mghough

How long is too long to hold a boom?

39 posts in this topic

well, there is "holding the boom"  and there is "booming"...

Many times on Doc's (also on some ENG/EJ shoots), the operator is just sort of holding the pole, pointing at the sound, and not really "booming" by extending the pole and assuming the position, trying to keep the mic inches from the source...

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I am not referring to "human mic stand" type booming, which can be very hard in its own way (and lends itself to those boom holder devices).  I'm talking about A: following actors in a scene or B: following people in a doco verite situation.  Both demand tremendous "situational awareness" and flexibility about where to put the mic (and oneself) from one second to the next.

 

philp

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I'm interested on everyone's take on this. I'm currently working on a doco with a pretty green director outside the US. Last night we did a long take during a dinner with the key person and some friends. We shot for about 2h20m without stopping. It's the longest I've ever had to boom without a break. To be fair the camera man suffered more as it was all handheld on f55. I didn't really notice anything at the time but today I really feel it. I've done plenty of reality and doco work before and most directors will give the crew a rest after 30-45min even if it's just a few minutes. Of course I didn't complain as I would have felt bad as the camera man was not saying anything (although I could sense he thought it was a bit unreasonable) and I wasn't suffering too bad at the time. Also, I was able to set my bag down off camera so I was only holding the boom.

Thoughts?

How many people in the scene?

If it's unscripted, there's no way you can move around a dinner table with (I'm guessing) 4 to 5 people, catch every nuance, and stay out of frame. Maybe a lav hidden on the table for coverage? Geez, that long with only one camera, and not even a 5D for b-roll?

With a green director, maybe a quick conference beforehand to discuss options for best sound--hopefully he'd be amenable. It's really in his best interest to listen to you--after all, you're there to give him what he wants. 

If he disagrees, then you would have covered your professional bases. 

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How many people in the scene?

If it's unscripted, there's no way you can move around a dinner table with (I'm guessing) 4 to 5 people, catch every nuance, and stay out of frame. Maybe a lav hidden on the table for coverage? Geez, that long with only one camera, and not even a 5D for b-roll?

With a green director, maybe a quick conference beforehand to discuss options for best sound--hopefully he'd be amenable. It's really in his best interest to listen to you--after all, you're there to give him what he wants. 

If he disagrees, then you would have covered your professional bases. 

My boom ops did this and more, scripted and unscripted, so it is possible.  Save your table-lav, the audio from that will be uncuttable with the overhead boom.

 

philp

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11 minutes.  400feet/16  1000ft/35  That's it.  I think film run times were designed for the boom op.

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Shooting docs, I often ran through a 7" load of 1 mil tape (1800' at 7 1/2 ips or 47-ish minutes for those unfamiliar with running times) in the same time camera shot maybe a mag and a half. Because you can always figure out a way to cover not having the moment on camera if you know what was said, and in all fairness an Aaton comes up to speed in ~4 frames. Long takes aren't anything new.

 

My back's OK, at least for a guy of my age (early 60's and a freelance recordist for 32 years). But my hands are pretty beat up. For those of you suffering with "boom hand" - persistent pain in your knuckles - a couple of 1000 mg. capsules of fish oil and 500 mg of turmeric 3 times a day have worked wonders for me. I gave both a try after seeing how much fish oil and turmeric helped out my arthritic and formerly very athletic 12 year old retriever, pictured in her youth below. Of course your mileage may vary.

Best regards,

Jim

post-1223-0-67755300-1412453401_thumb.jp

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Watch out with the fish oil if you take coumadin/warfarin to prevent blood clotting. IIRC, fish oil has a lot of vitamin K (or at least produces coagulation effects similar to vitamin K). Ah, a bit of detail that matches what my hematologist told me:

 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14742793

Fish oil interaction with warfarin.

 

Might not be an issue for most of us, but as we age....

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Excellent advice, Jim. Of course, if you're taking a prescription medication of any sort or have even been put on a regimen of nonprescription meds by your doc never take ANY supplement without consulting your physician or pharmacist first.

