Shoot it Right
We couldn't help but notice the photograph illustrating the article "48 Hour Film Challenge" in the Aug 05 issue. The soundperson is shown carrying a RoboPole mic boompole (which we manufactured) and he has sloppily wrapped the cable around the pole barberpole style.
The cable exiting any boompole should always be loosely coiled and Velcro or string tied, so as not to kink the cable. A kinked mic cable will cause problems when the pole is telescoped, and may also create physical noise from the cable knocking around inside the pole. Not to mention the wear & tear factor on the mic cable.
We also noted that the shotgun mic is lacking a windscreen. Shotgun mics MUST ALWAYS be kept in a windscreen — either a simple foam slip-on for interior use (or light wind exteriors), or a heavier duty furry windscreen for serious exterior work. A foam windscreen provides protection against the wind produced by just moving the mic boompole during a shot, not to mention actual blowing air. The windscreen also acts as a dust filter, and will protect the mic somewhat in the tragic event of the mic striking a wall or ceiling, or falling to the floor.
If we sound a bit preachy, please understand that we are former bona fide "Hollywood" sound mixers who currently sell, rent, and train folks in Production Sound techniques.
It is just that it rubs us the wrong way when we see a magazine such as Videomaker — that serves as an educational example for a large readership — illustrate improper technique.
Fred Ginsburg C.A.S. Ph.D.
Equipment Emporium, Inc.
Mission Hills, CA
Thank you for your letter pointing out the correct procedure for coiling an XLR cable. We agree with you that the technique in the photo is incorrect ("Wrong!!!" may have been superlative) and we would not wrap our XLR cables the way the crew in this 48 Hour Film Challenge did. However, though a good percentage of our photographs are staged, this was not.
We captured a crew in action, participating in a fast and furious two-day production competition. Whether they knew the cable was wrapped improperly or not, we documented their process. We feel it would have been inappropriate for us to interrupt their production to instruct them for our purposes.
As occasional participants in various short video challenges events, we know we have not always followed the rules to a tee. Several members of the Videomaker staff have worked in feature film, commercials, broadcasting and music video production for more than twenty years. We know the pros don't always follow the rules, either. If we ran an article on proper audio acquisition, in, say, Sound Advice, we would certainly have had that cable wrapped properly.
The same applies to the windscreen issue you raise, but we do have to respectfully disagree with you. There are times when we use a shotgun mic without a sock. We don't believe that shotgun mics "MUST ALWAYS be kept in a windscreen." It may be rare that we remove the sock on an exterior shoot, but any type of foam or screen can muffle the high-end frequencies. When the talent is not moving and it's a calm day, we have acquired sound while shooting exteriors, without using the windscreen.
Sorry that this photo rubbed you the wrong way, but production techniques in the real world are not always done by the (text) book.
We are very happy that you are teaching tomorrow's film/video professionals correct technique. If you catch us using incorrect techniques in our columns, let us know.
Keep up the good work.
— The Editors
A Treasure Trove of Knowledge
I would like to express my admiration and gratitude for Videomaker and it's staff! Videomaker is a treasure trove of knowledge and only a fool would throw away an issue of such a wonderful magazine.
I have a videography business and the knowledge I've gained from reading Videomaker has been instrumental in my business success.