How We Hide Lavalier Microphones
How We Hide Lavalier Microphones:
Do you ever sit and wonder where they hide the microphones on actors when you are sitting and watching television at night? No? Well, the team here sure does. Proper microphone placement is extremely important when it comes to good sound, but keeping them hidden is just as important when it’s necessary.
In this blog post, I will explain to you how the Southern California Video Production team here at Fool’s Errand Films hides our microphones, helping keep the illusion that there is no microphone and the audience is right there with the talent.
The most basic microphone that is most commonly used in video production is the lavalier microphone. In the past, these microphones were hung around the neck, but since technology has advanced, so have the techniques used to hide them.
Most modern lavalier microphones use something called a “condenser transducer” to convert sound energy into an electrical signal. These mics are very similar to the microphones in your cell phone, although ours sound much better, we promise. Most lav microphones are also omni-directional, which allows them to pick up sound from any direction.
These kinds of microphones are typically attached to a persons clothing near their sternum, picking up their speech patterns very well, but also picking up a small amount of local ambient noise. If they are placed elsewhere, the audio engineer may have to make some adjustments.
Hiding The Mic
1. One of the easier but less subtle ways to hide a microphone is by coming through a shirt button. If the subject is wearing a dark shirt, you can run the cable up the shirt, pop the microphone out of a button hole and use a small piece of gaffers tape to secure it to the shirt. On an appropriate set, with proper favorable lighting, the camera probably will not see the microphone. This is not the most favorable way to hide a lav microphone, but it is definitely one of the faster and easier ways to do it in a hurry.
2. In the previous situation, if the shirt has a cloth flap hiding the buttons, you can put moleskin over the microphone and use gaffers tape to secure it to the shirt between the cloth flaps. The moleskins purpose is to hide the sound of the microphone scratching against the cloth.
3. Another piece of clothing that offers a lot of options for hiding a small microphone is the necktie. Most lavalier microphones have a clip for attaching to clothing, if you simply attach the clip to the back of the necktie on the inside of the tie, cover the microphone with some moleskin and secure the cable this location usually works flawlessly. This set up can be a bit muffled but works fairly well if the tie doesn’t lay very tightly against the shirt.
4. If you are using a high quality omni directional microphone, the tie knot is a great place to hide a lavalier microphone. If you loosen the tie and run the microphone down through the front of the knot, so it isn’t visible and secure it with some gaffers tape on the inside of the knot.
5. If your talent is wearing a polo style shirt, you can secure the microphone in the V location below the bottom button, pointing outward. Tape it in place and secure the cord.
6. Often microphones are hidden in the collars of shirts. In this scenario you can run the cable behind the neck inside of the collar, into the shirt and down. If you are using proper wardrobe, punch a small hole in the shirt and pass the cable through that.
7. One of the hardest pieces of clothing to lav mic is the simple t-shirt. There are a few ways to deal with this, the easiest is to just tape the lav to the talents chest. There are also a few products made to secure the lav to the inside of the shirt, but you can usually see the cord tugging on the shirt a bit, so this is not the best solution. If your subject is wearing a t-shirt, using a different technique, such as hiding a lav in the subjects hair, hat or using a directional mic on another can often be better.
Here at Fool’s Errand Films, often on our Southern California Video Production shoots, we use lavalier microphones, but it is just one tool in our arsenal for gathering great production sound. Stay tuned for a future blog on directional microphones, which are used regularly during our productions!