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The future of lav'ing


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I am curious to know what has changed with some of you out there still working during these times. It seems apparent that boom(s) only might be the standard moving forward and lav's may be used only when necessary, and even then, must be somehow sterile and applied without sound mixer personal space invasion. I could be totally wrong. Local production companies here are collectively working on safe set protocols for the future work to come. Sound/Makeup/wardrobe are on the front lines among others. Sorry if this has been discussed somewhere already. I feel the recent major investments I made in the sleekest lav'ing technology may be grossly underutilized for the next 6 to 18 months.  BUT boom operators might be in high demand. What does the future hold for hiding a lavaliere?

 

-Ken

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You beat me to it. I’ve been wondering the same thing. As an old guy who never used to wire anybody, it wouldn’t bother me at all to not have to wire every single person all the time.   On the

I've worked on that show a lot over the years. Its been running for a long time, shooting episode 8382 when I last went in there in march. Traditionally its a very sound friendly show. Running 2 to 3 

IMHO, production should go back to traditional filming.... a boom!!!   Wide with a scratch track and a Medium and Close-up...   if need be a Medium and Close-up at the same time.... Forget Laving till

You beat me to it. I’ve been wondering the same thing. As an old guy who never used to wire anybody, it wouldn’t bother me at all to not have to wire every single person all the time.
 

On the flipside of that, make up hair and wardrobe is still going to be in the actors face. Why can’t we?

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38 minutes ago, stacysound said:

You beat me to it. I’ve been wondering the same thing. As an old guy who never used to wire anybody, it wouldn’t bother me at all to not have to wire every single person all the time.
 

On the flipside of that, make up hair and wardrobe is still going to be in the actors face. Why can’t we?

Because in post it will cheaper to 'paint out' a lav or a boom than it will be 'paint on' hair and make up?

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My last show and once this is over, next show are 3 cameras.. Basically "F-Sound" wides and tights at all times. If actors start to refuse wearing lav's and production feel the only way to make our days is 3 cameras, then being in sound could become extremely miserable not being able to get a mic anywhere near the talent...

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13 minutes ago, Mark LeBlanc said:

My last show and once this is over, next show are 3 cameras.. Basically "F-Sound" wides and tights at all times. If actors start to refuse wearing lav's and production feel the only way to make our days is 3 cameras, then being in sound could become extremely miserable not being able to get a mic anywhere near the talent...


good point, which makes me think fighting for lavs with a semi sterile protocol might be a way to meet in the middle? It was suggested by a colleague what if we hand talent a kit in a freshly used ziplock that has been previously alcohol wiped down etc, including tx and batt, with an instruction sheet? Laughable for sure as i could see this never being realistic but the right sentiment i felt

 

i do LOVE the idea of mixer and 2 boom op’s coming back as the norm

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    I really don't see things changing, other than the boom op maybe wearing a mask for a while. We almost always wire everybody. Sometimes for our convenience for when we get screwed with shadows or changes in frame that may not of been part of their original plan... They are already done... many times we run them in the background even when booming... 

  Would I like a return to single camera style of shooting? sure, but that's not going to be the reality...  3 cameras, or 2 shooting wide and tight will again be the norm dictated by time ..

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They'll just roll on with lots of cameras and ADR what they have to.  Maybe some actors will have a new para in their contracts that says they can only be touched (wired) by their personal assistant.  Somehow I think they won't look at HMU personnel the same way they look at soundies, esp when "difficult" wardrobe is involved.

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1. Production budgets won't go up.

2. Production Insurance will skyrocket

3. Production schedules will be squeezed. 

4. Production's priority for additional help will be Medic's, not additional sound people

5. They won't paint out the boom, they won't hire additional sound people, we are the one department on set that our entire effort can be completely replaced in post. 

Prior to this we were already getting hammered, the easiest way to fix a problem is to avoid it..

 

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I think budgets might go down, at least for below-the-line.  Otherwise all of the above.   I really think there will be a lot more ADR as things steamroller onward.   But also...maybe...there will be some directives from high up to try to make sets quieter when rolling?  This may be futile, since most current crew etc people are too young to remember when we did that as a matter of course.

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Perhaps there will be more reliance on vfx wire-removal tools to remove boom mics. Even at my low-end of the game, stuff like Mocha Pro is getting increasingly good at removing bigger and more-complex object from moving shots. It was used on a small corporate job I was on last year when the startup pivoted and redesigned their logo and stuff just after the shoot, so post had to remove all the old logos, etc from the footage; I'm told it worked fine. It's much more than a static garbage matte, and it's not just ILM-level tech or soul-crushing roto, though it's also not yet Set It And Forget It. But you don't need a totally clean plate; the tools can (at least sometimes) build a clean plate for you. Yes, this would take some forethought and budgeting from productions, but there you go. Here's a demo from 18-months ago:

 

 

 

Also, Saturday Night Live has a nice five-minute example of production during COVID-19. Good HMU advice! 🙂

 

 

But on the doc side of things, I don't know what to do. I am deep into a film following some people in really dire straights and really unhealthy situations. Booming  is not an option (need to keep as low a profile as possible), and anyway I stopped filming for now because of COVID-19. Not sure when I'll be able to get rolling again. 😞

 

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Philip, One thing on stages I'd love to see are 

1. Reduce the number of Video Villages on Stage... My last 4 shows, it's out of control.  We had 4 on my last show. Or Move at least 1 of them outside.. This can get producers and the vanities off the main stage.. 

