Friday, November 12, 2010

Three roads to the End

An issue that has come up on a number of forums I'm on is the problem with answers to questions coming from very different perspectives.
I'm going to break down the "community" into three broad categories.
Commercial - public
Commercial - private

Those are kind of broad but I think they are valid.
Commercial - Public are those film and media projects that are aimed at selling to the public at large. You are going to have a product good enough that folks who know nothing about your project except the "buzz" are willing to pay to see it.

Commercial - private are projects that are pre sold. That would be industrials, even videography, documentaries that are grant funded (though this becomes one of the problem crossover situations, since you do eventually want people to come and see your film).

Non-Commercial are projects like in house films, home movies, student films, etc. This is a category that has a lot of crossover (well more like wanta be crossover) projects.

The problem that comes up is someone needs help with X and three different people give opposing advice and then start to argue over the merits of it leaving the OP in the dark. Many times they are all correct, but only from their orientation.

This comes up a lot in post sound questions because of the different routes the three take to final delivery.

In the Commercial - Public world tasks are all divided up and specialists do everything. It's really the only way to get to the polish of what Hollywood puts out. I did say "Polish" not "Quality". A high polish not so great quality film will out sell a low polish high quality film every time. It's very hard to see quality if it's just not well put together. You wouldn't hire an electrician to do your plumbing, unless you had to.

In the Commercial - Private world your selling before you shoot. You know what is important to the client and what isn't. Your focus is much more selective and your "public" is paying up front so if they are not willing to pay for X it's not going to cost you at the box office. These tend to be small tight crews with a lot of mixed of roles. This is not generally a category of many crossovers to the "big screen" Commercial - Public category.

In the Non- Commercial world there is chaos right now. It was a category that had just about a zero crossover ratio and now has a lot of crossover potential. The workflow used to be kind of a stripped down version of the Commercial - Private one with Very small crews. With the new cameras and the power of modern computers this category has the potential to make the move. BUT it generally doesn't have the orientation. If you want to compete with the big boys you need to bring polish to your projects. And that means you need to start bringing in specialists.

It gets very tricky because you can't afford to do it the "Hollywood" way,but you need to get a "Hollywood" polish. It can be done and I have posted about this before. On the visual side you can read Stu Maskowitz's blog/ books etc. The big hurdle is your orientation. You need to set some high standards and get over the fact that your making a movie. I know it's cool but gloat when it's done. Right now you need to be hypercritical of your polish. I'm going to assume you have the quality because there is no point polishing a turd. If you botched it up chalk it up as a learning tool and start your next film. When your rich and famous you can revisit and release your "directors cut", but right now you need to get a quality polished film out there.

So when I say you need to replace all the sounds and scrub your dialog and it's going to take you at least 40 tracks of sound... I'm talking from my orientation which is pretty firmly in the Commercial - Public world.

If your doing a student film that is more of a test out the camera thing or a learning how to direct short, you most certainly don't need all that. If your shooting a wedding video you, as picture editor, should go ahead and clean up the tracks and do whatever makes it work. You are not sending this to audio post, do what works for where you are.

But if your a crossover want to be, don't ask what plugin is going to make your film sound like a Hollywood blockbuster. There isn't one. You need to bring in the pro's or at least pro's of the future. You need to set your bar very high on the polish and that means sound also.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

Mini-Indi, I want residuals!

I came up with this term the other day and I think I'm the first. It's hard to tell but if I am and it catches on I want residuals...

I started using it because there is a whole class of films that have no name. You have major films with budgets in the $100 mil + category. And what Hollywood calls ow budget (under $30 mil. Then there are the "Indi's" at somewhere from say $3 mil to $40-$50 mil. And then you have "no-budget" films, that all have some budget but generally not enough to pay people.
But in between there are a LOT of films being made. They have a budget usually in the $30K to $150K range and occasionally get close to "Indi" range. They are not student films (usually), they are by folks who have some experience (often) and are designed to be potentially commercial. The idea generally is to use it as a calling card. Some are shorts and some are features but the thing they have over most "no budget" films is that they have a focus on quality. Now all to often that focus is way off, they usually don't have "enough" experience to aim correctly. But the idea is to produce a professional film that would not be embarrassing if shown to a paying audience (that is not relatives and friends and crew).

