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Music on the set of "We Bought A Zoo"


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25 replies to this topic

#1
Jeff Wexler

Jeff Wexler
  • LocationSanta Monica, CA USA
MTV has supplied a clip which Cameron has put up on his website about music and its use on the set of We Bought A Zoo. Actors Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church and Matt Damon all chime in with their thoughts.

You can watch and listen HERE

Nice shot of Don Coufal booming Matt Damon; Zephyx windscreen with Schoeps MK-41.

Attached File  zoo_zephyx.jpg   193.38KB   37 downloads
Jeff Wexler, CAS
Santa Monica, California
 
"I don't care if you've got ninety tracks... what does it sound like, baby"
- Ray Charles

#2
Richard Lightstone, CAS

Richard Lightstone, CAS
  • LocationLos Angeles
I see Don's arms but he now has an Arriflex for a face?

#3
MatthewFreedAudio

MatthewFreedAudio
For what it's worth, there seems to be a grip in the background with a Zephyx wind screen for a face. Or the windscreen grew a body.

www.matthewfreed.com
Production Sound Mixing for TV, Films, and Commercials
www.matthewfreed.com
Production Sound Mixing for Television, Films, and Commercials

#4
Eric Toline

Eric Toline
  • LocationCoral Springs Florida
If he plays music while shooting with dialog how do eliminate it in post?

Eric
"I push the Record button and hope for the best"

#5
Jeff Wexler

Jeff Wexler
  • LocationSanta Monica, CA USA
We are very careful with the music, playing only in the spaces when words are not being spoken. This has worked most of the time (we've done this on all of the 5 movies I have done with Cameron) and it is very seldom that dialog has been hit by any of the music. It does create quite a lot of work for sound editor since all the the spaces or "air" is often filled with music and needs to be replaced with ambience at the very least. Cameron has been very good about doing some takes without any music so that we can record real world effects, ambiences and so forth. Cameron would much rather, in some scenes without any dialog, to play music throughout and continuously... in these situations he usually gets his way, and I have to say that his way is the right way, the power of music on the set is amazing.
Jeff Wexler, CAS
Santa Monica, California
 
"I don't care if you've got ninety tracks... what does it sound like, baby"
- Ray Charles

#6
Philip Perkins

Philip Perkins
It looked like CC had his own laptop for playback--does he route the music to you, do you run the PA system--does he roll and cut that music during scenes? Is that aspect rehearsed too or do you guys just have at?

phil p

#7
old school

old school
  • LocationSo Cal

I see Don's arms but he now has an Arriflex for a face?

One call does it all. Call Don. He has never directed or filmed a whole movie. But he could.;~)
CrewC
So beautiful or so what.

#8
Bob Marts

Bob Marts
Interesting little video clip.
When I worked on the Twin Peaks pilot, David Lynch would have a custom headphone mix on some scenes that was a mix of the live production dialog we were recording and playback music of Angelo Badalamenti's themes for the show which he had already composed. He recorded the music on a Rhodes piano and we mixed it in to David's headphone monitor from a Walkman cassette player as we rolled.
Robert Marts, CAS
Production Sound Mixer
Seattle

#9
Jaymz

Jaymz
  • LocationOrlando, FL

For what it's worth, there seems to be a grip in the background with a Zephyx wind screen for a face. Or the windscreen grew a body.


I see Don's arms but he now has an Arriflex for a face?


no no no, what is clearly going on is that lady with the hat has a very small head and is booming the scene.

James Nolan - Location Sound Recordist

IMDB


#10
Jeff Wexler

Jeff Wexler
  • LocationSanta Monica, CA USA

It looked like CC had his own laptop for playback--does he route the music to you, do you run the PA system--does he roll and cut that music during scenes? Is that aspect rehearsed too or do you guys just have at?
phil p

Cameron does have his own laptop which he has loaded with all the music associated with the movie we are doing. This is music that he has been assembling for months, even years before while writing the script. The playlist, which is huge, gets fine tuned, again by Cameron, based on the final script, the actors who are cast, and the results during pre-production rehearsal time. I will add that some of this music is even used during tech scouts for the DP and crew before we even start shooting. While on the set, there is one person who Cameron chooses to preside over putting the music selections together for the scene we are doing, and then usually does the playback based on Cameron's direction (what to play, when to play it, when NOT to play music, etc.). At times, Cameron will play these selections himself. In the video, Cameron is going through his playlist and probably just playing around during a rehearsal.

