How to Use a Boom Microphone When Shooting a Marketing Video - dummies

How to Use a Boom Microphone When Shooting a Marketing Video

By Kevin Daum, Bettina Hein, Matt Scott, Andreas Goeldi

For your marketing video needs, the boom mic may be the way to go. The boom mic is the number-one choice for audio recording in the world of film and television. This microphone, mounted on the end of a boom pole, is typically wielded by a crew member who’s known as a boom operator.

The boom mic, which can be found on the set of nearly every film and television production, offers these advantages to the world of marketing video:

  • You can use a shotgun mic in place of a boom mic.

  • A boom mic can reach much closer to the action than a shotgun mic can.

  • The boom mic provides excellent sound quality and tremendous flexibility for staging scenes.

The boom mic is often positioned over the tops of the actors’ heads, where the pole can be moved from one character to another as they talk. Or the pole can be held at the side or bottom of the scene. The key to using a boom mic is placing it close to, but just outside, the edge of the camera frame.


For your boom kit, you need a few items:

  • Shotgun mic: Buy a quality mic — don’t cheap out!

  • Boom pole: Though this item has a large price range (more than $1,000 at the high end), you can find one for less than $200 — or even roll up your sleeves and build a do-it-yourself version with a telescoping painter’s pole for less than $50.

  • A 25-foot length of 1/8-inch audio cable: The cable should be more than long enough to reach the camera and allow the boom operator to move around a bit.

  • Headphones and (optional) extralong 1/8-inch cable for the boom operator: The boom operator (or “op”) monitors the audio on headphones to attempt to find the best position to hold the boom pole. Otherwise, if you monitor the sound from the camera, you’ll find that you’re directing the boom operator’s position.

For sit-down interviews, you can mount the boom mic on a microphone stand and walk away. Do not touch the pole while shooting because the mic picks up the sounds of your hands thumping or shifting along the pole. This setup can also work in a scripted scene where an actor is stationary. But if the scene requires more than one actor, or if actors move around, get yourself a boom operator.

Operating a boom is a ninja-like art: The mic must be positioned as close as possible to the camera edge without being visible, and it must catch the audio from whoever is speaking within a scene. The challenge is that if the camera moves, the boom operator must move in tandem with it — in addition to the upper-body workout that results from holding a pole over actors’ heads for several minutes at a time.

Worse, the boom operator must work silently, with no audible footsteps or pole noises. Always rehearse your scene with the boom operator so that she can work with the camera operator to perfect her “boom ninja” skills.