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Review: URSA Straps

Review: URSA Straps
Matt Price

Broadcast

02 March 2017: By Matt Price

This new range of radio mic-concealing solutions is quickly becoming popular with sound recordists. Matt Price tells us why he’s now a convert.

This new range of radio mic-concealing solutions is quicky becoming popular with sound recordists. Matt Price tells us why he’s now a convert.

Over recent years the production film sound industry has seen fast development in the world of wireless and radio mics, with packs being made even smaller and easier to conceal. Now, finally, the microphone straps have caught up with the company URSA Straps.

When working in a film or TV environment, with more shoots covering a scene from several angles on multiple cameras and a whole range of different costumes to contend with, having the ability to hide not only the mic and pack but the actual belt has become essential.

URSA hasn’t just made its straps thinner but more flexible and comfortable for the actors. I am going to run you through all of the different belts and talk from my own experiences using them on set alongside many other prominent production sound mixers such as Simon Hayes.

The Design

The material is made up of two 1mm-thick, highly stretchy, breathable sportswear fabrics bonded together. This creates a low profile, flexible material that is not as ridged as elastic or neoprene.

For holding the radio microphone packs there is a tight stretchable pocket available in the form of a Small or Big Pouch that can accommodate wireless transmitters of various sizes, and due to their sports fabric nature and being so thin they are more breathable and comfortable for actors to wear. Sometimes in narrative shooting they might have to wear the packs for several hours if hidden underneath a complex costume.

URSA has also thought about what you do with the cable for the actual microphone. Typically this would be wrapped and tucked in between a belt strap and the actor’s skin, or taped together. All URSA straps come with a cable pocket right next to the belt pack where you can keep any excess cabling away from the actors skin and reduce rubbing on the cable. As for colours all straps come in Black, Beige and Brown. I am hoping they may soon be able to add White to their collection too.

The design for the thigh strap is a game changer thanks to its non-slip plastic coating. Still keeping with the super low profile design, now you can put a mic on an actor’s thigh and not have it slip down during the day or worse, during a take.

Sizing up

The URSA range consists of microphone belts for Chest, Ankle, Waist and Thigh mounting. The sizes for the Chest, Thigh and Ankle are one size fits all, but the Waist strap comes in Small (61-84cm/24-32”), Medium (74-107cm/29-42”) and Large (95-128cm/37-50”).

There is also the option for a dual transmitter belt with two transmitters on each side of the waist for applications that need two backups like live TV projects.

Conclusion

Pros: Low profile, comfortable, easy to hide, non-slip on the thigh.
Cons: Unless you’re at a professional level you may be put off by the cost. Not a white version.

I have to say it’s always exciting when an everyday product in your work life gets totally revamped seemingly overnight. It’s not just a product that will benefit the technical aspects of hiding and holding transmitters – which are becoming a necessity – but the comfort for actors is a big part of it as well.

Working so closely with the talent you want them to feel like you are doing the best you can to capture their performance as naturally as possible. Since moving to URSA I’ve never had so much positive feedback from actors over something seemingly so trivial as a mic belt not falling down.

I highly recommend these and they will (if not already by the time of this article’s release) become the industry standard around the world.

Key Features

  • Made using new 1mm thick bonded fabric technology
  • Available in five versions: Ankle, Thigh and Small/Medium/Large Waist
  • Two pouch sizes: Big and Small
  • Cable Pocket for securing cabling
  • Black, Beige and Brown colour options


RRP: £25.50 - £28 each

Matt Price is a freelance production mixer and post supervising editor for feature films, creative content and commercials. He also has a passion for making resources for the film sound community with apps and YouTube videos.
Website: www.soundrolling.com
Twitter: @filmsoundman
YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/ThatWasSound