Skip to main content
Community forums, blogs, song critique, press & more...

Recording wearing masks - Who Can Solve This?

Hello Dudes and Dudets,

So. Here is the scenario..

We have an important project at hand, that requires myself and a partner to film an interview scene, where at times she will stand up and walk around, and at times so will I. 80% of the recording takes place seated, but the remaining 20% is crucial. Simple wouldn't you agree ?
Only here is the problem. We are wearing masks.

Our conundrum therefore is how, do we achieve high-quality audio recordings of our voices, all-the-while wearing full-headed (that is covering the entire head and neck) masks, and after straining the old lemon - I am stumped.

A shotgun microphone (our present setup) will not cut it, since the masks muffle the sound leaving the experience dilute and frankly annoying, the quality terrible, and the project failed.
We need your expertise - and if not - then your creative problem solving - S'il vous plaît.
Another consideration is, that we cannot modify the masks, although it may be helpful to note, that they DO have moving mouth parts (Silicone/Latex material).

Awaiting you with thoughtful and fluttery eyes forum.

Cheers.

Comments

Profile picture for user audiokid

audiokid Wed, 10/12/2016 - 13:41

Welcome to our forum.

I removed your double post. One forum for the same topic is all that is needed. :)

Recording an interview with masks on. This should be interesting.

Calais Tucson, post: 442122, member: 50036 wrote: we cannot modify the masks

I really have no idea but until the top recordist of our forums chime in, I'm thinking some sort of custom fitted headset inside or on the mask might still work.

A contact microphone, also known as a pickup or a piezo, is a form of microphone that senses audio vibrations through contact with solid objects

Piezo Contact Mic
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contact_microphone

Then, take it to the Mastering engineer to do some spectral cleaning and it could end up pretty good.

Further reading:
http://www.megalithia.com/sounds/tech/piezo/

Calais Tucson Wed, 10/12/2016 - 13:55

Apologies for the double-fork, but I wasn't sure whether audio or microphones would be more appropriate for question. Anywho..

A headset may indeed work, but the masks are quite tight around the upper-head, but do include a bit of space around the mouth-area.
The issue is that when I say 'muffled', what I mean is the type of sound that you get if you were to cup both hands around your mouth. Like so..

There is an opening in the latex mouths, but not nearly enough to provide high quality sound which we really need to achieve. I appreciate your input Sir.

Calais Tucson Wed, 10/12/2016 - 15:29

Hello there Sean.

This project is part of an art class that I attend in London, and its essentially oriented around themes of narrative, film and sound.
TBH I assume a lot of people may be slightly dissuaded to partake, just for this reason, thinking it 'artsy' or the like. But of course, its not much more than the systemisation of sound and vision, and for this reason I think this forum is a good place to get some input. Notwithstanding that I am an absolute rookie when it comes to the technical side of things. All theory and no practice in technological terms.
And AudioKid - I have watched the above video before on TED. Brilliant website. Incredible tech,- the horizon widens with this kind of development, but I must admit, one of my first thoughts turned to militaristic and Intelligence (so-called) capabilities and interests in this kind of technology. Very interesting, and to think that it was achieved with not much more than software - just programming ! Brilliant.

Profile picture for user Sean G

Sean G Wed, 10/12/2016 - 16:22

The only setback to a headset mic that I see is that it may rub against the side of your latex mask...creating an amplified rustling noise in its own.

I was thinking maybe a lavalier clipped up high near the collar but I don't think this will solve the issue either.

Welcome to RO.

Profile picture for user kmetal

kmetal Wed, 10/12/2016 - 18:36

Hopefully dvdhawk chimes in. I would either use a lavier mic mounted on the inside of the mask, or just capture the audio w a boom mic or shotgun mic, and overdub the audio later on.

Those are just my thoughts brainstorming, I haven't ever done anything like this.

Profile picture for user dvdhawk

dvdhawk Wed, 10/12/2016 - 19:01

You know how Hollywood would do this, right?

Record it with the terrible audio you're getting with wireless lavalier or earset mics inside the mask, and use a separate track(s) to record the environment outside the mask. That way the actions and interactions with outside noises are natural and organic. Then re-record / overdub the dialogue. Almost nothing you hear in a feature film is real, unless it was shot in the ideal conditions of a soundstage.

