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Old January 17th, 2007, 05:18 PM   #1
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How is your boom mic/boom opperator set up?

Hello. We're starting to get a corporate video setup together, and need some advice. We're doing a lot of documentary style, marketing promos - interviews on location etc - and I'm not sure how to best capture audio.

We've got a Senn 416 shotgun on a CF boom, but for the last few shoots, just ran straight into channel 1 on our JVC GY-HD110. It seems to work ok, but, I'm running the camera, with phones on, trying to keep track of the audio keeping the boom opperator informed on what's going on. not the best way to go.

What is an ideal setup for a boom opperator? I'm planning on setting up a field mixer situation, and read about using some sort of digital recorder (we have a Tascam DAT i'm hoping will work) worked in for backup audio. mostly, i just want to get the boom guy with some levels control and have HIM monitoring via headphones instead of me.

My questions are:

1. if using a field mixer and a DAT recorder, where does the recorder come in? out of the mixer before going to the camera? from separate outs from the mixer?
2. does the boom opperator monitor via the mixer? or does he plug into the camera phones jack and monitor at the cam?
3. do we need a breakaway cable? and if so, which is recommended?
4. how do you set up the levels on the mixer and the cam? do you just set audio on the camera to something (like 5) and strictly use the mixer to adjust? or to auto on the camera?
5. is the camer set to Line In then since its coming from the mixer?

as for mixers, i'm looking at that Sign Video ENG-44. I'd prefer the Sound Devices 302, but think it's just out of our budget. I'm new to this, so please forgive my lack of info. any other ideas based on experience would be great! thanks a ton!
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Old January 17th, 2007, 06:13 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Kome
...What is an ideal setup for a boom opperator? I'm planning on setting up a field mixer situation, and read about using some sort of digital recorder (we have a Tascam DAT i'm hoping will work) worked in for backup audio. mostly, i just want to get the boom guy with some levels control and have HIM monitoring via headphones instead of me.

My questions are:

1. if using a field mixer and a DAT recorder, where does the recorder come in? out of the mixer before going to the camera? from separate outs from the mixer?
Separate outs from the mixer. Backup recorder is nice to have, not essential. With proper operation and decent camcorder quality you'll never touch your backup recorder tapes.
Quote:
2. does the boom opperator monitor via the mixer? or does he plug into the camera phones jack and monitor at the cam?
3. do we need a breakaway cable? and if so, which is recommended?
Ideally, the operator does both. Monitors the mix send, and confidence-checks the camera return frequently.

As I recall, the ENG-44 does not have a hirose or other multipair connector. Breakaway cables are a substitute for individual cables but are not essential. They provide convenience at a higher cost. There is nothing wrong with ny-tying 2 30'xlr and a headphone return cable together - instant multipair cable.

Quote:
4. how do you set up the levels on the mixer and the cam? do you just set audio on the camera to something (like 5) and strictly use the mixer to adjust? or to auto on the camera?
Different engineers have different preferences, but typically send 0db tone from the mixer and adjust it to perhaps -6db at the camera. Then, the op will do all further adjustments at the mixer, peaking the audio at 0 on the mixer, knowing that they have 6db headroom for transient peaks. Never never never will the camera be on auto.

Quote:
5. is the camera set to Line In then since its coming from the mixer?
Usually.

You're asking the right questions!
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Old January 19th, 2007, 07:16 AM   #3
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This doesn't address the monitoring of the camera by your BP op but I use a Rolls PM50 sOB personal monitor mounted on the boom pole. Boom operator monitors the boom mic audio. Camera op monitors the camera audio. This unit lets me use wired to the camera or, with a plugon, go wireless. I have to say Rolls isn't the highest quality thing out there. You may want to look for better.

http://www.rolls.com/new/pm50sob.html
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Old January 19th, 2007, 10:53 AM   #4
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thanks for the replys! this helps a lot. we're kinda figuring things out as we go, and picking up necessary equipment too.

so, seth, when you say he "confidence-checks the camera return frequently", how does he switch between monitoring the mixer and the camera?

thanks a ton!
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Old January 19th, 2007, 11:23 AM   #5
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We have a very similar situation. Doing mostly corporate video, with a HD100, boom pole, microphone, seperate audio person etc. etc. and we invested in a field mixer from Sound Devices (type 302).

From the field mixer (like the Sounddevices 302) there are 2 xlr cables running at line level to the camera and there is also a return cable with a 3,5 mm plug that goes from the camera's earphone-out back into the field mixer.

The audio operator can select with a knob on the front of the 302 between the outgoing mix send or return signal (or listen to the channels individually).

The 302 can send a test-signal at I think 0dB - you set the audio levels on the HD100 and you are ready to go.

To get a good idea on operation, download the manual of one of these Sound Devices mixers, most field mixers will operate the same, it gives a good understanding of how this works.

Simple trick when not working with a field mixer: I run a single microphone signal over both tracks and record one a bit higher. In post I select the track that did not clip (or parts of it).

