Although wireless radio mics play a predominant role in reality television and event video production, the basic boom-mounted microphone managed by a skillful operator is still the go-to tool for location work. A boom mic setup consists of the appropriate microphone, proper wind protection (for both indoors and outdoors), shock mount, boom pole and a way for the boom operator to listen to their audio. Although many how-to articles have been written on building a boom mic rig using broomsticks, painter's poles and other hardware store finds, investing in the proper equipment can be a blessing (especially to the boom operator tasked with holding the rig for hours on end).
While most microphones include a stand clip that can attach to a boom pole, it's better to use a shock mount. These metal fittings with rubber or elastic "shock" cords will help reduce the pickup of mechanical noises transmitted up the boom pole. Even the most nimble-fingered boom operator who's steady as a rock can still make noise. Boom poles can be constructed from aluminum or lightweight graphite and range from four to 20 feet in length. (Nine feet is the most popular size, according to boom pole manufacturer K-Tek.) Although they're less expensive, aluminum poles can be dented if mishandled, and the metal quickly becomes very cold, which may be a comfort issue when used in cold weather. However, many location sound recordists prefer the stiffer aluminum pole, especially when longer poles are used. Graphite boom poles are lighter than their aluminum counterparts and have larger diameter tube sections, which can be more comfortable to hold. They're less susceptible to mechanical noise than aluminum poles, but they're considerably more expensive.
|When The Wind Blows…
The foam windscreen included with a microphone should always be used indoors. However, when going outside, additional wind protection is needed. There are several choices available. An affordable solution is the "fuzzy," a large foam windscreen covered with soft faux fur to break up the wind. Before using the fuzzy, fluff it up for best results. In extreme wind situations, consider advanced models like K-Tek's Zeppelin windscreen with fur combination. Consisting of a rigid plastic structure that surrounds the microphone with airspace and a soft faux fur cover (affectionately referred to as the "dead cat" by production sound folks), this combination provides maximum wind protection.