Charlie demonstrates techniques for recording quality sound with a boom mic.
This really isn’t a dead cat on a pole. It’s actually a microphone. We’ll show you how to use it more on this episode of tips and tracks.
So this is a boom microphone. The primary component of this is the actual boom pole itself which is attached to the rest of the microphone. We’ll take off the wind screen here so we can see our different components.
The technical term for this is a windscreen, although it’s sometimes referred to jokingly as a dead cat, dead muskrat, what have you. This one has kind of a furry covering on it but there’s others that are just foam. The actual structure here is called a zeppelin. What you do with this is attach a microphone right in the middle. We’re using a shotgun here. This is the most typical type of microphone that gets used in a boom mic.
They are shotgun because they’re directional. They don’t pick up any sound from longer distances. They’re simply very directional microphones and a good choice for using on a boom pole because you’re trying to get the sound from a specific person or location. The idea is you’d hold it over your head like so and be able to aim the microphone over your subject.
This one uses just a regular XLR connection and then there’s an XLR cable here at the bottom. We’ve strung this through already ourselves. You could use a wireless mic too if you want it. Inside the actual zeppelin is a shock mount which is where we have attached this particular microphone. So as far as connecting this microphone to your camcorder or other audio recorder it’s basically just using an XLR connection or an adapter.
You can also use a field audio mixer but don’t forget to use headphones, particularly with an extension cable so you can make sure that whatever you’re aiming the microphone at is what you actually intended to record.
The main way to support a boom pole is over your shoulders. This will give your arm muscles a break although after a while, even though the pole itself is light and the microphone doesn’t weigh very much, it’ll feel heavy in a few minutes. The best way to use a boom pole is to get as close as you possibly can to your subject without actually getting part of the boom into the scene.
The best way to accomplish this is overhead but then sometimes depending upon how the shot is composed you might have better luck going from underneath but then you probably want to crouch down a little bit so that your body weight is supported better.
Another important point is that like any object that’s subjected to light a boom will cast shadows, so it’s really important to keep in touch with your camera operator to make sure that no shadows are being cast that will show up on your video.
So proper use of a boom pole will give you some of the best sound that you can acquire. It does require some upper body strength but the results are well worth it.
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