Jump to content
Scotty What

Boomin A Western.... with horses and stuff

Recommended Posts

I have a question about recording dialogue for a western movie.  Specifically recording the dialogue while actors are on horses.  I wouldn't want to solely rely on radios or ADR if the shot allows a boom to get there.  But If I'm on the ground, seems to me the angle of the pole would not be right.

 

If budget allows, do you use a Fisher (or two)?

(funny thought) Would the boom ops be on horseback as well?  Ya like production would go for that!

Does one build a "platform" on a golf cart (with safely harness of course) or something?

Maybe we "hide" a mic mounted somewhere?  On the horse/saddle?....don't laugh at me.

As always, maybe mic choice REALLY comes into play here.....choose wisely

A ladder doesn't seem to be practical unless it's a closeup.

 

I'm just trying to wrap my head around how you position yourself (providing the horses aren't moving around a lot) in the a good spot to get all the dialogue safely.

 

What do you guys think....or proven solutions?

 

Thanks in advance.

 

The Scott 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The other day, boom operator Steve Evans and I were on set talking about old jobs and he told me how he solved this particular problem:  For a two riders on walking horses, he had one of the wranglers get him on another horse and Steve rode adjacent to the "Acting Horses" while booming.  A third horse actually calmed the other two down and his pole didn't distract the horses due to his height.  You may want to contact Steve just to get the details correct;  don't know if he held the reins or not, or if he was on a Western Saddle or not.  Definitely wire your actors, but convincing your director and producers to go the extra mile is worth it, especially with a key scene.

 

G

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What did they do in the days before radiomics were available? They must have used the boom. But yes, I've found horses get very nervous of the boom, you've got to be really careful not to move it around in their eye line or they freak

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I did a few westerns and only had to wire for one scene. Other then that, it was all booms.  The hardest part was routing cables so the horse 's won't step on them.  They'll break a cable real quick.  

 

As far as spooking the horse, I try not to use the windjammer if I can get away with it.   The wranglers will guide you when a horse is skittish, but most movie horses are pretty good about not getting spooked once they get accustom to the thing overhead.  Common sense will tell you not to sneak the windjammer underneath them.  

 

RVD is right on about that new invention called the ladder.  You'll find that most of the time the cowboys will ride up, stop, and then start to pow wow. Occasionally you'll have a horse walk and talk. When that happens you have to fight the vehicle noise that the camera is mounted on so wires would most likely be your best choice.  When recording a western, the biggest challenge is avoiding noises that never existed back then, IE, planes, cars, generators and wranglers calling for a "nine iron".  (Only those that have worked on horse movies will understand that term.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have shoot a western series in canada with horses and We don't have any problems with the boom .. The film horses have normally experience with the boom ..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"nine iron" LOL! wear appropriate footwear...

Having wrangler help you "introduce" the boom and windscreen to the horses can help as well.

 

I have wired folks on horseback, and I find that tack is frequently really noisy.. though it is in the shot, and thus justifiable for the track.

A carefully aimed long boom can cut some of that sound out.

And of course, I like having a boom or plant mic for perspective shots when the talent comes past camera.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On many of the westerns I've seen production stills for, a peramulator boom was run on the dolly track alongside camera for tracking shots. Will have to see if I can find one of the photos. Also, it was common to have a boom mounted on top of the sound truck, which traveled with the shot. Don't know how they dealt with engine noise in this type of setup, but a couple of the old-timers I've spoken with said it was done quite frequently.

 

In the few situations wher I've had to work with actors on horses, we have not had much of an issue a boom. A good wrangler will work with the boom op to slowly introduce the horse to the presence of the boom, without getting spooked. Like actors, the best approach is to try and stay out of their eye-line!

 

--S

What did they do in the days before radiomics were available? They must have used the boom. But yes, I've found horses get very nervous of the boom, you've got to be really careful not to move it around in their eye line or they freak

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If budget allows, do you use a Fisher (or two)?  yes, and if a western is done properly and safely, the budget should allow

(funny thought) Would the boom ops be on horseback as well? maybe.. Ya like production would go for that! if that is what it takes...

Does one build a "platform" on a golf cart (with safely harness of course) or something? ya, maybe

Maybe we "hide" a mic mounted somewhere?  On the horse/saddle?....don't laugh at me. not laughing, but the tack is noisy

As always, maybe mic choice REALLY comes into play here.....choose wisely as always

A ladder doesn't seem to be practical unless it's a closeup. " as usual, if the shot is big, it is easy to put that closeup dialog (ladder) over it,

 

lots of westerns (movies and TV) were done without wireless, in the past, and it is still that way!

beware of amateur idiots without a budget, and without a clue, 

 

fun, but hard work,  and oh, the aroma...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The sad part is I've worked on shows where you had to "introduce" the boom to an actor.  They couldn't act with a boom over their head.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The sad part is I've worked on shows where you had to "introduce" the boom to an actor.  They couldn't act with a boom over their head.

