Lavalier Mic Etiquette

On-set it’s the sound guy or gal’s responsibility to mic the talent. Many location sound recordists use both a lav and boom mic at the same time as a backup. If you’re not using a boom then you will definitely need to wire the talent with a lavaliere mic, lav for short.  If you’re only using a boom mic, the type of shots your director of photography will be getting, such as wide shots, may show the boom mic on camera. Depending on the type of productions you do, many of you will be dealing with a professional actor or actress. Otherwise, it may be someone who has never before worn a wireless microphone.

Feed the mic down the front of the shirt
Tell the talent exactly what you’re doing at all times

Putting a lav mic on someone can be uncomfortable. Think about it, you walk up to a person you probably don’t know and have to put a wire under their clothing, around their body, clip a transmitter pack to their waist and tuck in the cable so you don’t see it. Sometimes the transmitter pack has to be clipped to a bra strap and sometimes it’s hidden in their undergarments. It can be a little invasive so try to make it as comfortable as possible.

Be courteous and professional when placing the lab mic
Be courteous and professional when placing the mic

Whether putting a mic on a professional or not, always be courteous and respectful. Initially, introduce yourself and let them know that you’ll be putting a microphone on them. Let them know how you’re going to do it and where things are being placed. Enlist their assistance as you begin. For example, when miking a female, I say, “okay if you could drop this end of the cable down the front of your blouse.” I often will look away while they’re doing that, just to be courteous instead of staring down their blouse.

If you need to put your hands up their shirt, just let them know. I will often say, “excuse me,” as I work. Most of the time they say, “no problem, do what you have to do.” When you walk around behind them, let them know you’re getting ready to attach the transmitter. “Ok, now I’m going to clip the transmitter to the back of your pants.”

Placing the transmitter pack on the back of the pants
Placing the transmitter pack on the back of the pants

Occasionally, the talent makes a risqué comment so just keep it professional. It’s not a bad idea to have someone else in the room while miking them just to keep them at ease. Remember, non-professional talent are not used to it and extra care should be taken.

Ultimately, when miking talent, always be courteous and respectful. They’re looking to you to be the professional you are. If you found this article helpful, please share with your friends and colleagues. MichaelTheSoundGuy.com

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