The technology has come down in price and made it possible to make a film that looks great on a big screen for a small fraction of what it took to make a crappy looking/ sounding 16mm film. For all you 16mm fans, 16mm can look good but not when blown up to a full sized movie theatre screen. And it always sounds crappy. Mono, non noise reduced optical track. It's noisy has very limited range and no bass.

Back to the point.
Indi's are usually shot on 35mm, now probably more are shot on RED cameras. Either way your looking at $30K+ of camera and a lot of support gear. Mini-Indi's were born in HD video, one could argue the case for DVX-100's really being the start. But are growing up with HDSLR cameras.

My guess is that it is THE growth area in filmmaking. And what is great is that these cameras force the filmmaker to work in the traditional way. Shorter takes, double system sound, etc. Their fantastic low light capabilities means you can save a fortune in lighting and the fact that they use high quality 35mm lenses and have about the same frame size as a 35mm film means that all the creativity with focus and framing that you didn't have with "video" cameras is at your disposal.

You can make an excellent film that CAN look really good on a big screen. Of course it takes more than a camera to make a great movie, but it's a start. And because of the quality of the shots other weak areas are more apparent. I've already seen a general improvement if films coming through. The weakness of video, for narrative films, was it's strength for doc's. It was dead easy to pick one up and "just shoot". You have to think about what your shooting and how much more with HDSLR cameras and making the director think before "action" is a good thing.

So long live the Mini-Indi.

And when Sundance makes it a category I want a check!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Nobody - and life... If it's a game, we won.

Nice title but what does it mean? Well NOBODY is the title of the new Doobie Brothers album and life is what it makes me think about. I should say right off the bat that I really like this album.

Why the Doobies and life well hard to say. They have been around a long time and the insights are just as fresh as they ever were. They are older and of course experience influences, but I'm older also and I like to think a bit wiser. May be not but at least more experienced. The one thing I have noticed is that there are people who lift you up and those that bring you down.

Warning politics!!! It's not a Red or Blue thing but GW was a bringer downer. It was all about paranoia and "us VS them". Whether you liked him or not it was not a philosophy that up lifted. You know the people, you have met them, worked for them, god forbid, been attached to them. They are just down, down, down. But lets face it if we really felt that down on life we wouldn't get up in the morning. There is the other side the "yes there are problems, how do we fix this?". I think it is what got Obama elected, it's basically what he campaigned on.

So how does this connect to an album by "rock stars" from the 80's? Well they are most certainly "lift you up" people and the album reflects this. It's not a ignore it and it will go away album its a "yes there are issues, but do what you can" philosophy. If you can look your self in the mirror and say you have done more good than bad your on the right side. I know that seems like a low bar, but really think about it. It's not really that low a bar. If you are a totally ethical always do "right" person your probably not that far over the bar. It's hard to not do bad to someone. All you can really do is what you think is right and what you believe in. Ironically this is a very old thought, "to thyn ownself be true", but how many live it every day? Probably nobody, but you can try. This is only my interpretation so I'm not speaking for anybody but myself but I have generally figured that if you can manage to stay on the positive your doing good.

I'm getting philosophical... With the economy what it is it's easy to get into the $$$ is all that counts. And certainly it's harder to get and getting a lot bigger part of everyones life. BUT if that is what you get up for every day, stay in bed. You HAVE to get up for more than money. I was told recently on finishing a project "now you can get a check". Well yes that is true and an important factor in keeping a roof over ones head BUT that is not the #1 reason I did the gig. If you are doing art just for the check your not doing art. I don't think everyone gets this.

So how does this get back to the Doobies?

