Hi eveyone,

This is as much an observation as it is a question:

I recently finished a corporate video shoot where all the talent had corporate wear on. By corporate wear I mean suits and ties. Much to my dismay, the suits, shirts and ties were all cheap stuff i.e. made primarily of polyesters and such like fabric. The lead character's shirt collars were so tight around his neck that hardly a baby flea could have snuck in. This guy also had a lot of stubble and chest hair! Another character was rather overweight and his shirts strained against his skin and he too had loads of chest hair. Wardrobe could not help me as the clothing was all the talents own. To top it all off there was a lot of physical movement required by all the characters involved!

Now, because it was a dramatized shoot, all lapels had to be hidden and as the clothing was all the talents own, I could not whip out my ball point pen solution as that would have required holes being made in said clothing!

From day 1 (it was a seven day shoot) I had issues with clothing rubbing on clothing, clothing rubbing on hair and stubble etc. I managed to avoid the rubs by either hiding the lapels just under the collar flap or inside the tie knot and through the use of gaffer tape, managed to minimize the clothing from rubbing too much!
At the end, I relied heavily on my boom sound to ensure good clean dialogue recordings. I guess that lapels remain a luxury and mostly will have problems with clothing sound due to the simply proximity of the mic to clothing items.

Now my questions: 1) What other innovative things could I have tried with the lapel mics to obtain a clean recording from them?

2) As I have relatively very little audio engineering post production experience, I would like to know from the pro's out there:
By using the boom track as master audio, could one then layer the lapel mic track in sync with the boom track and then by manipulating the levels of the lapel track, boost the dialogue whilst loosing the clothing rubbing sounds? The theory in my head says that the dialogue should become louder (the tracks in sync doubling each other) but because the rubbing is present only on one track, it should not itself become louder. Any comments?

6 Answers 6


Sounds like a tough call. I'm no pro recordist (a few corporates many years ago, and some live to air TV), but i used to make 2 "sandwiches" with gaffer tape. Wrapping it around itself in a triangle shape, sticky side out, with a little air still inside. Then i'd put the mic between 2 of these (without the capsule touching the gaff), and stick it under a loose part of the clothing (eg. under the tie). It wasn't amazing, but it worked pretty well for me. It sounds like your cast were moving around quite a bit, that always makes things hard.

If it is dramatised, the boom might actually work well. Even though it's a corporate, the perspective that a boom gives you works well with drama.

As for post; i'd be inclined to totally ditch the lapel track if it contains rubbing. You don't want any of that in there, whether it's low or not. You could cut in the parts of the lapel track which don't contain any rubbing, but that'll probably make the tone of your dialogue tracks inconsistent. Maybe just bring those in for wide shots where you couldn't get your boom in close enough? It's hard to give hard and fast rules for these things; in the end it's down to your judgement.

Hope it helps.

  • Yup, I liked the sound of the boom most (no rubbing and the perspective sound is always favorable to me). Well, the director and producer were happy with the sound, they have me booked already for their next shoot, so I guess all is well! :) Commented Nov 3, 2010 at 6:25
  • Haha, nice work. In my experience, directors and producers aren't usually too fussy with sound in corporates. Commented Nov 3, 2010 at 14:36
  • In my experience with corporates the directors and producers aren't into being fussy with sound on the set (though they'll take 3 hours to light a medium closeup just so)...but sure start to care about it when you have to mix it with noisy/bad dialog tracks they didn't let you fix while shooting! ;-) Commented Nov 3, 2010 at 15:28

I highly recommend checking out The Discussion Group @ jwsound.net, Jeff Wexler's excellent production sound forum, for solutions. There are tons of veteran professionals and this topic has come up a few times on there, so if you do a search I'm sure you'll find some useful info.


I split my time between production sound mixing and post production so I've run in to this issue on both fronts. Suits are a very tricky thing to put a lav mic on due to all of the reasons you mentioned. I've had limited luck with putting a lav in the tie but it can work occasionally. Putting it under the shirt only yields the sound of the tie rubbing back and forth with occasional speech being usable. The jackets are typically a heavy polyester or wool which muffles the mic if put under the lapel. Punching a hole in their jacket pocket to slide the mic up usually only upsets the owner of the clothing. Under the collar yields all kinds of neck rubbing and stubble.

So, what IS the solution?! Boom mic, of course!

In post you shouldn't combine the lav mic and the boom mic because you'll just get phasing. Pick one or the other for whichever part you're looking at. Hopefully the lav mic, wireless unit, and shotgun mic are all high quality and will cut together nicely.

I've really strayed away from the tape sandwich because it can become loose too easily and you'll hear the sound of the tape gum sticking and unsticking to the clothing. Vampire clips are my go-to for attaching a lav.

  • Thanks, I have used the tape sandwich often enough and I don't like it for the reasons mentioned. Perhaps I shall invest in some vampire clips. Doesn't phasing only happen during recording? Commented Nov 3, 2010 at 6:22
  • Phasing can happen any time you are combining two or more microphones that are picking up the same sound source. I frequently record interviews using both lav and boom mics but the intention is for one or the other to be used, not both. Commented Nov 3, 2010 at 20:06
  • @Matthew Freed Audio Ah, I see, thanks. The reason I asked is because I have only experienced phasing in a live recording (two lavs on the same track, whilst the boom was on the 2nd track). I am under the impression that phasing cannot occur if you combine two tracks in post or am I under the wrong impression there? Commented Nov 4, 2010 at 6:57

Sounds like maybe you tried and/or used this technique, but I wasn't sure: If they're all wearing ties, a classic trick is an omni lav through the tie knot, on the outer (thick) descended of the tie, facing downward, hidden in the shadow of the knot. Not the sweetest sound but iso'd from nearly all rubbing.

  • Yup, the technique you mentioned was the one I used most! Commented Nov 3, 2010 at 6:20


Some good suggestions so far. I too have had to deal with this in the past. What I did, in relation to the tight clothes and hairy chests is firstly, inquire as to whether or not it is ok to shave a small area for the mic. 80% of the time I was successful. Then I used medical tape (2 sided) and some tissue paper to attach the mic to the chest and buffer the mic from the noisy clothing. I always left the diaphragm open so that it was not being impeded by the tissue. If the guy was not willing to have his chested violated, I would do the same down the middle of his shirt, hidden by the cloth. worked for me. The knot of the tie is also a great idea but depends on the texture of the voice- to bassy, too much proximity effect = too boxy.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents.

  • Thanks for that...I'm a bit more ruthless...I just tell them that this will hurt and stick away! :) Commented Nov 3, 2010 at 10:29

I am no expert in lav micing placement as I have used them when I have to but I try to do most of my stuff with boom micing. I have a few projects coming up where I will need them for certain wide shots and I need to get up to scratch fast. This question has been a help to get different views and techniques on placement issues. Has anybody used these Rycote undercovers at all as they seem like an ideal solution for the above problem? They can be stuck straight to the actor or performers skin or clothing. http://www.soundexposure.com/store/Rycote_065504.html

  • @Lenny I used Rycote undercovers on the shoot too and although they helped a bit, the clothing rubbing still came through...damn those polyester shirts and rayon ties! :) Commented Nov 4, 2010 at 6:58
  • 1
    Such a shame they take no pride in what they wear, not only do they look bad but sound bad too :-)
    – Lenny
    Commented Nov 4, 2010 at 16:01

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