When you are out shooting and recording someone's speech is critical to your final video quality, using your camera's on-board microphone, or even a shotgun mic may not be your best option. In cases where your purpose is to capture a subject's voice, (e.g. public speaking engagements, talking head interviews, etc...), you'll want to consider a lavalier microphone, also called a "lav" or lapel mic.
This week, on our Reel Rebel video production tips series, Stephen Schweickart discusses when and how to correctly use a wireless lavalier microphone.
Basic Tips for Using Wireless Lavalier/Lapel Microphones
Wireless lapel mics are often used in order to allow for a more hands-free operation and because they're less conspicuous, they may help your subject feel slightly more comfortable as they wont be paying attention to the microphone itself. You simply clip it on to your talent's clothing and it will enable to you to be able to get a crisp, clear sound without having to pay additional crew to following your talent and collect sound.
Lavaliers come with two pieces - a transmitter and a receiver. The best place to put the microphone is around the area between the chest and the throat. If it's too high you'll get a muffled sound. Too low and you'll have to turn up the levels in your audio recorder which will pick up more room noise. It's a good idea to start with the microphone about 8 inches below your talent's chin and then adjust it as necessary.
The receiver plugs into your audio recording device and make sure it's turned on.
As a tip, when you purchase or order your microphone it's a good idea to order batteries at the same time since most of them won't come equipped with batteries in the box.
The transmitter and receiver should have matching frequencies since they talk to each other wirelessly. Usually they will come out of the box already set, in the event they don't or you need to adjust it, be sure to keep the manual so you know how to adjust the frequencies as needed.
Be sure to check your levels. They should be landing between -12 to -6 decibels. You don't want anything higher than that.