Well they have plenty of green. So yes they get paid nicely for what they do but they don't do it for the $$$ They could probably make as much with a LOT less effort investing in those things you can only invest in with stacks of green. The point is that touring is hard work. You stay in nicer hotels if your a name but it IS A HARD living. So I appreciate that they are still putting out art and it's a lifting up art and I feel like going out and doing good!

Guess I'm just trying to win the game ;~)

Buy the album, you'll get the reference.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sounds on the WEB

I get asked a lot about where to get sound FX. There are a bunch of places on the web some are free like Free Sound and others are commercial like Sound Dogs.

I just discovered a really nice site Hiss And A Roar that is a little of both. These are the kinds of sounds most people who don't work on films with budgets never get to use. These are recorded by a pro for his use and he also is making them available to the public. This is the kind of foundation sounds that get used all the time to "layer up" tracks in the post world. And are the building blocks if your "designing" sounds for something. You won't find a few thousand cuts of vegetables being tortured in Sound Ideas libraries because folks would ask "why would I need that?". I on the other hand start looking for my check book. I have recorded a fair amount of vegetable violence but it's really messy so one usually limits the amount you do because of the amount of cleanup afterword. So it's great to be able to get it with out the mess. You won't find any "Dinosaur Roars" or "Car Crashes" or other silly stuff.

Right now he has four collections, Fireworks, Seal Vocals, whooshes, and vegetable mutilation. They are sold at higher sample rates and lower sample rates. The lower sample rates generally have fewer sounds. The prices range from $49 down to free. There is a also a $99 version of the Fireworks with multiple tracks and positions of the same sounds and at 196/24. But you can get a sampler of each collection that is free and it's at 44.1/16 not some wanky MP3 file. I downloaded all the free ones and will be upgrading as the budget allows.

Friday, August 13, 2010

UPS - Not for a shipper fo the rest of us

I had an interesting distraction today, and a greatly disappointing exchange with UPS.

A little app I use fairly often for shipping things and general mail functions sendIT abandoned UPS support. THe reason was UPS refused to let them include UPS. The "take down" letter from UPS

"UPS has reviewed your application and has made the decision not to provide you access to our tools at this time.

The UPS Developer Kit is designed primarily for end-user customers to utilize when creating their own customized UPS shipping solutions. As such, we do not allow the use of our technology in multi-carrier and/or rate-shopping applications.

UPS is very selective about the companies we authorize to use our technology, as we view them as an extension of our brand. Therefore, we screen applicants and seek to understand both their business model, and how UPS will be represented in their applications/platforms, as well as attempt to gauge the sustainability/customer support capabilities of the company in question.

Thank you again for your interest in the Program.


UPS Ready(r) Program Management"

Makes it pretty obvious they are not going to allow third party integration in shipping apps that supported more than one shipper.

I was a bit pissed so I wrote UPS and they politely said they support third party integration and I must have misunderstood.

I replied that they had quite clearly said that they did not want third party integration IF other shippers were also available in the same app.

They said "Where did we say that?".

I quoted the letter and they replied that just because sendIT didn't meet their requirements did not mean they didn't support integration and gave me a link to a site that had all their "approved" applications. For the Mac there was one app from some company. It only supports UPS (unless you make your own shipping app in Filemaker and use their UPS integration to add UPS support) and it's $20 - $40 PER month.

The "requirements" seem to be that you are a large company that can write your own software. Ironically I probably could write a FM app to do the shipping. But I BOUGHT an app so I wouldn't have to.


My point was that for a small business, at a minimum you are going regularly use the mail and probably at least one shipper.

I find it offensive that they don't want me "rate shopping" when you know damn well they "rate shop" on everything they buy.

Who does this hurt? Well it doesn't hurt the mega corps, they can make their own shipping app and "rate shop" all they want. It hurts the small business who is forced into online hell to use UPS, or pay a monthly service charge.

Their guy says "all the shippers do this", no I didn't ask the "just because everyone else was jumping off a bridge..." question.

