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Visible Boom Mic

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"The boom mic is so far into the shot I could describe the boom operator to a fucking 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 (particularly in the case of Show Within a Show) or to break the fourth wall (assuming there was one to begin with).

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.

Boom mic sightings were not uncommon in Open Matte VHS and Laserdisc transfers of films intended for projection at 1.85:1, as more of the image was being shown than originally intended. This, too, has all but disappeared with the advent of widescreen HDTV.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Used intentionally in a trailer for the Makai Senki Disgaea anime.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • Whenever the Sinnoh Now! crew shows up, 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 Poké Ball. They keep messing up because they keep accidentally hitting Charizard with the boom mic, who eventually gets mad enough to spew flames everywhere.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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 in several sketches:
    • During the "High Adventure" talk show sketch, the boom mic descends so low into the frame that it actually starts bumping into the actors. The mic actually becomes the star of the show with its shenanigans, like tricking the host and his guest into an Accidental Kiss, helping catch the host's sudden Hollywood Heart Attack, and giving the guest a quick shave.
    • In another scene during the "A Fistful of Yen" sketch, one the actors pulls down a boom mic (one of many in-universe Incredibly Obvious Bugs) 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 realizes his kid's missing.
  • Blatant in soap opera spoof Young Doctors in Love.
  • Black Dynamite: Used purposefully as part of the film's Stylistic Suck. In one scene, the actor playing Black Dynamite is visibly distracted by the mike being so low.
  • Dolemite: The boom mike is often visible, and even the hand and head of the boom mike operator appear in the shot too.
  • 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 the mic and swinging to safety on it.
  • In the horror movie Nightwish, there's a visible boom mic in about three different scenes.
  • Happens a couple of times in The Last Days of Disco.
  • Many older home video releases of Prom Night (1980) featured the boom mic in very clear view in several shots. This is because it was an open matte transfer, and the 2014 DVD and Blu-ray release of the film from Synapse Films restores the correct widescreen aspect ratio, and no booms are visible.
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show;
    • A reflection of one appears in the car windshield when Ralph and Betty drive off after their wedding.
    • After Betty and Ralph leave and Brad and Janet are talking, we see the tip of it and its shadow broadcast on the church wall.
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail, during the scene before the Killer Rabbit is introduced, just above the Knights.
  • Justified in the opening shot of The Mirror by Andrei Tarkovsky. The first scene is a recreation of a TV broadcast, so the "error" is intentional.
  • Three times in Slacker:
    • During the dialog between the Ultimate Loser and Stephanie from Dallas,before the Madonna Papsmear Girl arrives, the boom mic appears briefly above them.
    • Boom mic and the pole are visible at the top left of the screen when Steve finds out he's not on the guest list.
    • When "GTO" drops off "True Call", the shadow of the boom mic is visible on the car as it drives past.
  • The So Bad, It's Good Steven Seagal DTV flick, Out For A Kill have an obvious boom mic during the scene when Seagal fights his hairdresser (It Makes Sense in Context). The hairdresser attempts a jump-kick on the Sensei, the camera follows him upwards and briefly shows a boom mic on top of the frame.
  • Parodied in the 1997 comedy Airbag!: The characters watch a low-budget Venezuelan soap opera. The soap opera actor, Javier Bardem in The Cameo, is constantly disturbed by the overhead microphone visible, in foreground and in front of his face.
  • In the hotel scene between Frank Tassone and his former student in Bad Education (2019), the boom mic is visible in the top of the bedroom mirror.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.
  • In Season 1 Episode 9 of Beauty and the Beast (1987), the boom mic dips into the shot as Catherine walks into Alexander Ross's office.
  • 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.
  • Played for Laughs in Corner Gas. When Wanda argues that production values are not important, story and character are the only things that really matter, a boom mic swings down into the shot and hits her on the head.
  • Deliberately invoked in Trailer Park Boys (since the series is supposed to be a documentary, the documentary crew sometimes is visible or even have lines). In one episode, Ricky grabs the boom mic, pulls it into view and shouts into it.
  • On Dark Shadows the boom mic was virtually a member of the cast.
  • Doctor Who, due to its No Budget nature and the difficulty of retakes for much of its history, contains many. The information text on DVDs helpfully points out the more prominent boom shadows as well as other technical flaws.
    • It's not uncommon in the Classic series for the boom mike shadow to actually obscure actors' faces. When the Doctor barges into Dr. Quinn's house in "Doctor Who and the Silurians", the boom shadow seems to actually follow Quinn's face around as he moves about the set.
    • There are also occasions with boom mikes fully in shot:
    • During the minefield scene in "The Sea Devils", the Doctor appears to fend off a boom mike with his sonic screwdriver.
    • Under the stairs of the freighter in "Earthshock", the boom mike and the entire pole can clearly be seen in the background. Mind you, they did try and obscure it with set decoration and draw the eye away — but once you see it, it stands out like a sore thumb.
    • "World War Three": When the sergeant is giving orders after Green and Asquith have gone upstairs in the lift, guess what's reflected in his goggles?
    • "Rise of the Cybermen" has the boom mike, its operator and several other crewmembers visible reflected in Mickey's grandmother's glasses when he goes to visit her.
    • In "The Lazarus Experiment", when the Doctor and Martha are in her apartment for the second time, the boom mic can be seen above the TARDIS' "PUBLIC CALL" lettering.
    • "Silence in the Library" has a stealthy, brief appearance of the boom mike at the top of the screen during a shot of the little girl's father.
  • The directors' commentaries on the Fawlty Towers' DVD set also point out some of the worst boom shadows.
  • Snuck into an episode of Frasier. When Frasier and Niles exit the kitchen, the boom mic quickly crawls up off-screen.
  • In season 1 episode 16 of Gilmore Girls, the boom mic enters the shot as Lorelai stands up in the kitchen around 7 minutes in.
  • Happens in the It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia episode "Sweet Dee's Dating a Retarded Person". When Charlie's practicing the first incarnation of "Nightman", the boom mic is very, very visible.
  • The Mandalorian: "Chapter 4: Sanctuary" has a brief appearance of a boom mic in the darkly-lit upper area of the screen in one scene.
  • 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!")
  • 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.
  • ¿Qué Pasa, U.S.A.?: Befitting the invokedNo Budget show, it happens quite often. An egregious example happens in the final third of the episode where Carmen and Sharon go on a double date.
  • 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.
  • Saturday Night Live:
    • Deliberately used in the monologue of an episode hosted by Jon 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, sometimes hitting her.
  • Accidentally averted in Charlie Brooker's 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959) 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.
  • 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.
  • Spoofed in Victoria Wood: As Seen on TV in the Show Within a Show dismal soap opera Acorn Antiques. Mr. Clifford (Duncan Preston) is on the sofa when a dramatic revelation makes him stand up quickly, bashing his head on the boom mike. The rest of the scene is him in a fetal position holding his head in agony while the other characters carry on the scene, even reacting to dialogue he hasn't said.
  • Spoofed in an episode of Massive Monster Mayhem, where it's a Running Gag for Master Mayhem to get clonked by the boom mic from the filming crew.
  • The Happy Days episode where the crew goes to Hollywood featured a scene of Richie and Fonzie on a beach pier talking. The boom mic's bottom is briefly seen.

