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Old September 21st, 2008, 01:04 PM   #1
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how do I handle audio ignorant producer?

So I'm working on this indie feature, and half the time I'm told "this shots mos". Meanwhile there's climbing metal stairs, sometimes adlib'ed dialog, footsteps, etc. etc. My opinion is better to get as much location sound as possible to leave the most options for post.. so I record it anyways, looking like an idiot because there's talking, voice commands etc. and I'm already told don't worry about it. (he acts like foley is better than the real thing)

The reason I am worried is cause the producer is editing, and acts like he can do ANYTHING in post and I am 100% convinced he can't.. if I didn't think this film is the coolest thing, I would really care. One of the things that stood out the most is when I had a concern about reverb... he says "dont worry about it, I got depressors, repressors, convulsors, revulsors plugins you name it, no problem..etc" I didnt want to argue and put him in his place in front of everyone so I swallowed it and carried on.

The audio is recorded iso'ed and will be mixed and sequenced (by him? I hope not) and also there will be an experienced audio post guy with a large imdb resume handling things after his cut is done.

I've told him "why try to recreate the real thing?" etc etc, I am an editor too, and I know there's going to be audio problems later and I'd rather he realize I'm right now, then later. If anyone has any suggestions as to what I should say, and/or do... pls help!

Peace
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Old September 21st, 2008, 01:48 PM   #2
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Have a chat with the post guy and let him know what he is in for. Maybe he will feel able to express your concerns with out concerns for the fall out.
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Old September 21st, 2008, 02:20 PM   #3
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Look. You are in the position you're in and he's in the position he's in. Your job is to give the best advice you can and do the best job you possibly can. You can explain things til' you're blue in the face, but some people just won't listen. And when that happens, you need to step back and let them sink or swim on their own actions.

Your production notes are important here. When you make suggestions that are not taken, note them in the audio field notes. i.e. Monday, 8/9 - suggested alternate mic technique (plant mic) to director to avoid silk tie noises. Was informed that producer preferred to loop dialog or fix in post.

Anyone reading them will understand that it was not your call. That your tried your best. And that the results are below your standards.

Other than that. Put your dissatisfaction and frustration behind you. Your demeanor on set is MUCH more important than anything else. And you MUST stay positive and supportive and maintain a "no problem" attitude - because the most important thing in getting referrals is to be the kind of PERSON that people WANT on their sets.

If a producer or director won't listen to skilled crew that's honestly trying to make a better product, then that producer or director won't grow and will eventually fail.

You, on the other hand, WILL keep growing. And so eventually you'll be working with people who aren't quite as self-absorbed.

At least that's the way it's supposed to work.

In reality the talent pool of self-absorbed, unwilling to learn, know-it-all jerks is remarkably deep.

So sometimes it's just a matter of "do your best" when confronted with shallowness and idiocy and use it as a chance to learn what NOT to do when you have more authority later.

Such is life.
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Old September 21st, 2008, 02:33 PM   #4
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Like Jimmy said, tell post what's coming their way. They'll likely try and talk to the Producer.

This is also very common on indie shoots. I would talk to the Producer at the beginning of the day and tell him how you feel. If you think there should be sound on a certain shot.. let him know. If he says no, then just make sure he signs off on it, write it in your sound report, and let it go.

Bill has the right idea, there's no point of raising a stink with the guy that is likely going to be paying you at the end of the day, and a battle that you probably won't win. Part of being a sound guy is being diplomatic and knowing when to pick your battles. The last thing you want to do is build tension and making yourself known as someone that is hard to work with.
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Old September 21st, 2008, 03:18 PM   #5
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If it's not your production, sometimes you have to just step aside, do the best job that you can do and let the person "take the arrow in the back" - it's the only way they will learn. That is why professionals are professionals, they too once did things the wrong way, however they learned from their mistakes and are hired and re-hired based on their past projects and reputation. Sorry to hear that you're in such a political position, but there is a fine line with whose shoes you want to step on. Is there anyway you can talk them into rough cutting now so that everyone is clear with how the project is coming together? Bill gives excellent advice above. You can tell he's been around the block. Not sure if you have seen it, but on Ty Ford's site is a copy of "The Letter", you might want to take a look at it or pass it along The Letter

Good luck,
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Old September 21st, 2008, 04:24 PM   #6
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I think the advice given above is excellent, just adding a comment on "the letter". If you do get a chance to make your case then it might add to your case if you can point to the authors and their very weighty resumes!