But it has soured me on using UPS and that bums me out because I pretty much like the service. The tracking is better than USPS and the rates are better than FedEx. Plus FedEx also has a cumbersome and buggy (last I used anyway) web interface. The reason I bought sendIT in the first place is so I could have something that integrated with the address book and billing etc. And it works great.

But if you want to change the world you have to do what you can do. What I can do is not use UPS when I can use USPS instead.

If your bottom line isn't in seven digits then maybe you also might move a pebble and just say no to UPS.

I'm not an extremist. I will certainly use UPS again, but not if I can use USPS or ???

If enough pebbles get shifted you can change a mountain and who knows maybe UPS will decide that the small people are worth working with again.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Doobie, Doobie, Do

Just finished posting and mixing a short film that will be included with the new Doobie Brothers Album. Another really good film from Daron Ker (Water Buffalo Pictures). Now this is FUN. Even Monty (the sound dog) wanted to hangout and listen. And no, I'm not posting samples! Go buy the album.

Sometimes this gig is a grind and sometimes I have to laugh that I get to do this for a living ;~)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Boom Recorder is BACK!

In a world where your favorite tools get abandoned and you have to learn new ones, that often don't work as well, I am incredibly happy to discover that Boom Recorder is back, tanned, rested and ready for action.

Take Vos, the genius programmer behind BoomRecorder got persuaded to update and put it back on the market by the user base, and all those folks we kept recommending BR too.

It's been updated and works with Snow Leopard, so I can finally update my laptop!.

I'm not going to do a big review, there are plenty out there. Go to the site and get a copy.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Music VS Music and the Coen Brothers VS low budget films

[QUOTE]... what i don't get is No Country for Old Men. i thought that was an excellent movie, but i distinctly remember that it didn't have music in it. i thought the lack of music was one of its strong points (i.e. they CHOSE not have music in it). however, the wikipedia article states "Music By Carter Burwell", did i miss something in the movie?[/QUOTE]

No Country had no "score", it did have music, but it was all practical.

The other thing to remember is that the composed music is a balancing act with the "sound'. A good sound track plays almost like scored music. In a perfect world the composer and the sound supervisor and or designer would work closely with the director early on. Unfortunately that rarely happens. Low budget films often make the mistake of over scoring the film. An audience doesn't like to be beaten over the head every minute telling then how they should feel about every moment. And as a replacement for a decent sound track music generally sucks. The music only seq in a big film is pretty rare. Even the biggest "score moments" generally have a fair amount of "sound" to anchor the audience IN the story.

Which is why the sound folks and the composer ought to be working together. The two big questions are, "What does the audience WANT to hear now?", and "What does the audience NEED to hear now?". Some times it's score, some times it's the FX (I'm assuming they always want and need to hear the dialog), and sometimes it's both.

Lets take a big Knights in armor battle sequence.
Prep for the battle Knights getting on horses, sharpening swords etc. Probably all sound. WE need and want to be involved in this prep.
THey ride out. Probably more of the same but music may start to creep in.

We see the massed army at a distance moving toward battle. Perfect score moment. We can't hear them anyway and we want to get geared up for the battle.

The armies approach each other. Generally a big score moment that builds (and has sound start to come in more) till. THe battle explodes. At this point a lot of films will cheap out and put heavy score over big parts of the battle. This is almost always a mistake. It pulls the audience out of the world on the screen and we WANT to hear and be apart of the action. So as long as the camera is in the thick of it I think it should be all or at least 90% FX. If you pull out to a god view then you going back in to score land.

Aftermath. Often effective to start with just the quiet aftermath sounds but the right score can also work really well here.

Low budget films will usually slather music over the whole thing and often music that wasn't composed specifically for that scene so the beats aren't even on the money. They do it because even a picture editor can drop in some music the director has found but it takes a sound editor and a library and a bunch of Foley and time to really cover the battle. But it's not nearly as effective and often outright distracting to just slather music on.

