RyanDoesSound

How often do you get clean lines on lavs?

17 posts in this topic

What's the average percentage for your lavs that you don't get clothes rustle/noise, drop outs or hits, etc on your lavs?

I'd say about 40-50% of the time I lav someone it's clean without any really bad rustle. Sometimes I have no issues at all when I get the placement just right with cotton shirts, other times I'd assume it's completely useless. I do narrative work where I have to hid the mics almost 90% if I can't hide it in plain sight. 

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Hi Ryan. It's different depending on the kind of shoot. If I do a sit down interview and have to hide the lav I aim for 100%. If it's narrative it depends on what I can get from the boom. If I know I won't need to catch lines with any given lav I will at times not bother with the lav rustle (but if it's bad I won't even record that lav). If I know editorial works a lot with lavs and off lines I will take more care to get them clean. But there are times when acting, wardrobe or other reasons make it very hard to get the lav clean and consistent, so in those instances sometimes I just have to let it go and if needed get a wild line. But if I got rustle 50-60% of the time I would probably try different placement methods, or (if the materials are the reason) talk to wardrobe.

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After some consideration, allow me to reframe the question so that I may best answer: every time I place a lavaliere I get better at it.

Even when everything has worked in my favor (wardrobe good, actor head placement good, props good) I replay the game tapes to figure how I might do it better next time if only to improve the experience for the individual who's being wired.

Two decades into this biz I rarely love how any lav sounds.

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5 minutes ago, Jan McL said:

Two decades into this biz I rarely love how any lav sounds.

I concur. This is only about 50% of the time too, as in the OP's case. On the narrative I just finished, I really had a chance to work with different store bought and hand made lav holders, and it's really an experience thing. I did much better than in the past. Fifty percent of the time, I know it's my placement, and the other 50% of the time, I'm just not sure. And though I'm getting better, it's a long road. I have a whole Tundra case of tape and items dedicated specifically to 'lav quieting'. 

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Strongly depends, but 50% unusable seems quite high, and seems like a solution should be worked on. Certain types of fabric are very noisy and don't just pose a problem to lavs but also to booming. Sometimes a multi-layer combination of different fabrics needs some collaboration with costume department to be quieted down. Sometimes you have to fight for the time you need to get it right first time, keeping calm and not upsetting the actor while AD is breathing down your neck.

In certain situations time may be better spent with a bit of politics. Camera, do we really need to shoot that ultra-wide C while A and B do medium shots or closeups? Yes? Alright...VFX, can we drop our boom into the ultra-wide frame after giving you a few seconds of "clean plate"? No? Ok...AD, do you want to give us 10 minutes to wire everyone, or do you prefer to do one separate take of that 1:30 ultra-wide establishing shot?

Sometimes, it's a timing thing. A hit doesn't matter if it's not on a line.

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While I can't put a percentage on it, I'd say "most" of the time I am able to find a way to make the lavs work, otherwise I won't use them.  Within that, there is a very wide range of quality and tone that is dependent upon many factors like the actor, the wardrobe, the environment, etc.

I think Jan really answered it best.  There will always be something new to challenge you, so every time a wire is put on is a learning experience for me.

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My lavs, if they're required, are useable almost 100% of the time. Are they free of noise always? Do they always sound great? No and no. Can they be used for the times they are needed by post? Yes. Knowing what is a problem and what isn't (post noise reduction or likely coverage) comes with experience. I don't fuss with actors if the lav isn't perfect, only if it's unusable for the portion of the scene for which it's required. If the scene is a "lav only" scene or if there might be problems matching for coverage, I'll adjust as required. 

Lav placement is art and science, and I leave that mostly to my very capable crews. Knowing how things will cut and blend and be used is my job, and I'm always trying to improve my skills. 

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Thanks guys for the input. I'm trying as hard as I can, but just didn't have a reference as to what is considered the norm. No point in beating myself up if I'm getting an average amount of rustle. Sounds like I have some ways to go. However this past feature I've substantially increased my usability of my lavs.

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I have used lavs since 1968 when they were large!

