Jump to content

Shrinking Sound Crew-- is this a NYC thing, or is it everywhere?


cory
 Share

Recommended Posts

MOST "PRODUCERS" on these kind of projects have NO clue about what a professional feature film production sound team and the equipment is like.

 

--end of story--

--or anything even remotely close to it. they've been raised on zoom recorders and 5d and assume that all shoots and equipment needs are the same as they work their way up. they've seen one man band shoots where the 5d dp does his own audio running lavs (wired or wireless) directly into a zoom, booms into zooms or systems described in the link below.

 

http://andrewwonder.com/blog/entry/zaxcom-action

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 52
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Same here in Ontario, Pascal. Productions are offering ridiculously low rates for Lifetime movies and the like, and indie features are off the map low. I've been turning them down and concentrating onTV, docs and corporates. Crew people are starting to leave Ottawa. Thank god I'm getting close to Wal Mart greeter age. Cleanup on aisle 3!

LOTD!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I refuse to do a narrative feature without a boom op.  Most always let me / have it budgeted anyways, but to any that suggest going on without one, I just remind them that one cannot boom op and mix effectively at the same time and if they want proper sound, do it right the first time otherwise they'll have hell (and expenses....) in post.

 

Usually that scares them into doing it the proper way.

 

Now, documentaries (which I do a lot of) is a different world and I'm a lone wolf on those, although sit down interviews and such with a boom locked on a stand isn't an ordeal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Love the horror stories!!

 

Have I told this before??

 

Overseas shoot in very difficult tropical location with an A list director

 

Promised two boom ops - got one

 

We are shooting with two Alexas

 

Day one - producer tells me generator noise is my problem  (3 noisy Hondas on short cables)

 

Later she says it's not a problem - post can filter it all out!

 

Days later she says you are not being pro-active!!

 

What I say???????

 

Telling the director what shots to take so you can get boom near actors

 

Some days later we are shooting a major scene with multiple actors and 80 ad-libbing extras

3 x Alexas and 4 x Canon 5D and my boom op has to hide to keep out of shotssss!

 

*&%^&%$$%#%$#

 

mike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes I know that. Do you run into that in Texas at all?

A lot in West Texas its actually quite common.  El  Paso isn't an LA or NYC market so there are times when doing commercials here in town results in the one man sound guy.  

 

I did a commercial spot for Land Rover recently back in August in TorC, NM.  I was the one man sound guy and did alright for myself.

For bigger spots, yes I agree there should be a 2-3 man team.

 

Sometimes it just depends on the market.

 

Call me cheap if you want Senator, but I know the needs of the market I'm in.  A majority of the better paying sound gigs I get are all from out of town clients (LA/NY).  Those teams only bring 1 person on.  I've asked for assistance before but it all comes down to the producer. Very rarely do commercial, corp, doc, and reality productions hire 2-3 man sound teams here.  I've always been on 2-3 man teams for narrative features though.  They would be crazy not to.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, in my experience it is not that the producer "doesn't know". S/he knows full well. The issue rather is budget. What it comes down to is what the specific requirements are (we're talking small indies here, in LA). Usually, the conversation goes "well, as you know, to get good sound, you need at least one person on a boom and one person to mind the mixer and..." "yeah, yeah, but we are really doing a skeleton crew here, our DP is doing lights and operating the cam too, so how about a one-person sound crew, it's kinda crisis mode, you understand" "well, in a pinch, yes, I could boom and mix but..." "GREAT, let's talk schedules" blah, blah, blah.

 

I don't think a producer in this situation hears anything after you say "yes, in a pinch I can do both, but". To them "in a pinch" means - standard operating procedure. All it means is "sure! NO PROBLEM!".

 

That's when step two comes in: "Sorry, I can't agree to anything without seeing the script and discussing how you intend to shoot stuff, where and under what conditions". And then it bogs down, because unfortunately, if there are multicam DSLR type shoots near a waterfall (yes, real life example, LOL), I have to pass as a solo operator. 

 

The problem, in a nutshell, is that they know you want a boomie or more, but they may not fully understand why and when it is that you can do it solo - they assume if you can do it "in a pinch", that means they can drag you out solo to a waterfall with 5 cams running.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On narrative, if they insist on a single person sound department, I feel like you know the level of production you were getting involved with. I also know there are some mixers that sold themselves as a cheaper alternative as an all in one sound department. The undercutting is how they can get most of their work with a line producer that is only looking at a spreadsheet, and frankly doesn't give a crap about quality. Again, that tells you who you're talking too. They are probably cutting similar corners elsewhere, which *could* be a red flag for safety concerns. Stay sharp if you take one of those jobs.

Of course this doesn't really apply to reality TV, because generally you would never boom any significant part of the day.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with a lot of what is said here.

BUT one cannot say that without having a look at the project and its needs, can dismiss it simply because they are asking for a one man sound crew. For instance, a film where you follow a single character, occasionally meeting one other, shot with a single cam, that in my book is totally feasible on your own. BUT walking around with an 18' pole and 6 wireless in a bag, is a totally different shoot and that, indeed, requires a two man crew.

My two cents

Pascal

Link to comment
Share on other sites

By the way; I think the necessary HoD's (like Production Sound Mixer) it must sit down side by side with the director. The feeling with real contact - conversation helps a lot the most stressful job position on set (and away from set), director.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

b5f62fc5ee1a83da-ScreenShot2014-02-20at9

www.elpasosoundmixer.com

  : " Call me cheap if you want Senator, "

I did not, nor do I want to,  but ...

