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Bartek

Creeky Floor

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i really think (and of course I'm talking a much smaller game here than you big budget guys) that its really important to pick the times you speak up carefully. a western where you have suggested electric rigs and they rock up with gas is a situation that CANNOT change - there is no point at all in arguing, and quite honesty, you lose the respect of the people who have make the bad choices so that it damages any chance you have of making positive changes in the future. (after all, they dont do this stuff to screw you, they do it to save money - its a bad choice, but thats their call).

last year i shot a 3 month drama in some of the worst locations ever. i was NOT invited to location scouts, and of course once you start shooting a drama the key locations cant exactly just change. so it was do or die. my boom op and i took some pretty drastic action - including bribing the gaffer to give us use of his numerous blackout blankets, and even turning 3 PA's into a dedicated sound rigging crew to prepare each location for sound as it was needed (the locations were "real" so no permanent solutions could be put in place. another production problem, but hey).

We managed to get this cooperation (pretty considerable, actually) by informing production that above all we wanted to make the situation work. we told them honestly that the locations were really bad. we also told them that while we couldnt make the problems go away, we could maybe save them some serious money if they were prepared to give us a little leeway at each location with rigging for sound.

yes, the production was compromised. yes, there were days when i almost had some major freak outs and had to bite my tongue. but in the end, ADR was less than 1% on a 26 episode series. Actually, it should have been higher but the producers were once again trying to save cash. But I think what matters is that we managed to pull the shoot off at an acceptable level for the producers (after all, its their show) without seeming like sound tyrants or seeming like we didnt care at all.

just my 5c. I too, often lose my cool when producers and other crew make the same mistakes that they always make on every set we hit... this was just an example where we managed to look at solutions rather than problems.

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RVD,

I think the general message in the posts I read was that we all obviously try to eliminate as much off/on set noise as possible but sometimes things are just beyond our control, such as the example you gave. I don't take my work home either but sometimes it does get me down when I know that an IV (in my efp world) could have been better. I think the reason we get upset and vent here is because we really DO care.

I don't get all grumpy but do offer solutions as I'm sure most here do, but I also understand sometimes you just have to accept things will not go your way no matter how many polite suggestions/grumpy behaviour/talk to the producer/bribe the gaffer actions are taken.

Anyway,

Rock on!

Grant.

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RVD:

I'm surprised that you're surprised the conversation might go this direction but you're right, I did go a bit off-topic, which sometimes annoys me when others do it.

I'm impressed that you would talk to the best boy about generator placement and saddened it would be necessary.  To me this is evidence of one of those tired old production paradigms.  The idea that one would have to negotiate with another department so that they don't, with production's tacit approval, unilaterally decide a film should have ADR spectacularly backwards to me.  I figure that's the production's job.  If they don't want generator in their tracks they should talk to electric, who is also one of their employees and who is presumably expected not to COST production money, about placement before production.  Imagine I deliberately destroyed a prop every set-up.  Would it be the production's job to ask me to stop doing it or would the prop guy have to bribe, beg and cajole me to stop?

I'm also impressed that Brian would carry around and employ 100 18"-square pads!  If I tried to put something down before they laid dolly tracks, assuming there was even time to do that, everyone would freak out and ask why I'm trying to HURT their project with my weird, time-wasting shenanigans.  Fix it in post, they'll say.

I think I work at a much lower level than you so I think things are a bit different down here.

best,

Arnold

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I live and work in Los Angeles, and have always gone on location scouts, or tech scouts with the key crew members.  I used to go at my own expense, no pay, because I felt that the information gained and the suggestions I was able to implement were more valuable to me than a day's pay.  However with even the best of intentions you can be fooled.

I just have heard over the years that it is common in many Los Angeles workflows that the sound department is not invited on the scouts as the rule rather than the exception, and have seen this in my own experience when LA producers come to town and seem shocked that the mixer is invited (and has to be paid for). 

