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hello hello... lav mic techniques


B_Van_Deusen
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Hello everyone this is my first post on JWsound.  I am a NYC based sound mixer and been at it for about two years.  I roll with two Lectro's w/ Tram tr50's and i always find myself fighting clothing noise, sometimes having to readjust them between every take.  I've recently tryed sewing in pouches which has worked out ok, but still end up with a little crackle here and there.  On the job i'm on now we also have two sony emc mics which clean up much much easier.

So basically if anyone has any tips or can lead me to any resources, your help would be greatly appreciated.

Best,

Brett

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Guest Jeff Colon

Hi There,

hiding mics and getting good sound involves a lot of variables... a couple thoughts,  The mic must be physically isolated from clothing rubbing on it and the first few inches of cable.  The clothing itself can be noisy (medevial period piece with metal wardrobe.)  Solutions are usually a combination of placement, use of various tape, topstick, medical, gaffer, moleskin etc.  Another variable is the type microphone.  I have not used trams or trims for a while, I don't even remeber their characteristics.  I get good results with Sanken cos 11's and Countryman b3s... I also use HF peaked countryman emws in the hair (usually top of ear) if wardrobe is making too much noise.

A book could be written about this one subject, but I believe nothing substitutes for experience and having the right tools... twenty years and I still get to figure it out as every situation is different. Personally, I think it is one of the more challenging and fun aspects of my job. Keep at it...it gets easier with time.

Jeff C

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  • 2 weeks later...

There are whole bunch of tricks and techniques but no magic bullet. Nothing works in every situation. But with that disclaimer, let me share one that is often useful.

Prepare your mike for mounting with double stick tape. Attach either topstick or a Rycote stickie to the backside of the mike. Then, affix a corn pad (Dr. Scholls or house brand, doesn't matter) to the front of the rig so that the grill opening of the mike is in the hole of the corn pad but surrounded by the foam. Mount the mike as ususual in the center of the chest.

The corn pad protects the mike from contact with clothing without muffling or stifling it. This doesn't necessarily work in situations where the clothing is vigorously pulled across the mike but it is surprisingly effective in many cases.

David Waelder

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One new tool mic can be found at www.gracedistribution.com  It's easier to use than the old Pin Mic and just works for interiors, but gets rid of usual clothes rustle.

It looks interesting, but what could you do for wind protection?  I've used the "exterior" PinMic on exteriors and it worked pretty well, but has that extra mesh screen.  I ask here since I won't be able to make it to NAB.  Is the original Pin Mic still available too?

Philip Perkins

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you to everyone who replied, your advise is greatly appreciated.  I've recently tryed out the cos11 and have fallen for it... it works out much better on clothing than a tram.  I've heard of the corn cushion before and have tryed it, but it usually ends up falling off at some point because the adhesive on the cushion isn't that strong... this is a trick i would like to try out some more.

Usually i have the most problems with suits or dress-shirts w/ ties.  The countryman b3 works great for interiors, but are there any magic bullet's for exteriors.  What i usually find is that the tie itself is a harsh synthetic fabric that makes harsh rubs, and if you go underneith the tie will rub or flop up against it when the person walks.  After topsticking it all together i still usually get alot of rubbing from the starchyness and tightness of the shirt.

Also... what is generally acceptable for clothing rub?  as long it sounds natural?  i'm usually so attuned to it that a little bit will drive me crazy.

best

brett

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Hi Brett,

If you are using the COS-11 on a tie, it is the easiest mounting ever!  Put the mic in the tie knot from the top (so the windscreen is pointing to his feet), then run the cable down through the shirt OR under the collar and down the back of the shirt (if a jacket is being worn)

I do this alot and rarely have any trouble with rubbing.

Another way that is by far the best, is in the hairline (although this usually requires hair!) and hopefully a makeup/hairstylist.

Goodluck,

-Jason

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Ohhhhhh so thats where that trick comes from.  I had an actor tell me he's seen that... i stuffed my tram in the knot and got nothing but rub, but i can see how it will work better with the COS-11.  Thanks!

