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Mixing a basketball film

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 I'll be mixing an indie feature this fall that takes place in indoor  basketball courts for roughly half of the movie.  Are there any reasonably micro budget suggestions to prepare for this? 

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Some of the most important prep is the conversations you should have ahead of time with the director, 1st AD, and producer.  I include producer, as on small budget projects they are often tightly allied with the director. 

You need to be honest about any unrealistic expectations they may have and discuss things like acoustic treatments, wide and tight shots, background action (ball bouncing, sneaker squeaks, etc.), and more.

They may say things like, "But sounds in the background are real," and you need to be prepared to gently explain the difference between narrative sound and documentary sound, as well as the ramifications and limitations that background sound can have on editing.

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Get some waterproof lavs or back-ups (or both). I did a basketball movie and there was a lot of sweat getting into COS-11s that made them sound "fuzzy" until they had time to dry out. Keep some silica packets in a zip lock bag and store your wires in there at wrap. It might also help to wire the talent with the diaphram facing downward if it's a COS-11 to avoid sweat from dripping in. Get some waistband NP wraps for your transmitters. Shoot some hoops at lunch!

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Blas Kisic did some interesting doc work last year, he customized some clothing that worked well. You may want to contact him. 

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I did a few TV episodes with basketball games as a big part of the story. One thing you can do is have them use a long lens for people talking on the sidelines. Carpet between the lens and the actors and have them fake a ball. It'll never be missed on camera, as you'll be waist up with foreground crosses. Same with other game footage in the BG. Get a foam ball the same size and color as a real basketball. If it's not in focus they won't be able to tell.

Shoe noise is easier to edit around if there's lots of footfalls. It's just noise. Ball bouncing isn't easy to edit around. Passing drills that don't hit the floor are good for background action for practices. That kind of thing.

Fixed plays are a must, so you can judge the amount of noise and make it easy to edit around for both sound and picture. Goes for practices and games.

In terms of people playing basketball and talking, I wired anyone with real talking dialog that was going to have coverage. But if it was just shouting and such as part of the game, then I did't wire. I played perspective. Also, in real life, players don't talk much on the court during play. Only when the ball is out of play. I vampire clipped to the jersey. Waistband. Easy enough.

 

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