Boom Operator Gear That Will Help You On Your Journey

Equipment That Will Help You On Your Journey

When working in the field, having the right equipment is crucial for your success. Investing in high-quality equipment is not only a wise decision, but it can also save you money in the long run. In this lesson, we’ll explore a few examples of essential products that I personally use and recommend for daily use:

 

Its all about Balance…

If you’re planning on attaching a transmitter or any other heavy equipment to the end of your pole, it’s important to have a counterweight at the bottom. A balanced boom pole makes it much easier to control and maneuver (faster cueing), while an unbalanced one can cause unnecessary strain and make your job more difficult.

 

My Boom Pole Choice

K-tek is a highly respected brand in the audio industry, known for its durable and well-built boom poles. With decades of experience, K-tek has become a staple in the industry and is trusted by professionals around the world. One notable aspect of K-tek’s service is their fast and efficient repair team based in Los Angeles, ensuring that customers can get their equipment fixed quickly if needed. As the sponsor of this course, K-tek is not only providing high-quality equipment but also supporting educational opportunities for aspiring professionals in the field.

 

Cable Routing For The Boom

When it comes to purchasing a boom pole, there are a few different options available. Firstly, you can opt for a boom pole with no cable, which allows you to choose your own cable and connector based on your specific needs. Alternatively, you can choose a boom pole that is internally cabled, either with a straight cable or with a coiled cable. The advantage of an internally cabled boom pole is that it reduces the chance of cable noise and provides a cleaner look, as the cable is hidden inside the pole. A straight cable is a good option for shorter boom poles, while a coiled cable is better for longer poles as it allows for greater flexibility and extension. Ultimately, the choice will depend on your personal preferences and the specific requirements of the project at hand.

Setup For Rain

When working in the rain, it’s important to take extra precautions to protect your equipment from water damage. While using a plastic bag or other waterproof covering can be effective, there are also companies like RainMan that offer specialized rain protection products for audio equipment. RainMan produces a variety of rain covers and sleeves that are specifically designed to protect microphones, wireless transmitters, and other audio equipment from the elements.

These products are made from high-quality materials that are both waterproof and breathable, ensuring that your equipment stays dry while also allowing for proper ventilation. By investing in specialized rain protection products like those offered by RainMan, you can take your rain protection to the next level and ensure that your equipment stays safe and functional even in the most challenging weather conditions.

As a boom operator, working in the rain can be challenging, but there are solutions like Rain Man available to protect your equipment. However, on big heavy rain days, even with these products, it’s important to take extra precautions to ensure that your equipment stays dry in between takes. One solution is to have a bag prepared that’s easily accessible, such as in your pocket or near your boom pole holder. This bag can be used to wrap up your boom pole and zeppelin, preventing water from seeping into your equipment.

 

Proper Slack

When setting up your boom pole, it’s important to make sure that the cable connection at the microphone end is not too tight. If the cable is too tight, it can create problems with handling noise and even cause the shock mount to move or the microphone to become dislodged. To avoid these issues, make sure that the cable has some slack and is not pulled too tight. This will help to reduce handling noise and ensure that the microphone remains securely attached to the shock mount.

Taking the time to properly set up your boom pole and ensure that the cable connection is secure but not too tight can make a big difference in the quality of your recordings.

Advantage of a Good Boom Stand

When working as a boom operator on a professional set, having a good boom stand is essential. Whether you need to take a break and set your pole down, or you need to move away from the microphone for a moment, a good boom stand can provide the support and stability you need. There are many different types of boom stands available on the market, and some boom operators even choose to custom-make their own stands, adding stickers from past shows for a personal touch. Ultimately, the choice of boom stand will depend on your specific needs and preferences, but having a reliable stand is an important part of any boom operator’s toolkit.

Quick Release for Mic Suspension

Boom pole quick releases are becoming more and more popular in the professional audio industry, and for a good reason. Having a quick release system on the end of your boom pole can save you valuable time and effort, especially when you need to switch out microphones or shock mounts on set. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most popular boom pole quick releases available today.

