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Old July 24th, 2009, 05:48 AM   #1
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442, options for boom op to monitor

Hey everybody, just looking for the best option to send monitor and receive input from my boom op. during the length of the production of a feature.

We have the 442 to mix and an extra 302,...
So I have thought of 3 options to send output to the boom op. for him to monitor as well as an input for his boom mic. I am just trying to minimize cables I guess in order to make him film as comfy as possible but I assume this is not always possible and you have to sacrifice a little bit, well my options are:

1- To use the 302 for you to monitor, so you would plug your headphones into the 302. The boom mic would be plug into the 302 as well and then we would take an output into line and through one of the inputs of the 442. (he'd have the weight of the 302 and I dont like that, but he would be able to adjust his headphone output at all times independently, I am not sure about how much control I would have of the mix of that mic)

2- To hire a 5 pin cable and run his headphone output and the mic input from mixer into the same cable...then at his end it would be split again into 3 pin XLR for the boom mic and jack output for him to monitor. (more cables but maximum control for me, as I could talk to him and also send him the audio of any of the other tracks for him to listen, in case I want him to listen any of the radio mics for example)

3- Normal 3 pin XLR from one of the mic inputs of the 442 and a transmitter into an output of the 442 for him to monitor through his receiver without cables...

I apologize if my explanations were inaccurate, hope you can help me out
Thanks
Vicente
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Old July 26th, 2009, 02:56 AM   #2
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It is a bit difficult to understand what you're planning....I don't quite understand why, in your scenario, you'll have the 302 there in first place. Why not just run cables to and fro your boom op to your mixer and that's it: you've got a a cable from the boom, and you run him a headphone signal. If he/she wants to talk to you he can talk into the boom microphone, right? If you want to talk to him you can talk into the slate microphone. Voila?
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Old July 26th, 2009, 06:09 AM   #3
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Are you planning on a two-man audio crew? If so, consider the Sound Devices MM-1 preamp. It would be worn on the boom op and does a couple of things. First it amplifies the mic to line level for the hop to the mixer. Second it provides a tap for the boom op to monitor the mic signal in his phones. Third it has a monitor return input so you can use a second cable to connect to it from from the mixer's secondary headphone output for return monitoring and crew comms..
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Old July 26th, 2009, 09:05 AM   #4
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The whirlwind MD-1 also works well.

Whirlwind / MD-1
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Old July 26th, 2009, 10:15 AM   #5
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Karl, the 302 just happened to be there, its part of the equipment the hire, dont ask me, cause only ask for the 442 but apparently someone from the crew had it and put it on the sound equipment list...

Steve, its a two man team yes,
what you are saying about the MM-1, I have done it before, but isnt the same than having the 302 (obviously added weight and features which I dont think the boom op need). The thing is that I dont think the producers are going to be willing to hire the MM-1 as they already hired the 442 and we have an extra 302 (so I gotta work with this last one)

Thanks everybody for their replies
Vicente
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Old July 26th, 2009, 11:34 AM   #6
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You are aware that you a) lose control over the boom's 1st gain stage with these kind of setups and b) you're adding complexity for gaining exactly what? I have a hard time seeing it adding anything of importance. It'd be different if your boom is wireless and you'd need to find a way to (phantom or T) power your microphone. KISS, KISS, KISS always wins.

