Cinematography Mailing List - CML

Lav Miking Etiquette


For sound guys, what is your approach when presented with female talent that's shy, prudish and the lav miking situation requires mounting in cleavage or that she take her shirt off for bra mounting, or tape to chest mounting, or pants off for mounting on the thigh. The talent may be slightly paranoid about things like crew "hanging out" during a nude scene and that the sound guy is getting kicks from miking her. I usually keep a straight face since a smile is sometimes misinterpreted, control my male thoughts if it's a very sexy subject/outfit, and in general show little emotion, none of which I pretend to say are the best ways.

I was wondering about some ideas or different methods others may have. Especially about how you assure non-professional talent that taking her clothes off is necessary and that your hands involuntarily touching her breasts for something like cleavage mounting is just you doing your job! I should say I usually tend to let talent partially wire themselves in those situations but ideally I would want control over the whole process.


Aren A.
Cam/Dir./Aud/Editor etc.
New York

> For sound guys, what is your approach when presented with female >talent that's shy, prudish and the lav miking situation

I haven't had any problems miking actors yet, but I always try to be reassuring. If I could generalize, I find that young and beautifully actresses are often easier to mic than older actresses, or at least in the sense that I've found older women to be more self-conscious about their bodies. I tend to wrap the transmitter around the ankle and let the talent snake it through their clothes. I've had to yank girls' skirts up because of poor signal problems and no one's complained yet, they know it's part of the job.

The set should not be closed to the sound dep't. during sex scenes and plant mic's should at least be allowed. I just came off a shoot that closed the set to me during a sex scene and I felt it went hand-in-hand with their

An almost more serious issue, at least to me, is miking children – by children I mean anyone under 18, but particularly kids under 10, and particularly spoiled brats. While I will do it, it can make me uncomfortable, and I always bring their parents with me the first time, and I try to get the producers to talk to the children's parents beforehand, tell them that it might happen, this is what it means to be an actor, etc.

Tim Elder

Sound mixer / director
New York

> For sound guys, what is your approach when presented with female >talent that's shy, prudish and the lav miking situation

Tim makes good comments. This seems to be more of a problem in the low-budget world where actors haven't been through this as often. I don't play in that world much (mostly docs), but for some exercise infomercials, I have bumped into similar situations: Women who aren't used to strangers messing with their clothes.

Basically, I talk to them ahead of time and let them know what I'm doing. Sometimes I'll recruit someone from wardrobe to help. They often have some experience with lavs (or can get through if I guide them) and have already dealt with the actress in a hands-on manner. And they're often femaie.

There have been several discussions of this over on RAMPS. Here's a search that brings up some of them:



Or the same link more briefly:

Not trying to water down CML-Audio, but RAMPS is a good resource for pure production-audio discussions. And I think of CML-Audio as being more camera centric. Not that this thread bothers me, or anything...

Jim Feeley
Docs, sounds, and words
Near San Francisco USA

>For sound guys, what is your approach when presented with female >talent that's shy, prudish and the lav miking situation

Unfortunately or fortunately, the best place for avoiding sound rustle in the cleavage. Most professional actresses are used to it, but the problem can arise with someone less experience or especially shy (not a common trait in thespians). Often costume ladies or certainly a female boom can set a lavalier properly and making talent comfortable is far from a small consideration.

Mik Cribben- Steadicam (and 52 sound)

ABOUT ETIQUETTE of RF application :

First of all that word in American English is at best called manners:

I found that after saying my name and what I was going to do, you know immediately how to proceed from their reaction. [from: we are here to avoid you the hassle of going to looping sessions - Just think of me as the sound doctor - I will turn your mike off when off stage - amateurs: the spooks are listening, anything to lighten the moment] Of course if its a high tension situation, let the producer who knows the participants introduce you... and if they are high profile Stars let the boom guy who you introduce right after your credibility is established do the deed while you watch over the install in a professional manner. Its a 1-2 punch that speaks of professionalism and even a talk show host can't reject. (A. Montalban (Sp ?) has special pockets sown into his wardrobe to hold radio mikes, and he knows when his shirt and tie scratch so he changes his body language and gives you a little gesture to let you know. with a professional like that life is easy.)

Trouble starts with pushy wardrobe folk who know everything better anyway, and will not even allow small invisible compromises in wardrobe placement or attachments as they are ignorant of what the camera sees. This coupled with some of their hyper egos makes for more difficulties than the actors themselves. Then I had some wardrobe person who asked me in pre production what was good for me and what not. I was taken aback by the cooperation. Coming from that attitude we even dealt with the all natural silk evening gowns. Of course when was the last time a set decorator offered to carpet the set to dampen sound reflections?

After all the pro actors know we make them sound ( + look) good. There are the well known exceptions. I don't think B... ... has worn a RF since Moonlighting 20 years ago. It seems the gutter press was listening in to conversation in his trailer and printed lies about his sexual habits. Children or young adults ( despite the hysteria here about that topic ...) are perfectly OK with it if you make a game of it, and it is of course just a game, a play. I try to let kids listen to headphones if their friends or co actors are miked too. This seems to be the easy part in my experience. Nowadays kids are impressed that I have my own domain... imagine that! They are a lot sharper than us wise old folk.

I got to be honest though... I have learned more about people who are not part of the folks I ordinarily mingle with, by listening to their private conversations. Of course I hold all this private like a doctor or lawyer and it occurred accidentally when checking the technical set-up and range, but what insights I have gained into rich and poor alike! Shakespeare did not have that privilege. And those are intimacies that you don't get as a journalist interviewing folk.

I try not to talk to talent about their voice level ( and certainly not performance or enunciation), I try to leave that to the director, and they have different ways of doing that or not doing that. some pro-actors though react well to it and then why not ask for a little projection.

Wolf ( new website: ) seeberg, mixer in LA.

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