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Where to hide body mics?

Discussion in 'Sound, Music, and Intercom' started by silverbullet761, Jan 31, 2007.

  1. silverbullet761

    silverbullet761 Member

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    Okay, I've posted here before. Sorry for the constant berrage of questions. This is our first musical that my school has ever done, and only a few of our actors have done musicals before. I have never done one before, neither as a sound/light tech nor as a player. Anyway, I realized that we have a serious problem in rehearsals this evening. Our lead male is a base singing songs that are mostly tenor, so he is shy about singing, and always sings very softly. Now, we are going to have 3 phantoms (close range) in the front of the stage and 2 wide range mics in the middle of the stage, but the action also takes place in front of the stage, in the audience. Of course, we can't mic that area, so when our lead male is singing off of the actual stage, no one will be able to hear him. I need to know how I can hide a body mic on him, without it being a give away he's wearing one. He wears just a t-shirt and some torn jeans throughout the show. I've never done any type of body mics before, and I need to know the best place to put one that would be barely noticable but still pick up good audio. He has short hair, so we can't hide it in his hair (read that online that the mic is often placed in the hair of women or in wigs).

    Also, we have some 'childish' players in the cast and if they found out one person was wearing a body mic, they would whine about not having one and I really don't feel like yelling at them. So, they more hidden this mic is, the better.

    Any comments or ideas are appreciated. This is a learning experience for me.
     
  2. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Keeping it from the cast, aint goin to happen. First dead give away will be the mic checks that you will do with the person wearing the mic every night. Medical adhesive tape is your friend when doing body mics. What I like to do is to make an ear clip with a bobby pin or something of that nature, tape the mic to it, and then clip it on the talents ear, and tape it in, run it down the back of the shirt, put the pack in some type of holder either built into the costume or a separate belt/pouch combo (that can easily be washed... very important..). The mic is going to be seen unless you have some nice countryman mics. Just make sure it gets mounted on the head so at any given time the talents mouth is the same distance away from the mic.
     
  3. Radman

    Radman Well-Known Member

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    I'll second third and fourth the importance of washing. You might want to keep a bottle of Febreze handy, too.
     
  4. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I hope Sharyn sees this she's always good for placement questions. I've seen mics mounted on the forehead, taped to the cheek. as far as a pouch goes we typically sew one out of muslin or flannel with strings so it can be tied around the waist. The transmitter is placed in an un-lubricated codom to help it resist moisture before inserting it in the pouch.
     
  5. cutlunch

    cutlunch Active Member

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    As the others have said the non miked actors will just have to lump it.

    You are probably looking at making up a metal wire loop to go around his ear. This is so you can have it on his cheek in front of the ear.

    To hide it I would use medical tape that is as close to his skin colour as possible or you may be able to cover the tape with his face makeup.

    How tight is his t-shirt? If it is loose then place the transmitter in the small of his back. If he is meant to be a tough guy put it under the t-shirt on his shoulder as if he had a pack of cigarettes there.

    It is interesting how everyone talks about using condoms to keep the packs dry. This sounds like a hassle. The theatres I work in have made up pack belts out of a canvas/ calico type material. It is just a band of material that is big enough to go around a waist. In the middle there is a small pouch sewn on that holds the pack. Just remember to leave a small hole at the bottom to let the aerial out. You can also add a small velcro'ed flap in case you have to use on an odd angle eg diagonally across the chest. The ends of the bands have enough velcro so you can adjust them for different sizes.

    They work well and make it easy if you have to get at the packs in a hurry or where you have to change packs around to different cast members during the show. The sweat doesn't get to the packs because of the heavy material. But if you were really fussy you could line the pouch with a plastic material.

    Just some thouhgts.
     
  6. jkowtko

    jkowtko Active Member

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    I second (third, fourth?) the motion that you're not going to be able to hide this fact from the other actors, especially if all the guy is wearing is a T-shirt and jeans. The only hope you would have is to pin the mike head inside the crew neck under his chin, keep the neck as loose as possible and hope your mike isn't one that makes the scratching sound easily (otherwise it will be unbearable for the audience). The transmitter would have to be in a pouch in the small of the back (as others have stated) since it's the only place where it won't completely bulge out ... unless he has really baggy jeans on, in which case you can clip to the inside of his waist or sew and inside pocket somewhere.