Of course, if you volunteer your services for free, it seems unlikely that anyone would refuse your presence.  I certainly know what you mean about the information being more valuable, but I also think that the contributions and money-saving you can supply at a tech scout are worth far more than what they owe you for a day.  I'm not speaking philosophically or aesthetically, either -- in many locations it's simply a matter of deciding with the gaffer and the transpo captain where the generator is going to go, but we all know what the costs are in time and money if the genny has to be moved.  I personally don't want to spend a 14 hour scout day without compensation.

Many years ago on a film, we were shooting at an old YWCA as a mental hospital.  On the scout I had asked to have the bus stop moved two blocks down to avoid having the buses stop and start right below the windows of the dinning room.  The set decorator was going to use the existing tables and chairs that were in the dinning room.  I saw them, they were sturdy looking wooden tables and chairs, but I didn't sit in them nor did I rest my weight on the tables.  On the day of shooting we filled the room with extras and dinning implements.  It was like being on an old wooden ship at sea, the creaking and moaning of the wooden chairs was shocking.  I was embarassed and dumbfounded for not noticing this in advance.  It was almost comical as the A.D.'s attempted to limit the movements of the background actors so as to minimize the creaking and moaning.  We got through it and a difficult lesson was learned by me.

Rich, there's always ways to get caught by this even if you are on the scout, though.  Sometimes the set dressers bring in different chairs and tables than are in the room on the scout, and they don't call you beforehand to have you approve them first.  Many prop masters and set dressers that I've worked with over the years are tremendously sound-conscious, thoughtful, and friendly.  Many others are not.  It depends upon who you get.

The fact of the matter is not that camera is king and sound is not as important.  In a perfect world we hold traffic,

Sadly, illegal here unless it's in the shot (as opposed to on the other side of the wall).

Dean Semler once told me that he worked on a picture where 99.9% of the film's dialogue was replaced, the outcome was an Academy Award for the sound mixing crew.

I had encounters with two actors on other projects who starred in films that won Academy Awards for sound.  In both cases both actors told me every single line was looped.  The Oscar, as much as we may not like it, is really about what the rerecording mixer does, not what we do.

Regards,

Noah Timan

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This is the upside/downside of the low-budget world I work in.  Usually everyone on the set is looking to do the right thing, and many times will make changes to help get better sound.  The downside is that sometimes they can't afford to make the necessary changes.

And, I always do everything I can to improve the situation - lavs, sound blankets, asking for an extra rehearsal here and there, etc.  Only once did I have a situation where the DP said to the director (direct quote):  "Don't bother listening to him.  He's just a sound guy." (In this case, we were in a location that was right next to the freeway, and were getting traffic noise in every shot - I recommended they get a couple of establishing shots showing the freeway - yes, I know, way beyond the bounds of the "sound guy" but I was trying to help make sure she had the best movie possible.  She listened to the DP, didn't get the establishing shot, and regretted it.  She actually called me a couple of weeks ago to see if I knew someone that could go to the location and shoot the establishing shots for her.  Vindication, though much after the shoot.  :-)  Again, the benefits of the low-budget world.

Phil

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So, today I'm on an out-of-town industrial shoot.  We're shooting what I'll call testamonials.  The subject matter requires that a box of Kleenex be handy to wipe frequent tears.

At one point the producer/director tells me to move the boom mic much further from the subject because it's distracting one of the two people on camera.  He said, "We really don't care how this sounds, we just care how it looks."

It's a living.

JB

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ouch!  were you recording double system?  with a record buffer?  (were you able to record him saying that?)

I think Burroughs said it well: 

"Junk is the ideal product... the ultimate merchandise. No SALES talk necessary. The client will crawl through a sewer and beg to buy."

We're carnies, all of us -- we're the 'circuses' part of 'bread and circuses' -- I guess someone's gotta do it, huh?

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Naw, we were shooting directly to Hi-Def. 

The people were all nice and overall they were good to work with.  I just found that particular comment and their general attitude toward the audio to be typical of too many producers today.