First up is the Rycote PCS-Boom Connector. Designed specifically for professional boom pole use, this quick attachment/quick release connection system features an intuitive, one-handed ‘click-in’ attachment and pull collar release mechanism that allows for fast and incredibly easy swapping of microphones in shock mounts or windshields. The Connector is compatible with any make of microphone shock mount, suspension, or windshield kit that is fitted with a female 3/8″ thread. It is made out of robust, high-quality materials in neutral colors (black and grey), with a non-reflective finish, and locks to the boom pole without damaging the boom pole thread.

Another popular boom pole quick release is the Orca OR-45 Quick Release. This system is designed to help sound operators quickly and easily release any microphone or audio holder from any boom pole. Simply push down on the round spring to disconnect. The body of the Quick Release mounts onto the 3/8” thread of a microphone boom or stand, and its interchangeable heads allow for attaching to 1/4″ threading as well.

If you’re looking for a self-locking microphone assembly for boom poles, the Ambient QRT QuickLok Quick Release Mic Adapter is a great option. This precision-machined system’s self-tightening tapered design provides a completely rattle-free, rigid connection that adapts to natural wear and tear, ensuring that the connection stays strong and rattle-free over time. The QuickLok fits all standard 3/8” threads on microphone booms.

Another option is the Sound Guys Solutions Boom Pole Quick Release (BPQR) and its Quick Release Tips. It is very similar to a bike seat and is extremely secure. These are perfect for antenna mounting too!

Blimp Setup

As a boom operator, having the right tools for the job is essential to achieving the best results. This includes having different types of jumper cables, including straight and right angle cables. Using the right type of cable for each situation can help to reduce noise and interference and ensure that you capture the best possible audio.

When working with zeppelins, for example, a right angle cable may not necessarily make less noise, especially if you are using a generic zeppelin that doesn’t have its own cables built in. In this case, it’s important to experiment with different types of cables to determine which ones work best for your specific setup.

Having a variety of cables on hand can also help you to be more versatile on set. You may encounter different situations where a particular type of cable is required, and having a range of options at your disposal can help you to quickly adapt to these changing circumstances.

Protection Near Ceilings

As a boom operator, one of the challenges you may encounter is having female XLR connectors floating in the air near the ceiling. These connectors can sometimes make a loud thumping sound if they accidentally come into contact with the ceiling, which can be distracting and disruptive to the shoot.

One solution to this problem is to attach a small rubber tip to the end of the female XLR connector. This tip acts as a buffer, absorbing any impact and reducing the amount of noise that is generated. This can be especially helpful when working in tight spaces or with low ceilings, where there is a greater risk of accidental contact.

 

Backup Cables

One popular choice for cables in boom operating is coiled cables. These cables are designed to retract and stretch, providing flexibility and convenience for the boom operator. However, coiled cables are notorious for breaking and causing crackles in the audio due to their susceptibility to stress and wear. This can negatively impact the audio quality and disrupt the recording process.

To mitigate this issue, it is essential for boom operators to always have backup cables ready to go. In the event that a coiled cable breaks or starts crackling during a take, having a replacement on hand allows for a quick swap, ensuring minimal downtime and maintaining audio quality.

In addition to keeping backup coiled cables, it is also highly recommended that boom operators carry straight cables as an alternative. Straight cables are less prone to breaking and causing crackles in the audio, as they do not experience the same stress that coiled cables do. By having straight cables available, boom operators can quickly switch to a more reliable solution when needed.

Also, one quick note. In this video Ken talks about William Munroe having a tip and a lead on the best coiled cable on the market. That has since been shared with K-Tek and they have acquired it into their product line. These cables are called the Mighty Boom Cables.

We also need to make sure that no matter what, even with all of the wireless technology that we have nowadays, that we always have a standard cabled duplex system. This is just literally an audio cable for the boom operator to wear that allows them to plug their headphones into it as well. When in doubt grab the duplex cable and get back to work. 

Microphone Suspension Tips

Microphone suspension is a critical aspect of audio recording when using shotgun and short shotgun microphones. Proper suspension ensures that the microphone remains isolated from vibrations and handling noise, which can compromise the audio quality. The key to achieving this is selecting a microphone shock mount that provides the right balance between flexibility and rigidity.

An ideal shock mount should allow the microphone to be “bouncy” inside of it, moving freely in all directions. This flexibility helps to absorb vibrations and prevent them from reaching the microphone, ensuring clean and clear audio capture. When using microphones like a Schoeps with a GVC Swivel Mount, it is important to find a compatible shock mount that provides this multi-directional bounce.

