The Versatility of Lavaliere Microphones
I'm gonna show a whole short film now and it's about six or seven minutes long. It does a bunch of the things we were talking about yesterday. There's coverage, there's, you know, kind of shooting with an editor in mind, there's a bit of story boarding that went into the process of this, but there's also the use of interviews. What I want you to notice is that these are very simple interviews. There's not a lighting set up, they're not glossy and high production value looking, they're very stripped down, but they work. I basically just put someone in a light source, in a doorway, allowed the light to come in on their faces, so what I want you to notice is the simplicity of the interview, the kind of spaces that sometimes happen after, even though this is in a foreign language, you can still tell that sometimes there are just these moments where after she or he says something, that there's just a little bit of a moment when you see someone reflecting. Also, not every time we're using th...
e interview are we looking at their faces. Sometimes it's an interview you can see, but sometimes it's being used just as voiceover and narration. And you can use these things for either or both. They can be mixed or you can just use an interview for voiceover. And think about like what this video would be if you just, if it was only verite, if you only kind of shot and observed this young couple doing their routine, but you never had the opportunity to ask them how they felt, what they really thought about something, how the situation was affecting them. If it was just observation, this video would be a very different thing. This is a short film that was done for the organization and with the organization Too Young to Wed, which is, it's executive produced by Stephanie Sinclair. And Stephanie Sinclair's amazing organization about childhood marriage globally that she's been working on for almost ten years. More at this point. So this was a piece that we did together in Ethiopia. We had a young woman that she had photographed for several years, and this was kind of a follow up piece. Just to give you a little context. (rain) (papers rustling) (speaking in Amharic) (drumming and chanting) (speaking in Amharic) (baby crying) (speaking in Amharic) (footsteps squishing in mud) (baby coughing) (speaking in Amharic) (baby crying) (speaking in Amharic) (baby squeals) (speaking in Amharic)
I want to talk to you about just how versatile this type of microphone is. Obviously, in that video, we used it in the setting of an interview, but there are a bunch of other situations that we were using it that you might not have even been aware. One is that there's this moment when she goes to the field and her husband is down there and he's kind of saying to her, you know, keep the baby covered. She's, he's going to get cold. We can hear all of that because he's wearing a mic and it's important that he's wearing a mic because, in that situation, I actually want to be kind of far away from him. I want to show the kind of expansive environment of the farm. I don't want to be right up on him. And in order to get the sound from the shotgun, if that was my only mic that I was using, I'd have to really be on top of him. And we're going to demonstrate just like how tricky that is and how, while fantastic this is, also you cannot rely on this to get, you know, sound that's way far away. This is really about kind of creating an atmospheric environment, but not about getting people's dialogue. There's also other moments, like this moment at the very end when she's breastfeeding her child again, and you can hear him. And that's an important sound. You can hear the sound of him kind of nuzzling up to her. It's because she was wearing a mic. We had her miked up so that there was also a moment when she's kind of selling some stuff to an old man and he says, "How is your baby?" I'm shooting through like a crack in the wall in another room. I can hear not only her answer, but I can hear him ask her that question. It's an important moment. It shows that at this point in this young girl's life, she's actually very defined by her motherhood. This was a young girl that has been in school, but now when she kind of sees a neighbor and they come and they greet her, they say how's your boy. It's not that that man is doing anything wrong, but it's this kind of detail where you're saying, "Oh wow, you know, she's really defined now by the idea that she has a child." I heard him ask that question. I didn't go into the village and just start miking random people up in the hopes that they would come to this little bodega type store that they've got set up in the front of their home. It's that she's wearing a mic and therefore she's picking up his audio too. And so, there's an incredible versatility to these. The most common way that people use them is that they literally go up the shirt so that you can't see the cord, you clip it, you know, if you're really worried about the sound of a shirt rubbing cause these things pick up everything, you kind of have to decide, "Do I want to not see it? Or do I want- and have perfect audio- or do I want to hide it and it might be scratching up against fabric?" In which case, my audio is thrown out. With women, it's great, because women often wear bras and you can kind of clip it to an area in the bra. You can also use mole skin on a guy, or a female, to kind of attach it to a part of their chest to keep it away from the shirt, but also kind of keep it away from other things that are rubbing. Or, if you want to be really careful, you