I personally believe sound is one of the most important parts of a movie. If the story is gripping you’ll watch it, even if the picture is indifferent. But if the sound sucks, you’ll just switch it off. (How to figure out if the story is ground breaking if you can’t understand a word?)
(BTS photo “Emperor” 2008 – Aliff probably hates me for posting it here
I found this article on www.diy-filmmaking.com… and really have nothing to add myself:
Operating a boom mic on a set is an interesting job. In Hollywood, there are people who just operate boom mics. It’s their job. They literally spend all day boomin’ it up, and they’re good. Real good.
On the independent/DiY level, you are very lucky if you come across someone who is proficient in boom pole operation. You should probably give them an edible arrangement and be best friends with them if you find one. Never let them go. Never.
For the most part, though, you will be going through a familiar scene: trying to train someone to use a boom pole quickly so they do a decent job. Could be for one scene or a whole day. Could be because you forgot, our the edible arrangements made your first boom pole guy sick. It doesn’t matter. You need audio, and your brother’s girlfriend isn’t doing anything for the next 30 minutes.
So, we’ve rounded up a few tips to make sure you communicate, and you’ll have some decent audio flying your way.
Pointer #1: Point the tip of the boom mic at the sound source
This one is important, because it’s not instantly intuitive. It’s always good to explain to your boom operator that the slits on the side of the boom cancel out noise, and the real audio capturing takes place at the tip of the mic.
This immediately removes some common problems of boom operators pointing mics at shoes and tea pots when they should be pointing the mic at the mouth of the person talking. The concept is simple – point the boom at the sound source like an arrow.
Pointer #2: Ask for / watch the frame line
Nothing stops a shot dead in its tracks faster than a wandering boom mic. Make sure you communicate to your operator that before every shot, they need make sure they know (roughly) where the frame line is, so they don’t cross it. One of the best ways is to show them the shot, so they know where their boundaries are.
Easy – no more wandering booms, and no more tears. This is especially important, because it’s embarrassing for a first time operator to single handedly ruin a take.
Pointer #3: Keep Steady and Stretch Between Takes
A boom pole / mic combination might not seem that heavy at first, but holding it at length can take its toll on anyone. Communicating to your operator that they need to keep steady during shots – but not between shots – will encourage them to limber up keep their endurance up for the duration of the shoot.
Pointer #4: Try other options besides over top
The classic boom operator position is the boom high above the head, but sometimes a scene is much better served from a different position. Communicate to your boom operator that whatever position gets the mic the closest to the source and outside of the frame line is the best option, and up above is not the only way to do it.
Pointer #5: Some movement is okay, but keep it consistent
Inexperienced boom operators have the tendency to hold a mic absolutely still in the same position for an entire scene, even with moving action. Communicate to your boom operator that if there is movement, they should follow the sound source. However, let them know that for consistency, boom movements should happen with the sound, and not while it’s stationary.
That’s it! Just 5 quick points, and you’ll have a solid boom operator on your hands! We’ll have more in this series coming down the road, so stay tuned! … Check out the article at www.diy-filmmaking.com … and / or browse through their site for more interesting DIY information
Update 30 Mai 2010:
I got a short message from AudioMagia (sounddesigner) to add 2 more points:
Pointer #6: Don’t make any noise!
I thought that’s self-explanatory… but now while adding this point I remember plenty of times when mobile phones or the chit chat of crew members cut the shot. The boom operators are seldom the one talking, however the advise to be quiet applies to EVERYBODY!
Pointer #7: Don’t stare at the talent
Again an advise for everybody on set (besides maybe script / conti and the director of course).