The mention of a custom mix that David Lynch uses would certainly help with the issue of dialog possibly getting hit (and the spaces definitely having to be replaced with suitable fx and ambiences) but it wouldn't work for Cameron's use of music. David Lynch, as the director, wants to know how a piece of music will work in the movie when it is mixed --- Cameron, as the director, wants the piece of music to direct the scene, the actors (and, additionally, begin to think about the music that will be in the finished movie). We have talked about using silent IEMs all around, Cameron, the actors, etc., but we have never gone that route, preferring to play music through speakers on the set.
Jeff Wexler, CAS
Santa Monica, California
 
"I don't care if you've got ninety tracks... what does it sound like, baby"
- Ray Charles

#11
Wyatt Tuzo

Wyatt Tuzo
  • LocationNYC
Funny timing for this post, Jeff. On the 30th, I'm going to be starting on a feature where the director has requested playback of music during almost all dialog scenes. Beyond that, he wants the playback on one track of the dailies. What has been decided over the course of pre-pro is that we will be setting up an ipad playback system feeding (up to) 5 earwigs. It's going to be a lot to juggle on top of normal production duties, but we're up for the challenge of it.
One thing that I've been a little worried about is the possibility of the actors missing their cues over the music. In one of my moments of over-thinking things, I considered building a small opto-ducker box that would attenuate the music to the earwigs when any lines are being read. I don't know though... that could be more distracting than just letting it play straight and low.

If anyone else has further experience with this type of arrangement, please share!

Best,
Wyatt

#12
studiomprd

studiomprd
  • LocationHollywood CA
" It's going to be a lot to juggle on top of normal production duties, "
gigs like this require a (separate!) playback person on the sound crew.
SENATOR Mike Michaels, c.a.s.
Studio M Productions

#13
Wyatt Tuzo

Wyatt Tuzo
  • LocationNYC

" It's going to be a lot to juggle on top of normal production duties, "
gigs like this require a (separate!) playback person on the sound crew.

Yes, they do. I'll pretend that "(separate!)" isn't some sort of passive-aggressive attempt to "set me straight". I am fully aware of both our limitations and IA outlines, thank you.

#14
Philip Perkins

Philip Perkins
On the MC Hammer "musical" film "Please Don't Hurt 'Em" the director and the star were of the Cameron school--they didn't want earwigs (and hated the sound of them) that were small enough to be invisible to camera, so they left it up to me to float music in and out of scenes wherever I could. After the first few days it worked out pretty well. We didn't have instant cueing then--all playbacks were from a 2nd Nagra, but we would definitely try out different songs from the movie (all on 1/4" timecoded tape) and see what suited their mood. We did a lot of scenes where the playback was coming and going during dialog, which then might lead to a full up dance routine then back into dialog etc.. Hairy but fun once I got the hang of it. Low budg, so it was just the Honorable Gary Dowling and myself in the sound dept. for most of the shoot.

phil p

#15
Richard Lightstone, CAS

Richard Lightstone, CAS
  • LocationLos Angeles
Wyatt,
Since you are feeding the music via earwigs to the actors, I don't think you should be concerned about ducking the music cues at all.
First it might be more distracting to the actors to have the music suddenly disappear from their earwigs. They might believe there is a technical problem with them and the next thing you know, you will have to have it playing over loudspeakers!

Using the earwigs themselves have their own set of issues, mainly the level that will be comfortable for each actor.

I've done a lot of shows with earwigs; both playback and cueing actors. I did two shows with Marlon Brando who used them for both line cues and prop cues. Michael Gambon (who is almost totally deaf) uses them as well and of course Johnny Depp, picked up their use after working with Marlon, on "Don Juan De Marco".

One day I'll write about that

#16
orionflood

orionflood
Can someone post a pic of an earwig...I frankly have no clue what one is supposed to look like.

#17
Richard Lightstone, CAS

Richard Lightstone, CAS
  • LocationLos Angeles
Attached File  invisity_1_Redone.jpg   25.85KB   0 downloads

"Earwigs" is just a nickname. The correct name is IEM, or In Ear Monitor.
In their early development they were retrofitted hearing aids that worked via an induction loop.
The first film they were used on was "At Long Last Love"(1975), Peter Bogdanovich's musical. He wanted the actors to sing live to the tracks. The Production Mixer was Barry Thomas. The film flopped.

Comtek developed their own brand that also worked with induction loops or a comtek receiver with a neck loop worn by each actor.