An Open Letter from your Sound Department - A Production Sound Manifesto written by audio professionals
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Old September 21st, 2008, 04:59 PM   #7
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the advice is right, but I'd add one thing . tell this producer this sound is "free". you're there, the gear is there. its not costing anything extra to get the sound. if it works, great, you just saved the time and money for ADR / post remixing, if not, you can always replace it. to not try to get nat sound for shots is a big mistake, but I guess this guy must hang out with them fancy big budget producers who think that ADRing 70% of the dialog and and doing everything with foley is ok.... if you have the $$$$$ and time.

FWIW, I just did a gig like this. I was doing sound, producer and shooter wanted to shoot in a gym - basket ball sized one, wood floors, ect. of course there was echo, and they also wanted the lav hidden so it was further away then normal, and my sound blankets and C stands were in the vehicle left behind. wondering why I haven't gotten a call back....
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Old September 21st, 2008, 05:31 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Oakley View Post
I just did a gig like this. I was doing sound, producer and shooter wanted to shoot in a gym - basket ball sized one, wood floors, ect. of course there was echo, and they also wanted the lav hidden so it was further away then normal, and my sound blankets and C stands were in the vehicle left behind. wondering why I haven't gotten a call back....
hahahaha!! .. no doubt! kinda what I'm worried about. Anyways, thanks heaps for all the suggestions above, I'll try to take care of it .. w/o being annoying, and unwanted on-set in the future (another thing I'm worried about) catch 22? I'll check out those notes as well.

Cheers
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Old September 21st, 2008, 07:40 PM   #9
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My take on all this is that it has been ever thus.

I'd simply follow the above advice (you probably will have nada clue who is doing post, maybe the director) so not much you are likely to do there.

I'd suggest the above advice and letting the director/producer (usually the same guy in Indies) know your job is to give him the BEST sound you can give him during actual takes so post is limited to minor tweaking and sweetening. Tell him that if you cannot do that, the workload in post probably will go up exponentially...and extend the workflow timeline. Say he can buy you a beer later..Sadly if he does let you, he will think the sound was what he expected all along and won't follow thru. This is a game I doubt you can win. Do it right, fight the fight and win and ... well, so what THAT was what was expected. Los the battle... and you will be seen as a bad location sound engineer.

Remind him the actors may not be available to do ADR. Ask him to let YOU be the brains in sound acquisition, that is why you are there.

Other than that, document.... document... document...

....for what that is worth. (you will get blamed anyway). I suggest getting a water pistol, handing it to him at some point and suggesting that whenever he says "we'll fix it is post" he pretend it is loaded and shoot somebody. Preferably himself.

Hang in there...

Chris

ps. You might remind him that the best and the brightest agree sound is between 40-60% of the movie !
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Old September 21st, 2008, 09:08 PM   #10
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another possible take is to remind him that he hired you to take care of the sound and he's asking you not to do what you're being paid for... is he ok with that? While it may lead to a discussion about worth etc

or you can agree to do whatever he wants and ask to have your name left out of the credits and just take the pay for it since it'll reflect badly on your reel down the line. Asking not to be in the credits of a film you think will be great (since it'll reflect poorly upon you professionally), may be the nudge needed to get him to reconsider.

Both of these approaches are much more aggressive than the options above, but part of your payment (especially on a shoot you believe in) is footage for your reel. If it doesn't showcase your abilities, there's no reason to take credit for it. Specifically, if it implies ineptitude on your part as a sound professional (not capturing the sound you should have on the day), it can actually be detrimental to getting future jobs... more so than being "difficult".

If what you want to do is better for the producer, the production and your personal career, do that. No one ever furthered their careers by sitting back and taking it up the *@# by the people who hired them. Yes men don't advance, people who save time and money do... in any field. I'd be more aggressive in my approach, but there's other approaches, you'll have to feel out the audience (the producer) and determine which will get you the most benefit.

