lav for safety and liability reasons.

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Posted

Yes, I would probably record a disclaimer that the talent approved such a device in their helmet...if they orally said yes like emergency doors or whatever how could they possibly put blame on you. But what do I know really...guess it all depends. If the talent was truly in a risk situation I would make the decision for them and not put the tranny there.

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Posted

Alex, my concern would be the RF going strait into the brain.

Phil "KJR"

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Posted

" I think the production company would leave you hung out to dry and claim that you, as the sound man, were solely responsible for mic placement and audio capture. "

That is covered in the certificate of insurance,  and while perhaps the production could claim that of an Independent contractor, they could not for an employee... and in any case, the production (and insurance) has deeper pockets...

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Posted

If something falls on your head on a construction site, the hard hat will be of little value as you'll be dead or in a coma. Nice rig. I did this on a helmet on a kayaker once and we had to waterproof it and the mic as well in a condom. Worked great.

CrewC

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