The current popular favorite is the Phonak Invisity that will work wirelessly with the Comtek BST or 216 transmitters.
Here is an interesting article on Art Rochester's use of the Invisity system.
http://www.phonak-co...n-ear-receiver/

#18
Jeff Wexler

Jeff Wexler
  • LocationSanta Monica, CA USA
The Phonaks are not as big as they look in Richard's picture.
Jeff Wexler, CAS
Santa Monica, California
 
"I don't care if you've got ninety tracks... what does it sound like, baby"
- Ray Charles

#19
Richard Lightstone, CAS

Richard Lightstone, CAS
  • LocationLos Angeles
Jeff is right. Here is a better representation of the real size of the Phonak Invisity IEM

Attached File  In ear.jpg   14.66KB   7 downloads

#20
Wyatt Tuzo

Wyatt Tuzo
  • LocationNYC

The Phonaks are not as big as they look in Richard's picture.

Hehehehe

I don't miss the days of the induction loop. Although, the Phonak models aren't without their issues. I've used them quite a bit over the years, but would almost NEVER feel safe without a backup. Sometimes they just don't want to work... then 20 min later, all is fine.

I actually did know about the Depp thing, but not Brando. Every time I've used earwigs in the past, its been for either live recording to playback or line cueing. This mood music thing is going to be new and interesting for our crew. There is mention of cam ops and dolly grips getting comtek feeds of the music as well. I'm really looking forward to this gig.

And yeah, I agree about the ducking... too distracting. I just had one of those fleeting "Oooh! wouldn't it be cool if I did this!" moments.
Head down, forging on

#21
Jim Feeley

Jim Feeley

Cameron, as the director, wants the piece of music to direct the scene, the actors (and, additionally, begin to think about the music that will be in the finished movie).


Thanks for these comments and insight Jeff. Reminds me of this quote:

A film is - or should be - more like music than like fiction.
It should be a progression of moods and feelings.
The theme, what's behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later.
-Stanley Kubrick
Jim Feeley
Northern California

#22
Reid

Reid
  • LocationMaryland
Thanks Jim for the quote. It is one of the reasons I love sound. Often I find my self buried in the cans and away from the words. Above my pay grade but makes for some of my best days.
"A younger dad would be way more fun than you are!!"

#23
Izen Ears

Izen Ears
  • LocationNew Orleans, LA
Man, playing music through the cans (both PL and public) is one of the top 3 things I love about my job (the other two are "sound" and "a living"). On some of the more stressful or tense gigs it can be complete mood-saver, I'll put on some Gladys Knight "Queen of Tears" and start dancing, then sit down and nail those mixes!
This level of vision that your director has Jeff W is just so rare and fantastic. What a cool thing it is to be part of that type of machine. I've only had one movie (that just came out on DVD after 5 years whoo!) where the director wanted music on speakers on set, he had the dolly grip play awesome soul music throughout lighting setups. It was my first project in Louisiana and me and my Yankee boom thought it was SO COOL, we just couldn't help but be groovin. (Strangely I'm working with that same nice dolly grip on my current movie, but no soul music...)
Music stimulates its own part of the brain, therefore there is truly no substitute! People without avid music taste/listening baffle me.
Dan

#24
chris_bollard

chris_bollard
  • LocationSydney, Australia
Hey Wyatt. With you on the mystery of IEM not working, then suddenly working, or vice verse. I would get the assist to test the location, first for RF range and issues, then walk it again with the ear piece. I would then nervously wait for the on camera talent to arrive on set fresh from wardrobe and makeup, fit the ear piece and HOPEFULLY it worked. More stress than the rest of the large and complex setup. There has to be a simpler way!
Chris Bollard
Location Sound Recordist
email: chris_bollard@optusnet.com.au
tel: 0419 403 596

#25
Philip Perkins

Philip Perkins

Hey Wyatt. With you on the mystery of IEM not working, then suddenly working, or vice verse. I would get the assist to test the location, first for RF range and issues, then walk it again with the ear piece. I would then nervously wait for the on camera talent to arrive on set fresh from wardrobe and makeup, fit the ear piece and HOPEFULLY it worked. More stress than the rest of the large and complex setup. There has to be a simpler way!


We found the old-fashioned room-or-neck loop induction receivers were more reliable and had fewer RF issues than the Invisity types. YMMV.

phil p

#26
pverrando

pverrando
In his book, Edward Bernds speaks of routinely having on set a quartet, or at least a piano player, to provide music. He says this started in silent films but existed well into the early talkies. Not only to set the mood for actors, but to provide background music for everyone during setups.

During "Any Given Sunday," (at least while shooting in Dallas), Oliver Stone had us play the theme from "Jaws," mixed with crowd sfx, at ear-splitting levels, just before rolling on the field scenes in Texas Stadium.

During filming of "JFK" in New Orleans, production would occasionally hire small jazz groups to play during lunch, which I thought was pretty thoughtful.

pverrando


http://www.txsound.com




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