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Spotless Boom Composition


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#1 Ashim

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 12:59 AM

Ive been wanting to ask this question for sometime now, I was watching a screening of Eternal Sunshine...
and one shot in the movie intrigued me. I dont remember the scene but I could see the Boom Mike in the frame!
Now Im sure the DoP did not compose the shot keepin the boom in mind, so what could be the reason for this?

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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 02:49 AM

Since this was a 1.85 movie, probably the projectionist was showing the film frame set too low in the gate/mask, causing picture area above the 1.85 framelines to become visible.
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#3 Ashim

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 09:01 AM

In that case, sir, should not the Boom be visible in the entire movie?

Pardon my ignorance on this topic, even if the movie has been composed for a 1.85 format, why should the boom mike at all be a part of the frame???

Kindly help me out here,
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 12:21 PM

In that case, sir, should not the Boom be visible in the entire movie?


Not necessarily. The 35mm format commonly used is 4-perfs (sprocket holes) tall. This yields an aspect ratio of 1.33 : 1 (Silent Era / Full Aperture / Super-35). If you are shooting for making a contact print for theatrical projection, the optical center of the image is shifted over to make room for the soundtrack on the left side of the frame. And the image is composed to be cropped top & bottom by the projector mask to 1.85 : 1. This means that about a quarter of the image on the print (unless you add a black matte to the printed image) is cropped out by the projector, but can be seen if the projectionist raises or lowers the frame in the gate.

As far as boom mics go, the person holding the mic is obviously told to try and keep it from dipping into the 1.85 area, but because there is some risk of it becoming visible if the print is slightly misframed, they should be keeping it even higher just to be safe. But they are also being told by the sound recordist to get it as close to the actors as possible. Plus on some locations with low ceilings, they may be as high as they can get the mic.

However, since the boom is handheld and people's arms get tired, sometimes it dips in lower. If it dips into the 1.85 frame, you'd normally do another take and label that moment as no good, unusable. But sometimes it dips just to the edge of the 1.85 but still outside of it, so technically the shot is usuable but now you're taking a risk of the boom becoming visible if the projectionist misframes a movie.

Because of the way 1.85 projection works, people regularly complain here about seeing the mic in the frame in theaters.
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