Not Every Boompole is created equal

For a Eng/ Reality/ News/ Corporate mixer I own quite a few boompoles but each one has a different purpose:

Firstly I only own Ktek boompoles and despite what other mixers may say I think they make the highest quality boompoles at the best price point. I am considering adding a Loon Audio boompole ( A newer Company) which has some interesting innovations and designs. But that will be a 2009 addition to my kit. The following are the poles I own:

Ktek 79cc- It is my smallest boompole it will fit in a 1510 pelican case and is great for shows, Which I don’t use my boompole very much it is easy to clip onto my bag. Due to its small size it is great except it only extend about 7 feet

Ktek Avalon News pole extend to about 10 feet great for most of my Reality and news gigs

Ktek Carbon Fiber Stage pole- Extends to almost 17 feet. By far my favorite pole. It is like driving a BMW or other high end car. The others are more like driving a Honda do a good job very robust but not pretty. I don’t use this pole much anymore since it doesn’t collapse down past 3 feet and is over $600.00 dollars. But it is so smooth and easy to use. The other day I had to a scene in a swimming pole alot of wide shots and movement. So I used this pole it made my life so much easier and made me glad I didn’t sell this pole last year when someone wanted to buy it!!!

I personally don’t like VDB poles as they are plastic and find the locking collars less than satisfactory and haven’t used any other brand poles.  So this is just my 2cent. The avalon news pole cabled is less than $200.00 well worth the $$$$$

Wired or Wireless Boompole that is the question?

On a serious note this is a hotly debated topic in the sound industry today. Some mixers even claim with some of the newer all digital transmition systems that they cannot tell the difference between a wired and wireless boom. Here is my take on the situation: I definately hear a difference between my lectrosonics plug on tx and plugging my boompole in. However at the pace I have to move in the reality world having my boom free from me and quickly moveable as well as quickly being able to stick it on a stand for an interview. It is a trade off but in the reality world with all the background noise and situations I am in you will never hear the higher noise floor.

Tips When using a Zaxcom Wireless Camera Link

I think wireless camera links are the best advance in technology to happen to the location sound mixer because it gives you the freedom to do your job the best way you can, I have rarely had an issue with my zaxcom system but here is a list of things to do before shooting and a list of possible problems you may run into:

SETUP:

1. Make sure your camera man is always listening to the wireless feed via his camera headphone jack since you have no way of knowing what it sounds like.

2. Make sure all attennas and power cables are secure to the unit. The only issues I have ever had it a lose power cable or attenna.

3. Make sure the unit is secure in a saddle bag or BEC box. I have mine wrapped in velcro, which keeps them extra tight in the saddle bag or BEC box.

4. Have extra cables and attennas in case something breaks.

PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS:

1. Unit will not power on: Check power cables are tight by removing them and reinserting them. Check batteries if your using them. Check Power Switch.

2. Unit is on but Camera Op hears no audio: Check headphone volume knob on camera, check transmitter in your audio bag, make sure camera is set up to recieve audio correctly.

3. Poor Range: Check to make sure tx and rx attennas are tight and secure, Make sure they are in good condition. Scan for new clear frequency.

With these simple tips and tricks your Zaxcom should preform well for you and make your job much easier.

Sound Devices Wave Agent A great program

As someone who does only Location Sound for a living. I normally don’t deal with files much except for when I need to FTP a transcript or a last minute voice over to a client. I have a small protools system which is more for me to just play around with and do my own personal work with. Occasionally I will do some simple editing on a low budget film or something but thats it. The other day I recorded some polyphonic wave files for a client, which I then burned to DVD for them for post. Well I get a call that they are having issues opening them (Trying to import them into a older version of AVID) and all they really wanted was the best channel of audio. I told them that even though the talent was wired the boom sounded good for the whole shoot. So I used Wave agent to quickly batch and exact track 1 of all my poly wave files. It worked quickly and allowed me to upload the files to my client within minutes. For a free download it is a great Mac and PC based program so check it out it may help you one day soon.

Spare and backup equipment always important

I wanted to say welcome to all the Fullsail students/ graduates who have emailed me directly. I thank you for reading.  A reader emailed me and asked me how much spare equipment I bring with me when working. Well it is sort of a loaded question. I own alot of gear, I only use all of it a few times a year so I own at least 2 spare of everything. When I am working most of the time I am using for 4 channel package, which consists of 3 wireless, wireless camera link, comtek IFB and sound devices 442 mixer. But when using this package I always have my 302 3 channel package with me which consists of my 302 3 channel mixer, (2) 201 wireless, BDS power system and cables for wireless camera link. I usually only use this package now as a 2nd package which I rent when I am on a show that needs a second package, as back up or if I am doing a show that requires me to have a small equipment bag like Cops or something that requires me to move faster and be more compact since the 302 package is about 8lbs while the 442 package is 22lbs 😦 . In addition to these two full packages I also have a PSC 4 channel mixer and 2 Sennheiser G2 wireless (which is what I started my career with) I also have a spare 210D Lectro system as well. When I was starting out and had no money at all. I made sure I had spare cables, spare lav microphones and a soldering iron with me and it served me well. That being said I have never had anything but an XLR cable break on me while shooting but I would never chance not having spare parts with me at all times. I also have a rule of never selling anything when I buy something better. Sound gear holds its value very very well so don’t shoot yourself int he foot by selling stupidly. So in closing (So I can go to the beach) start with just spare cables and lav microphones then move on from there

Recording voice overs in the field

So much of what I do is down and dirty never the way I really want to do it.  An example of this is having to record voice overs in the field. When usually asked about this I say “It would be better to use a local recording studio”. When they tell me that is cost or time prohibitive I say “I have a small Protools system installed on my laptop lets set aside some time and record this right”. Then I am usually told we need to record it in about 10 min and then we need to keep shooting can we do it. I always remember what a good friend of mine told me “Never say no just ask how much”. So this is where my Tascam HD-P2 hard disk recorder comes in handy I can quickly record voiceover to a Compact Flash card which I can then quickly send via any FTP program so that post production can have then the same day. I usually use YOUSENDIT a easy to use program that emails a weblink to anyone who needs to download it. I have found this systems really impresses clients and allows me to make a few extra dollars in gear rental.

Something Cool I worked on

I did some short commercials for Adidas earlier in the year. If you want to see my favorite go to http://www.adidas.com/ it is called “Superstar Magic” featuring Dynamo doing street magic in Miami. It was a very simple equipment package for the gig. My package consisted of a Sound Devices 302 Mixer, 1 Lectrosonics 211 wireless with Countryman EMW lav microphone and my MKH 416 shotgun microphone. The hardest part was boom operating all day long everyone enjoy.