DIY: Hard Hat Mount

I've been working on a reality show on a construction site last summer as well as this one, and wanted to demonstrate how I've solved fast-mic'ing folks and getting a mic on people wearing crazy amounts of safety gear and entering locations inaccessible to our crew.

Simply put, it's a hard hat mount. I'm sure many of you have used this type of mount throughout your careers, but for those who haven't here is a very easy way of doing it (photos below). There are a couple of things I like about the mount, but in particular it does three very excellent things:

  1. It allows me to mic people almost instantly. Once the Tx is turned on I just hand the subject this hardhat and I'm done. Ready to roll. This is particularly useful since everyone on the construction site must wear a hardhat, and it's very easy to get most folks to wear this one.
  2.  It greatly increases the S/N ratio. This mic is only 5-7" from the subject's mouth, so it's far superior in loud environments to a boom or even a chest mounted lav. Much of the shooting we do is right next to guys working with jack hammers, massive cranes, concrete flattening machines, etc. so the entire construction site is very loud most of the time.
  3. Subjects are always on-mic. I can't tell you the number of times people are showing our camera crew the work that's being done and they literally do a 180 and point to work in the background, then look back to cam, look back to the work in the background, etc. It's a nightmare trying to boom that type of movement unscripted in often impossible positions on dangerous terrain and you're bound to miss some of the dialog. This solves that problem 100%.

Overall, this mount performs extremely well and I will continue to use it. I keep the SMQV set on 100mW and have not yet needed to push it to 250mW. I am able to hand this off to welders on scissor lifts, riggers on scaffolding or electricians in places that are too dangerous to boom, as well as do things as simple as interview people on the site for walk-and-talks.

I had originally tried to use a Rycote Overcover for wind protection for the mic (fans on site as well as exterior rooftop shots), but people were constantly looking up during the shots and it was extremely noticeable. In the end I wound up using two pieces of an old cotton shirt cut up and top stick'ed to the helmet. A subsequent benefit of using cotton as a mic cover was that the fabric seemed to very much reduce reflections from the subject's face to the bill of the helmet (note that the piece currently on the helmet is larger surface coverage than a Rycote Overcover is). I am now going to cover the entire rest of the bill in white cotton and re-do the cover to see if that works even better. Fun project for tomorrow . I am even considering using white felt, and might try both to see which works better since I believe felt might work slightly better as wind protection (just a hunch).

The one thing the cotton doesn't do too well is protect from wind. In that regard, the Overcover excelled. 

*Safety Note: Do not drill holes or by any other means alter the structural integrity of your mount. Also, I am not legally or by any other means advising anyone to use this mount, and I only use this mount when there is no physical possibility of anything actually falling on another human. Please be aware that any liability due to your use of a mount of any kind, including this type of mount, is solely the responsibility of the person who creates and uses the mount. Make sure you are being SAFE, and make sure you are insured by the production company!