As an amateur videographer/filmmaker, money is always an issue, especially when the discount stores sell products for thousands of dollars. Enter guerrilla filmmaking. (dramatic music).
Guerrilla filmmaking uses super low or no budget methods to make quality (oftentimes low quality) films. This is the method that spawned such indie classics as El Mariachi (Robert Rodriguez) and Pi (Darren Aronofsky). One tool essential to making one of these quality films is the microphone and its portable support, the Boom Pole.
Everyone can imagine in their head the poor guys that have to walk around a film set, their arms above their heads for hours at end holding a ridiculously long pole with some kind of furry animal at the end. This is the Boom Operator, the furry animal is the dead-cat containing the microphone, and that stick is the boom. A really good boom pole can cost upwards of $1,000. Now granted, this is a 36 footer carbon fiber job but even the lower end poles can be expensive. A midget sized 4.5 footer aluminum pole costs about $70.00 and decent starter pole can punch a $185.00 hole in your wallet... Yes, there are some deals out there, but who cares when you could make your own 12 to 16 footer for under $30.00?!
Build a functional boompole for under $30.00.
additional screws (optional)
Step 1: Materials
The first step in creating your brand new super cool custom boom pole is a trip to the local hardware store.
You need to purchase:
(1) Painter's pole - Look for something around or over 10 feet. 12 - 16 feet is good. Remember though, don't get some huge indestructible pole because some poor sap will have to hold it. Make sure it's light enough to hold but heavy enough not to bend. Expect to pay around $15.00 - $20.00. Maybe a little more, maybe a little less...
(1) Extension piece - This is kind of hard to describe. I used a roller extension and cut off the arms for the rollers however there are several other types. You can usually find these right next to the poles. They simply screw onto the end of the extension and are used to actually mount the brushes. Expect to pay about $5.00 - $10.00.
(1) 3/8" screw - This is used to hold your microphone on the pole. This is the industry standard for all tripods, mic-stands, boom poles. Expect to pay about $0.05.
Step 2: Construction
Construction could not be simpler.
1. If there are any burrs, lips, or edges that may interfere with the placement of the microphone, sand or saw them off.
2. Paint the attachment if desired. I recommend flat black as it will not glare in the middle of your scene. If you want you can try to paint the painter's pole as well but it will probably not stick to the metal for very long.
3. Drill a hole into the attachment for the 3/8" screw to fit into. The hole does not need to be tight but should be fairly snug.
4. Screw the attachment onto the painter's pole.
5. Place the microphone on the attachment, lining up the holes and proceed to screw in the screw.
6. If needed, use a nut or bolt on the screw to make the distance it must be turned shorter.
7. If possible, you may want to add a second screw so the microphone does not wiggle back and forth.
That's it, your done!
Step 3: In Conclusion
Congratulations on your new boompole! You just saved yourself at least $100.00 that you will invariably end up spending on yet more film equipment.
To answer some questions I know will come up:
Q. What type of microphone do you have?
A. My microphone is a Rode VideoMic designed for use with consumer and prosumer cameras. I highly recommend it if you plan on doing any type of filmmaking. Any mike will be better than your onboard microphone and the shotgun design with the built in shockmount is amazing. The quality of sound is unbelievable making this sound like a microphone many times more expensive.
Their website: http://www.rodemic.com/
To buy: B&H Photo and Video currently $149.00
Q. I get a loud banging noise when using this. My boompole is broken!
A. Sorry but this is because of your handling characteristics. The pole is made out of metal which will conduct sound if banged against. That is why I have my boom operator wear gloves. In addition, the extension cord will often bang against the pole - something you just have to train your operator to avoid.
Here are some tips on using boompoles.
Q. I still get noise even after following the above advice!
A. This time its not your fault. You probably don't have a shockmount. Get one, now. A shockmount will isolate your microphone from, shocks. Shocker huh?
Here is a list of shockmounts. You can get an adequate one for about $20.00 and a decent one for $50.00. Or you could buy a VideoMic or similar microphone that has one built in.
I hope this guide has been helpful. Enjoy your filmmaking!