    If you decide to use tape, fyi, I use the Nexcare transparent medical tape:

    http://www.americarx.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=21165

    Seems to hold really well, pretty transparent and can be covered by makeup, and nobody's complained about it (except for taking it off ... ouch!)

    Good luck, and let us know when you end up doing!
     
  7. dvlasak

    dvlasak Active Member

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    I vote for the mic being on the head somewhere. Either it goes up the back, through the hair to the hairline, or slightly lower, or it goes around the ear or to the cheek. As I'm guessing SHARYNE will say, at the forehead is a more natural sound. Depending on the hair of your bass actor singing tenor, I would also suggest making a "circle" of clear elastic that gets attached to the mic's cable (be careful that cable is easily damaged!) and goes around the actors head. There are more technical terms I could use to describe this, but this is the common person's version. You can get the clear elastic from any sewing supply shop. You can google it to see it and/or find it.

    You can email me off list and I can send you what files I share with my students about mic placement. Or try googling wireless mic placement. Try both the Shure and Sennheiser sites, they have good information. I can't think of the other web sites that I use, but when I find them, I'll try to post them here.

    Dennis
     
  8. saxman0317

    saxman0317 Active Member

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    Number one, if they dont have a mic, i always use the same response. "Only people who complain about not having mics are the actors that just arent good enough to project their voice to my house mics. So unless your admitting that you suck, leave me alone..."
    As to body mics, think about it this way and it will become much easier...when actors yell in pain their only acting..it doesnt hurt. With that said, theres many creative ways to mount packs. My favortie is actually duct tape to the inside of the thigh...not bad with the ladies, but works good if you have a grudge agaisnt the guy your micing and he is nice and hairy. the obvious bra straps and the like. Homemade holster deals ive done, ive even just taken my belt off and put it around a guys chest and clipped it there. As to the mic itself, find a good makeup person to help. Its amazing what you can do with spirit gum and clay. Ive done that a few times, just gumming it onto their cheek and running the cable down the side of head and down their back. If they have long hair my ex is a master at braiding mics into their hair so that it dosnt take much to filter out the white noise from it...havent met many others that can braid it right though. Just be creative and remember the functionality and visiblility before comfort thing and youll be good. (ps...sound guys should never be shy... And if your a pervert, you dont have much of a chance... I will deffinatly admit that one of the things that makes my job so much easier doing mics before a show since i paranoid and dont let others do it, is that Im the straight guy thats allowed into the womens dressing room without them caring knowing that im not going to hitting on them or anything. Professionalism is deffiantaly a sound techs best friend)
     
  9. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Using condoms is easier and cleaner than putting a plastic pouch inside the transmitter holster. Some of the actors I have worked with in the past and I include myself would have no problem sweating through a heavy felt, gortex laced pouch in 30 minutes. Ounce of prevention, pound of cure....
     
  10. wolf825

    wolf825 Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Many many places to place a mic on a body..depends on costume, hair, quick changes the actor does and so forth. As others have said--the rest of the actors who whine about having a Mic can pound sand--you give mic's to those who need one, so they can deal. As a sound designer I have often poulled a mic from a cast member because they simply did not need one or they were being picked up by a shotgun or PCC stage mic just fine.

    Now a mic belt is a norm you will want to get and make sure it is canvass or muslin and has a velcro flap or way to close the top....do not use Felt or Wool (static charges can build up and discharge and send a loud POP thru--yes they can)...however I would not line it with plastic. The reason folks use unlubricated condoms (always practice "safe sound" ;) ) is several factors--first they BREATHE and moisture from sweaty actors stays out--also they do not contain or hold in heat and body packs can get hot from an actors body....and if you add moisture to that heat--this can damage the electronics over time... Also to consider--some folks have an alergic reaction to plastics and rubber. For folks who may have allergic reactions to rubber-then look to the current selection of rubber gloves in your janitorial closet. Nytrile is a non-latex, non-rubber alternative that works well too for mics (many of the new non-latex rubber gloves are made from Nytrile..they are usually purple or blue but can be any color--and non-powdered gloves are best as cornstarch can get nasty in a body mic).