As always just my 2¢

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Canon T2i fun And a new hosting site

My wife got one to try out and it's been fun to play with. Not exactly a sound post but this is what a LOT of low (and not so low) budget films are going to get shot on. Probably more likely he 7D but it's basically the same camera functionally. Anyway there is a lot of debate about camera presets for film and being a bit OCD I found a bunch on line and have them sitting on the computer. I'll thin the herd a bit and put up a link to the ones I think are useful/interesting.
And the other big news is that we moved to Bluehost for the website. Netfirms was OK but you couldn't pay for anything more than a year out and the email would go down periodically. We were going to switch last year and I didn't do it soon enough so we had to renew. The last year has been pretty stable but then I got the renew notice and the email went out for a couple of hours. Talk about bad timing (for them) so I bit the bullet and moved the site and the email etc. I have to say it went pretty smooth. We only had email down for about two hours in the switch and the site was down for maybe 15 min. THe only catch so far is that I upgraded my reels site and had it all snazzy and that didn't survive the switch. There is a file that has to be in just the right place and I haven't found the place yet. But that's pretty small since I'm sure it will get working once I spend some time finding what I did wrong. And BH lets you have lot's O' domains. You could sort of cheat with Netfirms but it wasn't smooth and we are planning a big reorganization of the site so independent sites were starting to get important.
The next step after getting the reels site fixed is to upload the latest version of MY site (the sound one) to it's new happy home and then switch the main site to ASKinc Studios. That's what it says now but it's really my sound site and we are planning to diversify and so the sound site will link off the main site but there will also be other enterprises that link off the main site.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Craigs list and Flagging

This is only tangentially related to sound...

Craig's list is a decent resource for the low/ no budget category films. BUT there is a group that flags everything that is non paying. Now first off "Gig" does not nec. mean it's a "Paying gig" so chill out. Some of these are scam artists but a lot of them just don't have any money. Now I see the indignation 'we should be paid". But in fact a real credit for some one with none IS a payment.

So two things.
For the posters, include some contact info in the "body" of the post so that news reader folks can contact you, even IF your post is flagged.

For you flaggers, Gig does NOT nec. mean paying. This is why you do hear things like "unpaid gig", and "paid gig". So get over it. We are all adults and can decide for our selves if we want to work for no money.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cheating your audience, and why a lot indi's fail the rump test

I was asked the other day about Formulas for Dialog EQ, to make it sound professional.

There are no "formulas" for dialog EQ.  As a general rule there isn't much EQ on dialog other than rolling off areas you don't use, generally the high end and probably everything below 120 or so.  It depends a bit on what your delivering for, some formats can't handle bass (16 mm for instance).  Dialog is usually compressed a bit but much of that is done manually with fader moves.  The whole goal of the dialog edit is to get as clean a track as possible (you asked about the "Hollywood" sound) so everything but actual dialog will be cleaned out.  If it's an FX that might be of use in the mix it's put on PFX (production FX) tracks.  Room tone is used to fill the wholes made by all the cleaning.  Old school those tracks get sent to the mix where the mixer does any processing (EQ, compression etc).  New school the Dialog editors may be doing some of the processing.  It really depends on the post workflow and who is mixing and supervising.  The mixers will also use reverb etc to place the dialog in the space if it doesn't fit naturally (sometimes the set doesn't sound anything like what the camera sees) and to get the ADR to blend with the production sound.  Serious noise reduction and dialog surgery is more and more done in editorial because the tools have gotten cheap enough and time in editorial is cheaper than in the mix.

