Join Anthony Q. Artis for an in-depth discussion in this video Mounting a lavalier microphone, part of Video Foundations: Interviews.
Okay, let's go over another simple but essential skill you are going to need to shoot interviews, and that is how to properly mount a lav mic. Notice I said the word "properly." Think about the situation when someone shows up to an interview nicely dressed, the filmmaker has found the perfect backdrop, fussed with the lighting for 30 minutes; then the same otherwise detail-oriented filmmakers proceed to leave the mic wired dangling down the front of the subject's outfit. It's distracting to the audience, and it just looks unprofessional and sloppy.
So I'm going to show you a much neater and more professional way to mount lav mics on your interview subjects. It's a simple three-step technique that takes a minute to learn, but a little longer to master to the point of being able to do it quickly in the heat of production. But master it you must if you want to shoot interviews and have them look more professional. Okay, step one: put your lav mic into the tie clip. Tie clips come standard with most models. Hide the wire by having your subject drop the mic transmitter or capsule down inside the clothing. Then tuck the accessed wire into their waistline or pocket.
Now, fellas, if you're working with female talent, you want to step away or turn around and give them a moment of privacy while they drop it down their shirt or dress. We're going to always be professional and courteous with all of our talent. Tell them to just leave the lav mic dangling out of their neckline with a few inches of slack. You're going to mount and adjust it after the wire has been hidden under their clothing. Step 2 is the trickiest part. Form the wire into a little U-shaped loop and place the loop inside the clip just like this. Use the clip to hold the loop in place.
And lastly, step 3, put the clip into place on the lapel or the neck of pullover shirts. Again, you're going to use a clip to hold your loop in place; only this time it's held in place on the inside of the clothing. Ideally, you want to place the mic in the mid- chest area, a few inches below the neck line. This technique can be a little trickier than it looks to get the loop just right and actually secure the wire in place, but once you practice it a few times and get a few interviews under your belt, it'll be just like tying your shoes.
So this technique is an obvious mount for anyone with a button-down shirt, jacket, as will as maybe sweaters; however many times you will have a subject that's wearing a T-shirt or top that has a round crew neck like this, no tie, no lapel, no problem. All you going to do is twist that bad boy sideways and everything else is the exact same as I just showed you. Now, if you're using wireless lav mics, you normally place the mic body pack somewhere on the back of your subject's belt or waistband.
If the subject is wearing a jacket, the mic body pack could also just rest in their pocket. Make sure you neatly tuck away any extra slack from the wire. In the case of hardwired lav mics, you can just have your subject either drop the mic capsule in their pocket or run the wire out of the back of their clothing and just let the capsule rest on the floor. If your subject needs to get up and answer the door or go to the bathroom or anything like that when they are wearing a hardwired lav mic, simply disconnect the XLR cable and have them hold the capsule in their pocket until they return.
Your audience won't always notice the professional effort you gave in mounting the mic so it looks just right; however, they would definitely notice whenever you get it wrong, and it will look sloppy and could take attention away from your content. Know this: a professional-looking interview is all about constant attention to detail, even how you put a lav mic on a lapel.
- Choosing the right mic
- Mounting the mic
- Scouting locations
- Using backdrops and cycloramas
- Getting single-camera and double-camera coverage
- Making your subject look good
- Crafting interview questions
- Editing the interview