    Now if you do not have a mic belt or cannot get your costume shop to sew one up for you, you can also use an ACE wrap bandage--a 3"-4" ACE wrap will work in a pinch. Just "sandwich" the body pack in between the 3-5 layers of the ace wrap and it will hold it nicely thru a show. ACE wraps also allow you to do some "creative" mic techniques in tricky costume areas such as for an under-arm, chest or leg wrap to secure the body pack to where a regular mic belt won't work. As for where to place a transmitter--be aware of the costumes you will run into--occasionally metal beads and chains, heavy sequin outfits, heavy wool and multiple heavy clothing layers can actually shield some of the cheap VHF and low-power transmitters and cause drop-outs.. So as a sound person you should know the costumes your actor will be in as well. Best is to locate the recievers on-stage near the actors and transmitters if possible and just run your lines back to your board.

    As for placement--as I said...the pack can go almost anywhere on the body you can run the wire (and yes--tape the wire to the back or body of the actor too if needed--follow the natural contours of the body and always stay aware of how movement and any dance or on-stage interaction may snag the wire or create a movement problem). Depending on costume and quick changes etc...I"ve stuck transmitters on hips and thighs, under arm pits, had costuming sew mic packs INTO a costume, stuffed them in pockets, in bra's, in underwear and many other places in my 20+ year career...tho the small of the back is the standard preferred area...so work best with what you have.

    As for the actual mic placement on a person--Others have given you some great suggestions to try out--an ear-wire, elastic headband and the hair pin trick etc....securing the mic to the face with medical tape (use Tegaderm or Blendaderm medical tape, or "top-stick" toupee and wig tape too also works) and so on. Placement can be on the side of face in front of the ear, behind the ear (nasty and difficult), hairline, cheekbone and so on.. When I train new sound folks, I tell them to feel the actors face for their cheekbone and look to place the mic just below the bone in parallel. Also they can feel for the jawline and mandible on the side of the face in front of the ear and place the mic on that spot too. Voice can be picked up very well from these natural "vibration" points..you don't neccesarily have to get the mic by the actors mouth. In tough situations you can also do a neck clip on tee shirts or a flat chest taping on the breastbone just below where it juts out--but when you have to go below the headline you run into clothing noise problems, heavy sweat issues, visability issues and movement issues that will be a pain to mix and deal with. The less you put under costumes or off the head the better you will be to stay in a normal area--such as the ear, cheek and jawline...

    TIPS: If the actor wears a hat--make sure you place the mic low enough the mic is not "cupped" or knocked by the hat... If the actor kisses or hugs or is slapped by other actors in scenes--place the mic opposite the side they touch or meet so as not to get that "CLANG" of the contact during the show too... ;) and never let an actor be in charge of turning their mic ON or OFF... They should be mic'd up, sound checked and they should never have to touch or worry about the mic afterwards. If you leave an actor in charge of their mic--they will screw it up. Actors are "props with dialog"--treat them as such. :) Use electrical tape and put a "loop" or strain relief of mic cable on the body pack--this ensures the actor does not rip out the wires to the connector accidentally. If the connector does not screw in (like a microdot connection) to the body pack--tape it...those mini-XLR and T connector clips can fail sometimes so make sure the connector is securely fixed to the transmitter by taping it into place. Tape over the switch too--so it does not accidentally get turned off...tho most higher end mic's have a frequency or chennel lock and power-lock ON ability--its always a good idea to tape the switch or little buttons. Keep the actual mic element about 1/8" to 1/4" off body as best as you can--in other words don't flat tape the mic element to the skin--sweat can and will get into the element and suddenly your actor will sound like he is drowning. a tiny air-space between the element and the skin is perfect--and if you have serious issues you can place a small piece of Moleskin under the mic element as a barrier... Keep a small can of compressed air with a tube backstage should any mic get "sweat logged" and sound like they are underwater or muffled..a quick burst of that dry air DIAGONALLY accross the element (never EVER into the element) while the mic is muted offstage will clear it right up. Final tip--Hairspray and other make-up can ruin a mic element--cannot tell you how often I have seen hairspray sieze up a mic element... Instruct all actors if they should use hairspray that they MUST cover and shield the mic thoroughly.. Preferred would be if you get the actors AFTER they have done make up and costume--so all they need to do is touch-up...but warn them ALL about the use of Hairspray, gel, make-up spray sealer, and so forth and to keep it away from the mic element.

    Mic's are a norm in theatrical shows--do not worry so much about it being seen..its a given there is to be a microphone somewhere...and if you do a good job mixing then folks won't even notice the mic.. Hope this helps....good luck and feel free to post any questions ro concerns you have. The members of the Controlbooth community is a wealth of knowledge for all to learn from...