BUT that is only a small part of the "Hollywood" sound, though it certainly helps.  In the ideal post everything you hear in a big film has been thought out and put there for a reason.  Other than indi directors/ producers generally not thinking about sound past intelligibility they also tend to be not into "sound".  They generally have an aversion to anything that deviates from the picture edit.  They often essentially want you to clean up what the picture editor has done.  So even when there are the skills to do a better job a lot of times it is hamstrung by a director who is married to the track they have been hearing for months in the picture edit.  Sometimes it's because they spent a bunch of time "fixing" (working around" a problem that they should have left for sound to do.  Now they are so invested in the "fix" that they can't live with out it.  And sometime they are just super conservative in a strange way.  With most "big time" directors, well the few I have worked with and the many that friends have worked with, if you have some little subtle complexity going on in the track.  Say some TV or crying baby bleeding through the wall from the apartment next door.  Not loud or in the way but just something that shows we are in a real apartment and not a set.  They will be happy and in fact would probably be pissed that nobody had thought to fill in the environment if you didn't do it.  A lot of indi directors will go "there was no baby on the set, it's the city, it's silent".  I actually had a director give me the "silent city" thing because I had put some traffic out the window of this downtown apt.  I live on the outskirts of San Francisco so I asked him to follow me out side for a minute.  I'm about ? 4-5 miles from the heart of Downtown and the traffic was very clear.  I usually try to point out that it is THEIR film and what ever they want I'll try to do but they should do it for a reason because the "that's what it sounds like" is A almost always wrong (most peoples perception of what things sound like is very far off) and B, it's the weakest reason to do something in a film (that is not a doc.).  A film is not a "real" place.  Everything is designed and if it isn't then your failing your audience (unless you doing some Dogma style thing).  A film makes a pact with the audience.  You promise that if they will suspend their disbelief you will take them to a world where your film lives and take them on a journey.  They have put their trust in you to look out for their interests.  It might be a scary world or a warm and fuzzy world but it needs to have an internal logic and you MUST honor the rules of this world.  If you cheat or short change the audience they will feel betrayed and not be happy they saw your film.  This is not a Disney argument.  You can scare the crap out of them, fool them amaze them make them feel good or make them terribly sad.  What you can't do is make them sad and then laugh at them.  You can trick them but you can't cheat them.

Of course expectations also play into things.  If I go to a no budget screening my expectations are totally different from going to a big budget film.  If this were not the case everyone would hate most indi's.  So you can get away with a lot but you still can't cheat.  And most low budget films cheat their audience in terms of sound.

*** “The Rump test” was a term my mother used for when the audience starts squirming in their seats, a sure sign you have lost them and they know they are back in the theatre and have been sitting too long.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Sound Dogs - not the online site

Well I was looking at past entries and in mentioning the passing of my long time partner I failed to mention a new partner. He's just learning and he only had a year and a half apprenticing to the old master but he's coming along. He's kind of busy digging holes and looking for gofers at the moment...

But he does make some interesting sounds and he does have his quieter moments. He also makes one go out for walks and he wants REAL walks not the leisurely strolls that Bently could manage the last few years.

Anyway thought I would include him since I don't want him to feel neglected ;~) and he stepped up to the plate and took up residence under my desk. I think he felt he needed to "assume the duties". We'll see how much sound I get to squeeze out of him but for now he warms the feet. I guess the point is for the two people (counting me) that actually read this blog, having something that gets you out of the studio and into the open is a good thing. So go get something that does that. I like dogs and cats but a hobby might work?

Oh and his name is Monty.

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!

Doesn't Hollywood just ADR everything?

It's an assumption based on?
Hollywood probably on average does (well uses) less dubbing that low budget indi's do. A lot of the legends of Hollywood ADR are what was recorded, not what was used. Titanic, a film I know, recorded around 95% ADR, but used less that 40% maybe as low as 20%. And the reason we used that much was because FOX was building a studio around the ship so there was a LOT of construction sounds in that "big ocean". Many films end up using just a line or two. Hollywood as a rule HATES ADR. Italian films of a certain age were entirely ADR'd. Though that is a bit of a misnomer since many of those films were shooting a story and the actual words came during the edit so it was not actually ADR it was "original post dialog".

They can get away with it because almost all of their market is non Italian speaking so it is going to be dubbed anyway for almost all the viewers. And dubbing is not the same as ADR, especially done the way the europeans do it.

The point is you the low budget filmmaker should stay as far away from ADR as possible. So get a production sound person who has done it before and knows which end of the mic needs to point at your actors. LISTEN to the sound when you shoot. REDO takes that get drowned out by planes and traffic etc.

