What does a Production Sound Mixer do?
The sound department is often the most overlooked department on small indie productions, but it's one of the most important aspects of having a complete quality film. Hiring the best production sound mixers to head up the department is crucial. They are responsible for all the sound recorded during filming, which includes not only the dialogue but also sound effects and atmosphere.
During pre-production, the sound mixer attends the tech scout. They visit the locations to determine if there will be any potential sound problems and the best method to alleviate the issues they encounter.
During production, the sound mixer makes sure that the audio levels from the lavalier and boom microphones are recorded at pristine levels. If a take is busted, for instance, from a barking dog or a plane flying overhead, they will flag the director's attention to decide whether they should redo the take. Also, a good sound mixer will always be on top of ensuring that they record one-minute of room tone and catching wild lines. They will also review the daily sides to see if any voice-over dialogue needs to be recorded.
What does a Boom Operator do?
The boom operator reports to and works under the command of the production sound mixer. Their primary task is to capture quality dialogue and sound effects with an extendable arm with a microphone mounted on it. The extendable arm is known as the boom. Hence the job title, boom operator. The boom is designed to capture the sound without the microphone appearing in the shot.
Boom operators ensure that the microphone placements are set up and ready to use for each shoot day during principal photography.
They carefully note all deliberate camera movements and lighting requirements during blocking and rehearsals to make sure the microphone remains hidden.
Boom operators have to be quick on their feet—especially during scenes where the cast or the camera is in constant motion.
Their responsibilities also include:
• Holds microphone booms and cables
• Monitors microphone sounds
• Clips lavalier microphones to talent's wardrobe
• Microphone placement, set-up, and tear down
• Operation of recording devices
• Distributes headphones to director and producers