May 4, 2018

3 Ways to Capture Audio in a Long Shot Without Your Boom Making a Cameo

I don't care whose kid that boom mic is! They're not getting in the picture.

Despite having a cool name like Fonzie, boom mics are not as cool and confident as the ol' greaser. They're shy and timid and don't like to be on camera (at least not in a way that is detectable before you're in post). Luckily, booms are pretty easy to hide just beyond the frame most of the time, but what if you want to record dialogue during a wide shot? What the hell do you do then? Unless you're prepared to dress your boom operator up as a human-shaped bush, you'll want to learn some clever tricks for getting that boom mic out of the shot, and the team over at The Film Look has a few really good ones on deck in the video below:

When it comes to mic-ing your subject for dialogue, the name of the game is "get as close as possible without being in the frame." That's pretty easy most of the time if you're shooting tight shots, but if you're shooting a wide, that's when it gets a little hairy.

How do you get your boom mic close to your subject when there is easily 6' or more on either side of them? What if you have nothing within the frame to hide your boom mic behind? What if there is literally no possible way to get your boom mic anywhere near your subject's mouth and now you're going to have shit audio? Hey, cálmate. Here's what you do.

  • Use a lav mic:  If you have a decent lav mic that you can easily hide under your subject's shirt, that might be a good option. However, if you don't have a decent lav mic but you do have a really good boom mic, you might want to try these other tricks.
  • Find a different angle: If you can, try repositioning your camera until you can't see your boom in your frame, like, for instance, putting your subject near the edge of the frame so you can boom from that side. If that doesn't work, try putting your camera in a position that obscures your subject's mouth, like behind them or very far away from them. You can also have your subject obscure their own mouth by talking on a phone, looking in a magazine, rifling through junk, whatever. Doing these things will allow you to add dialogue in post with audio captured in a different shot or with ADR.
  • Hide the mic: If there's a large object in your shot, you can try using it to hide your boom. In the video, a mic was hidden behind a car door, but you can use pretty much anything, like trees, buildings, partitions, anything that is at least a little bigger than a boom pole. You can even intentionally stage some objects on your set that may not serve any other purpose than to hide your boom.
  • Mask it out: If there's just no feasible way to hide your boom, you can try masking it out in post. You can plop your boom operator right smack dab in the middle of your scene, boom mic hanging out and all, as long as they, and their equipment, steer clear of your subject. The video does a decent job of explaining this process, but if you want a good step-by-step tutorial of how to do it, click here.

There you go! Hopefully, you learned some cleverly useful ways to capture great audio while shooting wides. Let us know of any tricks you use to pull this off down in the comments.     

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3 Comments

Umm. That’s four ways.

We did that with our currently feature. A comedy musical called Innerself. A lot of wide shots so had to be creative as well.

May 5, 2018 at 7:26AM, Edited May 5, 7:27AM

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Johnny Wu
Director, Producer, Editor
376

I'm notorious for pushing for lavalier / lapel microphones because of these situations, and the use of skeleton crews in television. A quality lav should sound good enough, although probably not as rich as a nice boom. Anyway, they're easy to hide.

May 5, 2018 at 1:35PM

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Charles Duoto
Floor Director
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July 16, 2018 at 5:54AM, Edited July 16, 5:54AM

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