Last edited by Karl Lohninger; July 26th, 2009 at 03:43 PM.
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Old July 26th, 2009, 03:44 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Karl Lohninger View Post
You are aware that you a) lose control over the boom's 1st gain stage with these kind of setups and b) you're adding complexity for gaining exactly what? I have a hard time seeing it add anything of importance. It'd be different if your boom is wireless and you'd need to find a way to (phantom or T) power your microphone. KISS, KISS, KISS always wins.
What you gain is for the boom op to directly monitor the signal coming off the mic in isolation so he's not working blind, as it were. Remember this is a two man sound team consisting of a recording mixer and a boom operator. The recording mixer would likely be monitoring the boom mixed with the other mics on the set such as lavs or plant mics, either directly or listening to the mix through the camera return. With a preamp/headphone amp on his belt, the boom op can listen to just what his mic is getting so he can control aim (and timbre) by ear. Not using one and merely plugging the boom op's headphones into the (hardware) mixer's secondary headphone output means he's stuck listening to whatever the recording mixer (person) is listening to at the moment and that may not be what the boomer needs.
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Old July 26th, 2009, 04:13 PM   #8
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One can imagine all kinds of situations, but we don't know if there are lavs, or how many, if there are plant mikes etc. One can came up with much more elaborate and sophisticated set-ups but why would one or should one. It's rather me having control over the gain stages of the MAIN microphone then a boom operator who has his hands full anyway. Is he supposed to ride gain with his third hand? In the end it is much more important to have control of the signal than the boom operator is able to solo monitor his boom. At least I would work like that.
Anyway, one really would need to know more about the whole situation, all the other equipment used, what kind of shoot it is and on and on. I assume Vvicente is more at the beginning of his career (which means that his boom op probably is in the same situation) otherwise this question wouldn't even come up here.
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Old July 26th, 2009, 06:38 PM   #9
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karl, yes you are right I am at the beginning of my career in terms of sound mixer, I have been a boom operator for quite a while but havent worked as a sound mixer for a long feature before. This is the first time. So I want to make sure we (two-man team) are comfortable for the whole of the filming process (6 weeks or at least for the majority of it) and I can come up with plan b's and c's in case our set up is not working for different situations. You know making a film is a very long process and there could be as many as hundred of different problems, so just not trying to panic but minimize them.

I have work with my sound mixer in many ways in the past, I was just trying to improve from the work experiences I have lived before, specially as a boom operator. As Steve says is really handy when as a boom op you are able to monitor yourself throughout different scenes as for ones you'll need higher volumes (maybe the ones outdoor) and for other you will need a mild/lower adjust of your monitor volume. I am also trying to minimize the use of cables, but obviously dont wanna have the boom mic wireless as for drop of quality and the risk of loosing his signal. And as I dont have enough wireless systems either I am going to have to use cables for his monitor.

I am obviously aware that the boom op. while and during a take wont be able to adjust neither his monitor or his gain (for the mic), but he can predict before a take at least for his monitor how much volume he needs on his cans. Regarding the loose of control over that channel, I am aware of that... but I have worked before with a MM-1 and the sound mixer was able to control the channel fader quite well.

There is going to be boom mic + 3 radio mics set up most all the time.

I have worked with a 5-pin cable in the past (as a boom op), I reckon is the best possible solution, just one cable between you and the mixer. The sound mixer was also able to talk to me as he was getting my monitor from one of the main outputs of the 442 and I was able to speak to him on the boom mic. But I think this solution is out of budget already.

There are many ways to do it, its just limiting budget what it makes me wonder what it would be the best one.

Thanks
Vicente
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Old July 26th, 2009, 07:50 PM   #10
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So are there Comteks available?
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Old July 26th, 2009, 09:30 PM   #11
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I've used all three of these options once or twice over the years. To be perfectly honest, it all depends on who your boom operator is.

I presume you're recording straight to camera?

I know this is going to sound crazy, but if I'm doing a really complex no budget film, and the boom swinger the production has given me is hopeless, then I'm much prefer to swing the boom myself with a 302 on my belt, and let the other person ride the gain on any other channels. Both jobs are important, but I think the boom swinger has to be a lot more spot on than the sound recordist in a lot of cases.

I also agree with Karl - keep it simple!

Steve's suggestion of a Sound Devices MM-1 is a great one, as is John's Whirlwind MD-1. I'd probably return the 302 to the hire company and ask for something like this. Even a MixPre would do! The producer will love you because you'll be saving them money!

The 5-pin XLR cable is an option - but then the boom swinger doesn't have any control of headphone levels, and you'll need a whole bunch of adapters and extensions. This isn't that big of an issue though.

I disagree that a boom op can't adjust volume as well during a take. Obviously it depends on the situation, but there have been plenty of times where I have been boom swinging as well as mixing six other channels of mics whilst trying to balance on top of a table!

Basically, all of the options will work fine. The less hardware you can use the better.

A lot of sound recordists now are doing almost everything wireless (i.e. wireless boom, wireless lapels, wireless plant mics, wireless monitoring, wireless send to camera, wireless return from camera, etc.). Depending on WHERE you're filming and what gear you have this can work great.

