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Boom Operator Monitoring - What do you use?


Den Nic
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We rarely do wireless boom work so Don is always on a duplex boom cable. His monitor signal (from my Cooper Mixer) is identical, in quality, to my monitor. He may at times listen to somewhat different program material but for the most part he is listening to the mix. When we do go wireless we use Zaxcom IFB - ERX receiver which is pretty much the same quality as his normal duplex cabled signal.

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On the job I am on at the moment my boom op is fed a feed via Lectro IFB. 

 

When I boom I prefer to use Lectro IFB as it is one less bit of gear I have to put down and I can leave the pole on set and still hear what is going on if I have to step off for some reason. Granted the sound quality is not as good as say a MM1 or duplex. Have never worked with anyone using a duplex system here in Aust. I was trained not using a feed (and I've really only been in the industry the last ten years).  At times I prefer to work without a feed,or at least only to one ear. But hey that's a whole other argument.

 

Cheers Nate

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Interesting answer. I guess duplex would be great but the flexibility of being able to put down the boom and still here what is going on and what the mixer is saying seems like a huge benefit, although I'd say that in a 2 person team that would come up more than a full three person team?

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I'm all wireless too these days.

 

I receive the boom signal via a Lectro HM plug on TX, plugged into the base of a loon boom.

 

Boom-op receives 2 track audio via Lectro D4 transmitter to Quadra digital IEM portable receiver (now discontinued I believe) Track 1 pre-fade boom Iso, track 2 mix. Boom op is free to listen to whichever channel he wishes or mix of the two if he prefers. I've also used track 3 for pre-fade boom iso to a second boom op from time to time.

 

System works great. Sound quality is almost as good as being plugged directly into the mixer, and I get great range from the TX antenna I've fixed above my soundcart. I can also install D4 receivers on any cameras that need audio, at the same time.

 

It's an expensive setup. However, I do quite a bit of "bag" mixing projects too, so the D4 was something I already owned.

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  • 4 weeks later...

We rarely do wireless boom work so Don is always on a duplex boom cable. His monitor signal (from my Cooper Mixer) is identical, in quality, to my monitor. He may at times listen to somewhat different program material but for the most part he is listening to the mix. When we do go wireless we use Zaxcom IFB - ERX receiver which is pretty much the same quality as his normal duplex cabled signal.

 

Wired for reliability? It's how I was taught, but am curious as to the reliability of wireless systems for booming now. Enough professionals choose the wireless route and I can guess that it would be for the ease of operation, but how often are objects an issue? Also the range.

 

Does Don prefer the mix? I recently spoke to someone who filled in booming on Modern Family and Stephen Tibbo wants the boom operator to listen to the mix if not all, then most of the time. I was told it was because (and this was a while ago so I may have one or two things wrong) the boom operator needs to listen to how the boom is incorporated into the shot/scene. It may be the primary tool used to capture dialogue but it also may not be. To me, this seems as though the boom operator is helping to achieve a quality mix as well, and not only worry about a clean boom track. Am I on the right track with this idea?

 

As a boom operator I sometimes find it distracting when I hear a line is missed when I'm listening to the mix track. I do prefer to monitor the boom but can see the importance in being able to boom well while listening to the mix. I work to make my mixer happy. Some prefer to give me the boom to monitor, and more often now, the mix track. 

 

I am curious to hear yours and Don's perspective if possible. And reasoning. The reasoning is most important!

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"I was told it was because (and this was a while ago so I may have one or two things wrong) the boom operator needs to listen to how the boom is incorporated into the shot/scene. It may be the primary tool used to capture dialogue but it also may not be. To me, this seems as though the boom operator is helping to achieve a quality mix as well, and not only worry about a clean boom track."

 

This is exactly what I was saying...  Stephen Tibbo has the same concept working as I do. The Boom Operator and the Sound Mixer are trying to record the SCENE. That scene may require, even in any one given setup, several different sources besides the boom microphone. With Don and I (since it is pretty safe to say we're about as old school as you can get), listening to the "mix" was there was to listen to in the old days of Nagra mono track. For the most part, this mix signal was just the boom mic anyway. Now, when we cover a scene, we may be using multiple techniques, multiple sources (wireless talent mics, plant mics, second boom) but the objective and the goal is the same. A really good Boom Operator needs to be an active participant in achieving this goal and must therefore listen to the results of this group effort --- this will be the mix track. There are times when the Boom Operator may be more effective while listening to just the mic they are operating and in those instances, at the discretion of the Boom Operator, there should be a system in place to provide for this.

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Getting a good mix is a team effort.  I value my boom operator's opinion, and he will make adjustments to the lavs or plants or his boom based on what he hears, unless I tell him it was my fault on the mix and the mics are fine - but... ummm... that never happens :-)

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"As a boom operator I sometimes find it distracting when I hear a line is missed when I'm listening to the mix track."

 

Well, if you are listening to the mix and you hear that a line (cue) has been missed, then that line WAS missed in the mix but may very well be available as an iso (depending) which neither you or the sound mixer heard during the take. If you were listening to only your boom mic there could conceivable and quite probably be all sorts of lines that you wouldn't hear so well if they were lines being picked up by something other than your boom mic.

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Good to know Senator..must be reliable too if haven't mentioned that as an issue.

 

Alexander said "curious as to the reliability of wireless systems for booming now."

 

When I was directing and hiring freelancers, I put together a wireless boom bag setup with a Lectro non-diversity fixed freq UCR 195 trans, a shure FP24 headphone amp and a phantom PS. I had to log and edit the footage..boom results were never an issue. Sometimes the op would not be good at adjusting sensitivity..but the lectro was fairly forgiving. But it was usually in a less than challenging RF environment.

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Unfortunately for all those doing episodic TV work here in L.A., I think wireless boom is almost mandatory because of the pace of production, lack of rehearsals, the need for total mobility and flexibility. Certainly this is the case for the 2nd boom when needed --- with the basic 3 person crew on these shows, when the 2nd boom is needed it is going to be the Utility person who would otherwise be wrangling the 1st boom op's cable. 

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I fought wireless booms for a long time for all the reasons we all know but practicality finally won out for Marydixie n I. At first it was just for steady cam or handheld shots. Soon followed by shoots in Downtown LA streets and alleys covered with who knows what. As the pace of shooting, moving around large sets increased we started using it more and more. Now with the range of radio mics and good enough IFBs for her, we tend to use them 90% of the time these days. Times change and the tools get better.

CrewC

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