The long awaited follow up to 5D VS FCP

OK a follow up on my original post on the FCP bug (feature) that is causing problems for so many working with the Cannon 5D mrk II.

Last time I mentioned Sebsky tools
well here is the work flow.

1. Export as .WAV (yes .WAV)

2. Open Sebsky Tools (click to downloadhere)

3. Choose bwf2QT under tools. Check your settings, esp. that Timecode standard is set to 24fps.

4. Convert.

5. Give to FCP Editor.

(this is copied from a post on the DUC, thanks!)

Incase the above link doesn’t work I have also archived this important tool on my site. (click to download here)

BUT, it doesn't always work. I did four shorts with the D5 mrkII and two we re did with a special Quick setup in FCP that works perfectly, one the sebsky tools fixed and the first one which was finished before we found out there was an issue sebsky tools didn't solve and we had to do all the laybacks in ProTools. Others have had 100% luck with Sebsky tools so the failure may have been do to operator error but?

I’ve played around a bunch with this issue and it's tricky. FCP is restamping your files with the wrong sample rate in the mistaken assumption that you have been working at video speed and your files need to be pulled up to match the film speed that FCP is running at. The normal "fix" for this kind of thing is to pull down your files so when they get pulled up your in sync again. BUT Apple will "fix" you sample rate and THEN pull them up so the only hope is to fool FCP into thinking that you are already at film speed and the only way to do that is to fool FCP into thinking that you are sending it a film speed video clip. That is what wrapping it in a .mov file does.

It is also reported and confirmed by a few that FCP no longer permanently stamps your files (this was the case with early versions of FCP6) so that is good news.

The bad news is that this issue is still alive and well in FCP7.
Possible good news is that Cannon has seen the silliness of 30.0 as a frame rate and will “soon” be sending out a firmware update for the D5 Mrk II that will give it (supposedly) the same frame rates as the D7, ie standard film and NTSC and PAL frame rates.

The best workaround for the Cannon is to convert the footage to 29.97 before you edit. Or shoot in a non x.0 frame rate.
But The next best or first best depending... is to use the right quick setup in FCP.
I have linked to one that has been created specifically for working with the D5. When starting off with this quick Setup we had zero problems in post.

(to download click on this LINK)

Also there is an implication (not tested by me) that now that FCP no longer permanently stamps your files it might be possible to correct your settings in FCP and reimport and have it work. This would be GREAT if it works because it would be an after the fact fix. It didn’t work when we originally tried this but there may have been some operator error on the editors part.

Below is a quote from the DUC thread on this that implies you can post fix the FCP session and get the import to work, at least for PAL VS NTSC. And that should mean between any X.0 frame rates and non x.) frame rates but?

“Yes you are correct... FCP treats ANY integer Frame Rate this way, this includes 30 fps and PAL 25fps sequences as well... and of course, it works the other way as well - If you're capture settings are PAL and your sequence is 29.97 then it will pull up to try and match. Oh and according to Apple, this really isn't a bug, it's a feature! Seriously... according to the Apple folks I've talked to - this is the way they think it's supposed to work.”

<< updated to correct my referring to the 5D as the D5 - thanks Alex I'm sure I would remember if I actually owned one... Canon are you listening? >>

<< updated to fix links broken in my website move>>

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Inglorious Bastards - follow up

A lot of folks for some reason really love this film. I'm not sure why? I didn't hate it but I'm a bit disturbed about the reconstructed history. Narrative films are often a bit slack with historical accuracy but I think this goes a bit far. From an artistic point I started wondering if this was based on a "real" story (before it was obvious that it wasn't), there were a number of attempts on Hitler's life so that isn't totally out of left field. But it took me right out of the film. And then when it's obvious I was really out of the film. So as a technique it failed for me. I felt like I had had a prank played on me and it wasn't a fun prank. A fair amount of gratuitous violence but it is Tarantino after all so one has to expect that. Christoph Waltz was great and will probably get an Oscar, but I didn't "get" the film.