And about the hairline... i've done it once with just a bobby-pin and it worked out fine, just up above the ear of a long-blonde-haired actress.  If i remember correctly we had to adjust it every take as it would shift a little... is there a better way to secure it?

Best,

Brett

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I've always bobby-pinned it center forehead at the hairline, ran the cable down the back and secured it with Transpore at the neck, leaving a little slack for head movements.

-JP

Bingo, Jason has "nailed" it. That's the best way to rig a "broadway" mount and that's what the "B" in the B6 & B3 stand for.

Eric

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Also... what is generally acceptable for clothing rub?  as long it sounds natural?  i'm usually so attuned to it that a little bit will drive me crazy.

brett

Difficult to answer that one and I know what you mean, I've often gone nuts fixing clothing rubs only to hear it later on air and think "what was I worrying about " It's a fine line but to be honest experience is the only answer...

When a male subject is wearing a suit jacket but no tie, I tend to put the lav on the inside of the jacket just below the collarbone about an inch in from the edge (sanken in rubber mount) you'll notice if he has a jacket that fits correctly there's a small gap between the the shirt and suit. Hard to explain but next time you see someone wearing one look and you'll notice what I'm talking about. As with all lav mounting tricks, sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't. It's a good trick on the ahhh, "slimmer" rather then "portly" gentlemen.

Grant.

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  • 2 weeks later...

A. Definately stick with the Dr. Scholl's brands for stickyness.  I have used CVS Pharmacy moleskin and it is terrible.

B.  Develop several ways to keep clothes from rubbing the mic.  After that, there is not too much you can do to prevent natural acoustic noise, EG: clothes rubbing on clothes or on skin.

C. Even though you can hear some minor acoustical noise in you headphones,  It will barely audible, or non existent on speakers.  You just have to determine with experience what is tolerable and what is not !!

D.  Watch and listen to your projects on TV as much as you can and see what it really sounds like on what the comsumer is hearing it on. 

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As with all lav mounting tricks, sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't. It's a good trick on the ahhh, "slimmer" rather then "portly" gentlemen.

Grant.

"Portly" gentlemen, for me are treated like women....mic goes in the "cleveage":) With separation like that, what's left is that acoustic clothing-on-clothing rubbing, and then it's a matter of talking to Wardrobe about quieter clothes or locking down the offensive clothes and your in the ballpark of acceptable "noise". I always ask if there is something quieter to wear, you never know what they have, and you'll be much happier if there is an alternative option. They typically have multiple wardrobes to choose from, and I always hit up wardrobe before the actors are dressed to examine the clothes FIRST, and then plea......sometimes it has saved the day!

Clothing type is never considered when it comes pre-production. But I've spoken with almost every wardrobe person I have worked with and try to have a good communication with them, so we can work together. Now, I have them actually thinking of noisy materials when they look for wardrobe for certain shows. These departments have to be on the same page when it comes to synthetic materials. I was amazed at how many of the Wardrobe people I've come across that have no idea what we go through when it comes to materials. Just be careful of blame-tossing, and the our departments can be harmonious.

Other then that experience, experience, experience.......

my $.02

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C. Even though you can hear some minor acoustical noise in you headphones,  It will barely audible, or non existent on speakers.  You just have to determine with experience what is tolerable and what is not !!

D.  Watch and listen to your projects on TV as much as you can and see what it really sounds like on what the comsumer is hearing it on. 

C. I'd have to argue that soon, most people will be listening in on home theater systems and we will have to start listening closer than ever. And not accept the noise most of us accept. If that makes sense?

D. Absolutely, I do that ALL the time....mainly to keep my tax deduction:)

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IMO,

concerning how the final project is "heard"...

we hear the rubbing noise through a set of pretty high quality cans, very close up and without any (or very little) ambient noise.

The geneal public listen to it through a TV speaker, or crappy home-theatre or even through a fairly decent home-theatre (like my own), not to mention post production and broadcast hocus-pocus!  These systems just don't recreate what we hear/record, so the rubbing noise usually doesn't cut through, in many cases.  Of course, you still have to do your best to eliminate it.