I bought my first TRAMS in 1979 and used them extensively on my initial feature in 1980

There a a score of things to learn about using them plus another 3 tomorrow

They allow the camera(s) freedom and the actors too

I guess I have used lavs in 30 countries tropical, desert, temperate, alpine and in snow

I have been castigated for using them then praised on my results

Use the lavs you get on with and learn the lessons, adjust, listen and adjust.

So it's been a 37 year lesson!

Mounted in garments, on chests, on bras, on a belt, behind ears and in the hair.

Be brave, learn the lessons and achieve!

They are great!!

mike

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Mike I owe you a beer for your once again, ever so succinct parting of knowledge. 

Cheers Nate. 

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 Thanks Nate

Contact me direct if you wish

mike

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My main take-away re lav mics: be besties with your wardrobe folks.  More than any other other factor, it is the talent clothing that makes the biggest diff for me in whether the sound from lavs work or not.   Having a bag of tricks and the diplomatic chops to get to deploy them is needed too, especially during a "bad day at the office" scene where you really have to keep working on the mic placement take after take.  Any time I get a lav placement to work on the first try I utter a silent prayer of thanks.  And as Mike said--many sorts of shoots and director methodologies are utterly dependent on lav mics (that work), so you have to continually refine your skills.  So far in this thread I feel like most folks have been talking about dramatic/fiction shoots.  In the doc world the NEED for lavs to work is just as great or greater, and the RESOURCES available (time, wardrobe choice and pro help with wardrobe as well as talent with experience with the process) are usually NOT available, AND there are no retakes!  So give it up to the doco-verite-reality folks and their lav skills!

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Yes!

I don't do narrative work. Doc, lifestyle, "reality" etc.

My wires have to be perfect all of the time (OK, 95%) NOTHING will build your lav-hiding chops like working on a lifestyle construction/renovation show.  No one has time for retakes, barely any control over wardrobe (if you're lucky, you have some control over the hosts wardrobe) no headspace for a boom, little control over BG noise or location, etc and most importantly - no one gives a damn.  The only upside is the massive amount of over-shooting that happens, haha.

 

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9 minutes ago, jason porter said:

Yes!

I don't do narrative work. Doc, lifestyle, "reality" etc.

My wires have to be perfect all of the time (OK, 95%) NOTHING will build your lav-hiding chops like working on a lifestyle construction/renovation show.  No one has time for retakes, barely any control over wardrobe (if you're lucky, you have some control over the hosts wardrobe) no headspace for a boom, little control over BG noise or location, etc and most importantly - no one gives a damn.  The only upside is the massive amount of over-shooting that happens, haha.

 

Exactamente.  Not my fave sound, not my fave situation, but how MANY modern directors want to work--esp those who kind of hate anything smacking of "movie process", like slates, booms, tripods, TC boxes on cameras, comments from the Sound Dept. about whether some BG sound obscured a line and most of all any mic adjustment or really any interaction at all with the film's subject.   I always wonder why these folks don't "Go Wiseman"....ie just do the sound themselves (like Frederick Wiseman did on his films) and so avoid having the extra person on set that they often seem to resent, but they never do...(lazy).

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10 hours ago, jason porter said:

Yes!

I don't do narrative work. Doc, lifestyle, "reality" etc.

My wires have to be perfect all of the time (OK, 95%) NOTHING will build your lav-hiding chops like working on a lifestyle construction/renovation show.  No one has time for retakes, barely any control over wardrobe (if you're lucky, you have some control over the hosts wardrobe) no headspace for a boom, little control over BG noise or location, etc and most importantly - no one gives a damn.  The only upside is the massive amount of over-shooting that happens, haha.

 

I've done hundreds of just these types of shows and everything you say is spot on.

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Im glad this topic came up as I have been thinking about it recently. I pride myself on being a talent "fluffer"...I generally manage to get on with cast, keep them amused esp between takes and even get myself into the 'bra' zone reasonably quickly. Obviously being male, getting into the female chest zone is challenging (but the boob valley can be the sweet spot I find, free of rustle and rub) so I find being nice and friendly pays dividends later and talent will let you have free rein (almost) which will enable you do your job better.

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