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.