clip it onto the outside of a shirt and you kind of frame around it, or you try to encourage people to wear darker things so that you don't see it. But they're incredibly versatile. And it's obviously it's about an interview setting, but it's also really about these other kind of small details that you'll pick up that are about the emotional parts of a story that you wouldn't get if you didn't have someone being recorded right there. So I want to show you another clip that I think really encapsulates just how important the sound that comes off of these things is. To give this clip a little bit of context, this is from the film The Pearl, the documentary feature that I showed a bunch of yesterday and I've been talking about a bunch. And there's one character, Amy, who happens to live here in Seattle, who has opened up her home to a bunch, she's an older trans woman who didn't come out until she was 75. And she's opened up her home to a bunch of other younger trans women that have been kicked out, that are having marital problems, that have had family problems, and she's kind of opened her home and allowed them to stay there. But she's really frustrated because they're not taking care of her home, and there's a couple of moments when we hear that frustration and it's because we have her miked up. So, I want to show you, and there are a couple of other moments in this, I want to show you how important the sound that's coming. This is not from an interview, it's from watching her in her daily life, but if we didn't have her miked, we wouldn't necessarily get how frustrated she is. (car driving down road) (wind rustling grasses) (footsteps)
Trying to, to be in Nina mode, I guess, would be once a month. Maybe even less. If there was a good day, and I could be away from the family without anybody sort of being concerned about it, I would drive up, get changed, get some distance from my car, and spend a couple of hours walking around these beautiful areas, listening to the birds. I'd just be Nina. (birds tweeting) (footsteps) (door shuts) (zipper) (door shuts) (sighs) It just doesn't give me the same thrills as it used to. (solemn music) (keys rattle in door) (door shuts) (dishes rattling) I wish when people did this, they'd just take care of their own things.
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Okay, so the part, there's two parts and I'm going to show them to you again just in the tiny segments, but there's two parts of this sequence that I kind of feel like really we're aided by the lavalieres. One is that there's this moment when Amy goes into her kitchen and there's dishes piled up. Now, I'm outside, because I'm like this visual person. I'm obsessed with like, "Oh, change up the angle, change of the perspective." I'm outside of her house shooting through her dirty window. I can't hear her through that with a shotgun. I don't even like know that she's going to say anything, but she happens to be wearing a mic, because now when we come into people's homes, we put mics on them for situations like this. And she's standing there, washing the dishes. She probably doesn't even know I'm filming her. I'm outside in the dark and she says to herself, "Ah, I just wish when people did this, they'd take care of their own things." That is like, and she's, it's not only that she says it, it's the way she says it. It's the fact that she sighs when she says it. Goes (sighs). That sound, that like, that's the emotional indicator for that scene. The other moment, well I'm going to play that part back without the sound. And it would be completely different. Without the sound, you have no idea. And it's so funny because when we watch it, we're like, "Oh, obviously she's frustrated>" And it's like the reason you know that is because you heard it. It's not because you saw it. You heard that she was frustrated. Without the sound, it's like, for all I know, she could be in there whistling, you know, some show tunes. It's the hearing of the frustration. There's another moment in this montage. I'm just going to play it for you. It' this real quiet thing, but Nina, the one that's changing, she's just talked about, you know, that she used to go into the fields and dress as a female and now she's just not, it's just not doing it for her anymore. She wants, she feels very kind of constricted by the fact that people in her life don't really know this about her. She goes back into her home. She doesn't say anything. There's not even a word that comes out of her mouth, but when she goes into the door, we hear two things. We hear this like little alarm, like "deet deet deet," and we just hear like the jostling of the keys and that click of the door getting closed. To me, even though it's a small thing, it's like, it's this detail that like to my brain triggers that "Oh, we're going back into this domestic place," you know. This isn't what it sounds like when people walk into their homes and for Nina, she's like walking back into this home and it's really kind of become a prison for her. It's this little thing that like, you know, it's not that she says, "I'm upset," or "Oh, here's my home again." But it's just that reminder of what she's walking into that's very helpful. So... (solemn music) (keys jostling) (door shuts) So, again, it's just that little, it's those little kind of details. I was standing very far away from her. I never would have picked that up on a shotgun. It's the fact that she's wearing it, for us in here, it's a little hard to hear, but it's the sound of like, "Oh, right, that's what it sounds like when someone returns to their home." All right.