Ed Denton

Taping mics to chest

28 posts in this topic

I just wanted to see what opinions people had on best practice regarding taping or attaching lav mics to actors' chests. Obviously it wouldn't be the first choice but if there is no better option like if an actor is wearing only a thin t-shirt with a high neckline is it an acceptable practice to attach the mic to their chest directly on the skin? What about if they have a hairy chest? And what about high profile actors/actresses? I've heard of soundo's saying "absolutely not" especially with hairy guys but then I've a lot of success miking directly on the skin.

 

 

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I think it's common practice to do so, if that's what best suits wardrobe. Often I'll check with talent to see if they have any preferences of what tape is applied to the skin as a courtesy.

As far as chests with a bit of hair go, I've still had success going to the skin... For REALLY hairy chests I've been meaning to add a chest strap to my kit as a 'hail mary' if nothing else works, or carry some under shirts along to go between layers.

I worked on a show last summer where one of the actors had alot alot of hair, so our make up dept would prep an area on his chest with a gel of some sort (I cant remember exactly) that we could apply the wire too. Yay teamwork!

I like to take it case by case and try to gauge what they're comfortable with. 

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Yup, it's pretty standard practice depending on wardrobe.

"High profile" actors/actresses are often used to it and know that it's just part of the gig. Sometimes you will get someone who feels more comfortable putting the mic on themselves and in that case I will get the mount all ready, demonstrate the position I'd like the, to put it in, and then let them stick it on themselves. 

-Mike

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For me it's not so much the sticking it on, it's the taking it off which I leave to the actor to do himself. But I'll always ask first.
A really hairy chest won't sound good, though, unless prepared in some way. So I tend to prefer placing it somewhere else

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Hypafix (a medical tape) work great with hairy or sweaty chest

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Recommended to me by another sound mixer at the Atlanta Mixer Mixer, was Mepitac:

http://tinyurl.com/mcouw7g

It's designed for applications such as patients with fragile skin, wounds, and burn victims. 

For our use, you put a patch of Mepitac onto the hairy chest, and then tape your rig onto the Mepitac.  The stuff sticks well and peels off without "ouch."

Another example why -- with us sometimes-less-than-social sound mixers -- it pays to socialize and share with others.

 

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Great thanks John, definitely adding that to the kit!


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Professional male actors have reported to set with a 3"×3" patch of hair shaved away on their sternum for both their and our convenience. I really liked working with those actors!

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1 hour ago, stevegrider said:

Professional male actors have reported to set with a 3"×3" patch of hair shaved away on their sternum for both their and our convenience. I really liked working with those actors!

I found a BTS shot of Steve Carell getting ready to be mic'd up:

0.jpg

 

And thanks Dij and John for two more tapes to try on chests...

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Back here in the Philippines a medical tape called Leukoplast is usually what's used all the time. It adheres to skin very well, but is a pain to remove. There are several other brands of medical tape but adhesion is less than ideal. And for my sound crew we always tape to skin in every opportunity, for both high and low profile actors/actresses. Luckily for us here, we don't usually deal with hairy chests.

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6 hours ago, bdumaguina said:

Back here in the Philippines a medical tape called Leukoplast is usually what's used all the time. It adheres to skin very well, but is a pain to remove. emoji54.pngThere are several other brands of medical tape but adhesion is less than ideal. And for my sound crew we always tape to skin in every opportunity, for both high and low profile actors/actresses. Luckily for us here, we don't usually deal with hairy chests.

https://www.amazon.com/leukoplast-Adult-Baseball-Small-Medium/dp/B01NGZF1CZ/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1491655034&sr=8-11&keywords=leukoplast

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As some other probably say. Do it all the time with cos11 and topstick!

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Recently I was on a shoot in the desert near Palm Springs and one actress was in a wardrobe where there was no place to put her Lectro TX except where the antenna was pressed up against her sweaty skin.  I was getting terrible reception from her, so thought of using the Mepitac I had as a barrier between the antenna and her skin.  After I did that I seemed to get much better range... at least for whatever reason I got better sound with less breaking up at a longer distance. I wasn't able to try it again to see if it was a fluke or there is something to it.

