Heavy Metal Sound

This past weekend I worked on my first non-paid gig in a few years pretty much solely due to the wardrobe. This short film took place during medieval times and a few characters wore breasts plates.

I've always wondered what it would sound like putting a lav in a breast plated armored suit. Avoiding rustling from clothes from ordinary clothed wardrobe is often a major challenge I face when placing a lav mic on an actor. Of course, a breast plate does not move like cloth, so it's not an issue. Although there were issues of its own.

I figured I might face issues such as the squeaking of the metal armor upon any minor movement, and with those squeaks being around the shoulders and neck area, the lav would pick it up way more than I would want. This isn't always much of an issue with some costumes, but can be very annoying with others. Jewelry is usually what annoys me, such as necklaces. In this case, it was some kind of pendant on the cloak that went over the armor. Keeping that cloak in place was more difficult than topsticking the pendant down because the cloak was so heavy, whenever it started to slide to one side, the pendants would go with it, no matter how much topstick I could hide under it. Fortunately for me, the character in breast plated armor had very little movement in the scenes I had him miced for.

I also figured the quality of the sound would be very different. I thought it would sound metallic, hollow, echoey and a bit muffled. I actually did not experience this with this particular mic job. The breast plate gave me enough open space between the armor and the body that it gave a very nice natural open sound. It didn't sound perfect to me, losing a small dose of high freqs but I was very pleased with how it sounded. I also found it was quite difficult to place the lav mic as well since there was barely any room for my fingers to put the mic exactly where I wanted it, although I got it where I needed it to be. Placement of the transmitter was also limited with this costume. Luckily, I had s bag full of neopax to wrap around the actor's ankle and run the wire up his leg and to the mic.

I also experimented with cotton balls on another costume as well. A few of the characters wore very heavy clothes that felt like carpet. I knew this would brush up against the lav like crazy so I took some small cotton balls, cut small holes in them stopping at the center and used it as a large protective foam windscreen for the lav mics. Cotton is a very good material for sound for many reasons, which I wont go into in this blog post. But the main thing it did for me was prevent the heavy carpet-like hooded jacket brush up against the lav, rather it held everything in place pretty well. If the costume moved a lot, the cotton ball would force the lav to move with it instead of against it. I'll have to see if I can get real foam windscreens for my lavs though. They might work better and wont be so messy.

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