mojofunkster

Sound report importance

30 posts in this topic

First off, I want to say that I searched before I posted and I couldn't find anything.

Anyway, what is the importance of having a sound report, what information should be on the sound report, and could someone upload one of theirs so I can have something to go off of?

Thanks in advance,

SW

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Some of the "Usual Suspects" (professional sound dealers) have forms available on their sites. 

The importance, and/or need, for a sound report depends greatly upon the gigs that you do and how they're approached by the entire production and post production teams.

 

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The importance is in remembering that it is both professional and courteous to make it as easy as possible for the people you are handing your tracks off to to understand what you did.  The report, file or paper, gathers all the info about the sound aspects of the shoot, from simple things like the date and the name of the producer to what is in which track as the battle progresses and you the soundie adapt to what's being thrown at you.  Small things like TC frame rate, location, mic choice etc are often much appreciated in post as well.   ALL the people downstream from you: DIT, ass't editor who is syncing sound, ass't editor who is setting up the session on the NLE, transcriber for the dialog if the job was a doc, the editor, and the rerecording mixer all refer to those reports to help them get into what otherwise is really just a pile 'o files with similar names.   I strongly recommend doing reports for every job--it is often the crazier OMB doco etc gigs that need the reports the most to act as a roadmap for post, and they are a place where I can enter info that I might not have had time to enter into the recorder metadata while rolling.  I think the "secretarial" aspects of being a soundie are really just as important as getting good sounding tracks, since those great tracks won't be used if the posties can't find them or don't know they are there.

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FWIW, my usual is an electronic sound report included along with the files and a more detailed custom paper version if I think the production will benefit from it.  I seldom carry a clipboard if I'm run-n-gun, though.  For narrative gigs, I like also having a paper version, but a talk with post is valuable in determining information-flow as well as work-flow. 

 

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You can download the free "wave agent" program that Sound Devices offer. This creates sound reports and you can have a look at all the options and fields available.

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I always generate an electronic report.  My Nomad creates one very quickly.

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You are passing on audio files to some poor soul sitting in a dark room

Tell them if a take is good NVG or NG

Put notes on each takes about any problems

Clearly define atmos and fx tracks (which scene)

Any voice over define who it is

On the log define your recording standards and time-code rate

If you email me direct Ill send you some sample logs

 

mike

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I have been that poor soul in the dark room looking for missing takes before, and lemme tell you, often the Sound Reports are more thorough (and more accurate) than the Camera Reports. Cam Reports in particular have kind of faded away these days, particularly on low-budget, indie, and reality show shoots. On a union shoot, the DIT generally puts together some kind of report with the camera files, but often post is just completely flying blind. 

One highly important thing post people need is a way to locate wild tracks, wild lines, ambience, and all that other stuff in addition to the normal synced dialogue takes. I have seen cases where literally six months after production wraps, the assistant editor is still looking for some wild lines that somehow got thrown in the wrong folder along the way. If they at least have a timecode number and a sound slate at the head, post has a fighting chance of finding it. So my advice is do both an audible slate and a written log (or a PDF or CSV or whatever) with the sound files. I also like the old tradition of 2 beeps at the end of each take to indicate a cut, from the Nagra days.

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I do the Nomad sound report, but also put as much data into the filename and metadata as I can. On doc stuff, beyond creating a dated folder, usually I have latitude on filenames, so I'll call them WILD-JESSE_T01, or OFFICE, whatever. Boom tracks are BOOM1-MKH50 in the metadata. Lavs are MIA-ZAX-COS11.

I've never heard whether anybody has noticed this, but I've also never heard that my files are missing, so. .no news is good news? 

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If i'm doing a narrative, I always give a report.  If I'm doing a documentary / run and gun kind of shoot, I RARELY give a report as it's just too chaotic throughout the day as a one man band.  That being said, I still try to label all my tracks and make sure that the track files are named properly so that at a glance, someone could find what they needed (for example, if we interviewed Steve Smith, SMITH_INT_T01 etc etc)

I use Sound Device's Wave Agent for all my sound reports as it makes it easy to add/delete information and then spits it out into a PDF to be sent off to post and whoever else wants it.

I also back up all the files onto my home server and keep them for a year just in case I get that "Hey, we can't find xyz file" email or call six months later.  It doesn't happen often, but it's nice to have the original files so that I can quickly scan through them and find whatever might be "missing" (aka usually carelessly kept by production) and tell them where the wild line they can't find is OR worse case scenario, send them a whole file that they can't seem to find.  Like I said, a strong majority of productions never contact me for this kind of thing BUT it does happen from time to time and the fact that I have everything accessible is great because it prevents the blame-game from ever happening (even though it's usually their fault...).

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My post-audio work is mostly long-form docs, often shot + cut over many years.  I cannot over-stress how great it would be to have some roadmaps of the production sound to help me find the bits and pieces I need.  Sit down interviews are one thing, but when the shoot goes verite then it really is helpful to have some idea where the recording was done, who is on what track and what the action was.  So often we end up giving up on trying to find some shard o' sound, or just using camera mic audio because it is impossible to navigate back into the pile o' files at that point to find the pristine iso track I think might have been recorded.  At this point that beautifully recorded iso or wild track might as well not have been recorded, because I can't find it in the span of time I think I can allot to doing so.  So, yes, the PSM's energy and attention should be very focused getting great sound amid the chaos, but the reports really are part of the job, even at the sacrifice of some attention paid to another aspect of the job.  There are always mitigating circumstances, but please try get some kind of report done.

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On August 1, 2016 at 11:01 AM, Philip Perkins said:

 I think the "secretarial" aspects of being a soundie are really just as important as getting good sounding tracks, since those great tracks won't be used if the posties can't find them or don't know they are there.

