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Old December 4th, 2008, 08:59 PM   #1
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Sound Gets Some Notice

I know that we all lament the fact that sound is for most productions an afterthought, if much considered at all. I recently purchased the WALL-E DVD by Pixar, and on the Bonus features is a long segment all about bringing on a Sound Designer at the beginning in the process of making that movie! Very interesting fellow. Very interesting piece.

It goes on to explain his views on sound and the foley's etc... as well as the Director's. All in all it made me smile that SOMEONE gets it! Well worth the watch if you have the DVD or access to it. I didn't time it but probably 10-15 minutes in length.

Chris Swanberg

ps. Also includes some priceless old Disney footage of their own version of "Mr. Foley"... making noises with all kinds of stuff back in the early days of film - including the usage in actual Disney films.
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Old December 4th, 2008, 09:56 PM   #2
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I know that we all lament the fact that sound is for most productions an afterthought, if much considered at all. I recently purchased the WALL-E DVD by Pixar, and on the Bonus features is a long segment all about bringing on a Sound Designer at the beginning in the process of making that movie! Very interesting fellow. Very interesting piece.

It goes on to explain his views on sound and the foley's etc... as well as the Director's. All in all it made me smile that SOMEONE gets it! Well worth the watch if you have the DVD or access to it. I didn't time it but probably 10-15 minutes in length.

Chris Swanberg

ps. Also includes some priceless old Disney footage of their own version of "Mr. Foley"... making noises with all kinds of stuff back in the early days of film - including the usage in actual Disney films.
I have found in my experience with production sound and audio post, it is much easier to pay your soundtrack the respect it deserves when your budget is in the tens or hundreds of millions and destined for theaters, then when you are producing a $100,000.00 doc or tv show.

The number one mistake that almost all indie filmmakers and lower end non-broadcast shooters make is that they don't hire a pro sound mixer. How can one hope to achieve great sound with an amateur who doesn't mix sound for a living at the mixer helm? (if they are even enlightened enough to use a mixer!).

I notice that most animated productions seem to pay better attention to audio than live action. Most animation tends to have pretty good sound design, often because it is the first element produced before the "shoot" (animation) takes place. When all you have is a soundtrack as a frame to hang your work on, bad sound becomes apparent immediately.

Dan
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Old December 5th, 2008, 12:13 AM   #3
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I notice that most animated productions seem to pay better attention to audio than live action. Most animation tends to have pretty good sound design, often because it is the first element produced before the "shoot" (animation) takes place. When all you have is a soundtrack as a frame to hang your work on, bad sound becomes apparent immediately.

Dan
Excellent point. That fact had kind of escaped me.

Still the short was very informative and fun. Recommended viewing.
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Old December 5th, 2008, 02:23 AM   #4
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"I notice that most animated productions seem to pay better attention to audio than live action. Most animation tends to have pretty good sound design, often because it is the first element produced before the "shoot" (animation) takes place."

----------

Well, sure. No location audio there. The dialog is done in the studio. So the take away message is, location audio takes some special skills and gear.

Most low dollar indie shooters can't afford a sound mixer. I found this out years ago when the trend to make those films here in the mid atlantic took off.

I did a few location audio seminars and one of the participants suggested I write some of my stuff down. I wrote a book, expecting to sell it to local indie shooters who had run into audio problems when trying to do it themselves on one production and didn't want the same problem to keep happening. I figured that some of them would eventually have budgets big enough to afford me.

I put the Field Guide book on my website and it has now sold on every continent but Antarctica. (penguins, apparently, already know how to do location audio). Even to foreign countries where english is definitely not the primary language. This year, B&H picked it up and a lot more of them sold.

It's neat to run into people at conventions who say the book has helped them get a handle on their location audio.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old December 5th, 2008, 02:54 AM   #5
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Yes!
Hi Ty!
I ordered your book about 6 months ago, it´s proven itself invaluable and has helped me come to understand the importance of great audio, I´m glad to hear of your success with your book, it´s very well deserved!!

Magnus
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Old December 5th, 2008, 08:18 AM   #6
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Hey Magnus!

Thanks for that! Is there anything you think I need to add in the next printing?

I'm being prodded to do one for post production, but I just haven't figured out what I want to do with something like that. There are so many books and video tutorials out there already.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old December 5th, 2008, 11:14 AM   #7
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Another great piece on Wall E's sound design; videos with Ben Burtt explaining how he accomplished much of the sound.

Fans of WALL-E and STAR WARS – You Need to Watch These Videos
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Old December 5th, 2008, 11:50 AM   #8
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Most low dollar indie shooters can't afford a sound mixer. I found this out years ago when the trend to make those films here in the mid atlantic took off.
They *can* actually - they spend far more in post production trying to fix the problems caused by not using a pro sound recordist than they ever would if they had employed him from the start.

They never learn. :-(
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Old December 5th, 2008, 01:47 PM   #9
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They *can* actually - they spend far more in post production trying to fix the problems caused by not using a pro sound recordist than they ever would if they had employed him from the start.
Very true. I think part of the problem is this however. On a lot of indie/ultra low budget productions, the camera operator owns the camera and usually has some sort of vested interest in the production. It may even be the person who wrote the story. They usually have one or two people who agree to help them get the production rolling. Maybe even have a light kit or two. They put out ads on craigslist for free talent, and now suddenly they have a picture coming together. Oh, wait, there's that pesky sound part. Phone rings, I give them a quote and usually I'm told "I can only afford to pay you $100 a day", or "everybody else is doing this for free, any chance I can get you to do that too"... After some no's. Usually I spot another Craigslist Ad looking for a sound person. Usually that goes unnoticed, so they rent a boom, shotgun and find some PA that can give hold the boom.