I get the feeling a lot of the projects you work on are being cheap, something I said also happens frequently on the coasts as well.

 

rotten: " The problem, in a nutshell, ... "

...for any number of reasons, valid or not, they have decided to cheap out, and hire a single person for audio,  and if you won't do it, someone else will...

 

Now, to be sure, there are a lot of one person audio crew gigs, including union gigs!  yes, I have done, and will continue to do them when they are appropriate, including properly paid.  So I guess in many of these cases, like Rottens " they can drag you out solo to a waterfall with 5 cams running. " these are way too frequent cases of unreasonable expectations.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't boom & mix narrative. You can't do a good job at both, and in the course of trying, you can really hurt yourself. Try holding an 18 foot boom all day with 6 wireless mics and a recorder in the bag. You're not going to mix anything that way, and you might pull something. Not worth it.

Very true.

CrewC

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The thing with commercials is often that the audio recording aspect might not be very complex, BUT they expect you to be able to do anything they can think of (for what they are paying), which could be a lot more speaking parts than they told you about or playback with sync or other audio twists,  quickly and with style, which is tough when you are wearing a bag and holding a pole.  Another aspect (which we've been over here before) is "backfield management".  You need help to manage the Comteks etc for 20+ people on a big spot, with maybe some of them on set, some in a moho at some distance, others maybe even in a 3rd place, and that's not mentioning more exotic situations like car-to-car, boat-to-boat and so on.  And all those folks want to hear every word of the dialog, and the production usually wants to be sure they hear nothing else.  Dudes like Mr Crew are masters of this tightrope walk, but you need help to make it work smoothly.

 

philp

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes philp

 

Its a strange world in commercial land and more about client being looked after and agency justifying themselves.

 

I love when you collect the Comteks and they are lying around and on the floor!!!

 

Now I find productions are saving money and not using video split for playback just the Alexa!!!

 

Oh why can't we hear the audio??

 

Well it should come down the SDI line to the monitor with a 1 inch speaker but it isn't

 

Sound department's problem!

 

I've now got a neat box that takes stereo headphone feed out of Alexa and mono's it to mike level

back into my mixer - but watch out for howl round when they go live like the older days.

 

oh well the cheques in the mail!

 

Cheers

 

mike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mike,

"Now I find productions are saving money and not using video split for playback just the Alexa!!!"

My good clients simply know this is not how it goes.... I am sure yours too.. These must be 3 person crew deals.....

The (fools) who want to start trying to bring audio back from the camera on larger shows, have both done themselves a disservice in general, and in turn, turned that audio into a camera problem.

If that situation was presented to myself, I would probably want to say something politely, that "I had nothing to do with audio from the camera". Or, ( eliminating a crew person and creating a gap in responsibility is not the way to do this)... but of course I would probably not say that. I may say, "It requires specialized cables that should be included in the camera package.

I do not , and should not, have to deal with the camera in that manner.

I had been told once (by some respected representative) that "my audio stops at the other end of any plug going into a camera.. period.. I tend to agree with that... Basically... Very small shows blur these lines for sure, but not midsize to larger shows.

Now I know, you just can't be like that... Always try to help out... good policy, and I do like to help solve on set problems, but there are some touchy situations that cause me to be cautious.... this is one of them I think..

Your fixing their problem with the nifty box, has nicely filled their little "gap" in personnel... and in some way helped to usher out, or reduce the days for our VTR friends.. All those SD handhelds have not helped matters..

If you made a box for the problem, I would think this has occurred quite a few times.. That's a bit sad.. I think for everyone... all to save a few more bucks to most likely be wasted in some frivolous way like Starbucks runs...

I do like the box idea though...LOL and, I do think you have a great attitude , and are helpful

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's all part of filmmaking being the new rock-and-roll. "Garage band looking for Bassist" --they expect you to provide the bass, amp, etc...and there's almost never any pay involved.

But I sound like a broken record on this topic...

Jim "remember records?" Feeley

Wow. I remember doing sound at a bar for a band some years ago and they were so proud of their midi controlled octave machine thingy because they didn't want to pay for a bass player. They still paid me though. More than they got paid. Guess at the time they were on the cutting edge of shrinking

Ken

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with a lot of what is said here.

BUT one cannot say that without having a look at the project and its needs, can dismiss it simply because they are asking for a one man sound crew. For instance, a film where you follow a single character, occasionally meeting one other, shot with a single cam, that in my book is totally feasible on your own. BUT walking around with an 18' pole and 6 wireless in a bag, is a totally different shoot and that, indeed, requires a two man crew.

My two cents

Pascal

Pascal, your posts have been extremely helpful. Are you able to boost equipment/your own rate when asked to do OMB? One thought that I had is negotiating up that way and then using that money to hire a boom operator...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I've done indie drama on my own I've been very straight with the director before we start.  I usually say: "you get 80%, the rest you fix in post".  The real "average" is higher, but it lets them know that working OMB has limitations that they might want to keep in mind.

 

philp

Philip, your posts have also been extremely helpful. Are you worried to say "you'll need to fix things in post" to a producer? I guess one thing that I have been trying to do is stress that they need to shoot proper coverage (i.e don't just do everything 1 take in wide...) and, as Pascal said, try to do it so that almost everything can be handled sans wires.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share


×
×
  • Create New...