If you are just in it for the money here, just take the money and ignore the quality of the output material. Ask to be credited as the dialog recordist and walk away.
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Old September 29th, 2008, 08:24 PM   #11
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There are ways ...

As a very experienced Judo instructor, perhaps I could suggest a few things ...

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Old September 30th, 2008, 01:29 PM   #12
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Chris:

Unfortunately you are being put in the position of fall guy. I produced a shoot last year (not doing audio, of course, just produced the shoot) and I was put into an identical position. I warned the director/producer that by doing things in this way, you will have issues and problems in post, here is why. Please let me do this the right way to save you time, money and headaches.

My prediction is that you will do your best you can in this situation. When Joe producer discovers that he was a complete tool for not listening to you and capturing good location sound and that he cannot make the end product sound good, he will blame you. I don't think that there is anything you can do about it.

There are lots of passive/aggressive psycho control freaks on this business and sometimes you run into them and are hired by them. I have worked for several over the past few years and all you can do is to be detailed, polite, methodical and cover your rear as best you can. You will still get blamed and it can have bad repercussions for your reputation. It has happened to me and I still cannot figure out anything I could have done differently to prevent this.

I hope that you make it out of this unscathed.

Good luck,

Dan
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Old October 1st, 2008, 07:43 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Sweet View Post
So I'm working on this indie feature, and half the time I'm told "this shots mos". Meanwhile there's climbing metal stairs, sometimes adlib'ed dialog, footsteps, etc. etc. My opinion is better to get as much location sound as possible to leave the most options for post.. so I record it anyways, looking like an idiot because there's talking, voice commands etc. and I'm already told dont worry about it. (he acts like foley is better than the real thing)
Peace
Chris,

(Thanks, Guy for your kind comment)

I was hired to do a one day shoot here in Baltimore this year. One setup was in "the gym from Hell." I went in during rehearsals (not charging for the time) and saw what the deal was. For a variety of reasons, it was totally unworkable to get the quality of sound I thought was required and would be proud to put my name on.

I kept trying to get the producer aside to ask questions, she kept blowing me off because they were also shooting the "making of" so they were shooting the rehearsal. As I began asking others there about elements vital to getting good audio, I found it was a logistical impossibility.

I finally pulled the producer aside and said, "We need to talk."
I explained to her that the scenario she described to me on the phone was quite a bit different than what was in front of us. I told her that based on the new reality, I did not know how to get proper sound. I quit.

She was shocked. "I have never had anyone quit on me before!"

"Sorry", I said. "Good luck with the shoot." (I kept it very simple and very calm.)

As I drove away, the acid in my stomach drained and I felt better by the moment.

For me, and you may be different, I was more concerned that my name would end up as the audio guy on a shoot with bad audio than I was from any repercussions from quitting.

Knowing that you can walk away with your reputation and do it professionally without a nasty separation (that's your responsibility, btw) is a proper and good thing.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old October 2nd, 2008, 10:32 AM   #14
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As satisfying as walking away from a project like that would be, it's not an option for me. I just need the money too badly. In situations like this it sucks because you know you are going to be blamed in the end no matter what your notes say. Talking to post in advance is probably a good idea, but it's still going to come down to you. The only way I know of in handling this is to try and get as much of a jump on it as possible so that it's not possible for anybody to tell you there is no time to wait for sound. Usually this means an over reliance on wireless. On shoots like this I try to pre-wire as many actors as I can. Then I can throw a transmitter on them at the last second if needed. It's not pretty, but it solves most problems.
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Old October 3rd, 2008, 01:12 AM   #15
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Oddly, as this thread is active I have had an opportunity to do ADR on a film that was frustrating for me from a sound acquisition perspective when shot late last spring/early summer...

The time necessary to do the required ADR on this 20 minute film will be days.... dividing the scenes into manageable dialogue loops, the repeated takes of each scene's dialogue in playing the loop until it looks/sounds right....resynching and adding the new dialogue on its own audio timeline ...etc etc.

I'm thinking my idea of a water pistol is too tame... instead the director should be tied to a chair during the entire ADR process. I bet it would happen only once.

I think this link says it all about "we'll fix it in post"...

ADR or Looping

(I suggest you click on all the llinks with this one)
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