Oh, and using electrical tape to join two cables together in a loom also works really well...
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Old July 27th, 2009, 12:57 AM   #12
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one word COMTEK!
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Old July 27th, 2009, 04:01 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karl Lohninger View Post
One can imagine all kinds of situations, but we don't know if there are lavs, or how many, if there are plant mikes etc. One can came up with much more elaborate and sophisticated set-ups but why would one or should one. It's rather me having control over the gain stages of the MAIN microphone then a boom operator who has his hands full anyway. Is he supposed to ride gain with his third hand? In the end it is much more important to have control of the signal than the boom operator is able to solo monitor his boom. At least I would work like that.
Anyway, one really would need to know more about the whole situation, all the other equipment used, what kind of shoot it is and on and on. I assume Vvicente is more at the beginning of his career (which means that his boom op probably is in the same situation) otherwise this question wouldn't even come up here.
Having the boom op wear a headphone amp and preamp doesn't mean he's riding gain on the preamp during the take. In fact the mic gain on the aformentioned SD MM-1 is a click-stop set and forget coarse gain control not intended for adjustment during the take at all. You'd set the 442 input for the boom's channel to line, set the channel fader to unity, the channel input gain to midpoint, and adjust the MM-1 mic level to give a proper meter reading on the mixer. Then that's it and all further gain settings and adjustments would be done on the 442. I would agree with you if the two man team consisting of a sound op and a camera op with the sound op responsible for both swinging the boom AND operating the mixer. But that's not what we have here if I read Vvicente correctly. Instead we have 2 sound ops, one on boom and the other on the mixer, plus the camera op making up a third member of the team. Gain control is the purvue of the mixer op, not the boom op, in that scenario.
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Old July 27th, 2009, 06:27 AM   #14
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There, obviously, is different ways how people work. One has to understand though that the first gain stage is the most important one if one wants to get the best s/n ratio. If there's folks that can live with one set level of gain shooting a feature, well, go ahead, and good luck with it too ;-) Where I live, there's drama on the set, lots of it. There's people whispering and there's people yelling and they often enough (hell, too often) change their mood (and volume) instantly. Booming such scenes with additional and sometimes quite complex camera movements all the while dodging light stands keeping shadows in check and now, sure why not, changing levels at the same time is a great recipe for uhhhh, not so really good sound - the curse of the Indies. I'm not saying that it's not do-able, but there's lots of things that are do-able one shouldn't do. And to add all that cables and an additional mixer and what have you JUST so the boom op gets a solo on the boom in scenes that are covered with lavs etc. is...well, I'd call that 'over-acting'. A experienced boom op would do the exactly same good job not wearing any head phones - if he/she is worth his/her salt.
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Old July 27th, 2009, 11:24 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Karl Lohninger View Post
There, obviously, is different ways how people work. One has to understand though that the first gain stage is the most important one if one wants to get the best s/n ratio. If there's folks that can live with one set level of gain shooting a feature, well, go ahead, and good luck with it too ;-) Where I live, there's drama on the set, lots of it. There's people whispering and there's people yelling and they often enough (hell, too often) change their mood (and volume) instantly. Booming such scenes with additional and sometimes quite complex camera movements all the while dodging light stands keeping shadows in check and now, sure why not, changing levels at the same time is a great recipe for uhhhh, not so really good sound - the curse of the Indies. I'm not saying that it's not do-able, but there's lots of things that are do-able one shouldn't do. And to add all that cables and an additional mixer and what have you JUST so the boom op gets a solo on the boom in scenes that are covered with lavs etc. is...well, I'd call that 'over-acting'. A experienced boom op would do the exactly same good job not wearing any head phones - if he/she is worth his/her salt.
Consider when sending the mic straight to a 442. There's an input trim on the channel that is a set once and leave it setting and then there's the channel fader following it that controls the level of the channel in the mix. The MM-1 is just another trim. Think of the it's gain control as a "pre-trim trim" control. There's nothing that says you're using one set level of gain when you use it. It's really no different than using the 442 naked except that the mixer's own trim control is set to unity and the working trim control is out on the boom ops belt. Whether you're using the MM-1 or going direct to the mixer, the moment by moment levels are adjusted with the mixers channel fader, not it's trim controls. The boomer is not responsible for levels, he's responsible for aim and timbre. The mixer adjusts levels as needed using the channel fader on the mixer just as he would if the boomer had no monitor capability.
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