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Old August 21st, 2009, 09:52 AM   #1
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Where to place the boom out of the shot?

In TV commercials where the camera tracks a person walking around their kitchen, for example, and, being a moving shot, the space between the subject's head and the edge of the frame varies throughout the shot, how is the boom operated? Wouldn't constantly varying the mic distance and moving the boom around produce an audio track of many different volumes and different sound characteristics?

In these types of shoots is it common not to use shotgun mics and to hide high-quality lavaliers? Please shed some light on this!
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Old August 21st, 2009, 12:17 PM   #2
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Yeah, a hidden lav is the way to go when a boom is impractical.

One nice thing is that a lav never casts a shadow on the talent's face. :)
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Old August 21st, 2009, 12:27 PM   #3
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Well, that's really the job of the sound person right? :)
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Old August 21st, 2009, 01:18 PM   #4
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Jeffrey,

Yes I believe it is!

But I assume there are some sound people on this forum who might shed some light on booming issues for videographers who don't know that much about it.

I am basically wondering about the constant boom movement that would result in fluctuations in the audio track, and how this is avoided and/or resolved.
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Old August 21st, 2009, 01:31 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Natan Pakman View Post
Jeffrey,

Yes I believe it is!

But I assume there are some sound people on this forum who might shed some light on booming issues for videographers who don't know that much about it.

I am basically wondering about the constant boom movement that would result in fluctuations in the audio track, and how this is avoided and/or resolved.
Remember the kitchen is probably not a normal kitchen in a normal building but rather a kitchen set built on a soundstage and probably does not even have a ceiling. This means there is plenty of room to move the boom overhead and the quieter and less reflective environment of the stage means you can pull back a little and compensate with more gain. A good boom operator becomes adept at moving the sound source around in the pattern by repositioning the mic direction so as to maintain a consistent sound timbre, the technique is called "lobeing." S/he will know the script and camera blocking as well as the director and the talent so he can anticipate exactly what's going to happen next and move in lock-step.
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Old August 21st, 2009, 02:51 PM   #6
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Steve,

Thanks for the response. I suppose I am wanting to know exactly how the boom operators become adept at "lobeing." There are so many variables that go into a particular set and shot that it's impossible to generalize a technique, but I often wonder whether shotgun or lav mics are used, given the difficulty I imagine of booming certain scenes.
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Old August 21st, 2009, 07:09 PM   #7
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Steve,

Thanks for the response. I suppose I am wanting to know exactly how the boom operators become adept at "lobeing."
It all comes down to experience.
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Old August 21st, 2009, 08:55 PM   #8
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A good trick when you run boom is to note the eyeline from you to the mic to a spot on a wall. Very handy to reposition the mic for the same starting sound on repeated takes.

In Hollywood past the boom op was the highest paid crew member on the set.

Cheers.
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Old August 21st, 2009, 09:55 PM   #9
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...In Hollywood past the boom op was the highest paid crew member on the set...
Before the steadycam, I'd guess that it was pretty much the only job that would make your muscles sore during a long take...
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Old August 21st, 2009, 10:58 PM   #10
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Hi Jon, bit O/T but even the early Mole Richardson studio booms were well counterbalanced so as you racked out, weights travelled silently backwards to counteract the weight of the long arm.

At age 18 I learned that MR boom in live TV, man that's where you live or die and in one split second too. Heat from the lights was the problem and you couldn't get away from it, perched up there sometimes in front of a live audience.

I've seen boom ops pass out on air. The boom swings down into shot, the actors duck tho not always and the boom pusher has to catch the body while not strangling him with his own headphone cable.

While learning you could get away with some things, but lay a boom shadow across the lead gals face and that was it. She'd get real mad and because she was probably balling the director he got real mad and it filtered all the way down to you. But some actors wouldn't work with some guys, flat.

I was lucky and wouldn't have missed it for anything in the world.

Cheers.
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Old August 22nd, 2009, 01:02 AM   #11
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business is booming

I love booming nothing else like it, you have to know everything, lights, frames, dialog and mic placement. I remember when I started could barley hold up the damm thing. Its really nice that when they yell action you are one of the few people on set that really get to move and create! LOVE IT
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Old August 22nd, 2009, 07:22 AM   #12
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more O/T.

Sacha, yeah it really is a great life.

We had small booms called a Lazy Arms. These were large tripods on 3 wheels with a 10-12 foot arm for the mic. The idea was they were positioned over the set and locked off .. saved an operator you see.

They were, I thought, strung with an inordinate number of tension cables, not wire but a thin kinda cord. And these needed regular maintenance to check for wear.

One time on a live cooking show, on the LA positioned over the stoves, one of these cords broke. Then as each of the strings loosened and unwound, the complete contraption slowly collapsed into a pile of noisy long and short aluminium poles.

But it happened really slow and the whole studio just stood and stared as the mic gradually dropped down into some soup.

It took all of about 20secs, ending with one of the wheels rolling across the studio floor.

I clearly remember it because one of the cameras captured it, an embarrassing laugh on our goof tape.

NBN Channel 3 in Newcastle for anyone in Oz.

Cheers.
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Old August 23rd, 2009, 05:27 AM   #13
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hahahahahaahha
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Old August 23rd, 2009, 06:33 AM   #14
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For $40 you can buy one of these small lasers with a lens making a line.
You fix it at the maximum height, just out of field. on the boom you put a small piece of reflective tape. Then you can tell the boom operator that he doesn't sees the bright red light on the the tape, he is either too low or too high. I think Jameco have some.
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Old August 23rd, 2009, 06:54 AM   #15
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That's brilliant. Thanks.
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