Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Boom! There It Is

One of the hardest things about doing a show with no budget is finding crew. I don't mean people to row our sculls... that's a whole other issue. No, I mean people to do the unglamorous but wholly important behind-the-camera work. Even the more glamorous jobs, such as cinematographer, are often difficult to fill.

What's the worst of all the jobs on set? No, not driver. We're too small to have drivers. And not animal waste wrangler. So far, we've avoided needing to have someone around for that. And certainly not Lindsay Lohan's on-set detox technician. Lindsay turned us down for episode 6, after all. No, the worst job on our set is boom operator.

You might be sitting there saying to yourself, "Wow, boom operator! That sounds fun! Loud! Pyrotechnic! I'd love to operate some boom!" Well, it's my sad duty to tell you that that's not exactly what the boom operator does. No, the boom operator holds the boom pole which supports the microphone that captures the auditory brilliance of the show.

Does that still not sound so bad to you? Well, let me describe the job in more detail. We're about to have a fire drill, so you'll have to forgive me if I have to interrupt myself in the middle.

So imagine a scene, any scene, from just about any movie or TV show you've ever enjoyed or not enjoyed or even loathed. Okay, fine, I'll pick one for you. Say there's a scene between four people in a warehouse, and the shot is wide, where you can see the whole group and their feet and heads and probably some crates or shipping containers inside which are black 16GB iPhone 3Gs. (Very rare as of this writing.) So you're seeing this scene, and you can hear all the people in it perfectly. Now, assuming their dialogue was not looped (re-recorded later in a studio), their chatter had to be captured somehow on the set. Most likely, it was captured by a boom operator.

In the example above, the boom operator would have to hold a very long pole with the shotgun mic at the end of it, making sure it's high enough to be out of frame, yet close enough to capture the dialogue. Often, the boom has to be held aloft, over the operator's head. He or she has to do this over and over and over, for every take of every shot. Since they have to pay attention to the scene, too, they can not relax while the boom is up there. It's tiring and demanding. It's work.

The fire drill happened right in the middle of that last paragraph and you probably didn't even notice, huh? Great! That's means you're engrossed.

So, you can see why it's very hard for us to find people who want to hold a pole over their head all day for no pay. It is with all this in mind that I would like to give a special thanks to everyone who has been boom operator for LFTI. Without them, we'd have a silent sitcom, which, if you've never seen one, is something to avoid at all costs. Please visit the credit page of each episode or our pages at IMDb to pay homage. If you don't have time to do that, please take a moment out of your day today to give silent praise for those who sacrifice their arms in the name of the sitcom.

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