If operating a boom microphone to record the dialogue of two people in a filmed scene, what is the proper way to operate and point the microphone?

Do you memorize the dialogue and aim the microphone back and forth between the two people when their lines come up?

Or do you aim the microphone somewhere in the middle between the two people and keep it there?

  • Note that the type of mic on the end of a boom is a shotgun mic, which is very directional. If you don't point it fairly accurately at the source you are trying to capture (almost always an actor's mouth), it's not going to sound right. This is why it's nice to have lapel (lavalier) mics on the actors as a safety, if possible. It's also part of the reason why looping is a thing. – Todd Wilcox Oct 22 '15 at 11:55

When both persons speaking are visible I memorize the lines while the actors practice (having a script at hand might be helpful) and pan the mic between both.
If the scene is split into shot/ reverse shot, I also try to get both but my priority lies on the person on-screen. Especialy when the boom operator isn't experienced, too much panning might overburden him/her with the result that neither actors lines are clear.
Sometimes, I ask the actor if he needs the lines delivered by the actor off-screen for his performance. If not, I even ask the off-screen actor to remain silent so I can also capture little details of the actor filmed. This however can also be counterproductive as it might worsen the performance.
You can also use a second boom/stand or lav mic for the off-screen actor.
If there still are problems (especially if they talk simultaneously), I like to do wildtracks on set hoping to avoid (too much) ADR.
As mentioned in your other thread, production sound isn't my expertise though.


Do you memorize the dialogue and aim the microphone back and forth between the two people when their lines come up?


This allow you to anticipate one's sentences ending and be on place for beginning of next character's sentence.

Notice that it's important that your microphone is aimed at the person speaking. Which means your microphone can be between two (or more) characters and you have to rotate it toward character speaking rather than moving it.

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