Pro Tip: How To Hold a Boom


Kevin Senzaki’s brings you a quick pro tip on how to hold a boom pole+mic to get the best sound. Yeah, we knew he was that weird when we hired him.

Questions for Kevin? Ask below!


Thanks! I’m kind of worried that my arms would get tired though…

I’m also excited to see what’s next for RJFS. I love it how every teacher has a different teaching style. The next Cinematography looks dramatic (any lesson beginning with “what is x” you know is going to be very serious)


Kevin… +1 Favorite People point. Moving up in the world, kid.


Great stuff @Kevin_Senzaki, covering off the basics well. I can’t tell you how many times our major issue with sound has been to simply turn phantom power on. That, and batteries. SO. MANY. BATTERIES.

I saw this image a while ago, and I think it sums up some of the different boom styles I’ve seen and used myself.


I enjoyed the video, but I would have preferred to learn more about how to handle wires when booming to avoid unwanted sounds. I’m sure most people can figure out how to hold up a stick. Learning to wrap the wires in a special way to avoid clings and botched audio is the difference between usable and unusable sound.


I think you’re referring to properly wrapping a cable, which deserves its own video!

I elected not to discuss cable-handling specifics in this Pro Tip video (the Pro Tip videos are meant as bite-sized basic pointers, in contrast to full-depth tutorials) because of multiple cable setups and variables that entails, including internal cable boom poles versus non-cabled poles, various junction boxes and alternative cabling/monitoring options, and cable variants like coiled XLRs (which I personally prefer). It’s definitely something that will be covered in a full-length production sound kit video. If you’ve experienced or seen any particular cable-related pitfalls, definitely let me know and I’d be more than happy to integrate it when scripting the more robust production videos.

While it’s good to have faith in first-time boom users, I’ve seen a lot of people hold it incorrectly (to the point of getting an unusable result, hence my use of the word “incorrect”), and basic concepts like “point the mic in the right direction” do in-practice have to be pointed out sometimes!


I have to agree here, there’s so much more to it than just “pointing a stick”. So many first timer’s use the fishing pole technique and the subject is often off-mic which is quite noticeable. Ideally the mic needs to be as close to the subject as your frame allows and pointing at their chest or mouth, which sounds easy, but I’ve seen too many boom ops stand at the other side of the room, point the mic at the subject’s feet or shoulder and getting off-mic dialogue.


@Kevin_Senzaki What factors into the decision to switch from boom pole to pistol grip? I’ve seen you do both in behind the scenes stuff and I was just wondering if there were any factors (other than the obvious spacial limitations) that went into the decision.


It’s primarily space limitations! Typically on-set, you have preparation and communication time before each shot, so you have an opportunity to make decisions about which tools are the best for the shot. On VGHS we also had two boom poles of different lengths (the shorter being the lighter one), so we’d also take location size into account - we’d go with the lighter equipment when possible, of course.

Pistol-grip is also good for field recording (recording only for sounds without camera present), since it allows you a lot of quick flexibility, especially if you’re working alone outdoors.

This whole 3 minute video is definitely worth watching, but it’s got a good instance of pistol-grip holding while recording a bull for Jurassic Park.


What lengths were the two boom poles at their longest and shortest and what length would you recommend?


I don’t remember the specific lengths of what we had on set, but something around 16 feet may be a good starting point for if you only have one boom pole. Most will collapse to a pretty similar length, and 16 feet or more should give you enough range to tackle most situations. I personally have one that’s closer to 12 that I use often and without problems, but in theory there could be situations where it’s not enough.


would there be any use in a boom pole that is around 8 feet long of it that just not worth the time?


There’s situations where that would be fine, but if you’re shooting in various locations, including exteriors, that’s going to become a limiting factor. In the broadest generalization I would recommend against it, but feel free to go into more detail if you’re not sure.


@Kevin_Senzaki I had a situation in which your end-of-video advice was not appropriate. Sometimes you have to make sure to turn things OFF first. I was trying my hardest to get my wireless lav mic to sound not like garbage but it just wasn’t working. It wasn’t until an hour of fiddling later that I thought to turn off the Phantom Power, which solved the issue.

Probably should’ve realized a battery powered lav receiver wasn’t going to need Phantom Power.


Phantom power issues are another reason microphones may not perform properly, but in the case of boom mics (per the video topic), an incorrect setting will typically result in no signal whatsoever. It’s a separate issue from “make sure the device is turned on,” so while you bring up a very important additional thing to look out for, I don’t think it conflicts with or invalidates the point I make at the end of the video.


How important is it to have a professional boom pole (vs. a DIY one), and what brands/models do you recommend?


I think you’re mostly saving on weight with professional boom poles, that and they may work a little more conveniently depending on how you made your diy one. But in the end it is just a pole to Mount a mic onto.
RØDE is pretty standard for bought boompoles, they are what we work with at my school and what I own myself.


Hey @BlackSkyUAV, I’d agree; as the boom pole itself isn’t directly part of recording audio (the actual audio signal, I mean), you’re effectively paying for convenience and practicality of design - so if you’re starting out or don’t have a huge amount of boom needs, a DIY solution is probably fine, as long as you test it first and make sure everything’s working as-intended! “Real” boom poles will offer you three perks, which are that mic mounts will screw onto them directly, they’re lighter than a lot of other DIY options, and they’re adjustable for length, which is the huge plus.