Monday, March 1, 2010

Isn't sound 50% of a film (with good sound)?

I should post these slowly over a few days but I found some time and there are a slew of bits I've been collecting that I needed to post so it's a flood O' Blog!

This is a question that keeps coming up and gets argued over a LOT. There are lots of famous quotes all with different numbers, what does it all mean? Pretty much nothing.
Since there is no scale you can point to that will tell you which film has "good sound" nobody can really answer the question in a meaningful way. And say we did? What difference does it make? Sound gets 5%-10% of the budget on a decent film. Are you going to give it 50%? If so where do I sign up! If your sound centered then it's more important to you. If your a visual person then it's not. People keep saying bad sound will pull you right out of the picture. Well it certainly can. But it can be pretty OK and still be fine if the story and the visuals are good. If the visuals suck your lost also. Part of the reason this question gets the reaction it does is that low budget films have disproportionately crappy sound. They often have acceptable visuals and god awful sound. If most indi's put sound at say 10% it would be a mile of a difference. But they spend as little as possible on production. Imagine having for your DP someone who has never seen a camera before? Now how many indi's have volunteer PA's do the boom work? And sometimes they are the ONLY sound person. Then they get to post and someone with experience is going to cost a bit. So they go with some guy who "does music". I put that in quotes because I don't want to throw folks who actually do music in with the "dude who does music" who generally wants to do your post in garage band because it came free with the computer. What comes out is AWFUL. It's not even 1%. It's often garbage at best. So sound folks will say 75% because if you 1/2 believe them maybe you'll budget 3% and then they have a chance. My advice, don't use a %. Read your script. Know what it needs and feed the machine. If it needs 99% visuals then give it 99%. But on that scene where it needs 80% sound give it that also. In the end it depends on the film and the scene, and maybe the word. Give every shot what it needs and you will have a great film. It still may not make your career/ money/ etc. But it will be a great film that was the best that it could be. And that is all you can really hope for. If you do that AND do it at the right time AND have some luck... Bob's your uncle, as a friend of mine like to say.

OK that's all for awhile!

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