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Indy film aftermath- my sound experience

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I'm not a soundie, I'm an indy filmmaker who cares about sound as well as picture. Prior to the project (a period feature, "Summer of '67")  I got on here and asked a few questions about why I should not record straight into camera as on previous projects (and naturally got some flack).At that time  I felt that the 24 bit audio of the FS7 was suitable, however, after the advice given here,  ultlmately decided to record externally and hire a boom op and mixer as opposed to our usual film student with a boom and no mixer (our film students in the past were fairly good with a boom and we've gotten decent sound). 


Not having the budget for SD equipment, I decided on a Zoom F8 field recorder and also purchased an MKH50. The experienced boom op I hired  abandoned the MKH for his own Sanken CS3 after the first day. Listening back to the sound we recorded that day, I think the problem was not necessarily the mic, but my internally cabled K-tek pole producing a constant rumble . His own, much longer  boom pole was less noisy, and everything boomed after that sounded better. 


I had the mixer set up the F8 for a "safety track" recorded  6db lower. As it turned out, that was only needed twice in the whole film.  Ambient noise was a much bigger problem than audio spikes. On one occasion we walked into a diner (still doing business as we couldn't get it any other time) and the exhaust fan along with A/C noise was huge. Boom op warned me about the level, but we had no choice but to shoot. Owner agreed to turn off the fan for a few minutes, but that was all the help we got. Ended up with ADR for the whole scene. Looking at the scene now, I don't think you would ever guess it was ADR though. 


I didn't want to have to depend on boom audio, especially for wider shots where the boom would get too "roomy". After consulting with  the boom op, we decided to use lavaliers along with the boom whenever practical, so that in post I would have the choice of boom or lav, depending on which worked best for the scene. That ended up being an excellent choice and I think contributed to the overall sound quality. We did run into some clothing noise here and there but nothing insurmountable.  I think we ended up using the lavs over the boom in many cases, they just plain sounded better. These were mainly Sennheiser G2's with Countryman E3's that myself and the mixer owned. The boom guy had a Sony lav that we used when we needed to mic several actors at once. One scene was a "one shot wonder" shot with a Movi gimbal that would have been impossible to boom. The multiple lavs worked out great with that one. 


Our location mixer is a 20 post veteran and will be doing our audio post. I felt that hiring a location mixer who would also be doing the post gave him a vested interest in capturing good audio. My overall experience was that hiring professionals  contributed greatly to the overall sound and probably outweighed the fact that we were using semi pro level equipment at times. And after hearing the F8 sound compared to in camera sound, there is no going back. My appreciation goes out  to the JW sound community for giving valuable advice in how to approach the sound for this project. 




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Glad it ended up well. In my experience, buying equipment for your sound team to use is usually a bad idea because the team you hire will inevitably have better gear of their own. 


Planning for things in advance, such as wardrobe fabric choices or locations where you can control the noises and dampen the acoustics will do wonders for your end product. 


While film making is a hobbie for some, it is always worth doing well, or not at all, especially for sound. Saving up to pay professionals will yield better results every time, and you don't have to waste your budget on buying equipment that will often be less professional and difficult to resell. 

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Your line about "vested interest in capturing good audio" intrigued me. As a mixer for over 30 years, I also always feel like I have a vested interest in what happens downstream in the production process. So I hope you would extend that same assumption of passion about their work to any mixer worth his or her salt. 




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