Otherwise, the first mic solution that came to mind was what's called a bone conduction mic you fit in your ear (think James Bond / tactical), but I've never heard a demo of one that the audio was especially good. It's usually squawky mid-range like you hear in a cop show.

Profile picture for user audiokid

audiokid Wed, 10/12/2016 - 21:38

dvdhawk, post: 442141, member: 36047 wrote: Then re-record / overdub the dialogue. Almost nothing you hear in a feature film is real, unless it was shot in the ideal conditions of a soundstage.

Are actors that good at voice-overs/ overdubbing?

Profile picture for user dvdhawk

dvdhawk Wed, 10/12/2016 - 22:28

If the scene is shot outdoors especially, it's very likely the audio is all or 99% fake.

"Looping" means something very different in film than what us audio guys/gals usually think of. Dialogue replacement (looping) is very common, and is named "looping" because the actor will watch a scene over and over on a loop and listen to the "guide" vocal (what we would call a scratch track), and try to parrot exactly how they phrased the line. Often, they take advantage of the opportunity to improve on the emotion in the delivery, while matching the cadence. And just like our world, just as often they get so caught up in the overdub and it gets sterile and loses emotion and/or gets slightly out of time. Some actors are great at it, some aren't.

Some interesting pages on the subject of dialogue replacement, sound design, and foley for film:

ADR

What % of movies exterior scenes have overdubbed dialog?

Filmsound

Profile picture for user audiokid

audiokid Wed, 10/12/2016 - 22:34

dvdhawk, post: 442149, member: 36047 wrote: If the scene is shot outdoors especially, it's very likely the audio is all or 99% fake.

"Looping" means something very different in film than what us audio guys/gals usually think of. Dialogue replacement (looping) is very common, and is named "looping" because the actor will watch a scene over and over on a loop and listen to the "guide" vocal (what we would call a scratch track), and try to parrot exactly how they phrased the line. Often, they take advantage of the opportunity to improve on the emotion in the delivery, while matching the cadence. And just like our world, just as often they get so caught up in the overdub and it gets sterile and loses emotion and/or gets slightly out of time. Some actors are great at it, some aren't.

Some interesting pages on the subject of dialogue replacement, sound design, and foley for film:

ADR

What % of movies exterior scenes have overdubbed dialog?

Filmsound

Thank you for sharing this, Dave.

Profile picture for user Boswell

Boswell Thu, 10/13/2016 - 02:58

audiokid, post: 442138, member: 1 wrote: I'm excited to hear from Bos as well.

Sorry I can't do much on the excitement front. The only time I had to do anything of this nature was in a PA-ed production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, where in one scene Bottom has to wear the head of an ass (yes, I have got that the right way round).

The principal characters all had lav radio mics, but to make this scene work, I took the boom arm off a headset microphone and attached it to the inside of the ass-head, along with the transmitter pack. I reasoned that since there would be no rubbing between the microphone and the mask, this would give me the lowest amount of movement noise. It worked pretty well.

pcrecord Thu, 10/13/2016 - 06:46

If this is gonna be presented live and recorded at the same time, overdubing won't do. Unless you put actors on stage and you do the interview backstage with proper gear.
Other than that the bone conductive mic seems interesting idea or maybe a throat mic but it won't sound natural

Profile picture for user dvdhawk

dvdhawk Thu, 10/13/2016 - 08:02

It's true, Marco. Divers, pilots, astronauts, race car drivers, even paintball teams, etc. all rely on mics in the helmet these days, but none of them really expect high-fidelity sound. If you want to record in the water, there are immersible mics just for that too.

Profile picture for user paulears

paulears Thu, 10/13/2016 - 09:11

The sensible thing is to cheat - dialogue from inside the helmet will be grim. Not just helmets. I work mainly in professional theatre, and while DPA headsets do a great job in the clear they are horrible when covered. We can easily automate eq changes into a show nowadays, but we'd normally simply play in pre-recorded clips from QLab with decent quality. It happens when actors have to put on costumes, masks, animal heads, or even false beards sometimes. It happens when people have to dance really hard = their voices just vanishing into a wheezy mess, and when they have to deliver lines in a location that is sealed - think about the magician sealing himself in a box. That's bad enough, but even worse when he isn't really in the box, but perhaps squeezed into the steps being wheeled quickly off stage.

Replace the audio. It's the only way to make it match what you already have. Trying to eq out the nasty hollow sounding audio with increased breath noise and often squeaks just isn't worth it!

x