 

I'm extremely lucky to have no persistent medical condition outside of arthritis, some of which is inherited but mostly related to my occupation.

Best regards,

Jim

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There are really no more "NORMAL" situations.... The sky is the limit...   All bets are off....  THEY may expect a boom op to hold that boom pole for ANY amount of time...  

 

 Job to job, person to person, that requirement or demand may or may not pan out. Some will agree to do so going in, some will not... some can, and some can't...

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BTW, what do you mean by handheld camera? Having done both, a reasonably balanced, albeit "heavy" cam on a shoulder is no comparison to typical booming. I would bet $$ I was insensitive to the issue in past. And while a jostle of cam or reframe can be "decidedly" covered with a cutaway in post, sound is just assumed to be there and on target.

Jim, my understanding is that the curcumin portion of turmeric is the most beneficial in terms of inflammation etc. There are supplements that isolate and concentrate curcumin such that you might be able to get relief from a once a day dose. A number of other potential benefits from that too.

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All great stuff!! Thanks.

 

I believe the DP was shooting on 500GB cards so he had some reach.  It didn't matter though because the Director wanted me to roll even when he was changing lenses.  I had 4 wires and there were about 7 people at the dinner.  it was in an Awkward small room so it was a bit of a challenge.  

 

I think what bothered me the most was that the scene wasn't interesting/going anywhere.  Of course this isn't really my business and I was concentrating on getting the best sound possible but in the back of my had I knew that we got what we needed in the first 10min.  

 

I firmly believe that once I take a job that it's my responsibility to be there and get the best sound no matter what.  I can always choose weather to accept a gig or not.  I was on the fence about this one and in the end I think I made the wrong decision as it turned out to be pretty unprofessional and stressful for me for many reasons.  Oh well, You win some and you lose some.  "It takes years of experience to get years of experience", right Senator?? :)

 

The DP also asked me if they could use my Peli case as a stool for the talent on an interview.  As if this wasn't unacceptable enough he did it while i was in the middle of setting up.  They expected me to close up and give it to them at that moment.  Annoyed, I just said "no".  They all laughed...and then realized that I was not joking.  I found them a chair and the director said that it was too short...I went back to setting up.  Later, on another location the DP needed  some diffusion for a practical and asked if he could use one of cable cases to tape it on the light.  I politely told him to stop asking me for these things and that it is honestly a bit disrespectful... he didn't really talk to me after that and everybody acted like i was a big jerk.  Haha,  just venting at this point.  Its funny how some people view our department at times.   And by "funny" I mean Shocking.  :)

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Well, you could have let them stand or sit on the case, while telling them that they maybe couldn't have it at that moment since you were in it.  I generally look for ways to get karma-points in my basket, so that when I need something that the DP (for instance) may not be thrilled about giving me (like a cutter for a boom shadow or moving a noisy HMI ballast out of the room) they'll be more inclined to do it, right?  

 

philp

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Of Course. It's always best to find a peaceful non-moody solution. I've honestly been asked before for my box as a seat. I let them use it once and of course this was the time that I needed to get in the box a few times during the interview for various things. It was more trouble in the end to have to keep asking the talent to move. I generally have my gear packed in a way that I can set up and break down quickly without leaving anything behind. I work mostly as OMB so this is the only way that I can keep up in run and gun situations.

I really think that, for me, it's all about the people and individual personalities. I have some DPs that I work with quite regularly and consider good friends. Even on tough jobs working with these folks is a pleasure. I find that as I gain more experience I get more patient with things in general. Some things still get under my skin though.

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It all depends on the situation, the boom pole length, and weight of the mic.  

 

Give me a MKH50 and a 16ft. pole and I can boom for a solid 45-60min before I need a break.  Make it a Rycote + Shotgun Mic and that goes down to about 30min before I need a break.

 

A 12ft pole with a MKH50 and I'm good for at least an hour before a break.  

 

A 20ft. pole fully extended with a ME60 + rycote + doing 4 straight 6min takes and I'm down for the count after 24min+.  Last time this happened I had to take a break for at least an hour.  The DP was having fun riding is long dolly with a 28mm lens.

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