Kit Cool: New Device for Boom Operators
by Tim Song Jones
Photos by Soli Jones
New devices for boom operators don’t come along very often. So when I saw the post from Marty Atias about the Kit Cool, I had to investigate.
I had started a discussion on the Movingmicrophones website (created by Don Coufal) asking about injuries folks had received because of working as a boom operator. Fourteen years ago, I had a herniated disc in my neck that pinched a nerve between my fourth and fifth cervical vertebrae causing an excruciating stabbing pain. Physical therapy made a world of difference. Having to hold up that darn pole is just an ergonomic nightmare. And with film cameras slowly We boom folk, being near the bottom of that other pole, will get no sympathy or break on this.
The Kit Cool is a telescoping vertical metal pole (23” to 48”) with a belt clip on the bottom and cradle with four foam rollers on the top. Your boom pole rests on the rollers, which allows for cueing left and right.
The weight is taken off your supporting arm and you steer with the other arm as normal. For long static takes (or if you are the one-man-band mixer/boomer), you can boom with one hand. And since the boom is just resting on the rollers, you can take it off in mid-take to boom normally with both hands and just as easily put it back on the rollers. A strap that goes around your neck and the vertical pole keeps it vertical. It is like a stripped down Fisher boom or Cuemaster; you wear it but it has no articulation or extension/retraction abilities. You can use any boom pole.
The metal belt clip has a knob that pops into a hole on the bottom of the vertical pole. The knob fits just snug enough to be easily removed, but it won’t come out accidentally if the vertical pole is pulled up. The strap that keeps the vertical pole up has a padded section that goes around your neck, an elastic section so you can cue forward and back and a “chest cushion” that goes between the vertical pole and your chest.
In actual use I found it works very well. It is a good idea to keep your “free” hand on the boom pole when you can as a precaution. It can be easily shifted to boom from the left or right side. The foam rollers create no extraneous noises when cueing. I found I could even sit down with the thing on (minus theboom pole). I purchased mine for $575 plus shipping from the East Coast (no, not a freebie for review). And I know many of you might be thinking, “Heck, I could make that” and I’m sure it could easily be done. I suppose other items could be attached as well; a flag for shade, video monitor, clip to hold the “sides,” drink cup, flashlight, iPhone, harmonica… So far the Kit Cool has been a real relief and it just might save your neck or whatever ails you.
I just wish they could come up with a better name. So far, reaction on the set has been good (I expected some ribbing but it’s worth it).
It is manufactured in France (hence the odd name) by Boom Audio & Video (www.boomaudiovideo.com) and is distributed in the USA by ATS Communications (www.coolcam.us). There is a good video demonstration on the website as well.