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"High Profile" actors are the easiest to deal with. They know the drill and know you're there to get the best result (which makes them sound great). I was taping a mic to a Hollywood actor and made a joke that he had a hairier chest than I expected. Straight away he asked if I wanted him to shave a spot for the mic.

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Antenna contact with sweaty skin will give you range problemsl

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"Antenna contact with sweaty skin will give you range problems"

- Fo' sure, been there. I recall reading around 70% signal loss (depending).

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In my experience, the few high end actors I have worked with have been totally cool with taping the mic to their skin. Both male and female. The only one that wouldn't was Tom Sellac and he was far too hairy for it to stick or sound good anyway.

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36 minutes ago, Jimmy said:

In my experience, the few high end actors I have worked with have been totally cool with taping the mic to their skin. Both male and female. The only one that wouldn't was Tom Sellac and he was far too hairy for it to stick or sound good anyway.

so what did you do?

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1 minute ago, anzel2002 said:

so what did you do?

Got him on the boom :)

He didn't wear any t-shirts for the duration of the film. Mostly button up shirts and jackets, which are easy to work around. For the button ups we used a piece of Scapa double sided carpet tape where the shirts fabric overlaps (when it's buttoned up - so on the inside) with a COS-11 stuck onto the tape, pointed outwards towards the opening or straight up if it was outside and windy. Placing it closer to the buttons makes blend much better than sticking it right in the middle between two buttons. We'd then press the fabrics together so the tape would hold the pieces together and reduces clothing noise, just a soft touch, enough to not piss of wardrobe!

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2 hours ago, Jimmy said:

Got him on the boom :)

He didn't wear any t-shirts for the duration of the film. Mostly button up shirts and jackets, which are easy to work around. For the button ups we used a piece of Scapa double sided carpet tape where the shirts fabric overlaps (when it's buttoned up - so on the inside) with a COS-11 stuck onto the tape, pointed outwards towards the opening or straight up if it was outside and windy. Placing it closer to the buttons makes blend much better than sticking it right in the middle between two buttons. We'd then press the fabrics together so the tape would hold the pieces together and reduces clothing noise, just a soft touch, enough to not piss of wardrobe!

cool, thanks for the detailed explanation too

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Earlier in my career, in a pinch I put a 4''x4'' piece of moleskin on a really hairy guy and then taped a mic in the middle of that.  The moleskin didn't really stick to the skin, but to the hair and the whole rig ended up floating against his t-shirt.  Amazingly enough it looked and sounded good...I had him remove the moleskin on his own time, I suggested he take it off in the shower.  

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On 4/4/2017 at 0:01 PM, John Blankenship said:

Recommended to me by another sound mixer at the Atlanta Mixer Mixer, was Mepitac:

http://tinyurl.com/mcouw7g

It's designed for applications such as patients with fragile skin, wounds, and burn victims. 

For our use, you put a patch of Mepitac onto the hairy chest, and then tape your rig onto the Mepitac.  The stuff sticks well and peels off without "ouch."

Another example why -- with us sometimes-less-than-social sound mixers -- it pays to socialize and share with others.

 

Ordered some of this and it works amazingly well for painless removal from a hairy chest. Thanks for passing the tip along!

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I have had a lot of success with applying COS-11 to actors non hairy chests. I always do a quick wipe with an alcohol wipe first to clean off any body oil or cream they may have applied then a sandwich of Joes Sticky stuff, COS-11 then a big patch of Moleskin. This should stay on all day easily. I usually let the talent remove the mic themselves as it sticks like a Bandaid. Speaking of Bandaids, the Bandaid brand fabric stick really well but some people are allergic to them.

For the hairy chests I too either use a 3-4" square of Moleskin to minimize the noticeable application or use a smaller B6 along the collar. If the Tee shirt has a logo I'll put the mic right in the middle of the Moleskin under the logo or artwork. When all else fails I have plenty of Neopax chest straps. The mic sits inside an RM-11 which usually works if the talent is up to wearing it.

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