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Old April 23rd, 2008, 09:35 PM   #1
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Booming and Mixing.. simultaneously ?

Seems like I can do one or the other, but recently had to do both on an indie film, and ran into troubles.

If I have to hold an extended boom overhead, how am I supposed to let go with one hand to tweak levels on my device? (silent controls on the pole itself would've been ideal, lol)

Can most one man sound guys let go with one hand, holding a 14' extended pole over head with mic and zeppelin, and with the other hand.. change a level, then go 2-handed again while keeping the mic steady the whole time?

Should I hit the gym? How is this mixing and booming technique done ?
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Old April 23rd, 2008, 10:30 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Chris Sweet View Post
Seems like I can do one or the other, but recently had to do both on an indie film, and ran into troubles.

If I have to hold an extended boom overhead, how am I supposed to let go with one hand to tweak levels on my device? (silent controls on the pole itself would've been ideal, lol)

Can most one man sound guys let go with one hand, holding a 14' extended pole over head with mic and zeppelin, and with the other hand.. change a level, then go 2-handed again while keeping the mic steady the whole time?

Should I hit the gym? How is this mixing and booming technique done ?
My PSC M4 MKII mixer came with a boompole mounted fader but in most cases, it's still optimistic to think that one person can effectively boom and ride gain. My solution, hire a boom op.

Dan
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Old April 24th, 2008, 02:23 AM   #3
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What Dan says.

However on the shoots/days where I have no boom op, I insist on a full rehearsal (even if it's shot) to ensure I can get good sound. I wouldn't even try and bother to ride the gain whilst booming, but rely instead on the SNR/dynamics of doing 24-bit and the Sound Devices limiters should anything unexpected happen. Minor limiting I let slide. It goes without saying, mixing boom and multi-channel lavs whilst booming ... improbable.

Ideally though, what Dan says.
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Old April 24th, 2008, 06:15 AM   #4
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Short answer "yes." A good sound guy can manage a 3-4 channel mixer, 2-4 wireless mics and a boom all at the same time. That's what they get paid for and that's why it's a considered a skill.
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Old April 24th, 2008, 07:04 AM   #5
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Short answer "yes." A good sound guy can manage a 3-4 channel mixer, 2-4 wireless mics and a boom all at the same time. That's what they get paid for and that's why it's a considered a skill.
How do you keep your eye on the mic position and the ballistics at the same time, let alone cue the boom with one hand whilst riding faders with the other? Too much eye travel and more than two arms required in my experience. Better to have a dedicated boom-op and, heck, a utility assistant/cable basher comes in handy too.

A good sound guy? You mean, like, one who has his DNA spliced with an octopus? (Those sucker things would be great, but not so sure about having testicles in my head).
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Old April 24th, 2008, 08:03 AM   #6
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Rick's comment, I think, is based on those times when there aren't rapidly changing volume levels and lots of channel ducking, or, if you're isoing everything to a multi-track.

I do location audio work. I think one person with four wireless, a mixer and operating a boom all at the same time is a recipe for disaster.

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Old April 24th, 2008, 08:23 AM   #7
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I mirror Ty's thoughts on this one. When people hire me for shoots without a boom op (normal for interviews/docs/some commercials), they know that when I deliver the media to them with the audio, they will have work to do on the ISO tracks. They do get a 'mix' on-location to the camera, but that's really just to use as their guide track, it's way too hard to keep 4 wireless and a boom going with just one person.

The real problem is nobody wants to pay for a two person sound crew anymore. The major networks are even trying to cut out as much as they can from shoots and the sound crew is always on that list. In fact, they really want indie camera people who can do the whole thing, but that's another story.

The bottom line is it's a tough job, and it is a skill. That's why people get paid to do it.

