written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 2/21/2011
Here is a look at what to consider when buying a boom pole.
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Oh Boom Operator
Boom poles, as well as the boom operator, do not get the attention they properly deserve. In narrative filmmaking, the boom equipment allows for microphones to be positioned in a fashion that gets the sound of the entire scene. Though lavaliere microphones will often capture cleaner audio for individual people, the boom pole allows for a general sound from the area to be captured properly. This means that the audio for a film or video project requires a boom operator, and to be successful they need the right boom pole. Here are a few tips for selecting boom poles and how to approach them when you have.
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Weight vs. Strength
The appropriate boom pole needs to balance stability with weight, which is a fine line. You want a boom pole that is going to allow for the boom microphone to continue in a stable position, especially since it can get a little heavy resting on the far end of the pole. In the same respect, the boom operator has a difficult job on their hand. The boom microphone will often be used on long running scenes, which means that the boom operator will need to be still in the "H" position for several minutes without interruption. To do this, you need to have a boom pole that will be strong enough so that the boom operator does not need to have too wide of an arm stance, but also light weight enough.
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Graphite Boom Poles
It may seem like an excessive request, but you may want to go with the option of a graphite boom pole rather than a plastic one. Graphic boom poles have a smoother finish that is easier for the boom operator to run their hands back and forth on. Plastic boom poles transmit the audio from the boom operator into the boom microphone, which can compromise the audio and make it unusable over critical lines. The graphite boom pole also tends to be more stable and will last a longer period of time.
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Internal vs. External
In a general sense, internally wired boom poles are not going to be the best option either. Internally wired boom poles include either built in XLR cables or the ability to run an XLR cable internally from the microphone to the audio recorder through the pole. This often causes rattling when the boom operator moves their hands, and again can be permanent interference in the audio. Instead, just use standard boom poles that you will wrap around externally and then secure so that it doesn't move. If you are working with an internally wired boom pole you can do the same thing with the XLR, but make sure to bring extras. There are very high quality internally wired boom poles that avoid rattling, but these are too expensive for most production budgets.