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What it takes to be a soundman


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#1 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 26 March 2006 - 10:49 PM

I decided to put this in the right catigory sence I now know it's here. I just got a Nagra IV-L and want to use it for sound and poss. start working it on productions that come into town. I still need to pick up a crystal sync unit or Tobin board for it but they're not that expensive.

The problem is this unit, unless I'm wrong is not capible of storing Time code. How critical is this and also are there any tips and lists of nessesary equipment I should have to do sound work. I have a 14' shotgun and a couple of omni directional mics, 3 wireless Lavs but should I pick up a Cordioil as well? Also do you need a mixing board or is this something that's nice to have but not imperitive? Keep in mind these will probably be small independent features and comercials.

Also I wanted to have a fur cover for the blimp and and was thinking, "These things don't look that complicated, mabe I can make one." Usually this kind of thinking gets me into trouble but I figure what the Hell. I was concerned thoughis there some type of standardized type an fake fur they use to make these or will any long haired fake fur work? I have som left over from a costume I had made and it looks like it would be perfect. Does anyone know anything about these. also as I new to sound, how are the secured? I'm guessing a zipper.
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#2 Josh Bass

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Posted 26 March 2006 - 11:21 PM

Can one just buy gear and then cold call production companies, and of a sudden, he/she's a working soundman? That's incredible.

Or were you planning to do freebies to build up a rep?
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#3 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 01:28 AM

I've been slowly building my own production company for a little while now and feel I need to learn to do every job that needs to be done on a set so it's not like I'm completely without a clue. I've done sound on my own films which is why I bought the equipment in the first place. But now that I have my own equipment and know enough to get myself into trouble with it, I figure why not work it. I wasn't planning on cold calling other production companies but after hearing the idea, I might give it a shot, I mean after all, what do I have to lose, all they can say is "No thanks". Also, I do have some contacts through which I might be able to get work for sound.

Obviously a big production's not going to hire me at this point, they'll hire big names in that field. But there are smaller independents, commercials, documentaries ect. that might, and yes a big part of getting hired is having the equipment to do the job when they call you which is the reason I want to have everything I'm suppose to have before I show up on a set to work for someone else. The more jobs you do the more you'll learn. I personally what to be as useful as I can be so that if something comes in I'll increase my chances of getting hired proportionately.

Learning to do every job there is to do on a film set well will undoubtably only make me a better filmmaker and give me a much greater appreciation for what the people who work with me when I'm directing, go through. As a director this is only going to help me.
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#4 Bob Hayes

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 11:05 AM

From what I see there is a key skill to being a good soundman. Keep your ears open for scenes that have absolutely no dialog and minimal sound. Like a guy walking to his car and getting in. Then carefully place your boom so it is reflected in the window of the car. If there are no reflective surfaces but still no dialog and minimal sound a good soundman will try to place a shadow on the face of the talent. The producer will immediately know you are a professional soundman. When filming an event that can not be repeated like a gorgeous sunset with a sailboat drifting through the golden ball it is mandatory for all sound man to place the boom in the top of the frame.
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#5 Tim Tyler

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 11:21 AM

Camera Operator: "Boom's in!"

Boom Operator: "Tilt down."
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#6 Marco Leavitt

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 12:40 PM

I may as well add there is also a key skill to being a professional cinematographer. Make sure that even the most mundane shots use multiple cameras, especially a really wide master that will never be used for anything. That way you can insist that the mic be as far as possible from the speaker so that the dialog is completely unuseable and it is impossible to boom without causing shadows.
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#7 Charles Tomaras

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 04:33 PM

From what I see there is a key skill to being a good soundman. Keep your ears open for scenes that have absolutely no dialog and minimal sound. Like a guy walking to his car and getting in. Then carefully place your boom so it is reflected in the window of the car. If there are no reflective surfaces but still no dialog and minimal sound a good soundman will try to place a shadow on the face of the talent. The producer will immediately know you are a professional soundman. When filming an event that can not be repeated like a gorgeous sunset with a sailboat drifting through the golden ball it is mandatory for all sound man to place the boom in the top of the frame.



Bob,

You are being rude and childish. Your sarcasm is offensive to professional sound departments who work thier butts off trying to accomodate the whims of a DP like yourself who apparently feels that the world revolves around the picture and making a movie isn't a team effort. It's YOUR responsibility to deal with reflections and shadows and booms in the frame because it's YOUR frame. If you are working with inexperienced boom operators that is something you should talk to the producer about because he/she is the person who "budgeted" for the sound department.
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#8 Peter Duggan

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 05:14 PM

From what I see there is a key skill to being a good soundman. Keep your ears open for scenes that have absolutely no dialog and minimal sound. Like a guy walking to his car and getting in. Then carefully place your boom so it is reflected in the window of the car. If there are no reflective surfaces but still no dialog and minimal sound a good soundman will try to place a shadow on the face of the talent. The producer will immediately know you are a professional soundman. When filming an event that can not be repeated like a gorgeous sunset with a sailboat drifting through the golden ball it is mandatory for all sound man to place the boom in the top of the frame.



That's finny because I tend to see more camera shadows and reflections in a shot than a boom even on the most high budget films. Is that the boom op's fault too?
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#9 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 01:36 AM

Camera Operator: "Boom's in!"

Boom Operator: "Tilt down."


That's hallarious, Tim. I read that and laughed my head off. I can see something like that actually happening. Thanks for making my day.

Edited by Capt.Video, 28 March 2006 - 01:37 AM.

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#10 Bob Hayes

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 01:46 AM

I was only half joking. I have no problem with boom guys dipping into my shots to get clean sound on dialog. It is a tough job and frames of the operator are often changing and the sound department is constantly fighting ambient noise. My problem is on shots where there is no dialog and unimportant generic sound like a car door closing. And the shot is ruined because the boom guy booms it like an actor whispering the most important line of dialog in the movie. It is not easy to catch reflections and boom shadows and often these will slide into the final film or require cgi to remove them.
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#11 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 01:55 AM

From what I see there is a key skill to being a good soundman. Keep your ears open for scenes that have absolutely no dialog and minimal sound. Like a guy walking to his car and getting in. Then carefully place your boom so it is reflected in the window of the car. If there are no reflective surfaces but still no dialog and minimal sound a good soundman will try to place a shadow on the face of the talent. The producer will immediately know you are a professional soundman. When filming an event that can not be repeated like a gorgeous sunset with a sailboat drifting through the golden ball it is mandatory for all sound man to place the boom in the top of the frame.


Bob , Honestly, I know you were only kidding and very much aprieciate the work your colligues do. I actually thought it was very funny. Even the best of us can have a bad day and screw up. But you do bring up some good points about what to keep in mind so you don't get tunneled visioned into what your doing and become oblivious to everything else around you. Your right, if you don't have that much expirence and forget to anticapate problems you might cause for the cinematographer and camera man. I will definately keep my eyes open for possible problems and figure out a way to correct them and still get good sound before screwing up a shot, especially in those situations that are non-repeatable. Thank you for your humoriously backhanded but very prudent advice.
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#12 Bob Hayes

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 02:07 AM

There are many things DP?s can do to make sound?s life easier. And many of these things also help the look of the picture. Using a topper to cut from light off the back wall gives the boom a chance to work without a shadow. Lighting back towards the camera so shadows are cast off the set. When outside working in backlit situations makes it easier to boom and is easier on the actor?s eyes. Also, warning sound if a scene is going to be lit in a way that may create problems for sound. And most importantly accepting responsibility if boom comes in because of changed framing.
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Glidecam

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