I agree with this whole-heartedly. I've been the guy in a dark room many times and some sort of sound report is insanely valuable. I always try to give as detailed a sound report as possible, even when OMB'ing, and it has been noticed and appreciated several times by producers. 

-Mike

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22 hours ago, Marc Wielage said:

One highly important thing post people need is a way to locate wild tracks, wild lines, ambience, and all that other stuff in addition to the normal synced dialogue takes. I have seen cases where literally six months after production wraps, the assistant editor is still looking for some wild lines that somehow got thrown in the wrong folder along the way. If they at least have a timecode number and a sound slate at the head, post has a fighting chance of finding it. So my advice is do both an audible slate and a written log (or a PDF or CSV or whatever) with the sound files. I also like the old tradition of 2 beeps at the end of each take to indicate a cut, from the Nagra days.

Thanks for highlighting the most important thing to note is the non-dialogue stuff which won't get automatically synced. Good point that I'll keep in mind for future, even if it is hard to do any kind of report as a OMB on indie shoots. 

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  I design my own sound reports.  It's nice because you can put in your sound team and director without having to write them every time.  I also list all mics used for all tracks, and my contact info.

  The sad thing is the notes are pretty much just for myself.  The posties on my show (NCIS: NO) don't look at them.  They don't have time, and by then the info is not needed.  It's sad because I put a lot of energy into them.  Editors have told on several previous shows that my notes were far more accurante than camera's or scripty's!

  What I do now when there is a very specific sound problem, is send an email directly to the post supe and the sound supe.  I do sometimes have to refer to the notes to write those emails tho!

  Dan Izen

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I appreciate the custom designed note sheet, and used to have those myself, my own design.  Now I find that the notes have to go with the files as files themselves--there is no one to give paper notes to and no media to attach them to.  Too bad, I liked having my own design, and in many ways paper notes are faster.  But the whole way we deliver files usually makes file-based notes work better for me (are avail to the editor right away, in the folder with the relevant audio files). 

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Like many I use the on board meta data in my Catar x3 or SD 633. The tracknames I use are for instance CMIT, Tx Harry, Tx Mary, MixL, MixR.....
Telling what mike you used makes it easier to match dubbing mics. If there are any problems you can easily check which mic you used.

In the Cantar I have permanent notes where I put in the scene synopsis. The take notes I use to note particularities like what part of a take wasn't good and why. Also in case of wild/setnoise/atmo what it's about. T, G, N, W Aren't available in every machine but even on paper it gives a quick overview.

Lately in a project we encountered a problem with the dailies forms. The editor therefore used my reports. So keep your notes tight, they will come in handy.

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Wow guys! Thanks for all the advice! I guess I've decided to rent whatever is needed and make sure I really study the gear well enough to not get screwed on a gig. I'm new in the film world but not in audio production in general so I THINK I'll be fine for now. My only thing I'm worried about is when I get a gig, will there be gear to rent in the amount of time given before the gig.

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You are lucky that there are real production sound rental places in ATL, great for renting gear and also great for getting advice first hand.

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Yeah man! I just moved here about a year ago and it's definitely different

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On 8/2/2016 at 10:13 PM, IronFilm said:

Thanks for highlighting the most important thing to note is the non-dialogue stuff which won't get automatically synced. Good point that I'll keep in mind for future, even if it is hard to do any kind of report as a OMB on indie shoots. 

I agree, if you're doing a one-person sound crew, then all you can do is give the take a very specific name (like "1WILD" or "AMBIENCE" or something like that) to really highlight what it is. Then, assuming you just do a quick CSV-style report, post will just know by the file name that it's not part of the other dialogue takes. 

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I don't agree that it is too hard to do notes on OMB shoots.  I've been working on a doc of the "roll roll roll" type without slate one, with TC and scratch track to the camera, so if I don't do some kind of notes our friends in post have the proverbial "pile 'o files".  You can scribble notes to your self on a piece of tape or etc as you go, and xfer them to the file metadata in Wave Agent or via a temporary keybd hook up when you get a break or at the end of the day.  I'm not talking about writing a novel, but giving some indication of the action, location, talent present is massively appreciated by the posties, and helps me keep a tally of what we've done (since no one is keeping any sort of script or cameras notes).

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Yes, I usually scribble basic notes as well, and enter the info later on a SR template, and send the client a PDF.

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In my experience from nearly 20 years of location sound work on independent features, doc, ENG, and reality can be boiled down to this:

It's always important to have a quick convo with post before shooting about what they would like to have on a sound report. BUT, the reality is, the more down time you have the more detailed the notes you should be able to provide. 

On features back in the day, my paper reports had all the standard tech specs as well as more specific notes on wild lines, quality of takes, etc...

On docs, I found the editors LOVED me for having annotated wild sound and anything non sync.

On reality gigs, I find the recorder generated sound reports to be more than sufficient - as long as they have accurate track names and metadata. 

Hope this helps. 

Cheers,

Evan Meszaros

 

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20 hours ago, Philip Perkins said:

I don't agree that it is too hard to do notes on OMB shoots. 

May I suggest we qualify that with a "sometimes..."?

When the production on a narrative feature is too cheap to hire a boom operator, schedules 8-9 pages a day, shoots two cameras with timecode and wireless hops on both, and wants every actor lavved in every scene (often as many as six), I'm sorry but they can expect bugger all in the reports. I did a show like that once when I first started out, and it almost killed me. Life is too short.

That being said, I make every effort to make my reports as detailed as time and circumstances permit. Having started to do some sound editing and mixing work myself has made me appreciate the value of well crafted reports. I would even go so far as to say all production mixers should do at least a little bit of post work at some point in their careers. It absolutely improves your location mixing chops. It has mine, anyway.

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