    Music Videos 
  • In "Weird Al" Yankovic's music video for "Foil", a video clip of the moon landing shows a boom mic operator accidentally wandering into frame, seemingly confirming the Conspiracy Theorist belief that the event was staged. Better get out your Tinfoil Hat.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Isaac Asimov's Robots: The microphone picking up Dr Han Fastolfe's voice dips into the shot during his first scene.

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 
  • Referenced in a Homestar Runner short revolving around the filming of a commercial for Homestar Runner's favorite brand of marshmallows. Homestar spaces out during filming, on camera, and someone has to tap his head with a boom mic to remind him to say his lines.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games Shorts: Played for laughs in "Pinkie Spy", when Pinkie hangs a boom mic above two Crystal Prep athletes. Somehow, they don't notice.

    Web Videos 
  • 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.
  • Best of the Worst: The gang often points out visible boom mics in the movies they watch.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • In the episode parodying The X-Files, Kent Brockman mentions that the boom mic operator is going to be fired the next day and then gets hit in the head with the mic.
    • In "Lisa the Iconoclast", this happens briefly during the hagiographic short film shown in class about Jebediah Springfield.
  • The Angry Beavers episode "The Loogie Hawk" featured a boom mike falling into shot in one scene, even though it's a cartoon.
  • Freakazoid!: In "The Island of Dr. Mystico", one instance of the "That was quite a jolt, Freak!" gag had a boom mike dropping into view.
  • Used in a Plan 9 parody on Mission Hill.
  • Invoked in a few scenes in Aardman Animation's Creature Comforts, sometimes participating in a Funny Background Event.
  • A Gravity Falls short featured this in a Kitschy Local Commercial for the Mystery Shack. The boom mike not only falls into the shot, but hits Grunkle Stan on the head.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In episode "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy VI: The Motion Picture", Plankton has trouble holding up the boom mike (since he's so tiny) and, as a result, the mike not only enter the scene, but it goes into Mermaid Man's mouth as he's speaking.
    • In "As Seen on TV", one is visible in one shot of the final version of the Krusty Krab commercial. It even moves from Pearl to Squidward when they talk, respectively.
  • One episode of Blue's Clues had the boom mic drop into shot during the "We Are Looking for Blue's Clues" song.
  • Variant: a couple of episodes of Hanna-Barbera's 1976 series Jabberjaw had camera shots so low the registration ruler on the camera stand could be seen. They have since been reformatted to eliminate this.


Video Example(s):


Krusty Krab Commercial

The commercial for the Krusty Krab features stilted acting, visible boom mics, and some rather awkward editing on a nonexistent budget.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / KitschyLocalCommercial

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