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Just curious, how many Mixers wish for their booms to go for the mouth and how many want to go for the chest? Let me know your thoughts!'

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That is the key. Don't get fixated on any one spot. Listen. Make small adjustments.

To me, the biggest skill is blending a scene with several actors, making them all sound natural, without shifts in the background noise. If you "point" the mic at each person, you'll miss cues and head-turns, and you'll risk hearing shifts in the background noise depending on where you are shooting. Remember, the voice projects in front of the person, it's not just in their mouth, so it can be captured from many directions.

When using an MKH50, I prefer my boom operators to cue very little. With a wider pattern, you risk getting some of the mic pattern into the forehead or even behind the actor. I find a more vertical positioning of the mic helps with the consistency of the background noise when booming several characters, and it helps to keep the mic pattern in front of the actors where it belongs. This is especially true for newer boom operators who tend to be too high and too over the top of the actors. Cueing back sends too much of the pattern bahind the actor. Better to be too far in front.

Robert

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Agree with what most said above. I was taught to aim for the chin generally, which splits the difference. You're supposed to be able to follow their head turns and shifts as a boom op.

It also depends on what mic you're using; 416 Shotgun is more directional than a Schoeps MK41 hypercardioid - you have more leniencey with the MK41 but it doesn't have the same off axis reflection as the 416, so where you place it varries depending on the type of polar pattern.

Also, 110% agree with just listening and finding what sounds right - trust your ears.

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" Finding the sweet spot varies from person to person and location to location "

or as I would say: It depends.

" It also depends "

Edited by studiomprd

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" Finding the sweet spot varies from person to person and location to location "

or as I say: It depends.

" It also depends "

+1

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Much good advice here. I would also add: "wherever I can avoid boom shadows and stay out of the camera department's way." Way too often with young crews these days, I find they light themselves into a corner to the point where no boom is possible, and there's no time to make adjustments to shoehorn us in, especially on tight locations.

What always impresses me is when great boom ops can grab dialog from two people and compensate for volume changes by positioning. Makes my job that much easier, especially when one of the actors is a low talker, and the other screams.

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As aforementioned, don't fixate on a body part. 

People speak from different places - chest, throat, mouth, nose, etc. It's far more important to feel them out by listening to talent beforehand, and when that's not possible, finding sweet spots during the take. I find it extremely helpful to get my ears in on the rehearsals and note the talents' cadence, inflection, and where they speak from. I try not to make any hard assumptions off of my observations, because then I'll start over-thinking my operating (but that might just be me).

If a mixer tells me to aim at a certain place (chest as opposed to mouth), I comply and try to understand their direction. 99.9% of the time, they're right, and I hone my technique.

It just takes lots of practice.

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