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Old January 8th, 2013, 09:59 AM   #1
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Field Audio Question

I have got a Sound Devices Mix Pre D coupled with a marantz PMD661. They work excellent together i sometimes i hook them up with a Senny 416. During field interviews (stationary) I find that the audio headspace can be very big. As in the soft and big gap can be quite huge. I'm not a trained sound guy so I like to know if, it is a practice for the sound man to constantly adjust the gain?

We tried doing it and its tough when you need to hold the boom pole with 2 hands. We can only do it in between takes. Or it is due to the gear? Would a better mixer like the Sound Devices 302 or 552 work better?
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Old January 8th, 2013, 11:05 AM   #2
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Re: Field Audio Question

Sean,
This is pretty normal. Many people figure out how to hold the boom with one hand so they can adjust recording volume as needed. For a single person audio crew getting a stand with clamp to hold the boom is often part of the solution. Different mixer wouldn't change the necessity to adjust volume on recording very much. You should be gentle with your adjustments so you don't hear big change in background noise when changing recording volume. If the background noise is low it is usually easier to bring up quieter sound in post than it is to get rid of distortion of recording too loud. This is why it is good to get to know what your limiter sounds like when active. A soft spoken person who occasionally starts with a lot of energy then trails off will benefit from an active adjustment during recording. You have to make that judgement on the fly.
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Old January 8th, 2013, 11:06 AM   #3
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Re: Field Audio Question

Not very likely it's due to the gear and substituting a 302 or 552 probably won't make any difference. The issue is more likely due to a lack of experience or skill on the part of the boom operator. He has to be adept at following the conversation and the movements of the subject so that no matter how the subject moves, the mic is always in precisely the same location with respect to his mouth. It's a common misconception that a boom operator is little more than a living mic stand - nothing could be farther from the truth. It is a role on the production team that takes skill and attention to detail every moment during the take.
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Old January 8th, 2013, 11:42 AM   #4
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Re: Field Audio Question

Steve as usual hit it on the head. Here's an example of a boom op earning his day rate.

long take - Damasonico boom operator - YouTube
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Old January 8th, 2013, 03:24 PM   #5
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Re: Field Audio Question

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Originally Posted by Garrett Low View Post
Steve as usual hit it on the head. Here's an example of a boom op earning his day rate.

long take - Damasonico boom operator - YouTube
My goodness! That was almost like ballet. And was that a radio transmitter at the end of the boom pole or a recorder? Whatever it was, it looked heavy.

I loved the bit at about 2:20 when the talent got animated, and the mic was moving so quickly you had to wonder how anyone could control it. Very impressive, but not a job I’d ever want to do.
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Old January 8th, 2013, 04:25 PM   #6
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Re: Field Audio Question

+ 1 on everything Steve said.

That was painful just to watch! And the boom operator new the whole time one low dip and it would be another take. Just because of him, who would want to get reamed AND have to go through that again. It happens.
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Old January 8th, 2013, 09:28 PM   #7
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Re: Field Audio Question

Wow that is impressive! Thks for the great tips. Will have to work harder on the set!
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Old January 8th, 2013, 09:34 PM   #8
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Re: Field Audio Question

That operator must have some great guns! Wow! I'll bet blocking that out the operator just wanted to kill the director!
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Old January 9th, 2013, 02:44 AM   #9
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Re: Field Audio Question

I am sorry but that is not how to hold a boom, you can see the OP struggling to control it at times as their hands are far too close together causing it to be put in positions that could cause serious back strain, you should never have to place a boom behind or on top of your head and it shows bad positioning. You should never have to bend like that either and if the OP was holding the boom correctly in the first place half of the strange positioning would be un-necessary.

Also the boom is far too overloaded and is bending way too much, once again this will cause control issues and potential strain to the OP.

The OP is also facing the wrong way with the camera behind them so is having to look behind to see where it is, God or other higher beings gave you eyes on the front of your face so to stand with the main bit of kit behind you is bad operational practice and means you can't see clearly where the next camera position or framing will be.

