Jump to content
TommygunZA

Neurotic naysayer primadonna soundies

Recommended Posts

In run and gun/unscripted scenarios how do you guys balance getting good sound with getting a good take? I've been around on shoots where there is some epic emotional heart rending moment, the camera has been rolling a few minutes and the talent has forgotten its there, the tears are welling up and the sound guy will shout, "No, I just heard some dogs barking".  Other times you go on a shoot and inevitably there is building work next door or a constantly circling helicopter. You need to get the job done though (often with time constraints) and will mic appropriately but you will inevitably have noise/issues. Do you demand a new location or shout, " I cant work like this". Camera ppl never worry as they are getting great visuals.

I do find some of my colleagues are a bit neurotic and maybe we are more finicky than we need to be on occasion (Im not talking feature film or commercial) but general vidiot stuff . We worry about a lot and bit rates and high quality gear but do the public really give a toss if its been recorded at 16bit or 24 and at 44 or 192? Do they notice a Schoeps vs a Rode? once its been edited, bounced off a satellite in space and comes out of the 6" spkr on their tv or computer? I guess its a bit more important now with lossless digital delivery but there is certainly audio fidelity degradation along the path.

Im not sloppy (I dont think, but reading some posts here makes me think maybe I am :)) So I guess my question is about expedience, getting a job done and where the general public start to care?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some things you do for the job, for the clients (and their audience); some things you do for yourself.  The former might be a lot about making things easy for them on the set and convenient in post, the latter might be the audio equivalent of wearing really fun socks that only you know you have on.   Soundies behaving as you say have personal issues that are coming out at work--anymore we rarely get our way by acting like that.  Part of keeping your attitude together and yourself really interested in what you are doing (and thus doing a good job) is feeling good about yourself, your rig and what you are hearing in the cans.  Will the audience notice?  More than you might think--if only to feel like a show is "better" or something they want to stay with, partially due to the quality of the sound.  FF Coppola used to say (paraphrasing) that the dead giveaway of a cheap production (or one made by inexperienced and possibly untalented people) was bad sound.   As production crew people we serve the image the camera is making, just like everyone else on the set.  Years ago, one way I conditioned myself to this reality was to start thinking of myself as a sort of assistant cameraperson, ie not doing a separate thing happening along with the shooting, but a PART of that shooting (even if some camera folks like to treat us like aliens).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You're making the right decisions based on your experience coupled with what your ears like. If you trust your hearing and have the experience to tell whether a line recorded in harsh conditions will be OK or will have to be ADRed, you're automatically (probably) making the right decisions. After a few years that feeling is in your guts. 

And if you can make a location sound good with the equipment that you're comfortable working with, then hooray! 

Some people just prefer Schoeps over Röde based on THEIR experience. They're confident that they can make the right decisions based on their hearing with the right mics, lavs, txs, preamps and (hopefully) boom operators. They probably could get real good results with lesser gear, but they're have to relearn that new equipment and that takes focus and concentration, and as you know, those are two very precious assets on set that has to be deployed very carefully.

Looking at numbers... I don't really see it that way in this community of mixers for film and TV, although in music and PA I can reconize it. Several people here use Zaxcom txs and txs which sound amazing and are spectacular tech and feature wise, but the sample rate of the system is actually 32khz if I'm not mistaken. That's just one example. I know of many rerecording mixers and sound designers who use Zoom or other small handy recorders for quick FX recordings...

 

And yes, a sound person on set not reading in the general feeling on set (as you say a crying scene for example and they bluntly go "go again there was a car") is just... Sad. I've had that experience several times with mixers as a boom operator, and it's really hard on the whole team. To not just let go that time.. Then that person probably just thinks too hard or is very hard on him/herself..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

@Philip Perkins, I like the socks analogy. Another thing, not directly related is that the Videographers will spend ages setting up a scene, getting lights right, blocking light, reflecting, bouncing etc and sound are often expected to get sound/people mic'd up in seconds and people (producer/the money) generally get antsy if one takes more than a few moments. I do take some time placing mics under clothing (especially really tight or odd materials) and often after a min or two I realise it needs moving & need to stop the shoot to reseat/move the mic. People look at you like you are some chump, however, always better than getting shouted at by post. I like to use the old? saying, why does thunder come after lightning? Even God need to wait for sound.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The older I get or more experienced (some days even jaded) I find myself worrying less about certain sound issues. Sometimes I think I have gotten to relaxed but it is on those jobs that I am usually complimented on my sound by production. It's not that I don't care, it's the fact I don't stress it. I quietly get the job done and save any outbursts until it's all really turned to shit. 