2. Reduce the amount of crew ON STAGE, All the grip and electric crap that they never use can be staged outside.. But, the reality of shooting in a sub-tropical area like Louisiana will not allow this to happen.. But all those Cooling tents won't be as popular!!

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33 minutes ago, Mark LeBlanc said:

Philip, One thing on stages I'd love to see are 

1. Reduce the number of Video Villages on Stage...

Where else will everyone sit to use their phones while pretending to actually watch the monitor, especially with agency shoots? /s

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Maybe all those folks could work from home!  In the old days, the big Emperor-Directors only allowed a few non-crew people on the set, and they had to communicate with the director via the producer.  Kept traffic to a minimum.  Old stages had lots of people on them, but they knew how to be quiet when the rolling bell rang, and didn't continue working during shots.

 

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The need for lavs on docs, esp modern run+gun fly-on-the-wall types (and reality TV) hasn't changed, and when the world returns to itself it will be just as noisy as it was.  Maybe to avoid diving into the subject's clothes to string a lav mic to a TX we'll have to accept something like "Instamic" that easily clips on the outside (visible) and records itself, for this kind of shoot?

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1 hour ago, Philip Perkins said:

The need for lavs on docs, esp modern run+gun fly-on-the-wall types (and reality TV) hasn't changed, and when the world returns to itself it will be just as noisy as it was.  Maybe to avoid diving into the subject's clothes to string a lav mic to a TX we'll have to accept something like "Instamic" that easily clips on the outside (visible) and records itself, for this kind of shoot?

It would be a silver lining if we were allowed to clip the mic outside for doc and reality. Never understood what all the fuss was about with it visible anyway.

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I think it's easy to see things from one's own perspective, but just a few things, when thinking about the whole process:

- If anything MU is probably more iffy than us. I mean they have to physically touch people's faces and even get in their eye lids, lips etc.

- Scenes involving more than one actor/talent interacting with each other, touching, hugging, kissing, fighting, sitting next to each other in a car, couch whatever...

- A lot of times a set is packed with talent, crew, directors, video village with clients in close proximity around monitors. Not exactly "social distancing".

- Crafty, catering, and associated tables.

- G&E constantly touching and moving things.

- Camera crew interacting, touching lenses etc.

 

Man I hope they find a cure and vaccine, so things will return to "normal" sooner than later. 

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WTF??  Are you guys shoving your lavs up your ass and then trying to put them on actors? Just put them on normally or give them to the wardrobe person to help.  Are you thinking in the future that no one can be near anyone when you make films? Love scenes are going to be weird to shoot.

 

 

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in terms of on-camera subject vs professional talent - the CEO you are miking doesnt know for sure if you shoved that particular lav up your ass or just took that same mic off the CFO interviewed before him and that CFO sweats when he's nervous. to that CEO it might be just as unsanitary to say the least. they work together yes but that is where personal contact stops in the world of pre-pandemic. post-pandemic is yet to be seen. that same CEO may not want to be touched in any case moving forward and we may have to accept no lav for this particular person, right? It feels like the new way if at least for the short term. i really feel "put them on normally" is not the norm anymore and not all shoots have a wardrobe person let alone a makeup person - especially moving forward it might just be sound and camera - or just camera

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We're on a stay at home order here in Seattle, so no productions for a while.  Right before the order I did a rush of corporate communications jobs as a way to replace planned conferences & meetings etc.  A few things changed for me. 

I was asked to wear nitrile gloves while micing talent. 

I was asked to sanitize the lav and transmitter in between each person with a sanitizing wipe, or sometimes just using hand sanitizer. 

At times I was instructed to hand off the mic and let talent mic themselves so I would have no direct interaction with them.

 

Makeup department made a lot of changes to their process too.  Some of the changes included:

Using disposable brushes instead of reuseable

Switching to powder makeup that can be poured into a small temporary container rather than paste makeups that get re-used between talent.

Designating re-useable makeup only to the talent it was used on.

Wearing gloves and a mask

 

To me it feels like these things won't stick around after the virus gets under control.  Hopefully that's soon.

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12 minutes ago, Wandering Ear said:

Makeup department made a lot of changes to their process too.  Some of the changes included:

Using disposable brushes instead of reuseable

 

 

If you work with pros they never use a brush on differernt persons anyway. That's one of the first things you learn as a MUA. You have multiple ones for the Job and wash your brushes when you're back home with a cleansing solution or shampoo after each use.

 

Greetings

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For working with non professionals.  I can see giving quick tutorials describing where and how the mic needs to placed.  Many visual aids- simple mounts.  i can see having pictures and examples loaded into my phone to show people.   Maybe Ipad- for bigger display.   Add some humor to the process if possible.   And i plan on reeking of sanitizer--  and my gear too.   

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I‘m not so concerned about the gear. Yes, if you take it off one person and put it on another that’s not good, but otherwise I don’t really think anyone can get infected by having a mic placed on their body. Person to person is a different story, I am pretty sure we will all start wearing masks and possibly gloves and maybe even face shields. And quite possibly we can only get back to work when all of these things are available in sufficient quantities. 
I tend to not place the actual mic on women, whenever possible today already. Instead I explain exactly what I need and they do it themselves. With my help and/or wardrobe. I will intensify this and expand it to men, too. Then I‘m sure we will be fine and can continue to wire people. 
Although I am not sure how it will work with other departments. Maybe there needs to be a greater distance from now on and you make it look closer in editing or becomes a normal thing. Art reflecting life

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