Production Sound & Video

Summer 2023

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seen each other since the lockdown began. Adam and Ariel showed up later that day to talk about this new vest rig for the Sound Department. At that time, they lovingly referred to the vest as the "OK boomer." I quickly saw the potential in what this new safety rig had to offer. Over the past ten years as a union member, I have worked in many different formats from sitcoms to single-camera and small budget ENG-style features, all of which have had long fishpoled scenes. I saw the opportunity for utilizing this incredible new device. I told them I would speak to the mixers I was working with and hoped that I would have an opportunity to try it out on set. Working with sound mixer Bruce Peters made everything easier. He excitedly gave me the chance to bring the XO-Boom onto CBS's Bob Hearts Abishola several times while we were on the backlot filming large exterior scenes. After each opportunity to use the experimental rig, I gave Adam my thoughts and suggestions for improvement, and he would update the prototype to incorporate my suggestions before asking when I could use the newer prototype on set again. One day, we were doing a Nigerian funeral procession out on the backlot of Warner Bros. Studios, using a pair of Scheops stereo microphones with elbows in a custom shock mount to form the XY stereo needed to capture the singing and instruments used in the scene. While the Camera Department had their standard four studio cameras that day, they also needed a Steadicam operator to shoot the processional. When the Steadicam operator donned his vest rig that day, I pulled out the newest XO-Boom prototype to use with my fishpole. I was able to move and glide alongside the Steadicam with ease and the fishpole was at almost full 22-foot extension to allow me to get over the camera to the singers. Immediate relief and enthusiasm for this device came when I did not have to put the strain on my arms or back to keep that long pole up in the air for more than an half-hour. After the first take, I checked in with Bruce to see how it sounded and he was very happy; none of my footsteps had transferred any noise to the vest, boom, or mics as I moved with the camera. The production team at Bob Hearts Abishola has been very positive about my use of the prototype on set, and I look forward to bringing the newly built production line model out next season. The XO-Boom is not just for use as a field rig. I recently needed it on the new Mike O'Malley NBC show We Thought We Were Done. When I arrived on set one Thursday morning, our AD came to speak to me about a scene that we would be shooting in two sets simultaneously. Normally, of course, that's no problem. We are equipped for that; one Fisher Boom system in each set. But this was different. We needed both Fishers in the large apartment set where one character comes down the stairs and moves all the way across the set. Then someone would need to use a fishpole to pick up John Cryer's dialogue once we transitioned into the second room, where he was making a "quick phone call." We all knew that "quick phone call" meant that I would be standing there for a while with the cameras running take after take. So, we offered production a few choices: They could either rent another ped from Fisher and bring in another boom operator and pusher, or they could agree to a cost-effective safety rig option that would allow me to work the scene as a boom operator moving at the pace that the production moves at without having to worry about back or shoulder injuries that are more likely to occur when the take exceeds a few minutes. The producers were happy to hear about this new cost-effective and safer option and authorized my use of the XO-Boom. Everyone involved was pleased with this solution. This past Spring, at the 100th Annual NAB Show in Las Vegas, was the world debut of the XO-Boom from Cinema Devices. I went out and walked around the show floor for several hours while wearing a full XO-Boom system, complete with an extended fishpole from K-Tek. The strain on my shoulders and back were negligible and I was no worse for wear the next day. The reaction from the show-goers was enthusiastic and excited; this is something we have all been waiting for.

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