I would like to be able to record a clean dialogue track in a noisy location such as a coffee shop using lavalier mics. The mics would need to be hidden on the actors, presumably under clothing.

The following is an interview with Stanley Kubrick from 1972 that describes how he did this using lavalier mics.

There is no post-synchronisation [in 'A Clockwork Orange']. I'm quite pleased about this because every scene was shot on location; even the so-called sets that we built which were, in fact, built in a factory about 40 feet off the noisy High Street in Borehamwood, a few hundred yards from the old M-G-M Studio. Despite this, we were able to get quite acceptably clean soundtracks. With the modem equipment that's available today in the form of microphones, radio transmitters and so forth, it should be possible to get a usable soundtrack almost anywhere. In the scene where the tramp recognises Alex who is standing near the Thames, next to the Albert Bridge, there was so much traffic noise on the location that you had to shout in order to be heard, but we were able to get such a quiet soundtrack that it was necessary to add street noise in the final mix to make it realistic. We used a microphone the size of a paperclip, and it was secured with black tape on the tramp's scarf. In several shots you can see the microphone, but you don't know what you're looking at.

I've experimented with a Shure TL48 but the fact that it's omnidirectional means it picks up a lot of background noise.

If anyone has experience doing something like this and can give advice it would be much appreciated.

Interview source: http://www.visual-memory.co.uk/amk/doc/0070.html.

Clip from scene:

  • You can get good cardiod lav mics - dpamicrophones.com/lavalier-microphones I've never used one, mine are omni, the 4060.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 19:17
  • Surely, any kind of directionality on a Lavalier would mean a loss of sound when the actor moved their head away from the optimum position? Wouldn't you be better off with a highly directional boom? Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 21:16
  • Thanks for the replies. I had thought about the Countryman B2D directional lavalier but wondered about problems associated with head movement. I want to avoid using a boom mic if possible and the Kubrick quote suggests they pulled it off in 1971. I do wonder if 2 directional lavaliers would work but the mics are expensive and it would be good to hear from someone if they were able to make it work.
    – Sparked
    Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 23:28
  • 3
    The directionality is basically 'towards their face'. Any distance/frequency change as they move their head would be just the same as an omni. If you wanted to eliminate that entirely, you could try running one over the head, hidden in their hair, or wig, or hat, like they do for theatre, or treat it like a headset mic, but keep changing position left to right depending on camera angle. I think after that you're down to what you can regain with Izotope. There are plenty of productions that just use booms even out on the street… though you can often hear cheap gating rather than Izotope.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 9:27
  • 1
    [The US Sherlock Holmes series 'Elementary' used to make me giggle when you could hear the gate banging open & closed all the time;)
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 9:28


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