One such option is the K-Tek Shockmount, which offers a range of swivel mounts to suit different microphone models. Another viable alternative is the PSC M5 Shock Mount, which has a unique 90° rotation feature. This rotation capability allows the microphone to be positioned closer to ceilings or other hard-to-reach areas, making it ideal for capturing audio in challenging environments. 

Wind Protection

Wind protection is an essential consideration for microphones, as it helps prevent unwanted wind noise from affecting the audio quality of your recordings. While it’s crucial to have adequate wind protection, experimenting with a minimal approach can sometimes yield better results in terms of audio fidelity.

There is a variety of wind protection options available, ranging from basic foam windscreens to more advanced solutions like furry windjammers and blimps. While these options effectively reduce wind noise, they can sometimes affect the microphone’s frequency response and, subsequently, the overall audio fidelity.

When recording in environments with minimal wind, it may be worthwhile to try using less wind protection. For instance, instead of employing a bulky windjammer, you might opt for a foam windscreen or even go without any protection if the conditions allow. This approach can help preserve the natural frequency response of the microphone, resulting in a more accurate and transparent recording.

However, it’s essential to strike the right balance between wind protection and audio fidelity. In windy conditions, sacrificing wind protection for the sake of fidelity can lead to unusable recordings with overwhelming wind noise. Always assess the environment and adjust your wind protection strategy accordingly.

Importance of Good Headphones

In-ear monitors (IEMs) have become an invaluable tool for boom operators, offering several benefits that make them an excellent choice for audio monitoring. They are lightweight and comfortable, allowing users to wear them for extended periods without fatigue. With their high fidelity, IEMs provide accurate audio representation, ensuring that boom operators can effectively monitor the audio quality during recording.

There is an extensive range of IEM options available on the market, catering to different preferences and budgets. These options go beyond basic earbuds, with many offering enhanced sound isolation, customizable fit, and even wireless connectivity. This variety allows boom operators to choose the ideal in-ear monitors to suit their specific needs and requirements.

However, it is still a good idea for boom operators to have a reliable set of traditional headphones as a backup. A classic option, such as the Sony MDR-7506, offers a combination of durability, comfort, and excellent sound quality. These headphones have been a staple in the audio industry for years and can serve as a dependable backup in case of any issues with the primary monitoring solution.

Setting Monitor Levels

Setting up the correct monitor levels for your headphones is a crucial step in ensuring optimal audio quality during recording sessions, particularly when working with a new team member or unfamiliar equipment. Taking the time at the beginning of the day to properly calibrate your headphone levels and audio receiver settings can make a significant difference in the audio monitoring experience.

When setting up your monitor levels, it is essential to strike a balance between too quiet and too loud. If the audio is too quiet, it may be challenging to discern the intelligibility and subtle nuances in the recorded audio. On the other hand, excessively loud audio can cause discomfort, fatigue, and even hearing damage over time.

If you find that you need to turn your IFB (Interruptible Foldback) all the way up to hear the audio or that it is too loud as soon as you turn it on, take a moment to calibrate the levels with your mixer. Collaborate with your sound mixer or audio engineer to adjust the input gain, output levels, and headphone volume settings to achieve the ideal listening level for you.

Remember, as a boom operator, it is your responsibility to monitor the audio you are capturing. Ensuring that you can hear what you are doing is a vital part of your job. By taking the time to set up and calibrate your headphone monitor levels correctly, you can maintain a high level of audio quality throughout the recording process and work more efficiently with your team.

 

Grabbing XLR cables in a Hurry

When working on a set, the fast-paced nature of film and television production can sometimes create a sense of urgency, leading to a tendency to rush. However, it is crucial to remain composed and focused in these situations, adopting the “measure twice, cut once” approach to ensure that tasks are completed accurately and efficiently.

One situation where this principle can be particularly beneficial is when grabbing a cable off the cart. Instead of hurriedly picking up the first cable you see, take a brief moment to pause and inspect both ends of the connector. By doing so, you can verify that you have the correct cable for the job at hand, reducing the likelihood of having to return to the cart and retrieve a different cable.

Applying this mindful approach on set not only saves time but also helps maintain a professional demeanor. When you carefully consider each action and double-check your decisions, you demonstrate your commitment to the quality of the production and the efficient use of time. This approach can also minimize errors and disruptions, leading to a smoother and more enjoyable working experience for everyone involved.