I don't want to say this but sadly sometimes it comes down what is an acceptable quality for the client. I heard a DP I respect say to his Gaffer "Don't think beautiful lighting, think illumination." Our brethren in the optics Dept are playing the same inane game of politics.

In regards to micing people, we often don't get to do our thing until the last minute and we are pushed. I tend to take my time to get it right. My Don't Fuck With Me face has gentled to my I'm Doing What You Need For Your Production face. Same meaning. It helps to have the talent on your side.  Sometimes the mic placement doesn't work and you have find a time out to fix it. If it's a serious issue fix it straight up, if not find an opening but always have the boom at the ready and a silent dialogue with your camo. 

Actually all these issues are about communication. Sometimes you will get lucky and production will give you the relevant information the rest of the time it's about listening in and thinking on our feet.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't really care about Rode vs Schoeps. I'd much rather have Rode in the right place than a Schoeps in the wrong place. If there's sound issues, I'll discuss it with the director. "We can't get anything except a sync track here, if we stay at this location we'll need to do ADR. Ok or move?"

If I have an outburst, I've already failed at my job. This is something that was never an issue in my 9-to-5 broadcast job (we had good directors who understood what matters for the production) but it's something I've really been trying to learn as a freelancer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Nate C said:

Actually all these issues are about communication. Sometimes you will get lucky and production will give you the relevant information the rest of the time it's about listening in and thinking on our feet.

 

Way early in my working life in sound I used to get very angry about what I felt was a certain "imperial" attitude on the part of film makers and DPs re time and space to do my job the way I thought it should be done.  I came to realize that the "greats", the very best location sound people, were not only master set-diplomats but also had highly sensitive "antennae" about what was happening on the set, what was about to happen, what was LIKELY to happen and had their mental wheels always spinning about how they would be ready for whatever it was.  The "greats" also always seemed to have equally "great" crews--people they had trained to be just as attuned to the work going on as they were, and who were also thinking ahead.  A small secret: it's hard to listen while you are talking--ie socialize @ lunch not on the set!  Focus!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, Philip Perkins said:

Some things you do for the job, for the clients (and their audience); some things you do for yourself.  The former might be a lot about making things easy for them on the set and convenient in post, the latter might be the audio equivalent of wearing really fun socks that only you know you have on.   Soundies behaving as you say have personal issues that are coming out at work--anymore we rarely get our way by acting like that.  Part of keeping your attitude together and yourself really interested in what you are doing (and thus doing a good job) is feeling good about yourself, your rig and what you are hearing in the cans.  Will the audience notice?  More than you might think--if only to feel like a show is "better" or something they want to stay with, partially due to the quality of the sound.  FF Coppola used to say (paraphrasing) that the dead giveaway of a cheap production (or one made by inexperienced and possibly untalented people) was bad sound.   As production crew people we serve the image the camera is making, just like everyone else on the set.  Years ago, one way I conditioned myself to this reality was to start thinking of myself as a sort of assistant cameraperson, ie not doing a separate thing happening along with the shooting, but a PART of that shooting (even if some camera folks like to treat us like aliens).

Spot on post. Thinking I might print this out, frame it and hang it above my cart (by your permission of course, Philip!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Philip Perkins said:

If you search this site you can probably find that someone else has put this better....

Nope.

I'm going to add the best advice I ever got: see the big picture.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great stuff folks!!

Always share your experience about a take (not just on the sound log) but to the director or 1st AD

Equipment, well what you end up with should fit your budget and the type of work you service.

I sometimes try to preach the fact that shooting drama is not about shots but about

telling a story and capturing performances.

Also that you don't leave the cinema whistling the wide shot !

mike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In one video podcast i heard words of wisdom that stuck with me...  Paraphrased ...  Say something good about the sound you are recording- IE do not always complain or talk about all the things that are bad...   I think it was Mark Weingarten...  Matt Prices podcast?  it resonated with me... 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes John But you are not on location to offer positives necessarily Ok say it was a good take or what but our task is constructive and not about making a glowing statement. We so often record in situations that are not optimum and must make the best of them and self admit that that's the best we can achieve given the situation eh? mike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of my favorite word from English language is "aloof". Being aloof; earn respect.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, johngooch said:

In one video podcast i heard words of wisdom that stuck with me...  Paraphrased ...  Say something good about the sound you are recording- IE do not always complain or talk about all the things that are bad...   I think it was Mark Weingarten...  Matt Prices podcast?  it resonated with me... 