When holding a boom the front hand should be further forward with the back hand pulling downwards to control the boom which is pivoted around the forward hands fulcrum point, the feet should be wider apart and the whole weight of the operation should be balanced around you main body preventing awkward positioning which could cause neck or back strain. The boom should be kept in front of your face as much as possible so you can see down the arm and judge distance properly, you should also always be facing with camera so you can follow it's movements as well as the action.
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Old January 9th, 2013, 03:58 AM   #10
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Re: Field Audio Question

Gary that is actually reassuring to hear, as it looked painful with his back arched that way for so long. Just wondering about space issues though. With so many people competing for limited floor space — especially with those dashes in and out of the door between the two rooms — he might have had to stand side on in able to fit!

So what is going on at the end of the boom pole? I assume it is a transmitter, but it would have exerted both leverage and inertia/momentum way out there, which would surely make life more difficult with such fast boom movement.
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Old January 9th, 2013, 05:35 AM   #11
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Re: Field Audio Question

Yes I always stand side on but to face the wrong way with you back to the camera is asking for trouble, will look again and see if I can see what is on the end of the boom but it should not bend like that and is actually not safe as it is out of the control of the OP.
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Old January 9th, 2013, 05:44 AM   #12
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Re: Field Audio Question

Just watched it again and yes there looks like a small mic on the end of the boom with either a recorder or a radio mic. To be honest it's actually not a very good example of boom operation anyway as the OP is not even listening to where the mic is placed and it just waving it around to try and get as much as possible but I suspect the results will not be very good.

The OP is also not even using the boom pole correctly and has extended the two front sections and left the two at the OP end unused, the thickest and strongest part of a boom is the sections near to you and if you have several extensions you should use them evenly rather than just pull out the first two.

As I have already said the OP is facing the wrong way and all those actors and chairs and even the camera shooting the video are totally behind and in a blind spot, you should never assume that people will be aware of what you are doing and all it would take is for you to step back and trip over one of them and cause an accident.
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Old January 9th, 2013, 08:29 AM   #13
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Re: Field Audio Question

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Originally Posted by Trevor Dennis View Post
My goodness! That was almost like ballet. And was that a radio transmitter at the end of the boom pole or a recorder? Whatever it was, it looked heavy.
Looks like a Sennheiser SKP 500 or SKP 2000 plug-on transmitter (providing phantom power to the mic.)
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Old January 9th, 2013, 08:53 AM   #14
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Re: Field Audio Question

I had an accident a few years ago and soon learned that bad booming stances really caused severe pain, and Gary's left arm as the fulcrum (my strongest one) is the only way I can work now. If I use a radio, I always have it on the other end with a cable, as it balances better. If you have a heavy windshield and sodden hairy rycote on a long boom, it can really be hard to control, and I tend to almost rigidise my left arm, hold it more towards the middle with a biggish overhang, so I can use my right hand to 'steer' the pole, and doing the twist from there - you have to stand feet apart too, to keep your balance, but I find that you can get a quick 2 ft in or out just be moving arms from left to right. More than two feet needs your body to move too. An old physio friend of mine emphasised the importance of keeping the pelvis level, and avoiding S shaped spine movements sideways.

I have to admit that I now find prolonged boom work a bit much - especially if there's a lot of weight up top!
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Old January 9th, 2013, 09:52 AM   #15
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Re: Field Audio Question

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Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
Looks like a Sennheiser SKP 500 or SKP 2000 plug-on transmitter (providing phantom power to the mic.)
Not sure John as I thought it looked more like a loop of cable coming out of the mic and then something like a zoom or a micron type transmitter taped to the end of the boom arm.

The worst boom I have had to do was on an ITV drama ser called Supergran and as it was shot outside at tynemouth on the coast it involved a sennheiser 816 size mic in a a full blimp on the end of a full panamic with three foot extension. Fortunately all the interiors were done with a 416 so I could take the blimp off.

My back survived the boom swinging 80's but it was the hi band u-matic recorders on news op's that broke mine as they were really hard to balance on your shoulder evenly, I used to wear a weightlifters belt for a few years but then got a job in post dubbing so saved any long term damage.

Recordists these days have it easy with all those lovely portabrace or petrol bags and harnesses, the best we got was a nagra in a leather bag!
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