A few weeks ago on the Sound for Video Session, I mentioned that when I'm booming microphones for a job, I use Orca sound bags. Orca makes incredibly sturdy and ergonomic bags. I say that knowing that bags are sort of like religion with nearly everyone having a different opinion. But the Orca bags really are nice. They allow you to access your recorder/mixer and other gear from every side with various openings and at the same time keep their shape with a lightweight aluminum frame and honeycomb inserts. All of the zippers can be opened both directions with multi-zips. Handles, shoulder straps, harnesses, and even wireless external pockets are all removable and configurable and, at the same time, incredibly sturdy and secure.
Clearly the guys at Orca have done or have someone on staff who has done some serious sound work for film.
I originally bought the OR-34. My thinking was typical American: A bigger bag like the OR-34 will fit my Zoom F8, an Anton Bauer Digital 90 battery and all the microphones, wireless, and other stuff I need for any job!
Sometimes, bigger is not better.
When you're booming a microphone or even just mixing wireless lavalier microphones, you want to be carrying as little weight as possible. Booming is physically taxing labor. The lesson I quickly learned: Your audio production bag should carry your recorder/mixer, wireless receivers, and as little else as possible. This way when you're actually on location working, you're not carrying any more weight than is necessary.
But wait, you might think, how am I going to carry around all the other stuff I need to bring to the shoot? That's where a "Go Bag" comes in. This is a separate bag that allows you to schlep everything you need to the location, but then once you're set up and camera is rolling, you only carry the minimum required - your mixer/recorder bag. You leave the go bag in some corner where it is out of the way.
I talked with the Orca guys at NAB and they mentioned that they also have smaller bags: The OR-30 for mixers the size of the Sound Devices 633 (my main mixer/recorder) and the OR-28 for recorders the size of the Zoom F8 or Tascam DR recorders (70D, 701D, etc.)
Recently, John Dingo asked:
I am currently looking into purchasing a OR-30 to fit my Zoom F8 as well. Do you have any shots of it fully loaded to share?
Deciding between getting the OR-28 / OR-30 sure is a tough choice.
Before I answer that, for reference, here's the Sound Devices 633 in the OR-30. This is the mixer for which this bag was designed. Note the perfect fit:
So this question about which bag for the Zoom F8 partly depends on how you're powering your Zoom F8. One of the challenges with the F8 is power. It accommodates 8 AA batteries in a tray in the back but once you're recording three inputs with one of them phantom powering a boom mic, you'll burn through those batteries rather quickly.
So my solution was to get a hirose to d-tap cable and power with one of my Anton Bauer Digital 90 batteries which easily provides enough power for a full production day (15 hours). I'm pretty sure that would fit in the OR-28 but it'll be tight. And remember, tighter is probably better to keep the weight down.
But if you're powering with the AA batteries, the OR-28 is probably a better choice. Smaller, lighter, and less temptation to carry around a bunch of extra stuff that you don't need to carry while booming.
Incidentally, the OR-28 is priced significantly less than the OR-30 at $179 which is a great deal for a bag that is incredibly versatile and is so well made, you should easily get several years mileage with it.