These days, people will shoot Hi-Def because they want the picture to be better.  They'll take plenty of time to light it because they want the picture to be better.  They'll make all kinds of changes because they want the picture to be better.  Then they tell audio, "Get this mic'd quickly, we need to shoot."  Naturally, they don't want to do any sound checks before shooting.

I've worked with a number of producers who don't approach sound this way.  These enlightened pros consider sound to be an important part of the whole.  I always try to remember to appreciate and cherish these people.

JB

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Guest Mick

Lots of good comments and anecdotes here which is, I think, one of the many reasons why this site is probably the first choice for those of us in any of the many audio links in the sound chain. I'm of the school of thought that looks at most of the problems listed this way: If I can solve it because of you,  great, if not then I'll use whatever experience I've gained over the course of my career to solve it despite you. With a smile of course.

Regards

Mick

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Hi I am sorry but I think that topic was Creeky floor, not relationships between departments. I was hoping for ideas not statements.

Thank you to the few on topic replays I will try them.

Best

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32 minutes ago, vizualize said:

Hi I am sorry but I think that topic was Creeky floor, not relationships between departments. I was hoping for ideas not statements.

Thank you to the few on topic replays I will try them.

Best

 

Good for you, take your time to come up with an appropriate response...

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5 hours ago, vizualize said:

Hi I am sorry but I think that topic was Creeky floor, not relationships between departments. I was hoping for ideas not statements.

Thank you to the few on topic replays I will try them.

Best

 

Solid ol binary technician expectations!

 

Usually placing sandbags/buckets of water around the area that squeak the most. Weighing down the floor takes away the noise made by the friction going down since it is already at its lowest point.  Talent safety comes up in walking scenes , so if  I run into that I just ask for a close up or work with camera on blocking changes  . Depends on each different day. 

 

On Amadeus inside the huge castles, pig troughs were ordered and filled with water to weigh down the long wooden floors out of shot.  

 

On the relationship side it's either we come up with good solutions to move the production along in a creatively positive manner and gain respect or just deal with the bs for the day. 

 

 

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6 hours ago, Constantin said:

 

Good for you, take your time to come up with an appropriate response...

 

So, I guess he's going to get mad and leave in another ten years of we don't stay exactly on topic.

 

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9 hours ago, John Blankenship said:

 

So, I guess he's going to get mad and leave in another ten years of we don't stay exactly on topic.

 

 

16 hours ago, Constantin said:

 

Good for you, take your time to come up with an appropriate response...

 

Not really always try to take it positive and creative. I am planning to do the floors with baby powder and use some EVA material puzzle style with a soft carpet on top. I will do some tests and hope for the best.

 

When asked "Is it cold outside?" do you respond that the coffee lady served you cold drink?

Happy Holidays to everyone

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1 hour ago, vizualize said:

 

When asked "Is it cold outside?" do you respond that the coffee lady served you cold drink?

 

I might. Probably wouldn’t be my first response (just like the first response in this thread was to the point), but conversations sometimes take a funny route here as well as in real life. Really don’t get what your problem is with that. 

I was mostly just commenting on your delayed response to a thread that’s ten years old. 

 

Anyway, if you do things like baby powdering the floor make sure you talk to locations beforehand. 

Oh no! Now we are at that inter-departmental stage again. See how that happens?

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On 3/25/2007 at 8:53 AM, chrisnewton said:

I've worked with one old-school actor who actually timed his lines to not be covered by the dolly squeak. Quite a performance. Most actors are totally oblivious, and whisper or mumble every single one of their lines anyway 'cause "that's how real people talk".


An actor who times his delivery around dolly squeaks? That is a dream! Very jealous.

On 3/26/2007 at 7:58 PM, RPSharman said:

What tends to frustrate me is the on set discussion of the obvious.  I think the best option is to spend as little time talking about it as possible and as much time shooting as many takes as they will allow.  This will give the dialogue editors a fighting chance.

One of the upsides of digital I suppose. 