Wayne
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Last edited by Wayne Brissette; April 24th, 2008 at 11:01 AM.
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Old April 24th, 2008, 05:05 PM   #8
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cool. thnks for the replies. Guess I could always get a film student to boom for cheap or free if low-budget. If alone, what about multi-track recording at set levels, leaving the fades and mixdown for post? Is this something that is commonly acceptable?
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Old April 24th, 2008, 05:31 PM   #9
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Last time I had a student try to boom, that person just didn't get it. Amazing to me at first. With them holding the boom, I'd steer them to the right position. 20 seconds later they'd be off again.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old April 24th, 2008, 05:55 PM   #10
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I do location audio work. I think one person with four wireless, a mixer and operating a boom all at the same time is a recipe for disaster.
I agree with you Ty. I had exactly this situation on my last film; the sound guy that assured me all would be well and never opened his mouth again the whole day. When I starting working with the footage, the sound from the wires was variable to say the least, and he had mixed the boom in with the worst-sounding wire on the same channel, rendering the production sound mostly useless except as a guide track. I ended up having all five actors come in and ADR everything. The one who was wearing the worst sounding wire mentioned that the sound guy had said to him at one point "I'm having a lot of trouble with your shirt scratching the mike" which is evident on the track. Not that he mentioned that to, oh, me as the director, but I guess he didn't want to bother me with that...! And he still went ahead and mixed in the boom with that track.

Net result was my having to spend 50 hours on ADR, sound editing and foley, all for a 3 minute film. Quite the learning lesson.

Agreed also about the baffling lack of intuition about booming that is out there. When I was running Instant Films (weekend filmmaking challenge), I'd visit set after set and more often than not witness a young boom guy positioned halfway between the set and craft service with the mike pointed vaguely in the direction of the actors.
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Old April 24th, 2008, 06:38 PM   #11
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Let's not forget how good we are... Most lay people can not tell the difference between a mic on target and it's polar opposite. Neither can a lot of people who should know better. Unfortunately 95% of students and work experience people are non starters in audio. After all if you had to do a course at age 20 + then you have missed the best learning years, the 10-18 age when talent emerges. Is it just me that thinks that once upon a time being a sound'man' was something one became without trying, an unavoidable natural progression from childhood to a job. A 'career'.
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Old April 24th, 2008, 07:00 PM   #12
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I was having a "bad day" several years ago when a friend from long ago called. After I told him what I had been up to all these years, he said, "Wow, so you umade a career out of what you really were having fun doing (audio) when we were kids. How cool is that?"

I thanked him for turning my day around.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old April 25th, 2008, 04:48 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Jimmy Tuffrey View Post
Is it just me that thinks that once upon a time being a sound'man' was something one became without trying, an unavoidable natural progression from childhood to a job. A 'career'.
I agreed to help work on an indie short here in town. During one of the pre-production meetings the director asks me what I want to do. I was very puzzled by his question and said, "I'm a sound mixer." He replied "Yes, but what do you want to do?" ... yet another example of sound not being considered important (until they don't have it, or until it sounds bad).

I think part of the problem is the sound crew is almost always the lest understood on set. I also think because we don't have a camera or don't desire to have a camera, film people don't get it.

It's also interesting to me how a lot of sound mixers got into the business. Few knew early on that's what they wanted to do (myself included), most enjoyed some aspect of audio, but usually some event is what forced them into it. Not that it's a bad thing to have happen, but I'm just not sure you can say they didn't have to try, but most still love their "job".

Wayne
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Old April 25th, 2008, 07:50 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Chris Sweet View Post
...If I have to hold an extended boom overhead, how am I supposed to let go with one hand to tweak levels on my device? ...
It's a shame that you have to now be Amboom-Mixtrious to do the job.
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Old April 25th, 2008, 09:12 AM   #15
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Jim's quote made me re-read the original question... One item that does help when doing solo mixing/booming is the Kit Cool. I have one (although I've probably only used it a half a dozen times), and it does work...

http://atscomms.com/Sales/Products/C.../kit_cool.html

Might be worth looking at.

Wayne
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