I like to walk up to ADs, who generally see the mixer coming and figure a complaint is immanent, and tell them "I just wanted you to know--that last scene sounded really great, thanks."  just to blow their minds.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If I was king of the world all locations that I would shoot at would sound perfect.  But, since I'm not, my job is to inform the producers and director of the situation and let them decide. They choose, I do not, but I inform.  I do the best that I can do and I inform them of the problems.  They have to live with the consequences, I get paid either way.  Life is too short to let things that are beyond your control to eat you up.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is a moment when the director gets in love with a take and will definitely want to use it for the film. That's the point of no return - but if there is something not right with sound, you just have to say it after the camera has stopped. By mentioning it while there is the possibility to do it again, you're out of responsibility. But they will use that beloved scene anyway, eventually with ADR. It's useless to discuss and be that naysayer.

If a serious problem shows up BEFORE that "love" moment, don't hesitate to stop that take. It's not so hard for them to start again then.

Gear:

Compare your sound recording to a meal in a restaurant and your gear to the ingredients:

If all the ingredients are of high quality and chef's work is good the meal will be fine.

If all the ingredients are of perfect quality and expensive but chef has no talent that meal won't be good.

If just one or two of the ingredients are cheap or of minor quality, but all the other ingredients are perfect and chef's work is very good, the meal will also be very fine.

If many of the ingredients are cheap and low quality that meal won't be good it no matter how good the chef is.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have the camera man get some B-roll of the jackhammers to have it make sense.

Mentally staying on your toes is the best we can do along with the right gear package designed for previous experiences with your client.

Otherwise those moments can be really fun.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On Saturday, January 28, 2017 at 7:03 PM, johngooch said:

In one video podcast i heard words of wisdom that stuck with me...  Paraphrased ...  Say something good about the sound you are recording- IE do not always complain or talk about all the things that are bad...   I think it was Mark Weingarten...  Matt Prices podcast?  it resonated with me... 

Very true! Of course watch your timing and don't say it at a disruptive time.

 

But it is good not to be known as the guy who only has something negative to say....  !! As unfortunately in sound department we're often easily slipping into that trap :-/

On Sunday, January 29, 2017 at 6:06 AM, Philip Perkins said:

I like to walk up to ADs, who generally see the mixer coming and figure a complaint is immanent, and tell them "I just wanted you to know--that last scene sounded really great, thanks."  just to blow their minds.

Haha, fantastic! But indeed if you see anyone go out their way to help the sound department  (be it wardrobe, the 1st AD, an actor, or whoever) it is well worth your time to be positive and acknowledge to them personally their contribution :-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/29/2017 at 2:57 AM, Stillweii said:

Have the camera man get some B-roll of the jackhammers to have it make sense.

Mentally staying on your toes is the best we can do along with the right gear package designed for previous experiences with your client.

Otherwise those moments can be really fun.

This is so true for me. I always beg the camera to go get shots of the screaming kids, jackhammers, trains, dogs, running water and the rest of it. The pic just needs to reference the extraneous for the viewer to understand and for it to be a bit more acceptable.  

You are right about the fun too, challenging is good (to a point :))

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/28/2017 at 2:53 AM, mikewest said:

Yes John But you are not on location to offer positives necessarily Ok say it was a good take or what but our task is constructive and not about making a glowing statement. We so often record in situations that are not optimum and must make the best of them and self admit that that's the best we can achieve given the situation eh? mike

Of course Mike-  i was just saying that when things are going right or mostly right, sometimes it is good to recognize that fact.  And not to be the dept of bad news..   Of course there are times when we have to stand our ground-  hate me now, hate me later.....  etc..  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/28/2017 at 7:29 AM, VAS said:

One of my favorite word from English language is "aloof". Being aloof; earn respect.

  Sorry but being aloof has negative connotations, it's what people who "stand on the sidelines" do, or that girl that won't talk to you does.  I think you may just mean "calm and professional."

  And BOY has it taken a long time for me to learn that shit!  But it's so much better.  Poster above is so dead on when he says if he lost his cool, he's already failed.

Of course sometimes you do have to freak out, but hopefully not more than once per show ha ha!  (For the record I've been on this NCIS gig for 1.7 seasons and I have not freaked out yet.  Maybe I've matured!?  Nah...)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really try not to bust a take unless its really, really a forgone conclusion that the noise is unworkable. I do a lot of home improvement shows, industrials, mostly small crew stuff. I'll catch the producer/directors eye and make an appropriate gesture to indicate there's potentially an issue. Then after we cut I'll ask for another go at the same question if I think its bad enough to warrant it. In interview situations this is really important I think. Other wise a potentially wonderful sound bite might get cut off prematurely and the person being interviewed could completely lose their train of thought. If its a really emotional moment even more so since that can't easily be recalled or recreated. This approach has worked well for me. I also try to keep it positive and upbeat. I've gotten new work because the producer's usual sound person showed up on set with a sour attitude and put everyone on edge.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×