Join Anthony Q. Artis for an in-depth discussion in this video Using a boom microphone, part of Video Foundations: Cameras and Shooting.
In this movie I am just going to give you a few pointers on boom mic technique. While it's not rocket science, there are certain very important things to keep in mind. So let's go over three important booming principles. The first principle is to get your mic as close to the action as possible without getting in the shot. To do this, you want to make sure that you know your frame line, or the imaginary line that marks the top of the shot. Lower the boom until it just enters the shot, then slowly begin to raise it up until it's clear.
Now look out of the tip of the boom pole and make a mental note of the bottom of the mic and find something in the room or scene that you can use as a visual reference point, such as a clock or mark on the wall, so that every time your mic goes below that visual reference point, you'll know it's in the frame without even seeing the shot. The second principle is to keep the boom mic on axis, which just means make sure that it's always pointed directly at the person or source of sound that you want to record.
Much more often than not, mics used for booming are going to be shotgun mics that only focus on sound in the direction they are appointed at. So it's crucial that the mic always stay pointed at the mouth of the person speaking. If the subject moves, then the mic should move to follow them. When a shotgun mic is not pointed directly at the subject speaking, it's known as being off-axis. When a mic is off-axis, the volume and quality of the audio falls off noticeably. So think of your mic as a mouth-tracking laser beam, and wherever your subject's mouth is it's always a direction you should keep it pointed at.
(male speaker: --a lot more visual to be seen. There's more stuff in the air, and there's more comedic possibilities.) The third principle to keep in mind with booms is what to do when you have more than one person speaking in a scene. The answer is simple, give the mic a gentle twist to stay on axis with whoever is speaking at any given moment. (male speaker: Yeah, this is actually a juggling torch, and it's designed to juggle while it's on fire.) If the two people speaking, start cross- talking too quickly to follow, simply play the middle until it becomes apparent that only one person is speaking at that particular moment.
(male speaker: Well, it has a--it's wrapped in metal. The dowel's metal. And this is a kevlar wick.) (male speaker: Oh, kevlar, like bullet-proof vests?) (male speaker: Right, exactly.) One other simple boom tip is to spiral your XLR cable around the boom pole at the ends, middle, and top to keep it from clanking against the boom pole or dipping down into your shot. Hair ties like these with little plastic balls on the end just like girls wear in elementary school are excellent accessories for quickly securing sound cables.
So that's pretty much it. Just a few simple but important tips to keep in mind. One: hold the boom as close as possible without getting it in the shot, two: always keep your mic on axis like a mouth-tracking laser beam, three: twist the boom to cover each person speaking in a conversation, and four: secure those loose cables. And that's it. Bada bing, bada boom.
- Exploring the different types of video cameras
- Understanding how to focus
- Shooting with shallow depth of field
- Understanding exposure
- Using ND filters to correct overexposure
- Using gain to brighten an underexposed shot
- Choosing the right shutter speed
- White-balancing a shot
- Working with a tripod
- Shooting handheld
- Using a boom microphone
- Setting up a 4-point lighting scene
- Using corrective gels