Pictured (L-R) are production sound mixer Peter Kurland, director's assistant David Alexander, and propmaster Peter Gelfman, on location. Photo by Thomas Johnston.
Peter Kurland "Walks The Line" With Sanken Lavalier Mics
Production sound mixer Peter Kurland employed Sanken COS-11s lavalier microphones for the upcoming film "Walk The Line," a chronicle of country music legend Johnny Cash's life, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon. "The form factor of the Sanken lavalier is excellent," Kurland explains. "They are small and easy to hide. It's a very low profile microphone."
Kurland owns eight Sanken lavaliers and has used them extensively since he first tested them out on "Men In Black," starring Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. "We were looking for a lavalier that would work well with their black suits and ties. Essentially, the microphone became part of their uniform. We had the COS-11 concealed in their ties every day - they're black and the texture of the windscreen was very close to that of the tie. The wardrobe people were very pleased, but more than that, the sonic performance was outstanding. The sound is excellent, and it also matches well with boom mics so that cutting from one to the other works really well."
Kurland and his Sankens teamed up again for Men in Black II, and with Will Smith in "Wild Wild West". "It was a big action movie and there were a number of scenes where Will Smith had to be wired - and he's a very difficult person to wire. He wears a tight-fitting suit, and he's a very active person. What we discovered was that the Sanken lavalier was exactly the right size to fit into a small crease that formed between his hat and his forehead. We taped it up into the hat brim, with the transmitter inside the hat. We were able to do any number of scenes that sounded really good, with no possibility of clothing noise."
"We've also discovered that the Sanken works well for musical vocals and instruments," Kurland continues. "For 'Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou,' with George Clooney, we used it for live music recording out in the woods, by placing the mic between the singer's mouth and the guitar for a very nice natural mix. You can also hide the Sankens inside musical instruments."
For the film "Intolerable Cruelty," starring George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Kurland used the Sanken lavaliers to capture the sound of a strolling priest who both sang and played the guitar. "We hid the COS-11s in the guitar strap to get a nice mix between the guitar and the voice. I believe those tracks made it directly into the movie without any need of looping."
In closing, Kurland sums it up: "The Sanken lavalier is simply a great combination of easy concealment and dependable sound."