Silent communication on set: the art of the earpiece

The secret service isn’t the only organization in need of discrete communication. Film sets and events require camera operators, directors and set workers to communicate without ending up on the soundtrack

Filmtools provides a whole line of earpieces for those situations where a walkie talkie speaker is disruptive to the environment. Often referred to as surveillance kits, modern earpieces come in two flavors: radio adaptors and phone adaptors.TenFouriPhone

Both are called three-wire adaptors due to separate wires for the earpiece, the clip-on microphone and the cable connecting to the walkie talkie radio or cell phone.

Optional ear mold pieces are available specifically for the left or right ear in small, medium and large sizes. The earpieces themselves include a quick disconnect in case the cable gets snagged.

The cell phone option is an interesting one if you’re looking to avoid the cost of a full walkie talkie system.

Several free and paid apps are available for walkie talkie functionality on both the Apple and Android app stores. One of interest is Unity Intercom (, an app specifically designed for video work with a built in tally system that can take the tally signal from most standard live switchers and feed it to each client phone.

The catch with Unity Intercom is the price, and it ain’t $1.99. It’s more of your old school pricing model–which makes sense given the niche market (hint, full purchase for three users starts at $499). Check out their website; they also offer per event and per month rental models.TwoPhonesTally

Hey, it’s still going come in cheaper than a pro walkie talkie system, although we have reservations on trusting a live event to networking tech. (I can’t get my wifi devices to connect reliably even in life’s saner moments).

Whatever you choose to connect them to, surveillance earpieces are a great way to communicate on set without drawing attention. Plus, with the curly cable you can live out your dreams of being a secret service agent (except the bit about taking a bullet for the president).