THE BIG PERAMBULATOR BOOM In a multi camera studio production of e.g. Soaps or comedies, you will find despite the presence of lavalier mics the big perambulator boom is still alive and well. In a controlled environment of the studio, the big boom is still one of the most effective ways of getting a high quality mic close to the talent while keeping out of camera view. There are reasons why it is not popular though: 1) It takes up a large amount of space 2) It makes lighting difficult 3) It is not easy to operate However nothing better than the boom has been made yet for picking up actors’ dialogue during long takes. You can extend or retract the boom, simultaneously pan it horizontally, move it up and down vertically, and rotate and tilt the mic toward the sound source. During all these operations, the boom assembly can be moved when the fully when the fully extended boom cannot reach the sound source. HOW TO USE BOOM MICROPHONES However and whenever you move the boom, do it smoothly. Its better to be a little off while following the actors than to lose them entirely because you can’t your wild boom swing in time. OPERATIONAL TIPS Try to keep the mic in front of the sound source and as low as possible without getting it in the picture. Do not ride the mic directly above the talents head- the actor speaks from the mouth, not the top of the head. Watch the studio program monitor on your dolly(which shows the picture that goes on the air or is video recorded). Try to ascertain during the rehearsal how far you can dip the mic toward the sound source without getting it or the boom in the picture. The closer the mic, the better the sound. In the boom mic operation you will rarely get close enough to violate the minimum distance required of shotgun mics to avoid the proximity effect(breath pops and boomy bass). The optimum distance for boom mics is when the talent can almost touch the mic by reaching up at about a 45-degree angle. If the boom gets in the picture, it is better to pull it back than to raise it. By retracting the boom, you pull the mic out of the camera’s view and at the same time keep it in front of, rather than above, the sound source. Watch for shadows. Even the best lighting director cannot avoid shadows but can only redirect them. If the major boom positions are known before the show, work with the LD to light around them. You may sometimes have to sacrifice audio quality to avoid boom shadows. If you discover a boom shadow when the camera is already rolling do not suddenly move the mic- everyone will see the shadow travel across the screen. Try and sneak it out of the picture very slowly or, better, just keep the mic and the shadow as steady as possible until a change of shot allows you to move to a better position. Look for good audio balance. With a highly directional shotgun mic, you normally must rotate it toward whoever is talking. In a scripted show the audio board operator in the booth may follow the scripted dialogue and signal you(the boom operator) whenever the mic needs to be rotated from one actor to the other. HEADSET MICROPHONES • It consists of a small but good quality omni- or unidirectional mic attached to earphones. • One of the earphones carries the program sound (whatever sounds the headset mic picks up or is fed from the station), and the other carries the I.F.B.(interruptible foldback or feedback) cues and instructions of the director or producer. • Headset mics are used in certain EFP situations , such as sports reporting, or in ENG from a helicopter or convention floor. • The headset mic isolates you sufficiently from the outside world so that you can concentrate on your specific reporting job in the midst of much noise and commotion while at the same time keeping your hands free to track players’ statistics on a laptop or to buttonhole or mic someone for an interview. WIRELESS MICROPHONES • In production situations in which complete and unrestricted mobility of the sound source is required, wireless microphones are used. E.g. You are recording a singer who is also doing some dance moves. • Wireless mics actually broadcast their signals. They are therefore also called RF (radio frequency) mics or radio mics. • Most wireless mics are used as either hand or lavalier mics. • In wireless hand mics, the battery powered transmitter is built into the microphone itself. Some models have a short antenna protruding from the bottom of the mic, but in most the antenna is incorporated into the microphone housing or cable. • The wireless lavalier mic is connected to a battery powered transmitter that is either worn in the hip pocket or taped to the body. The antenna is usually tucked into the pocket or strung inside the clothing. An important element of the wireless microphone system is the receiver. The receiver tunes in to the frequency of the wireless transmitter and can receive the signal from as far as 1,000 feet (approximately 330 meters) under favourable conditions. When conditions are more adverse, the range may shrink to about 100 feet(about 33 meters). To ensure optimal signal reception, you can set up several receiving stations in the studio as well as in the field. When the signal gets too weak for one of the receivers, the other or others will take over. This is called diversity reception. The wireless mics work best in the controlled studio environment where you can determine the precise range of the performer’s movents and find the optimal position for the receiver(s). Most singers prefer the wireless mic because it offers unrestricted movements. It is also good for audience participation shows where the performer or host walks into the audience for brief unscripted interviews.