Kind regards,
Erwin
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Old January 19th, 2007, 11:25 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Kome
so, seth, when you say he "confidence-checks the camera return frequently", how does he switch between monitoring the mixer and the camera?
Well, it helps to have a 3-handed sound operator, but, there is a switch on the ENG-44 and other fine field mixers to monitor the tape return. Gotta' be cabled appropriately.

Again, different operators have different prefs, likewise directors, some will monitor everything through the camera, some will switch frequently, some not so much, some will playback every "keeper" take, depending on style of the production.

Some cable assemblies are made with a "split" connector at the camera, such that the cam op continuously monitors the cam headphone output, and the sound op does sometimes.

Regarding the desireability of 3 hands... IMHO anything that can be boomed with the boom in a fishing pole holder in a c-stand should be. (any set shot with one talent in one place, if retakes are possible if talent goes off-mic.) This really helps when you have one sound op instead of a boom op and a mixer op.
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Old January 19th, 2007, 02:39 PM   #7
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hey this is great info guys. i really appreciate it.

i just ran across this video on youtube - jvc hd tv camera workshop field audio #2 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wibNcVrJ8XM). this helped A LOT to just see the gear in use.

thanks
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Old January 19th, 2007, 03:28 PM   #8
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Hi there

I've just purchased a Sound Devices Premix,you get a tone output to set your camera audio level... I've been playing with -12 to -20 db to give enough headroom...

These mixers have a three postion tape return switch which is great as you can set the headphones to listen to 1) your camera or 2) your mixer... or 3) a brief spurt of you camera and it reverts back to the mixer... this is a really useful feature...

I must admit I'm knocked out by these mixers for the money.. not only to they provide great clean sound, but due to the quality of the pre amps and the limiters, if you set you headroom right, you can afford to go hotter on you output levels and not risk clipping thus improving your audio...

For the time being I can't see a need for a serparate audio recorder...as syncing it will naturally be an issue.

cheers
Gareth
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Old January 19th, 2007, 05:57 PM   #9
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sound operator and cam operator communication

so, another question. is there an ideal way for the sound guy and cam operator to communicate, say if mic dips into frame or something? like a headset mic on the cam op that feeds into the phones on the sound guy?

i ask because we ran into some issues like this when filming some kid's classroom situations, and we were just running tape, with the boom guy out of my reach, and no options for retakes.
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Old January 25th, 2007, 07:09 AM   #10
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There seems to me to be 2 questions here, 1 is if you have a boom op, one is if you do not, now if you do not it's the camera operator and sound mixers job to know what the hell each other is doing and to have a good working relationship, they will both over time learn what the other is thinking let alone doing.

second, if you have a boom op it's HIS job to know if he is in and out and to communicate with the camera crew, has nothing at all to do with the mixer at that point.
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Old January 25th, 2007, 11:29 AM   #11
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Agreeing with Ian that cam op and mixer/boom ops should set up hand signals and pay some attention to each other.

Mixer/boom op can have a monitor in many cases.

There are some wireless intercom systems... however, this gets complicated with sound ops, they're supposed to be listening to program. I don't know of any field mixer that will bring in intercom to the monitor bus only, though, many studio mixers will.

Eg. the Mackie 1202 VLZ Pro is a small mixer with a sophisticated monitor section that allows listening to the main mix and alt bus, but it needs a cart or table and isn't battery powered.

My understanding of feature-style work is that the mixer op will have a cart with visual monitor, and a headphone send to the boom op for program and intercom to direct boom placement. However, this style of production usually doesn't involve lengthy sound takes.
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Old January 25th, 2007, 12:30 PM   #12
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.

Seth is totally right, hand signals are without question the key to boom op,camera op/focus puller working relations, all boom ops must (if possible) at all times be looking at the camera,stance must be altered to be facing the camera, independent eyes are a real feature of how a boom op works, it's crucial really and is not taught nowadays, it's one reason I was taught NOT to monitor what I'm doing with anymore than my eyes, my ears are to listen to what is going on actually on the set, I see more errors from boom ops listening to the mixer or the mix than to what is actually going on around him, it's a multi skilled job and you must know your mic and your mixer, know as much about the camera as the camera crew,know instantly where to go to avoid shadows, know your lenses etc but that is really more to do with a drama shoot, doco's are kinda similar in some ways but more violent for a boom op to cover, bit like working with steadicams, it may be a drama but soon as the steadicam is out you go into Doco mode, we always work with a monitor on a cart but it's to help the mixer see the action, to check if say a fringing shot is actually seeing a mouth move or not so he knows what the mix should be in terms of what the camera is seeing, I'd never have a mixer tell me what to do during a take, if he has to tell you then you have already missed it simple as that and I'd like to think he was far too busy to tell me how to do my job, find out as much info before the take and check check check with the mixer if he was happy, then on the next take (if there is one) do what you did before but better.

Another point before you start anything is to check the safe area on ALL monitors, quite often they are different and the safe area is VITAL to a boom op, be seen in that at times and you are doing your job to perfection, it's where you should be, be seen in the shot and you are not doing your job, it's a fine line, remember proximity is king for a Mic on a boom.
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