Selection and Use of Lavalier
Rigging lavaliers: Hiding Lavaliers under Clothing
written by Fred Ginsburg, C.A.S.
Hiding a microphone under clothing requires much more attention to
detail. Not only must the mic be hidden from view, but you must also
contend with the problems of clothing noise.
Clothing noise comes in two varieties: Contact and Acoustic.
Contact clothing noise is caused by clothing physically rubbing
against or striking the mic capsule or mic cable.
The best means to eliminate this type of noise is to immobilize the
clothing around the mic. If the garments cannot move in relation to
the mic, then they cannot rub or strike the mic!
Different sound mixers have different techniques for accomplishing
this feat, but my preference is the use of sticky triangles.
But first, we have to eliminate cable noise.
Do this by forming one or two complete loops of the cable
just below the mic capsule. The loops should be around one
inch in diameter.
Tie the loops in place with a piece of thread or dental
floss, or even a thin strip of camera tape sticky side out.
The loop should be secured loose enough to open and close
freely when the cable is tugged.
This becomes your strain relief. Secure the mic capsule
within two small triangles of sticky tape.
I make these triangles from a 1" wide by 2" long piece of
camera or gaffers tape, folded corner to corner several
times like a flag, sticky side always out.
The mic is centered within the two triangles. Be careful not
to tape over the grill or holes of the mic.
This sticky triangle can be placed just above a button of a
shirt/blouse. The loop falls opposite of the button itself.
The next inch or so of cable should be taped onto the shirt
so that it is between buttons.
Any tugging of the shirt or cable with be strain relieved by
this strip of cable. The floating loop isolates the tugging
from the mic capsule. The sticky triangles anchor the
clothing on either side of the mic.
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When wiring a female equipped with a bra, the sticky triangle can be
re-angled so that it is flatside up, pointy end down, and can be
placed inside of the bra, in the cleavage at the "cross your heart"
point. The swell of the bosom acts as a shield against clothing
noise, and results in excellent sounding mic placement.
The other type of clothing noise is that of Acoustic noise.
Acoustic noise is created not from clothing rubbing against or
striking the mic, but instead from the clothing rubbing against
Static Guard works very well to lubricate clothing, such as jackets
rubbing over shirts.
Heavy starch conducts noise, so it is best dealt with by applying or
spraying a little water around the mic placement area, as well as in
any other areas that would not appear obvious to camera.
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As a rule of thumb, cottons and woolens are the quietest
Synthetics and silks are very noisy and should be avoided as
much as the situation allows.
Lavaliers can also be hidden in other areas than just center
Under the collar works well with sweaters and sweatshirts,
or women's blouses. Going under the collar of a dress shirt
on a male may create a problem if beard stubble is present
on the neck.
Less conventional mic sites include under the brim of hats,
or hidden in the hair at the forehead.
Small lavaliers can also be hidden on the frames of
A very useful trick is to hollow out a plastic pen, and hide
a lavalier inside. With but a very small incision in the
back of a pocket, a pen mic can be planted in full
visibility to the camera, with no clothing noise, and still
remain completely "hidden".