Here comes the Boom

The art of holding a boom mic is tragically under appreciated. Most filmmakers know that sound is kind of a big deal, but even when they have the right gear still fail to capture good sound.

Let’s get this out of the way right now: a boom mic that isn’t held inches away from the sound source is no boom at all. If you don’t have someone to operate the boom, plan on using a lavalier mic on your talent instead. The exception would be if you’re just looking to capture ambient sounds, but then there are better picks than a boom for that kind of work anyway.

Boom mics are extremely directional and need to be held close to the subject. Booming at a distance produces a more hollow sound and adds too much ambient reverberation. A good recommendation is to aim the boom at the subject’s chest rather than mouth. That way general head movement won’t create a radical alteration in the tone and volume of their voice.

Boom2How you hold the boom pole also matters: holding your arms overhead in a relaxed “H” position allows you to keep the boom steady without fatiguing (asĀ much).

When you choose a boom pole you have two choices: a pole with the cable threaded through the center of the pole or one where you wrap the mic cable externally around it. The advantage of the first is convenience. The disadvantage is a possibly shorter lifespan as the cable starts to fray and the risk of internal vibrations from the cable rattling against the sides of the housing.

Then of course, there’s the mic itself, the windshield and the shock mount. That can all get a little confusing, so the experts at Filmtools have assembled a selection of kits with everything you need to capture amazing on-set sound.