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Visible Boom Mic

"The boom mic is so far into the shot I could describe the boom mic operator to a sketch artist!"

When a boom microphone or its shadow makes it into the final production by accident. This may be done on purpose for parody or to break the fourth wall.

This is a common Blooper in old Soap Operas, sitcoms and dramas videotaped (sometimes filmed) with Three Cameras, where all of the dialogue has to be recorded using overhead boom microphones. Less common on single-camera TV shows and movies, but it does happen. Much more scarce today because drama shows don't use multi-camera any more, and any stray shadows can be removed digitally.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime 

  • Whenever the Sinnoh Now! crew shows up on Pokémon, expect someone to be clobbered by the boom mic at one point.
    • Also used for an old Kids' WB! promotional gag for the original series. They're trying to set up a shot of the crew standing together, with Charizard out of his Pokeball. They keep messing up because they keep accidentally hitting Charizard with the Boom Mic, who eventually gets mad enough to spew flames everywhere.
  • Used intentionally in a trailer for the Makai Senki Disgaea anime.

    Film 

  • One of the most well-known Special Effects Failures of Plan 9 from Outer Space is this, during the cockpit scene.
  • Parodied in The Kentucky Fried Movie, where the boom mic descends so low into the frame that it actually starts bumping into the actors. In another scene, one the actors pulls it down into view and speaks directly into it.
  • Used purposefully in the movie of the musical Hairspray, with a period 1960s boom mic.
  • Ransom, the Mel Gibson movie: One can be seen just after Gibson realises his kid's missing.
  • Blatant in soap opera spoof Young Doctors in Love.
  • Used purposefully in Black Dynamite.
  • Happens so often in Dolemite that The Cinema Snob made a drinking game of it.
    • And it's not only the boom mike, the hand and head of the boom mike operator appear in the shot too, leading to the page quote.
  • Happens once in Incident At Loch Ness. It's not clear if it was intentional or a happy accident, though; the movie's a Mockumentary, so it's easy to justify it as being part of the film crew.
  • A boom mic appears under Steve Zahn in an early scene in Strange Wilderness. Whether it was intentional or done by accident, this shouldn't be happening on a film that was filmed on anamorphic lenses.
  • Played for laughs, and weaponized in the film, The Girl Who Shagged Me. In which, the Dragon's henchmen realizes that if the villain is successful, she won't be paid. At which point she freaks out, and begins knocking over stuff, one of the things she knocks over causes her to be hit with the boom mic, which renders her unconscious.
  • For one shot late into Steel Dawn, while the boom mic itself isn't visible, the director did make the mistake of shooting outdoors with the sun behind the camera, so that the operator's whole shadow falls right across the scene.
  • Visible in Blazing Saddles as well, on the bottom right side once.
  • Several scenes in the film Hop.
  • The Uma Thurman / Meryl Streep film Prime is filled with these. You could easily make a drinking game out of spotting the boom mics.
  • Happens in A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge with the character who falls asleep in biology class. When the teacher removes the snake from him, the boom mic is clearly visible on top of the screen.
  • Lampshaded in the slasher film spoof There's Nothing Out There. A character is cornered by the monster when the boom mic drops into the shot. He then Takes a Third Option by grabbing said mic and swinging to safety on it.

     Live Action TV  

  • The Twilight Zone TOS episode "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up": During the final scene between the businessman (three-armed Martian) and the counterman (three-eyed Venusian), as the counterman says, "And I agree with you about what they call music," a shadow from an overhead boom mike (on the counterman's hat) moves slightly.
  • The information text on Doctor Who DVDs helpfully points out the more prominent boom shadows as well as other technical flaws.
    • There are also occasions with boom mikes fully in shot, one of the most notorious being in the Renaissance-era scene in "City of Death".
  • The directors' commentaries on the Fawlty Towers' DVD set also point out some of the worst boom shadows.
  • In the first episode of St. Elsewhere, there's a long dialogue scene where the characters are walking through the corridors, and the mike is visible for a few moments.
  • One of the worst offenders is the original Beverly Hills 90210 series, where the Visible Boom Mic could be spotted countless times floating over a main character's head.
  • This happens all the time in Red Dwarf. There are even compilations on YouTube of shots with visible boom mikes, although the Boom Mikes themselves, even when visible, usually blended pretty well.
  • Happens in Corner Gas when Brent and Wanda are discussing the comparative qualities between production values and substance.
    • To clarify: The boom mic drops down and hits Wanda in the head, she then grabs it and throws it back off screen.
  • This happened so often on South of Nowhere that the fan forum declared Boomy the Boom Mic an integral character on the show and came up with a variety of Epileptic Trees and Parody Fics to tie Boomy to the plot.
  • An interesting is example is in the "Breaking Glass" episode of MythBusters. Since this is a science reality show, the visible boom mike isn't a problem as far as suspension of disbelief. The problem is that in the scene in which singer Jaime Vendera shatters a wine glass with only his voice, some viewers thought that the visible boom mike was some sort of sonic gun used to break the glass. Incidentally, in the same scene, some viewers thought a lens flare was a string attached to the glass, somehow used to shatter it. Both can be seen here starting at the 0:43 mark.
  • Deliberately used in the monologue of a Saturday Night Live episode hosted by Johh Lithgow.
    • Also "deliberately" used when Tina Fey hosted the first show back from the writers' strike. Since the strike didn't do anything for the crew, except put them out of work for a few weeks, the boom mike operator kept "accidentally" dropping the mike into frame, sometime hitting her.
  • The boom mike showed up in the shot at least once during the 10-year run of Friends.
  • Accidentally averted in Charlie Brookers Screenwipe. One episode purports to demonstrate the various problems with filming on location - batteries running out on the camera, keeping anything unwanted out of shot, and so on - and one of the things they meant to show was letting the boom mike fall into shot. Except they forgot to lower the boom mike, so Charlie explains that in real post production they had to greenscreen in a boom mike just so that in fake post production they could cut it back out.
  • Played for laughs in Arrested Development when the Bluths discuss whether Michael's British girlfriend might be a spy trying to eavesdrop on their business plans. As Michael argues that nobody is trying to listen in on them, the board room's boom mike is clearly visible.
  • Snuck into an episode of Frasier. When Frasier and Niles exit the kitchen, the boom mic quickly crawls up off-screen.
  • You can see a boom mic for a split second in season 2, episode 1 of Twin Peaks ("May the Giant Be with You") in the hospital.
  • In Mystery Science Theater 3000's Lampooning of Gorgo, you get a rare look at Mike Nelson's microphone. (When he turns his head to say "Hey, Tom Servo!")
    • The crew is also quick to point it out when it happens in one of the movies they're watching.

     Web Animation  
  • Referenced in a Homestar Runner marshmallow commercial. Homestar falls asleep during filming, on camera, and someone has to tap his head with a boom mic to wake him up.

     Web Original  
  • In the 6th episode of the TV Tropes webseries Echo Chamber, the boom operator, cameraman, and boom are visible in the window reflection. However, the cameraman, Zack, was already a major character on the show, and Word of God has hinted that the boom operator is his brother, Dave.

     Western Animation  


Vertigo EffectCamera TricksWalk and Talk
FilmImageSource/Live-Action FilmsPlanet of the Apes

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