17 Different Ways to Mount Lavs to Tricky Costumes (Including a Batman Suit)
If you had to pick between working in a cubical or finding a way to lav an actor wearing spaghetti straps, which short-sleeve button up would you wear on your first day at the office?
Sound designers are basically magicians with everything audio, but one of their greatest tricks is finding clever ways to mount lav mics to virtually any type of clothing thrown at them. If you're a beginner, though, the sheer sight of a gown or wetsuit might send you running for the hills. Before you do, you might want to check out this video from Aputure, in which sound designer Stephen Harrod reveals how he'd approach mic'ing up 17 different costumes, including the classic T-shirt and jeans, the bro tank, and even chainmail armor. (Oh yeah—and Batman's latex suit.)
So, what are the key concepts we can glean from Harrod? Well for one, it's important to remember the inherent issues you face when mounting a lav to clothing, like mic placement and sound quality. It's easy to center your focus on finding a place to just put the damn thing, but remember that it's whole purpose is to pick up clear audio. Ask yourself:
- Where can I hide this lav and where can I store the transmitter?
- How am I going to secure the lav? A mount? Topstick? A chewed up piece of gum? (Just don't.)
- How close can I get the lav to the actor's mouth?
- How noisy is the clothing? Do I need any covers?
- Where can I create "natural cages" where the clothing and the lav don't touch?
- Does my placement work with the camera angle and blocking?
If there's anything to learn from this video (and there is—tons), it's that you can find a way to lav just about anything; you just have to know a few tricks of the trade. Luckily, Harrod gave us a bunch!