Boom operators set up and operate the boom microphone, either by hand, on an arm or on a moving platform. They make sure that every microphone is correctly stationed on set and in the best position to capture the dialogues. Boom operators are also responsible for the microphones on the actors clothing.
The duties of a boom operator typically include, but are not limited to:
- Setting up microphones and other recording equipment for each scene
- Recording takes, noting any mistakes made during recording sessions, and making sure that actors are comfortable with their lines
- Recording dialogue, sound effects, and other audio elements during filming or video production
- Coordinating with other crew members to ensure that the sound equipment is working properly during filming
- Operating boom microphones during filming or video production, including holding them above actors’ heads or behind props that are being filmed
- Mixing audio elements together to produce a final soundtrack that matches the video footage
- Performing basic audio cleanup tasks such as removing extraneous noises, adjusting volume levels on specific tracks, or adding special effects to soundtracks
- Recording narration or other audio content for television commercials, radio ads, or other productions
- Recording sound effects or other audio elements during video game development and production
The following job titles also refer to boom operator:
shotgun microphone operator
TV boom operator
film boom operator
production sound mixer assistant
sound equipment technician
Boom operators work in the audio/visual industry and are responsible for operating the boom microphone during the filming of movies and television shows. They typically work on location, which means they may have to travel to different locations to work on different projects.
Boom operators typically work long hours, and they may have to work nights and weekends to meet deadlines. The work can be stressful, and boom operators must be able to stay calm and focused under pressure.
Boom operators typically need a high school diploma or equivalent. Some employers may prefer candidates who have completed an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in audio engineering, broadcasting or a similar field. Courses in these programs include audio recording, audio mixing, sound design, music theory and music production.
Most boom operators learn the specific skills and techniques they need for their role while on the job. Training typically includes shadowing an experienced boom operator and performing duties under supervision until they are comfortable enough to work independently. Training may last a few days to a few weeks, depending on the employer and the complexity of the role.
Boom operators may need to obtain a radio operator’s license to work on broadcast equipment. The license allows boom operators to work with high-power radio equipment.
ISCO skill level
ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:
- the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
- the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
- the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
Boom operator is a Skill level 3 occupation.
Boom operator career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to boom operator.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of boom operator. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of boom operator with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential knowledge and skills
This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of boom operator.
- Acoustics: The study of sound, its reflection, amplification and absorption in a space.
- Audiovisual equipment: The characteristics and usage of different tools that stimulate the sight and audio senses.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of boom operator.
- Work ergonomically: Apply ergonomy principles in the organisation of the workplace while manually handling equipment and materials.
- Follow work schedule: Manage the sequence of activities in order to deliver completed work on agreed deadlines by following a work schedule.
- Set up sound equipment: Set up equipment to record sound. Test acoustics and make adjustments.
- Perform technical sound check: Prepare and run a technical sound check before rehearsals or live shows. Check instrument setup and ensure correct functioning of the audio equipment. Anticipate possible technical problems during a live show.
- Manage sound quality: Perform sound checks. Set up audio equipment for optimal sound output before as well as during performance. Regulate the volume during broadcasts by controlling the audio equipment
- Program sound cues: Program sound cues and rehearse sound states before or during rehearsals.
- Perform soundchecks: Test the sound equipment of a venue to ensure smooth operation during the performance. Cooperate with performers to make sure the venue equipment is adjusted for the requirements of the performance.
- Consult with sound editor: Consult on the sounds required with the sound editor.
- Adapt to type of media: Adapt to different types of media such as television, movies, commercials, and others. Adapt work to type of media, scale of production, budget, genres within type of media, and others.
- Analyse a script: Break down a script by analysing the dramaturgy, form, themes and structure of a script. Conduct relevant research if necessary.
- Follow directions of the artistic director: Follow the instructions of the director while understanding his creative vision.
- Use audio reproduction software: Operate software and equipment that transform and reproduce digital, analogue sounds and sound waves into the desired perceivable audio to be streamed.
- Study media sources: Study various media sources such as broadcasts, print media, and online media in order to gather inspiration for the development of creative concepts.
- Use technical documentation: Understand and use technical documentation in the overall technical process.
Optional knowledge and skills
This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of boom operator. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Electricity: Understand the principles of electricity and electrical power circuits, as well as the associated risks.
- Health and safety regulations: Necessary health, safety, hygiene and environmental standards and legislation rules in the sector of particular activity.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of boom operator. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Assess power needs: Prepare and manage the provision of electrical power for different areas.
- Adapt artistic plan to location: Adjust plans to other locations with regards to the artistic concept.
- Technically design a sound system: Set up, test and operate a complex audio system, based on a given sound concept. This could be a permanent as well as a temporary installation.
- Operate an audio mixing console: Operate an audio mixing system during rehearsals or during live performances.
- Assess sound quality: Assess the recorded sound and music. Make sure it conforms to specifications.
- Edit recorded sound: Edit audio footage using a variety of sofware, tools, and techniques such as crossfading, speed effects, and removing unwanted noises.
- Maintain sound equipment: Set up, check, maintain and repair sound equipment for a live performance establishment.
- Apply health and safety standards: Adhere to standards of hygiene and safety established by respective authorities.
- Supervise sound production: Supervise the creation of sound and decide which music and sounds to use for the movie and theatre production.
- Tune up wireless audio systems: Tune up a wireless audio system in a live situation.
ISCO group and title
3521 – Broadcasting and audiovisual technicians
- Boom operator – ESCO
- Boom operator Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
- Featured image: Photo by Gerrit Fröhlich on Unsplash