    -wolf
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2007
    deeejaaay, dannyn, NickVon and 3 others like this.
  11. tenor_singer

    tenor_singer Active Member

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    The latest issue of Dramatics Magazine (EdTA's monthly publication) had an excellent article in it written by one of Controlbooth's own members, Andy Leviss. If you do not have a thespian chapter in your high school that gets that magazine, send a PM to him and ask him if you can have a copy of it.

    It outlines everything that is being said here and has very good pictures to demonstrate what is being said.

    Good luck!
     
  12. Andy_Leviss

    Andy_Leviss Active Member Premium Member

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    Thanks for the mention, Donald! For those looking for my article, pop over to this thread: http://controlbooth.com/forums/showthread.php?p=47295

    There you'll find a link to the PDF of my article, as well as to another (longer one) by Jason Pritchard, the head of audio for Cirque du Soleil's show Love that appeared in Stage Directions.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2007
  13. tenor_singer

    tenor_singer Active Member

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    I just saw that show this past weekend (between losing at the craps table and the all-you-can-eat buffets).

    Truly amazing.

    One thing happened, though, that was weird. Right in the middle of a number, the sound went out, all lights went out and a simple announcement of "we're going to have to take a break this evening... please stay in your seats" started playing.

    I'm thinking that one of their rigs jammed as I saw a performer hang a bit in space wiggle a bit and then get pulled back in by somebody. It ruined the fluidity of the show, but still... the effects!!!! Amazing. The stage... Amazing.

    20 years in theater and I still left with my mouth hanging open.
     
  14. silverbullet761

    silverbullet761 Member

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    Thanks for all the responses and advice guys. I think I might try to go with an ear-mic on a wire, extending out about an inch or so from the ear. I've gone over the fact that the lead will be the only one with a body mic with the cast and everyone seems fine with it now, but I know that when we start full dress rehearsal next week, I'll encounter some crap from the "whiners" in the bunch. Eh, I'll take the advice about telling them they are "picked up fine" from the stage mics. I think it's more of an "importance" thing, they wanna feel important to the show and they want a body mic to feel that way. Sad part is- the ones who whine are more bit players... drama in the drama department.

    My director is pretty set on hiding this mic at all costs from the audience. Anyone have any suggestions for small mics to plug into a pack? Also, the mic pack is just going to be strapped to the small of his back. The main concern is just hiding the actual microphone. (I think this is because she wants the lead role to have a booming voice without it being completely obvious how).

    Anyway, any advice is appreciated. Also, some of you mentioned a putty or clay used for cosmetic reasons. What were you talking about and where could I find some?

    thanks
    -stephen
     
  15. Too_Tall

    Too_Tall Member

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    what we did for Hairspray was to hide the mics in the actors hair. We used elastic to create a loop, then ran the mic through their hair. We used a mic color similar to their hair, and then the mic laid right at the hairline. This made it impossible for anyone in the house to see, even on the actors with receding hairline.
     
  16. Dcdjdrew

    Dcdjdrew Member

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    sorry to go off topic but how did you get the rights to hairspray?
     
  17. wolf825

    wolf825 Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Typical and commonly used Mics for theater productions that are micro/sub-miniature, in no particular order for preferences, are Sennheiser MKE2 /MKE2-Gold (www.sennheiserusa.com), Countryman B3 & B6 (www.countryman.com), DPA4060s (www.dpamicrophones.com) and Shure MC50's (www.shure.com) (the Shure 185's and 93's are also used by many because of the cheap cost and small size, tho they are not the best choice--but you work with what your show can afford).
    Most of the above except for the Shure's come in various colors of tan, beige, cocoa etc... Shure's mostly only come in black. Make sure you order the mic with the proper connector for your wireless system / beltpack.



    -w
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2007
  18. Too_Tall

    Too_Tall Member

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    it is the second national tour, i took a semester off to go tour.
     
  19. Dillon

    Dillon Active Member

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    I'm a big fan of Shure WL50's -- they come in black, white or tan. A high quality, tiny, TINY microphone element. They'll run you about $250 a piece.
     
  20. anticowboyism

    anticowboyism Member

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    Don't worry about the audience seeing the mic. It's a highschool production ok. If the parents and friends can't understand that all musicals use body mics these days, then they will get a lesson in modern sound reinforcement.
     

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