-Jason

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I often hear lav clothes rustle in features, big budget TV shows etc.., but it's usually not to the point of being distracting for the viewer. In these days of multicam setups and complex compound camera moves, getting wired is the norm. As with background noise, A PSM must discern in realtime if the amount of clothing noise he/she is hearing is acceptable or not.

What's interesting is how with all this lav use, camera-perspective audio is slowely going by the wayside. As the proximity changes between the actor and the camera, the audio perpective just remains the same. On some multicam setups (wide and tight), there's not too much a mixer can do, so it's up to post to remix the ISO tracks to recapture proper camera perspective. Unfortunately, this very often doesn't get done. In my opinion, constant "up close" audio perspective detracts a bit from the voyeuristic acpect of movie watching. I'm not just talking about direct to ambience ratios, but actor's volumes as well.

Oh well... After the elements get handed off, my job is done. It's out of my hands.

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What's interesting is how with all this lav use, camera-perspective audio is slowely going by the wayside. As the proximity changes between the actor and the camera, the audio perpective just remains the same. On some multicam setups (wide and tight), there's not too much a mixer can do, so it's up to post to remix the ISO tracks to recapture proper camera perspective. Unfortunately, this very often doesn't get done. In my opinion, constant "up close" audio perspective detracts a bit from the voyeuristic acpect of movie watching. I'm not just talking about direct to ambience ratios, but actor's volumes as well.

Oh well... After the elements get handed off, my job is done. It's out of my hands.

Perspective sound has gone away with the necessity of wiring everybody for every shot (multiple cameras, etc.) but it should be remembered that perspective sound was the norm for many, many years, not so much for any particular aesthetic reason but because it was forced on a movie by the very techniques used to record sound. There were no wireless microphones so the microphone had to be, for the most part, over the actor's head --- and when the camera was in close the mic was close, when the camera was back for a wider shot, the mic was also "wider." I am oversimplifying here but it illustrates that the style of movie-making will continue to dictate to us today that perspective sound will not be possible. Also, it should be noted that post production sound techniques have also undergone fairly radical change but it is still not possible to replicate, exactly, the real world effect of a microphone's placement in real space. Things can be done and when there is time certainly the people in post do what they can to take the curse off the whole "radio show" sound. Couple this with the fact that so many people have gotten acustomed to movies having this close-up no perspective sound that it is expected and actually valued --- if by some chance you can give them sound sound with perspective and a little "air" or room with it, it is sadly more often than not, not appreciated by the director, producer or even the sound editor.

There are many complex reasons why some sound editors and post sound mixers are saying that they actuallly prefer close-up iso tracks --- this is a function mostly of all sorts of other things that have changed in production: a few examples being things like horrendous locations where "natural" sound is not even a possibility, un-trained actors who cannot speak properly, directors and cinematographers that cannot shoot a scene so it will cut properly (picture AND sound), etc., etc.

More on this later.

Regards,  Jeff Wexler

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Jeff, those are some very good points. I suppose I'm being a bit naive, holding onto to something that's not much appreciated anymore. Multicam and noisy city setups not withstanding, I tend to exercise my PSM prerogative, mixing boom-Lav ratios to cam perspective (whenever circumstances allow). I do so conservatively however, with just a little lean toward the lav. Considering this style of mixing takes more effort, post people and audiences don't much appreciate it - perhaps I should be having some sort of epiphany here. It's just that while watching V/A and dalies, everything sounds so natural and real. Perhaps I need to keep reminding myself that in movies - nothing is real.

Jamie Scapuzza, CAS

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I usually work really hard to avoid clothing rub, moving the mics around a lot (this is why I like the B6 - quite often I can hide it over the clothes, in plain sight, for interiors and some non-windy exteriors).  I have also gone on the arm of the talent's glasses, in the hair (wigs make this really easy).

The worst clothing noise problem I had was on a recent shoot where the talent was wearing a brand new leather jacket.  It really wasn't so much clothing rub as it was clothing creak.  This was one of those cases where I informed the director, noted it in my logs and gave up trying to fix it (it was so bad the boom was picking it up too.)

Phil

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