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House of Cards Season 5

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I'm binge watching HOC with my girlfriend and really enjoying it. We're about halfway done with the current season and there were a few scenes I had technical questions about. I know the mixer frequents this forum so hopefully he sees this. I'll be vague to avoid spoilers.

For the scene where the characters are in the private theater and they recite the dialogue in sync with the movie playing behind them, I was curious if this was done with earwigs or amplified in anyway for the actors.

I was also curious about the "skype" calls - if they were pre-recorded and played back on set, if the on-camera actor was acting against a green screen, or if they were done live, having the callers in the next room.

I was also wondering about the wide shots in the back of cars. Are there plant mics in the ceiling that are just comped out like they do with the booms? Or was it wires?

Finally, the scene where Seth is prepping the podium - was that amplified live or were the effects added in post later?




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Well the car shots are almost always at a stationary stage, with projected backdrops.

In a BTS featurette, I think I saw stage design with an "SUV" divided into sections.

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Hi Ben,

Lorenzo has been posted to my Facebook account for your first question. I will re-post it here.

"OK let’s see, the director was Alik Sakharov. So it was a little bit of a jumble. I think initially the plan was green screen but Alik had the idea of them standing in the light of the projection. The video playback was coming from a laptop to a video projector. Initially the projector was mounted to the ceiling, but once they realized it wouldn’t go through Kevin and Robin when they stood up, it was taken down from the ceiling and I think placed in the back of the room in what was made to look as the projection room. I realized once I saw the playback that it had been meant for reference and was not a good copy and the audio actually preceded the video, I think by a few frames. As always people were asking telling me the audio was off and I had to explain that I was getting a feed and the audio on the feed was off and not of my doing. So the feed I had to get was a headphone jack from the laptop, which sounded like ass and had a bad hum. Once I found a decent level I then took a three foot jumper and disconnected the ground to make a ground lift because the laptop was giving me a hum and I figured it was from the projector on AC power coming through the laptop (which was on battery when we tested it) to me.

So I used the Zaxcom Fusion 12. The actors were wired because of them standing in front of the playback and seeing their shadows on the screen, but when we faced the other direction we were able to get the boom in when we needed to, sometimes both booms. I took the feed from the video playback and ran that into two earwigs for Robin and Kevin and hide the Comtek base station in the room. All they got on the earwig was the playback which I controlled the level. Then I ran a speaker into the room to run the playback through when there was no dialogue for some of the shots, specifically the later screen when Stamper comes in. I just used the small Remote Audio Speakeasy battery speaker. After rehearsal, we had to work some kinks out of the timing and everything of the playback and the earwigs. Kevin and I worked out so that he didn't want all of the movie in his ear but wanted to make sure he heard the part leading up to the “Wonder” line from Fred MacMurray. So he could time it out. I mixed it with the playback to never overpower their (Robin and Kevin) voices but to work with them, create a backdrop but punctuate the moods when needed."

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The Conway campaign Skype event scenes were done in real time. Two adjacent stages connected by cables feeding earwig systems at both ends. Both ends were covered for the call video via a tv truck and by production cameras on the Conway end. The whole thing was tightened up only slightly in post because we had to move some things around on the caller end. The director wanted to shoot in real time to rachet up the tension a little and add to the live event feel. 

It was a great couple of days. It's so much fun to work with Lorenzo, Steve Saada and Chris Jones, the HOC sound department as well as the entire HOC crew. As a group they're the nicest folks in the business and the care they take making the show makes it a really fabulous place to visit. 

Congratulations, Lorenzo and crew, for your 4th Emmy nomination!

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