Boom Operating Techniques

The boom pole is used to suspend a microphone over the actors on set.

Although using a boom pole seems easy, there are a number of techniques that are used to reduce boom-handling noise and improve the quality of the recorded audio.

 

After the microphone is placed in the shock mount, tape the XLR cable to the end of the microphone-end of the boom pole, alleviating any pressure or stress onBoom01 the microphone. Be sure to allow enough slack so the microphone can be tilted up or down depending on the angle of the boom pole.

Tightly coil the XLR cable along the length of the boom pole so it doesn’t move or rub against the boom pole. The end of the cable should hang from the back end of the boom pole.

When holding the boom, lock your hands in position as if your hands were glued to the boom. Do not move, twist, or rub your hands against the boom during a take because the microphone will pick up handling sounds.

When holding the boom during a take, extend your arms straight above your head, as though you were hanging from a tree limb. This relieves muscle fatigue and helps keep the boom parallel to the top frame line, minimizing the risk of clipping the corners of the frame.

Always point the microphone at the actor’s chest and hold at a 45-degree angel in front of the actor, moving with the actor so the actor never falls outside the pickup pattern of the microphone.

Never put the microphone in anyone’s face.

If you ever need to change the boom’s position during a setup, notify the production sound mixer in the event that he needs to recheck the sound levels.
When recording a scene in which the actors are walking, or there is complicated blocking, consider taking off your shoes to minimize the sound of your footsteps.

When not in use, place the boom in the corner. Do not lay it on the floor or against a wall as it can fall, or be stepped on, damaging the microphone.
Always wear headphones when operating the boom to ensure optimal placement of the microphone and to listen for any noise that could disrupt a take.
Remember that changing the distance from the microphone to the subject is a much bigger problem than changing the distance from the subject to a light source. Maintain an equal and consistent distance between the microphone and the subject for optimum sound quality.

Boom02The prefered position of placing the boom mic above the actors.

Placing the boom mic below the actor will capture the sounds of actors handling props.

Boom Placement

There are several positions available to position the boom microphone:

From Above - This is the ideal position to place the microphone as the actor's voice travels up the face. Additionally the relative location of the microphone to the actor's mouth and hands means the volume of the actor's voice will be greater than the movement and handling of props. By pointing the micropone down, you are also reducing the potential of recording unwanted ambient noise.

From Below - By placing the microphone below the actor, pointed up, the microphone is closest to the actor's hands, and the mic will subsequently pick-up the actor handling the props.