"Introducing" the boom doesn't always fix that! *cough* (insert name of least favorite celeb cast as actor) *cough*

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

funny you should mention this...

Jim Fisher was guiding a tour through his plant, ending in the Audio Room, where a couple hundred booms and perambulators (bases) are dealt with...

He started right out explaining that his dad, J.L.Fisher was working at Republic Studios in the early 50's, and they were making a lot of Westerns (Theatrical and TV) and JL was trying to improve on the Mole booms, which were pretty heavy, cumbersome, and a bit noisy..

He re-engineered, modified and adapted and then made a deal with Republic to provide them at a discount, from his nearby shop in and at a nearby  old Gas Station Garage... That was the start of J.L.Fisher... Jimmy pointed out the originals hanging on the wall...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

WOW,

 

Thanks for all the insight!  I would think the horses used would have experience and not be a huge "boom" issue (but that most of the time depends on the personality of the horse).  The reason I thought of a "golf cart" was it would be quieter than a truck/gator (but still have tire/ground sound).  I didn't think of the tack being noisy, but like was mentioned "it's part of the shot" and to an extent, that works.

 

I will ALWAYS boom as much as I can but have radios as a backup/adlib/CYA situations.  What ever gets the highest quality is the ticket.

 

Looks like my head was in the right place and I think I would mic up the actors and boom until they tell me not to.  Then, boom it till they INSIST I don't.  And go from there.

 

If the day ever comes, I will "draw" it out and make sure to get stills and let ya'll know how it goes.

 

Thanks so much to all of you for your past, present and future knowledge sharing.  This is a great place to get it out there...thanks Jeff

 

Scotty OUT YO!

I Like To BOOMIT BOOMIT!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've done several westerns and have always used hand held and some fisher booms.hopefully you'll be shooting way out somewhere where it's real quiet and you'll be amazed at the distance a good mic. will pick up----discuss heavily generator placement,blocking with trucks and maybe using one of the good gasoline powered generators[i believe they are manufactured in germany,but can be rented in the U.S.]

 

Also: Ladders Good

 

                                              J.D.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's the thing to remember if you build a platform vehicle (golf cart or whatever). What feels like a bumpy road in the seats will translate to a ton of movement up top. If it's a rough road, it might not really be possible. I think people take for granted that doing it right meant a crew of people laying dolley track for the camera and the perambulator.... but today they will probably just tell you to use lavs. I've only done reality TV with horse riding, and lavs were fine. If it was a film, I would work harder on a boom solution. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In my experience, horses get spooked by boompoles and windscreens.

If the horses are set trained they should be fine.

Since I've worked on a million westerns, from my experience if you approach the horses with the boom pole before shooting and have them smell it, it can help.

Talk to the wranglers about it first. Properly trained horses really shouldn't be bothered by the boom.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had no luck at all wiring saddles etc, or anything on the horse besides the actor.  The tack etc was just too squeaky.  Squeaky enough that it was sometimes a problem for boom mics as well.   I had a convo with the wrangler/prop people about that stuff, just like what you'd have with wardrobe vs an actor--what can we do to quiet this stuff down.

 

philp

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A little more history is contained in the reprint of an International Sound Technican article from November of 1953, which was in last year's fall issue of the 695 Quarterly. Good photo of a young James Fisher at Republic Studios with one of the early model 2 booms.

 

--S

funny you should mention this...

Jim Fisher was guiding a tour through his plant, ending in the Audio Room, where a couple hundred booms and perambulators (bases) are dealt with...

He started right out explaining that his dad, J.L.Fisher was working at Republic Studios in the early 50's, and they were making a lot of Westerns (Theatrical and TV) and JL was trying to improve on the Mole booms, which were pretty heavy, cumbersome, and a bit noisy..

He re-engineered, modified and adapted and then made a deal with Republic to provide them at a discount, from his nearby shop in and at a nearby  old Gas Station Garage... That was the start of J.L.Fisher... Jimmy pointed out the originals hanging on the wall...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I did a shoot with horses last weekend.  They didn't like the boom...

 

They didn't like much of anything, They were not trained for film but rather for chasing cows.  One dang near kicked me while I was trying to adjust a lav on a rider.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×