Watch: A Beginner's Guide to Using Lav Mics

Never used a lavalier mic before? This should help.

When it comes to filmmaking, sound is one of those things that you can't afford to get wrong. In situations where your boom mic needs some backup, or just won't cut it at all, lavalier microphones are effective tools for recording audio as close to a subject as possible without being visible in the shot. The first thing you should know is that they're also called lavs, neck mics, lapel mics and clip mics. In this video by RocketJump Film School, you get to learn all of the important basics of using lav mics, so when you need one you can use it like a pro.

The video shows you what a lav mic is (as well as transmitters and receivers), common placement and concealment techniques, and how to monitor your audio. However, if you're up for a bit of a challenge and want to learn some more advanced lav mic concepts and techniques, we've got you covered.

Other than ensuring that you're picking up quality audio, the most important thing you'll want to take care of is hiding your lav mic well on-screen. There are many, many, many ways to do this—RocketJump Film School mentions a few in the video—placing them under the lapel of a jacket, in the hair of your actor, or even on a nearby prop. We've talked about Izzy Hyman's great lav mic placement suggestions, as well as Aputure's tips on placing lavs on challenging costumes, so you should check out those posts to learn more.

Another important thing to keep on your radar when placing lav mics is how your talent is feeling. Having a stranger run a lav up your shirt can be an uncomfortable exchange for some, especially for those who aren't used to getting mic'd up (e.g. experienced actors), so knowing how professionals do it is key to making things a little less awkward. The Location Crew shared a bunch of great tips on how to approach mic'ing up talent, but perhaps the best way to do it is ask your actor or interviewee to drop the mic through their clothes themselves, that way you avoid any—uh—discommodious situations.

Do you have any lav mic tips for newbies? Let us know in the comments below.

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Most fun I had all week watching a industry video. Great job, good content.

November 4, 2016 at 1:24PM

Garrett Evans
Video Consumption Strategist, Post Super

Can someone tell me what happens if I have two lav mics on two actors and and a Zoom H4n/Zoom H1 as recorder? Can I record the two lavs on separate tracks or do they come combined as one?

November 6, 2016 at 2:26AM

Ayan Banerjee
Film Maker

There are several recording modes on a H4n. MTR Mode will allow you to record up to 4 different inputs on 4 separate tracks. Most audio recorders will let you record in a mono or stereo mix mode.

November 7, 2016 at 11:44AM

Craig Cerhit
Photographer / Filmmaker

For the H1 which only has one stereo input you'd need a Y-stereo splitter cable. You'll have to adjust levels for both at once, so hopefully both subjects are mic'd similarly and/or speak at about the same level.

November 9, 2016 at 12:05PM

Nathan Taylor
Jack of all trades, master of none

Extremely informative and funny as well. A great presentation overall.

November 11, 2016 at 10:26AM

You voted '-1'.