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On 3/27/2007 at 7:12 PM, Noah Timan said:

I recently had the pleasure of working with a director who really directed his actors during wild lines, rather than do the usual (or at least what has been the usual in most of my experience) of walking off set while wild lines are going on, assuming it's some "sound" thing.  I really appreciated that and hopefully if the wild lines are needed they will be actually useful.


Unfortunately I experience the same too, it is rather rare to have the director there for wild lines (and I appreciate the couple of directors I know who do put their all into directing the wild lines, when I request them). So instead I just have to tap into my "inner director" (ha!) to do the best job I can at encouraging the actors to deliver their best performance, or rather the most similar performance to the best takes.

 

Had a horrifying experience with a feature film in Australia this year because when I might do wild lines the AD would just say things like "oh this doesn't really matter because we're going to 100% ADR the film anyway" thus the actors wouldn't even try to give their best effort for the wild lines because of what the AD was saying to them.

 

Oh, also the film was entirely in Hindi (which I don't understand at all!), thus trying to remember which segments I might want a quick wild line was a challenge for me! As I couldn't remember the actual lines themselves, I'd need to reference them some other way ("could you repeat what you were saying when you were over there opening the fridge", as an example). And of course I'd have no idea at all whatsoever as to if they were then saying them correctly or not.

 

Of course to make it even worse, we're working with amateur actors who were constantly going off script or improvising (I don't even understand Hindi to follow along with the script, yet even I could easily tell this was happening with every single scene! As there was so much variance). Which makes it even tougher to get wild lines of what was shot.

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5 hours ago, IronFilm said:

the AD would just say things like "oh this doesn't really matter because we're going to 100% ADR the film anyway" 

So why were you even there? Just hand them a Rode video mic they can attach to their camera and say good riddance. Thank goodness I've never run into an AD that flippant.

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On 4/4/2007 at 3:32 PM, John Blankenship said:

So, today I'm on an out-of-town industrial shoot.  We're shooting what I'll call testamonials.  The subject matter requires that a box of Kleenex be handy to wipe frequent tears.

 

At one point the producer/director tells me to move the boom mic much further from the subject because it's distracting one of the two people on camera.  He said, "We really don't care how this sounds, we just care how it looks."

 

It's a living.

 


For discrete intimate sit down interviews I find it handy to have a C stand and boombuddy at hand, as people can often find it much less distracting if an innaminate object is holding the boom (your C stand) than if a real life human is holding it. (you lose the flexibility to immediately adjust its position on the fly, but often you don't need to do that too much during a sit down interview anyway. And only tweaking your boom position if they drastically change their seating position) And then you yourself can sit down with your recorder out of the way of their eyeline, where you'll be the least distraction.  

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14 hours ago, IronFilm said:


For discrete intimate sit down interviews I find it handy to have a C stand and boombuddy at hand, as people can often find it much less distracting if an innaminate object is holding the boom (your C stand) than if a real life human is holding it. (you lose the flexibility to immediately adjust its position on the fly, but often you don't need to do that too much during a sit down interview anyway. And only tweaking your boom position if they drastically change their seating position) And then you yourself can sit down with your recorder out of the way of their eyeline, where you'll be the least distraction.  

 

Which was exactly the case of how I was set up on that shoot more than ten years ago.

 

John B., CAS

 

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On 12/27/2017 at 8:09 PM, SBretzke said:

So why were you even there? Just hand them a Rode video mic they can attach to their camera and say good riddance. Thank goodness I've never run into an AD that flippant.


It was a question I quite often asked myself...  especially  on the first day when I found out the director planned to do 100% ADR I did wonder why I shouldn't just turn around and catch the next plane back to NZ?!?! 

But the DoP was my friend & I didn't want to leave him in the lurch, plus even if the production wasn't going to be professional, I still was going to be and stick to my word and do the shoot to the best of my capabilities no matter how much the conditions might be against. Near the end of the month long shoot, I finally got the director to listen my sound files and he realised "hey this is pretty good" (in spite of me having to work against everything...!). And now the film is nearly finished post, they did almost zero ADR, instead the director and editor were choosing my location files. Pity the director didn't have that faith with me since Day 1. Oh well. 

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