AND the sound was a frame or two out of sync for the first reel? I have to assume it was intentional since the print would have to have been made that way. The screening was at Dolby so it's not likely that the sound system was out of whack so ????? It could have been a bad print but with the other shenanigans in the film it seems like it might have been a choice. But a quick Google search shows nothing so maybe it was a bad print.?.


Scary what you can find on the Web

I stumbled on this link that has a series of spots I worked on.

You just never know what will end up where. It's cool that they are there and that the site actually got our names correct! I'm just glad it's something that is good. There are those "other" projects you hope no one ever sees... But I'm sure some of those are out there also.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Just saw Inglorious Bastards

Hmmmm It was interesting but... Not sure if it was suposet to be a joke? Some good performances, but I'm not sure about the rewriting of history.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, January 11, 2010

Screenings and Oscars

OK it's Oscar season so we have been going to a bunch of screenings. What's hot? I don't know, what I thought though is as follows.

Julie and Julia, HIGHLY recommended, but plan on getting something to eat afterward. It WILL make you hungry. Does anyone get an Oscar? Well maybe Streep, Tucci is great but it's Meryl's film. Don't get me wrong I could watch Amy Adams for days, and she is great but this is Julia's film. Avatar. I've seen it in 2D and 3D, I think the 2D is better. They pushed the 3D and I noticed a few problems with 3D. First your eyes get tired. Not sure why but more people than me commented on it. For some reason I don't think you blink as often as you should? Also in the "real" 3D world we are used to selective focus. If it's close and of interest we will focus on it. Avatar puts some things WAY out in the audience and you WANT to focus on them but you can't. A camera has a fixed depth of field, so that selective focus gets into trouble trying to focus on things it can't. When that is fixed, WATCH out, 3D will be great.
3D VS 2D aside AVATAR is like the first time you saw Jurassic Park. If the actors get even seriously considered for actor nominations it's a paradigm changer. Either way it's a great time at the movies.
Precious. Hard film. Mo'Nique is VERY impressive and Gabourey Sidibe is not likely to get any noms but should. Really strong performances.
A Single Man. WOW. See it.
A Serious Man. If you love the Coen Bros. then go for it, f not it might not be your cup of tea. I liked it.
It's Complicated. I fell out laughing more than once. Oscars??? Maybe, but it's a comedy. Go see it you'll have a good time. Screw the awards, go for the fun.
This Is It. I was prepared to ne so so on it. It was GREAT. What a fantastic performer and artist. More than one person said how they felt betrayed by the media for painting such a negative picture of such a great artist. I have to agree. See it.
Public Enemies. I saw it because of the bad press on the sound track. I was ready to trash it but... I though the film was OK and the FX mix was pretty good and the FX edit was very good (most of the time). The dialog mix sucked, but I'm not pointing fingers. To many people have a say and it sounds like from anonymous sources that a LOT of it had to do with Michael Mann micromanaging the mix.
Up in the Air. It was good, but not up to what I expected, So I think it probably has a lot to do with what you though coming in. It was a "good" film so I would be happy to pay for it but my socks were still on at the end and I though the would be blown off.
Coroline. REALLY good, even in 3D.
UP. Everyone I know cried at some point in this film, and laughed. Can you ask for much more? It is a very "adult" animated film that kids also like.
2012. This was a comedy, right? Woody H. is very good, but my god they have an aircraft carrier three times the size of Washington DC, we were supposed to be laughing at that RIGHT????? As a parody it was fun, but I don't think it was supposed to be a parody.
The Informant. Very good. I liked it a lot, but Oscar wise it falls by the wayside.
Crazy Heart. Really GOOD and Jeff is fantastic. GO SEE IT.

Sherlock Holmes. You've seen it? NO. drop what your doing and go. It's fun and entertaining and you will forget that you retirement is in the crapper for a few hours.

It's late and there are a few more but that is most of what I've seen. Go to the movies, there is some good stuff to see.