Sound Tips

Featured topics

Lapel Microphones


In Actors Hair

You get rid of much of the clothing noise
You also don't get the additional chest cavity resonance that can color the sound
Sound doesn't change as much when the actor turns his or her head
Only small measure of wind protection
Actor needs to have some hair to hide lapel

Tape Inside Clothes

Fast solution
Leaves minimal footprint
You may see the tape make a 'butterfly' mark on front of their shirt (if taped to front shirt)
Can rip off actors chest hairs and make you unpopular (if taped to chest)


Countryman B6

Small enough to mount in tie knots
Fragile and, if not looked after, cable can break

Other proven professional brands include: TRAM and Sanken COS-11


Sandwiching the mic between two pieces of moleskin

This isolates the mic much better from cable noise also.

Moleskin is a product sold in the Dr. Scholl's foot care part of the pharmacy. It is that sticky fat cloth-like stuff, used to protect skin from blistering.

Put a piece of transpore or surgical tape dead center over the head of the B-6

Tape it directly to the inside of outer most layer of clothing. This is quick to fix on the actor and will also reduce the times needed for the recordist to come back and 'tweak' the lapel.

Decide is it Contact Noise or Acoustic Noise:

Contact Noise is the result of garments rubbing against either the mic capsule itself or the leading few inches of cable (equally sensitive to friction). Contact noise can usually be controlled / eliminated as shown in above points. In addition to these points, form a strain relief for the thin cable. Make a small loop just under the mic capsule.

Acoustic Noise is the sound generated by the clothing itself as garments or layers rub against each other when the actor moves. Noise is much more prevalent from synthetic fabrics than from natural cottons or wools. There is no simple remedy, only prevention, so it is wise to consult early with the wardrobe department.


Most lapels will come with a small windscreen. For serious wind protection click here to view my favourite - the Baby Koala range.

Make your own windshield. Inexpensive, expendable windscreens can be made by wrapping the mic in acoustafoam.


Equipment Manuals

All Sound Devices Mixers and Recorders

Among the most popular audio mixers and hard drive recorders.

Panasonic AJ-HDC27F DVCProHD VariCam

The VariCams' main feature is that the framerate (Wiki) can be varied from 4 frame/s to 60 frame/s

Sony HDW-F900R CineAlta

The latest model of the HD camera George Lucas used to shoot Episode II of the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy

Panasonic HVX-200 P2 HD Camcorder

A fixed lens high-definition video camera that records HD video on solid state P2 cards (Wiki) or DV video on MiniDV tapes.

Panasonic AG-HPX500E and AG-HPX500P P2 Camera

See pages 16-18 for audio options


New to Sound Recording?

First Time Working On Film Set

Devote yourself wholly to the sound recordist / mixer whom you are assisting. If you do this one thing properly then you can relax and know that you will have a good day. Fail to do this - by paying unnecessary attention to the other departments - and you will end your day overwhelmed and out of favour with the recordist.

Marketing Yourself

Have business cards handy in your wallet and swap with the camera operator, director and producer at the end of the shoot. Email them after the shoot, thank them sincerely and keep in touch with them throughout the year.

What Equipment Should I Buy?

Get the best and it will last 20-30 years. If looked after, sound equipment will still command half its value - unthinkable in almost any other industry. Buy second-hand if you are short of cash or just out of film school. Trademe, Ebay, NZ Sound Net, NZ Crews, all have 2nd hand gear.

Rates and Insurance

Feature film and TVC's charge labour and equipment separately. Most jobs however you can keep it all together. Ask what the budget is and you can negotiate if it's lower than your usual rate.

mini topics

boom operating

Muscles are not important. A flexible well-stretched body is. Do Tai Chi, Qi Gong or Yoga each day. Ande Schurr

Kids and animals around the boom: Show boom to them before the take. Animals interpret fur on the boom as another animal. So let the animal (esp. horse/dog) sniff the windjammer before the shot - and then they see it's not real. Eoin Cox

Boom Questions: Are there mirrors; Are there reflections or shadows? Is the camera tilting up?

Offset the boom mic from any background noises: fridges, traffic, lighting hums...

Sound perspective: let the sound match perspective of camera rather than depending on radio mics

maintaining equipment

Windjammers may be hand-washed in cold water with very mild detergent and then allowed to air dry naturally. After drying, brush them out to remove

preparing for a take

Get the dialogue at all costs. Ask who will actually be on camera with dialogue for each particular setup within that scene. If you can't get a boom close enough or hide a radio mic on them (due to their lack of clothing for instance) then close mic them when they are off-screen (or wild lines immediately after).

Spot problems during rehearsal (e.g. rustling bag during dialogue / talking down as the actress is packing away her clothes in a drawer).

slating correctly

Sync sound is important and even during purely FX shots (e.g. cars racing past) it can save the editor valuable time.


Often the director can give instructions for actors during the take. Ensure this doesn't fall over dialogue. If over FX get afterwards as wild.