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Daniel Ignacio

Busting the frame.

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I’m listening to Jeff Wexler (hi Jeff!) on Matt Price’s podcast where he mentions busting the frame with booms and digital boom removal, something done on House of Cards and a number of other productions nowadays. I’m not yet on a lot of productions where frequently painting out booms is cheap enough, but I want to start pitching it to directors in pre-production, for occasional shots that absolutely need closer booming (quiet dialogue, reverb-y film sets) and allow for boom removal (stationary camera).

 

When shooting scripted narrative, how often do you take opportunities to bust the frame? How happy are you and your directors with the results? Any caveats?

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i've only done 2 shoots where we could do this. 1 was green screen commercial the other was an on location drama and the shot was going to have a different sky put in. My guess it's an easier 'sell' if they already have a budget for this kind of post production. If you're working with a production company that does this sort of thing it should not hurt to discuss it. 

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We busted the frame throughout "Counterpart" - Due out on Starz in January.

 

We began doing it in a limited capacity from the get go, as we were doing split screens and motion control for one actor playing two parts, but then it became necessary to do more often. I brought it up with VFX supervisor, who told me that booms in frame would have "zero financial impact", even in moving masters (which we never really did anyway). I took this to post supervisor who said he'd "let me know". But when he didn't get back to me right away, I just did it anyway. Never heard a word beyond them being very happy with the sound. Operators and DPs were on board immediately. Directors were skeptical, but loved being able to do wide and tight without anyone complaining.

 

I recently tried to get editorial to give me screen grabs with booms in for an article I was thinking about writing, but the assistant editors had taken the boom out with the Avid tools before even sending them for the temp, so without searching the VFX QC list, and "undoing" it to see what was there, they had no way of finding the footage for me. That means that basically nobody ever saw the booms beyond raw dailies.

 

I will discuss this with every show from now on. The time saved in production and post will more than cover any cost associated with boom removal.

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Tried it once in front of a green screen, but it didn't work that well. Sure, the sound was good, but because there were moving, blue stage lights, the keying was apparently a pretty arduous job. The moving lights really messed with the keying, thinking back on it, it was pretty amateurish. The moving lights would have been an issue in any case, so it wasn't pinned on sound. Also, it was on a student film, so it was no major disaster. I had an OK from both the DoP and the director, who had also given VFX a phone call, so everything should have been good. Glad to have learned more about this before heading into the "real world".

The lesson learned was that the people involved should really know VFX to be able to make good judgement calls on set. It may not be as easy as it's been made out to be in the articles about it. A moving background that's not going to be replaced could be a problem, let's say that there's a small breeze moving the tree branch behind the boom ever so slightly... Could be hard to notice, especially in a hurry. To succeed, you will need to have a good working relationship with a sharp-eyed DoP who understands VFX post production.

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Yep I guess bust the frame with permission(s)

If the setup is wide and quiet use a lav

 

mike

 

 

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In my case it was #1’s choice to not be radio miked. So since booms were in for him, we did it with everyone. Others were quiet, and were lav’d as required, etc. #1 was wired in his coats, which were ok for the bits we needed, but not always ideal. 

 

Booms in frame just become another valuable tool, but don’t replace good judgment in terms of background noise and capturing performances with the correct techniques. 

 

As noted above, moving backgrounds behind the boom can be tricky, trees and such, but not impossible. And these wides are typically quick shots editorially, so not a huge issue usually.

 

Booms in green screen should never be an issue, as a garbage matte is drawn around the subject. It’s only if there are live elements in the background that the boom crosses would you get into hot water. 

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Understood RP

 

But I have dealt with many situations where there's a walk and talk in a forest, camera panning

or tracking wide shot, trees between camera and actors who eventually arrive/stop in a medium wide.

So not just and establisher or editorial

 

mike

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