DIY Sound Accessories

I had a week between films so I decided to add a few things to my sound arsenal to help me out. I needed a case for my boom pole and microphones, Neopax or transmitter pouches when wardrobe gives me few options, and a few micing aids and techniques to help reduce rustling of clothes when I place wireless mics on actors.

The first I focused on was the boom tube, or boom tubes. I made two originally, now have made a third, each for different length poles. Alfa Case makes a nice boom tube but I decided with my week off, I might as well save some money and make them myself. For a standard 12' boom pole, 3'8" of pvc pipe with an end cap and a screw on end cap with some 1/4" polyprolene rope through a few holes to carry it with, this only took about 45 minutes to make each one. I also added some foam on each end cap and some along the inner top of the tube to protect the pole, particularly the tip, when it's in transportation.

I also took this a bit further making similar cases for shotgun mics. One of my mics has a foam windscreen that is exactly 2" in diameter, so it fits perfectly in a 2"x9" pvc pipe tube holding the capsule in line perfectly, adding an end cap and a screw on cap working well for me. My cardioid mic needed a slightly different design since the foam is shaped like a bullet/egg mix and does not clutch the capsule very tightly. So I had to add some foam on the capsule end and a screw on cap for both ends.

After mixing a period piece full of female actresses, I've realized how difficult it can be to find a spot to place a wireless transmitter when micing up an actor. Sometimes all it takes is for the actor to not be wearing a jacket or to be wearing a dress or a tank top, or a tucked in shirt, etc. So again, instead of ordering some Neopax, I made some myself using headliner which is a thicker, softer version of neoprene which is what Neopax is made from. Neoprene is ideal because it is comfortable for skin and is a very good material with sweat, after all, it is what wetsuits are made from. Headliner is often used for car interiors. I used the same designs as Neopax with the same lengths.
I made myself 2 ankle packs at 17", 2 thigh packs at 25", 2 standard belly packs at 40" and a "Big Boy" pack at 54" as opposed to Neopax's 60" length. I hope if they need one bigger than 54", they are wearing enough clothes to strap a transmitter on and not a skin tight 2 piece bathing suit ; )
I've used the belly packs and thigh packs so far and they have worked well for me, they fit perfectly with my Sennheiser Evolution series transmitters and also fit with my taller GTD-Audio transmitter as pictured. I think I might cut these packs at certain areas from 4" to about 2" to hide them better. We did have to strip the pouch from an actress because it was slightly visible under her cocktail dress.

The most common issue I get when micing up an actor is preventing rustling from clothes. There are so many ways to help prevent this, the best is mic placement, but with some wardrobe and actions in the scene, it is still very difficult to prevent rustling without a few little things you can get from any pharmacy. I've always used topstick to tape mics to skin. I've recently started using moleskin as well, which is a tape that will sandwich the mic but is very silent as opposed to materials on some wardrobe such as silk, nylon, or really anything but cotton. A variety of waterproof medical tapes can be found at any pharmacy as well which is great because sometimes moleskin or topstick wont stick for long on a wet sweaty actor or on certain materials such as leather or car interiors when stashing mics in cars. But one tool I really like if you can get away with it is a (drumroll) ... pen.
Get a standard pen with black top, cut the tip off and the bottom off. Take the ink out, run a lav through the pen tube, and place it in the cap. Put that pen in an actor's pen pocket and ask wardrobe if they can cut a small hole in the inner bottom corner of the pocket to run the wire to the transmitter. I tested this out to see how it sounds and there is almost nothing to worry about once you have that pen set up. As long as no one pats the actor on that side of the chest or they don't throw a jacket on over it, they will be rustle free and not muffled. Of course, I have yet to find any wardrobe where a pen in their pen pocket would make sense for the character.

Next up, Sound Gloves. I've lost the right hand glove on both of my pairs of setwear gloves. I've been recommended by an old-timer mixer to get cotton gloves. Although I need more grip than standard cotton gloves. I currently use polyester gloves which are almost as silent as cotton but they definitely don't give me the grip I need to tighten and untighten a boom pole. Fingerless gloves is what I need so I can have the precision I need with my fingers; cotton palms is what I need for silence, although I also need some sort of grip on them too. In a perfect world, I would also go with a mesh neoprene backhand as well, which I've seen on some fingerless gloves. I just got myself some cotton gloves, but I think I will basically merge/sew those mesh neoprene gloves (sueded grip palm) with the cotton gloves over the palm, so I will have the comfort, grip, and a smooth silencer over the suede grip palms.

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