There are only a few items in my career that I can say changed the way I work. Let me explain why the Boomhanger is now on that list.
The Boomhanger is a very simplistic idea: a molded hook that can attach to your harness. Its purpose is to eliminate the weight of the pole at certain moments during ENG Bag work that wear out even the seasoned pros. The creator, Sander Den Broeder was kind enough to send a few to us in order to try them out and report back.
Sound Mixers have the challenge of mixing more with less. Reality and Documentary shows have big casts and are unpredictable. What is worse is we are usually work by ourselves without an assistant. With these styles of shooting, it involves us wearing our sound cart on our body. This makes the Production Sound Mixer have to morph into a super sound mixer that does more than one role on set (Booming and Mixing).
In theory this is not a great way to work. It limits our abilities to truly mix or boom. For anyone that doesn’t understand, try putting your arms above your head and then taking your hand off of the boom pole to adjust a fader on the mixer. What happens? The boom pole falls the ground because you let go!
This thought of having to mix and boom at the same time causes extreme difficulties in how we as mixers are able to work and turn in a good track. Our job on set is to record isolated tracks as well as a good mix. Our mixes are limited because our fingers are on a boom pole instead of the faders.
Enter the Boomhanger.
The Boomhanger is the ultimate solution for these types of problems.
It allows you to safely rest the pole for moments at a time or extended takes on a hook that you clip onto your ENG Harness. This allows you to take a hand safely off the boom pole to adjust levels or dial in settings on your recorder while knowing your boom pole is safely resting in the Boomhanger across your chest.
My first thought was a sigh of relief! It makes the job easier, which is a difficult task for any manufacturer to pull off. It allows me to focus more on important matters without fatiguing so quickly.
YES. It is that good.
When discussing this venture with Sander he reminisced on the process.
I used to wear 2 separate portabrace belts, and with one I looped the strap that was left sticking out of the slide adjuster. It appeared I could rest my boompole in that. When I bought a harness, it didn’t work that way anymore, so I had to think of something else. Working without was no option, I was so attached to this system I HAD to think of something. Then I bought a 3D printer, thought myself the 3D modeling software and printed several prototypes, until I was satisfied.
Unfortunately I had reports of boomhangers breaking. Evidentially those sound guys used it more intensively than I had tested with docu-work. So I went back to design mode and had a new batch moulded, now with stronger material. It’s actually more than twice as strong. It can hold more than 100lbs, which should be sufficient, I guess 😉
Using Without A Harness
The Boomhanger can help Boom Operators and Sound Utlity Technicians get a quick rest in the field. Attach the Boomhanger to a lanyard using the included metal carbiner that is included in the packing at purchase. By clicking this carabiner into the Boomhanger, it allows the product to then be attached to a lanyard and worn around your neck. This will allow the Boom Operator to rest the boom pole in this hook during moments they see fit.
If I am being 100% honest, this was the only application of the Boomhanger that didn’t hang with me. The first time I had a lot of difficulty because it was sliding around and turning in the lanyard. After asking Sander, I learned I was not using the device properly and needed to use the foam strip that comes with the Boomhanger to help keep the boom pole from sliding during this application.
The foam strip fixed the stability of how it held the pole. However, I stress the need to always remember to be the Swan on set. Our goals as ambassadors or sound is to be at the utmost attention and to be as visual professional as we can be.
An Alternative Approach
As a Boom Operator and Sound Utlity in the union, I advise that you must learn how to hand the boom pole even during extended takes without the use of tools as the people before us have for years. When you are done with a take, close your pole as much as is needed to place your pole straight up and down in the room. Then when needed, slowly bring the pole down and into the scene.
When resting, you do not want your pole leaning at a 45 degree angle where you are taking up a bigger footprint. Do your best to be straight up and down and as minimal as possible.
I can see times where this can be an asset. Possibly when on a ladder above peoples heads. Ensure the pole is never creating a hazard.
The Boomhanger is an absolute must buy for anyone who wears a harness. Come back and thank Sander in the comments letting him know how awesome he is.
I can’t wait to see what he thinks of next!
Also, if you want to know what else is on that list of must haves, here is another item that I cannot live without…