The picture may look great, but the audio sucks, so they go into the ADR mode and try to put in audio later.

The indie / low budget productions really never pay attention to sound until afterwards. I've learn to live with it. I've also become very picky about what productions I work on. If that means I don't do location sound for a while, so be it. After all, I can work at McDonalds for more than $100 a day... and it will cost the production probably more than that to rent equipment and/or ADR the sound at the end of the shoot.

Wayne
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Old December 5th, 2008, 03:13 PM   #10
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Very true. I think part of the problem is this however. On a lot of indie/ultra low budget productions, the camera operator owns the camera and usually has some sort of vested interest in the production. It may even be the person who wrote the story. They usually have one or two people who agree to help them get the production rolling. Maybe even have a light kit or two. They put out ads on craigslist for free talent, and now suddenly they have a picture coming together. Oh, wait, there's that pesky sound part. Phone rings, I give them a quote and usually I'm told "I can only afford to pay you $100 a day", or "everybody else is doing this for free, any chance I can get you to do that too"... After some no's. Usually I spot another Craigslist Ad looking for a sound person. Usually that goes unnoticed, so they rent a boom, shotgun and find some PA that can give hold the boom.

The picture may look great, but the audio sucks, so they go into the ADR mode and try to put in audio later.

The indie / low budget productions really never pay attention to sound until afterwards. I've learn to live with it. I've also become very picky about what productions I work on. If that means I don't do location sound for a while, so be it. After all, I can work at McDonalds for more than $100 a day... and it will cost the production probably more than that to rent equipment and/or ADR the sound at the end of the shoot.

Wayne
I feel for you Wayne. I used to own an audio post facility and we mainly concentrated on indies and television docs. It used to drive me nuts when I would see projects come in with at least some television/b-list actors, shot on 35mm, decent looking but the sound would suck. They would give us their audio post budget and I would invariably have to tell them, "you don't even have enough budget to have us fix all of the audio problems you have, much less do any sound design and polish" I would then ask who their sound mixer was and the answer was almost always, "oh, we didn't have enough budget so I did it or my cousin held the boom." Utterly self-defeating.

Sound is about 80% of the emotional content of a film so why do naive, uninformed producers allocate, if you are lucky, 5-8% of the budget for the sound? It's a mystery to me.

I guess it's the same reason why everyone who has $10,000.00 for a camcorder buys a $9,200.00 camera and has no money for a decent tripod.

Someone should teach a class or do a DVD in media budget allocation because most people out there are clueless.

Dan
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Old December 5th, 2008, 03:43 PM   #11
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Composers have it just as bad. At least the audio production is done before the cookie jar is empty, if not the audio fx/mixing. At full throttle, professional composers can create about four finished minutes of original music a day. For a fully scored film, you need to pay somebody's salary for at least a month, plus expenses (hard drives for backups, live musicians and studio time, if any...) Pizza, beer and a name in the credits just ain't gonna pay the bills.

And then there's the time pressure. "But the film festival is next week... What exactly do you mean by 'locked edits'?.. We've just made a few small changes..."

So yeah, not only does the audio often suck, but so does the music.

Of course, the biggest time pressure is often on the final mix. I've done a few 48 Hour film projects, and the final mix is always the process that gets cut off by the clock. "It's 5pm. It doesn't matter if there's no dialog on those lines. Render this sucker and print to tape!"
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Old December 5th, 2008, 07:19 PM   #12
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. I've done a few 48 Hour film projects, and the final mix is always the process that gets cut off by the clock. "It's 5pm. It doesn't matter if there's no dialog on those lines. Render this sucker and print to tape!"
OW, so VERY true...been there had to do mostly THAT.

Chris Swanberg
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Old December 5th, 2008, 08:46 PM   #13
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Composers have it just as bad. At least the audio production is done before the cookie jar is empty, if not the audio fx/mixing. At full throttle, professional composers can create about four finished minutes of original music a day. For a fully scored film, you need to pay somebody's salary for at least a month, plus expenses (hard drives for backups, live musicians and studio time, if any...) Pizza, beer and a name in the credits just ain't gonna pay the bills.

And then there's the time pressure. "But the film festival is next week... What exactly do you mean by 'locked edits'?.. We've just made a few small changes..."

So yeah, not only does the audio often suck, but so does the music.

Of course, the biggest time pressure is often on the final mix. I've done a few 48 Hour film projects, and the final mix is always the process that gets cut off by the clock. "It's 5pm. It doesn't matter if there's no dialog on those lines. Render this sucker and print to tape!"
I agree also Jon. And there are sooo many composers out there who are trying to get known and will work for close to nothing. Being an artist these days is rough and getting rougher.

I shot a piece on Sean Callery, the composer on "24" that is on the "24" S5 DVD. Now he is a successful composer but even his road was pretty long to get where he is. Super nice guy, classically trained and was an apprentice under some of the biggest, that's how he made it.

Dan
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