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Who's working on "A Person of Interest?"


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<< It sounds like Noah has mastered that art of fighting the good fight along all the technical lines of framing and noise reduction. But I also argue that it's always worth the effort to at least point out the obvious, "We wouldn't have to shoot everything in close-up, move all our locations 20 miles from the nearest airport, and ADR half the performances if the actor would speak up just a little." Perhaps for a particular actor it just doesn't work, but, for an actor that can pull it off without blowing his performance mojo, it is by far the most straightforward solution in most cases. >>

 

 

Well, in my practice, when you point out that obvious thing, the producers and directors smile a painful smile and say, "I know".  In that pained smile is a lot of subtext, which is saying, "I know it sucks for you because you're unhappy with these tracks.  But let me tell you, pal, however bad that sucks for you, it sucks way worse for me.  I have to pay thousands of dollars to solve all of these location issues, shoot the show in a way the director/producer/showrunner doesn't want to, and then deal with the actors having a temper fit if they have to go to looping."  

 

What makes our show especially challenging is that we DON'T shoot it all in closeups, shoot it 25 miles from the airport, or loop half the thing.  We shoot it in all sorts of angles on the streets of New York in a variety of locations which could be politely described as "not ideal for sound recording", and we still have to get the tracks somehow.  But practice makes perfect, and the beauty of television is that you get another crack at scenarios that on a movie you might only have one shot at.  If you don't throw up your hands and give up, bemoaning your fair-enough complaints about physics and lack of magic wands, you can continue to hone and refine your approach and see what one can do on one's own end to improve things.  In my experience, bit by bit, things get better.  Yes, it's a cussload of work and it'd be a far easier life on a show that shoots on a studio set most of the time with theatrically trained actors that naturally project.  But sometimes we don't always get it the ideal way. 

 

I feel like i'm beating a dead horse if I continue to opine (based on my experience) that simply asking someone to perform a skill they aren't trained to do isn't going to yield much sustained result, so I am going to largely give that one a rest for now.  I will only say that with absolutely zero disrespect intended towards anyone, I and my crew certainly wouldn't do all the work we do in political negotiations over locations and noise and camera operators and DPs and gaffers and props and background directing-ADs, dealing with flithy sound blankets and carpets and decrepit old moldy refrigerators and compressors and the bottoms of a gazillion shoes, having to play stern policeman to a chatty cast of hundreds standing around while we're rolling, etc if I could get a similar result by simply going to the producer and director and saying, "If he/she doesn't speak up, you're going to have to loop the whole thing."

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Hey Noah,

 

I don't feel like you're beating a dead horse. I always find it fascinating to discuss the endless variety of ways we all approach solving our problems.

 

I do hear you that sometimes things just are what they are and you just have to make them work. I suspect you'll agree that most of us audio engineers are crazed problem solvers anyway and relish the opportunity to tackle a challenge. ("Hmmm. You want me to do the impossible? Give me a minute to think about that; the 'impossible' might take me just a little longer than the usual 'improbably difficult'."). There's always that sense of pride when you figure out how to make some really gnarly situation work.

 

In any event, it probably goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: Nice work on Person of Interest. I just watched another episode last night. You've tackled the impossible (or at least the improbably difficult) with great success!!!

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Thank you, sir, for the compliments!  I don't do it alone.  I'm pretty sure I've got the one of the hardest working sound departments in New York City behind my back when we do this show, augmented with lots of help from the greater NY sound community as we're constantly doing multi-unit work where we have to split up and add teammates to the formation.  And I've been blessed by being able to work with two amazing costumers who never give up on finding solutions with me, grips, electrics, props, set dressers all who run in to fix problems and don't worry about getting "yelled at" for taking a minute to solve something, camera ops who hate the multi-camera routine almost as much as we do and understand our fight...POI's a funny show.  We're all in the trench together for an extent, so we all understand how it is and try to help each other out.  I've been on far easier shows and movies in the past where people were way more prone to throwing a middle finger up at another department instead of helping.  And it's honestly astonishing what my post team is able to accomplish in the limited time they have to work with.  Our main producer/director put a post up on Facebook sometime after we finished "If..Then..Else..." thanking us, talking about how absurd we have to come up with a big budget action/sci fi movie every 8 days, and he's not that far off that exaggeration.  Or at least he wasn't in that case.  (I still hurt thinking about that one!)  Anyway, thanks.

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