Crisp, Binaural Sound Takes Leading Role as Neumann KU 100 "Dummy Head" Microphone Features in "Boom Up!" Short Film
Entire Film Shot in 3D from Boom Mic's Perspective with Neumann & Sennheiser Capturing Sound, Revealing Behind-the-Scenes "Realities" of a Film Set
Boom Up!” is a new short film by award-winning writer/director Guy Chachkes that challenges the traditional sensory perspective of the movie-going experience. The 12-minute film is shot entirely from the perspective of the boom microphone, with the audio experience playing the lead role. The “lead character” — or primary microphone used on set — was a Neumann KU 100 “dummy head” microphone mounted to a boom pole.“
“Boom Up!” reveals a crew setting up for a low-budget sci-fi movie, not unlike François Truffaut’s “Day for Night”  — a classic, Academy Award-winning film that also deals with the challenges that accompany the movie-making process. In “Boom Up!”, the viewer is actually a critical piece of recording equipment, omnipresent during the entire process, and often atop the actors. “Everyone is setting up for a scene,” explains Chachkes. “The electricians are setting up the lights, the producer is arguing with everyone on set, and scandals are brewing in the background — it’s a very ‘real world’ production.”
Since the film narration is inextricably tied to the point of view of the boom microphone, capturing a realistic, authentic sound was a fundamental concern during the filmmaking process. “Since the movie is called ‘Boom Up!’, it was very important to have the best possible sound. My producer [Jesse R. Tendler] came across the concept of recording in binaural surround sound, and after doing some research, we determined that the Neumann KU 100 would be perfect,” Chachkes recalls. “In most applications I’ve seen, the KU 100 microphone is stationary — but we moved it around with the camera itself. We pointed the ‘dummy head’ wherever the camera was looking, and it helped create a very realistic experience.”
The binaural sound picked up by the Neumann KU 100 was augmented by a Sennheiser MKH 416 shotgun mic, which was also mounted to the pole. Additionally, there were (14) Sennheiser MKE 2 Gold sub-miniature omni-directional lavalier microphones positioned on the actors and crew, which were used in conjunction with (14) Sennheiser EM 300 G3 receivers and (14) SK 300 G3 bodypack transmitters. “We combined the binaural tracks from the Neumann KU 100 and Sennheiser MKH 416 with the other lavalier tracks, and it created this 3D sensation like you are right there with the actors. The sound is incredible!” says Chachkes.
The video for the movie was captured in a similarly unconventional fashion, using a GoPro 3D system consisting of two small cameras mounted to the boom pole. “We needed a camera that was high quality, yet light enough and durable enough to capture the exact motion of the boom pole to which it was attached,” says Chachkes.
Chachkes recalls his original inspiration for shooting such an unconventional film: “I was making another short. We were breaking for lunch one day and the sound guy let me hear the scene we had just shot with his headphones. The most interesting thing happened. After playback stopped, I could hear everything the boom mic was picking up, all of the private conversations of the cast and crew. I thought to myself, ‘This would be an amazing concept for a movie, just showing an active movie set from the perspective of a boom microphone that catches everyone’s interactions.’”
After Chachkes explained the concept to the film’s producer, Jesse R. Tendler, Tendler sent Chachkes a YouTube video that was made using the KU 100. “As soon as I heard it, I said ‘That’s it!’” he recalls. Chachkes says he couldn’t be happier with the outcome of the film, which has since been submitted to the Sundance Film Festival and 11 other festivals for consideration.