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This weekly course covers the most common questions videographers encounter when shooting and editing with DSLR cameras, from choosing a frame size and frame rate to understanding moiré. Authors Rich Harrington and Robbie Carman will also help you understand the impacts of compression and the difference between cropped (or micro 4/3rds) and full-sized sensors in cameras, and much more. This continual FAQ guide is a handy way to find the answers to the questions that plague you the most.
Robbie Carman: Now Rich, a tried and true method of recording audio for interviews as well as other dialogue on set is the Boom mic. Yes, are you getting me? Are you getting this? Rich Harrington: Yes, I'm getting it. Robbie: Now, perhaps you've seen behind the scenes production photos from big budget films and you've seen that guy doing this, right? Holding the microphone above the scene. Rich: Hopefully not in the shot. Robbie: Exactly, holding the microphone above the scene and recording the audio. Now, a Boom mic consists of a couple of different parts. The whole package is generally called a Boom, but let's break down the various parts that we have here.
Rich: Well, pretty straightforward, first off is the microphone itself. What you're seeing here is typically a shotgun microphone, very directional, so you point it at the subject itself with the windscreen to cut down on any noise that's happening. Then the cable runs through and essentially goes through the pole. The pole itself can be adjusted. So as you're looking here, I've got the ability to telescope this, and this is going to extend my reach. Typically, it's going to give you some good distance, and this allows you to get closer to the camera and you just twist these so they unlock and then you can slide it forward.
Robbie: Yeah, the other nice thing about a lot of the Boom mounts on the actual Boom pole is that they have a little bit of a sort of shock absorbing cage on them. So as you're moving around and the Boom operator is moving the mic, it's not going to rumble through the microphone and pick that up. Rich: Yeah, this has a little bit of give and play. So it's got some rubber there, so as you're turning, and what typically happens is that the Boom operator, with that extended and locked, has the ability to hold it out to the subject, so over the subject's head, and then they would move it across the scene.
Robbie: You can also rotate it a little bit to sort of point more directionally at the person that's talking. Rich: Yeah, if you have two people talking, let's go to a lower here, pretend that we were over the people, I could just rotate that slowly in my hand, and at the bottom of the pole here you actually have XLR connection. And as you can see here at the bottom, just an XLR port, that's going to allow people to plug in a regular XLR cable and go out where it needs to. But you do obviously need to be careful with this on set. You don't want to wave it around, hit a light, et cetera. But this works really, really well for getting dialogue. Now, the thing is, is that this is work, so you'll see the Boom pole operator, they almost always seem to have those really buff arms.
Robbie: Well, they do, they're sort of bigger guys or girls, and one of the things that happens when you're recording with a Boom mic is that it can become a little tiring to hold this thing day in and day out all day. So a lot of times when you've seen Boom operators, they also have additional gear on, maybe like a vest, or if you've seen somebody who's carrying a flag, little waistband where the actual Boom pole can go into and provide a little bit more support. Now, of course when you're holding a Boom pole, you need to hold it right, so one of the problems with using a Boom microphone, especially for interviews and other dialogue, is that it's going to require you to have additional personnel on set, somebody to actually hold the Boom.
Now, I know you're thinking to yourself, what if I don't have the ability to have other people on set but I don't want to use a Lav, or I don't have a Lav and I want to get sort of all the benefits out of using a Boom? Well, there's a really easy solution. Rich: And that's what we have here, just a simple clamp. This is your standard C-stand, and we've got a Boom mic clamp here that's just going into the knuckle, and what it allows me to do is to basically slip this in, and the tension allows that to sort of hold it in place. You could then adjust its position, set it where you need to, and then adjust the angle of the knuckle and the height, and this allows you to put this over your subject in the scene.
Now, the key here is you'll typically rise this very high. You don't want this as much of an angle, rather it would be more straight and out over your subject. But we just have it here so you could see the whole thing on set. But this does give you that benefit of allowing you to use a Boom microphone without necessarily having to have a Boom operator. It's always a good idea because that Boom operator will be able to adjust the mic, but if you're just doing a sit-down interview and you don't want the person to be seen wearing a Lavalier microphone, particularly for sort of natural documentary style, this is a good match and sometimes we actually do both, right? A Lav and a Boom for safety? Robbie: Yeah, it's a perfect thing, because one of the things that you get out of recording with a Lav is that it's very sort of dry sound, and that's sort of the purpose if it.
You're getting very clean, crisp dialogue, but you don't necessarily get sort of the feeling of the room and that kind of stuff. Besides that, what happens if your batteries on your Lav dies, or the phantom power from your mixer to the Lav goes out, or worse yet, the wireless system that you got doesn't operate, there's interference? So it's always a good idea, I think, in my opinion, to run both of these sort of systems in tandem with each other, and later on in postproduction, you can choose which one you like better, or better yet, you can even sort of mix the two together to get a more composite sound of good sounding audio coming from the person that you're interviewing, as well as a little bit of room sound that puts your audience into the actual environment that you're recording in.
Rich: And remember, those dedicated external audio recorders you're using do come with two inputs, so you can put the Lav into one of them and the Boom mic into the other. All right, that's some practical tips on how to record better sound for interviews. Thanks for joining us for this week.
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