… for Visual Effects

Tip #396: Mask Your Microphone

This is also called “clean-plate masking.”

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This article first appeared in MotionArray. This is an excerpt.

You might know that one thing that’s essential to getting high-quality audio is to get your microphone as close to your subject as possible. This is one of the reasons that lavalier mics are such a great tool!

If you’ve only have a standard shotgun mic and you want to get it close to your subject, that can get tricky. What if you want a wide shot of your subject and you can’t get the mic close enough without it being in the picture? What do you do? Bring it into frame anyway and get it close to your subject.

Yes, really! As long as there’s distance at all times between the mic and the subject, and the background isn’t moving like crazy, you can mask out the mic in post-production. Make sure that at some point, you have the same shot minus the microphone to use as your clean plate. This will be important for editing the object out.

  1. Open your shot in your video editor.
  2. Take a sample of the clip without the microphone in it. Place it on the bottom layer of your timeline.
  3. Create a still frame from the clean background.
  4. Place your normal clip (the one with the mic visible) on the layer right above this one.
  5. Mask out your microphone on your main footage layer (this will allow the mic-less bottom layer to show through).
  6. Lastly, feather the edges just a tad.

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2 Comments
  1. stu aull
    stu aull says:

    LOL – genius! in part because its so OBVIOUS. 35yrs shooting and this never occurred to me? jeez.
    Only obv caveats is you can’t be reframing shots for, say, an interview…
    THANKS!

    Reply

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