Mini Boom Poles

Mini boom poles are an invaluable tool for boom operators, particularly when working in tight or confined spaces. These compact poles provide the flexibility and maneuverability needed to capture high-quality audio in challenging situations, such as recording in a closet or underneath a table. When a standard 7-foot pole would be cumbersome or obstructive, a mini boom pole can be the perfect solution.

Designed with space constraints in mind, mini boom poles typically range from 2 to 4 feet in length, allowing boom operators to access hard-to-reach areas without compromising audio quality. These smaller poles still provide the necessary stability and support to hold the microphone securely, ensuring that the audio captured is clear and free from interference.

In addition to their compact size, mini boom poles often feature lightweight materials and ergonomic grips, making them comfortable and easy to handle even in awkward positions. This ease of use allows boom operators to maintain optimal microphone placement and focus on capturing the best possible audio, regardless of the constraints of the environment.

Microphone Plant Arms

Microphone plant arms are an excellent solution for situations where a boom operator cannot physically access the desired microphone placement. These versatile and adaptable devices can be easily clamped to various surfaces, such as poles, underneath tables, or up in scaffolding, effectively serving as an additional boom operator when the microphone doesn’t need to move.

These plant arms are an invaluable asset for sound mixers and boom operators, as they offer a discreet and unobtrusive way to capture high-quality audio in challenging environments. Despite their usefulness, many sound mixers do not have them in their kits. By investing in microphone plant arms and incorporating them into your toolkit, you can expand your capabilities and be prepared for a wide range of recording scenarios.

Using microphone plant arms can not only help you overcome obstacles on set, but also enhance your reputation as a resourceful and adaptive audio professional. Demonstrating your ability to efficiently solve problems and adapt to various recording situations will make you a valuable asset to any production team, increasing your chances of being hired back for future projects.

Stands and Clamps

There is a vast array of stands and clamps available that can significantly improve your efficiency and effectiveness on set. One tip to continually expand your toolkit and enhance your capabilities is to purchase a new accessory before starting each new job. This approach allows you to progressively build your arsenal of equipment, enabling you and your sound mixing team to achieve the best possible results.

A great resource for finding a wide variety of stands, clamps, and other accessories is Trew Audio. You can explore their extensive selection of products by visiting this link. By investing in these tools, you can not only increase your efficiency on set but also demonstrate your commitment to delivering exceptional audio quality for your projects.

Remember that having the right equipment at your disposal can make all the difference in your work as a sound professional. By consistently expanding your collection of stands, clamps, and other accessories, you’ll be better equipped to handle any recording scenario, making you a valuable asset to any sound mixing team.

Set Clothing

Being comfortable on set is essential for maintaining focus and productivity throughout the day. To ensure your comfort, it’s crucial to have the appropriate clothing and footwear to adapt to various environments and weather conditions. Here are some recommendations to help you stay prepared and comfortable on set:

  1. Shoes: Invest in a variety of shoes suited to different situations. Comfortable walking shoes are a must for long days on your feet, while specialized footwear like hiking shoes or boots can provide extra support and protection when working in the desert, mountains, or other challenging terrains. Waterproof boots are indispensable when working in wet conditions.

  2. Rain Gear: Complete rain gear, including a waterproof jacket, pants, and boots, can keep you dry and comfortable when working in wet weather. Having reliable rain protection is essential to avoid getting soaked, which can lead to discomfort and decreased productivity.

  3. Change of clothes: Always have a spare set of clothes on hand in case you get wet or dirty during the day. Being able to change into clean, dry clothes can boost your comfort and morale on set.

  4. Warm clothing: Be prepared for cold weather by packing layers, such as thermal base layers, sweaters, and warm coats. Staying warm is crucial for maintaining focus and avoiding fatigue during long days on set.

  5. Duffel bag: A durable duffel bag, similar to those used in the military, is an excellent option for keeping your personal belongings organized and contained. This bag can be easily stowed on the truck and keeps your items out of the way of essential gear.

Being prepared with the right clothing and footwear is vital for ensuring comfort and productivity on set. By investing in the appropriate gear and keeping it organized in a durable duffel bag, you’ll be ready to face any challenge that comes your way during a day of filming.

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