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If I am supposed to do long hours of boom operation in interviews, is there any technique to tackle the situation so that i can conserve my energy for the rest of the shoot.

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7 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Having swung the boom on 9 feature films, I offer this:

1) Sit down...during scene's and when you're not needed, sit down. My feet are always the first things that complain. But don't miss your rehearsals, they are crucial to successfully and painlessly swinging a scene!

2) Learn the correct techniques on holding a boom. Gently, without force. Arms shoulder width and straight up (initially this may seem tiring, but after one or two days of this you will find it the easiest way to balance the boom with the least energy being expended). Literally you want to rest the boom in your hands, not hold it as that chews away at your energy. Bend your knees ever so slightly because locked knees will become painful too. Conserve your energy whenever you can. Move your whole body instead of moving your arms whenever you can - This gives you greater stability and reduces the amount of handling noise on the boom itself.

3) Use your bones. i.e. lock your arms in such a way that your bones and skeleton take the weight and not your muscles. I personally don't like doing this as I find it impedes your flexibility and ability to quickly adjust the boom for an actors unexpected movement, that being said, sometimes it works depending on the situation.

4) Between takes, rest the boom on your foot (on your toes) and relax your arms and back muscles.

5) Be organized: Have extra batteries, cables, gaffer tape etc, with you in a belt pouch so you don't have to put everything down and delay the shoot whole you're running off to get something.

6) Keep hydrated: Sip water (not cool drink) between takes, not in huge gulps as your bladder will get the best of you, but small sips thats will allow your body to keep hydrated and you will conserve energy that way too.

All that being said: The sound mixer on one of the movies told me: "When you can serve me a glass of wine on a tray attached to your boom , without spilling a drop, I shall call you a boom swinger." He did use me on three more movies after that one so I guess I was doing something right in his books! :)

Happy swinging and above all, enjoy it, you are in a privileged position with great responsibility!

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nice stuff! the true unsung heroes... –  Rene Jan 3 '11 at 19:07
    
thanx for the tips –  chrisnanny Jan 4 '11 at 14:33
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If the interviews are relatively static you can consider investment in a boom stand that supports the pole for you but still allows you to pivot.

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I find that keeping my arms in the same position helps, I will rest the boom on my head in between takes, it looks daft but it helps me.

I'd also take up a bit of weight training, you just need dumbbells, which you can keep in the house so there is no need to join a gym.

Finally invest in a decent boom pole with good grip, you will find that it is nicely balanced and will help you rotate silently.

If you are doing your job properly you will be so busy concentrating on making sure that you are not in anyone's way, not casting any shadows, not in shot, have a consistent audio perspective, have no movement noise, are minimizing reflections and anticipating responses that you will really not notice the fatigue until you hit your first break.

It takes a while to get used to boom operation but it is worth it.

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Iain and Rene have given two of the tips I would have mentioned, but I've got one other. You may want to look into an articulating boom. I don't know if any company besides K-tek makes them, but they're great if you're working with shorter distances from the subject.

http://www.ktekbooms.com/products.php?id=39

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One thing that makes a huge difference over time is simply keeping your arms as straight up as possible rather than out at an angle -- think of your body as an "H." This not only helps to prevent premature fatigue but will allow you more lateral movement of the boom without having to move your feet (leaning in and out with your hands closer together moves the mic farther).

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A few things for you:

If it is a sit down interview get a Remote Audio Boom Boy and a C-stand. If the subject isn't stationary (in a chair) then holding the boom is obviously needed. Nothing beats being in generally good physical conditional. Like everything in life, the better shape you're in the more energy you will have.

In spite of other responses on here, I would strongly advise AGAINST locking your arms. You need to be quick and agile with the boom, not locked in. Also, NEVER hold the boom on your shoulders or head during the take. Between takes, sure, go for it. During the take the movement against your coat, shoulder, head, etc can and will transmit through the boom pole and into the mic. You don't notice it on headphones but when it is magnified through a theater system it becomes a huge problem.

If I am booming and mixing at the same time I am able to move the boom pole using very slight, careful, small movements with my fingers. The more experience you have the more you will get used to what you can get away with and what you can't.

I chuckle when a director or producer tells me they will just have a PA as the boom op! I have never, in my 12 years of doing location work, come across a PA who was a good boom op. I always tell the director/producer that the boom op is like a 1st AC/focus puller. Would you trust a PA to be in charge of focus? Nope!

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THANKS to everyone for there comments....... The only lapels available here are the Sennheiser G3 series.Is it advisable to use them over Sennheiser MKH416 if the interviews are over 1hr.Having said that i would like to add a fact that i have never seen a boom stand(in kolkata, india) and my budget never allows me accommodate a boom guy.

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The G3 series are fine, but keep an eye on which frequency you are using as there are a lot of things that can interfere with radio mics. –  Iain McGregor Jan 4 '11 at 16:13
    
The G3 won't sound as good as the 416, assuming you can get within 12 inches of the interviewee. What capsules would you be using with the G3? The stock capsules won't sound nearly as good as a Tram, Sanken COS-11D, or Countryman. But, in this situation, use both the wireless and the 416! Pan one left and the other right and make a note of it on the camera log. The editor can pick which one sounds better for the picture. –  Matthew Freed Audio Jan 7 '11 at 22:39
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