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A/C - who's job is it to kill?


Izen Ears
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  Everyone seems to have a different opinion.  Some say it's the key PA's job to find the house noises, get locations to figure out how to kill them, and then actually kill them when rolling.  Others say it's the sound utility's job to identify noises and then get locations to figure out how to kill them, and have locations kill them upon rolling.  And still others say it's the sound utility's job to find the noises, and then get locations to figure out how to kill them, and then have the ADs get locations to kill them upon rolling.

  Who's right?!!
  I ask because I had a 1st AD tell me it wasn't his job to get locations to kill the house A/C upon rolling.  Which is 100% NOT what I thought was true. 
  What's the old-school way, the tradition?
  Thanks!
  Dan Izen
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I don't actually know the tradition, but my personal approach is to find the offensive noise makers, then work with whoever is most likely to turn them off.  Sometimes locations wants to do it so they have control and can make sure nothing gets damaged, sometimes they don't want to deal with it and a PA is set for it, sometimes I just do it because it's easier.  

Shooting in bars/restaurants especially I've stopped trusting anyone else to actually turn off all the fridges, and have, with locations involved, unplugged/killed them all myself, because that's the only way it gets done fully for me.  But that's just me.

 

I would never trust anyone outside the sound department to find the noises, but often trust other departments to tame them.

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1st AD on my last project also kept saying things like that are not his job, so I would turn to locations usually. It depends on the project and the people I guess. It's also a question of trust. If the locations dept can't be trusted (i.e. they say they will kill something but then fail to do so or forget etc.) then sometimes I will personally take care of the issue, often working with a PA who will turn off when rolling.

I've also had cases where a noise should have been killed upon rolling but wasn't, and then the director cut the take because of the noise, wondering why locations didn't manage to get it quiet. Psychologically this is sometimes useful in order to make AD/locations/whoever realize that it's not a non-issue.

 

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Really professional location and production people (who have been on the scout, which I probably was NOT on) have noted things like HVAC and other noises and already have done the research about whether they can be shut down, for how long, by whom and how.  Lesser professionals like to blow this kind of thing off as not being their job (I'm looking at you, LA-based commercial ADs working on location in NoCal), and sometimes the location folks are too overwhelmed to have drilled down that far on any one location.  So I go in figuring that it's kind of my deal to do--find the noise, see if there is a solution that will work for everyone and present the whole platter to production.  Sometimes they are grateful that I did the legwork for them, sometimes they treat it as just more input from a dept they feel they can safely ignore.  But at that point I have "plausible deniability".

p

 

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1st AD on my last project also kept saying things like that are not his job, so I would turn to locations usually. It depends on the project and the people I guess. It's also a question of trust. If the locations dept can't be trusted (i.e. they say they will kill something but then fail to do so or forget etc.) then sometimes I will personally take care of the issue, often working with a PA who will turn off when rolling.

I've also had cases where a noise should have been killed upon rolling but wasn't, and then the director cut the take because of the noise, wondering why locations didn't manage to get it quiet. Psychologically this is sometimes useful in order to make AD/locations/whoever realize that it's not a non-issue.

 

the series that I am on presently has a 1st ad on alternating episodes that uses a program feed that I supply to keep track of what is happening around the camera (via the boom) and what the sound issues are during a take.  on his episodes,  before I can say "get rid of that extra that crosses off camera", he is already on his team sorting that out.  the other handy thing is that I have his ear for other needs:  "I'll need a moment for a radio mike battery replacement".  when he hears this,  he can keep the process idling for a few seconds while that is attended to, without the dreaded "rolling" because no one passed on to the 1st that you were in the middle of a battery change.   because he is listening,  he also passes on the command to locations: "kill the air,  kill the air, kill the air".  the repetition is helpful for the poor locations pa that might be located close to the noisy air conditioner,  or is off set on another mission.  the air con unit that we are using on set has a long range wireless control which means that the locations pa might not be close,  but he can be effective. 

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Dan,

Your guy sounds like a prick.

If you can't roll because the A/C is on, then it's his problem. His timeline is affected. 

I would put the responsibility on locations to find out about turning off/on the AC. In terms of having it turned off before a take, that's a PAs job usually. That PA works for 1st AD, who in turn works for producer and director who both want clean tracks. 

Your 3rd had other responsibilities like 2nd boom, etc. A quiet set is production's responsibility. 

In my experience, 1st AD's call in the radio for AC to go off before calling rolling, particularly if it takes a minute or so to cycle down. 

Good luck!

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Dan,

Your guy sounds like a prick.

If you can't roll because the A/C is on, then it's his problem. His timeline is affected. 

I would put the responsibility on locations to find out about turning off/on the AC. In terms of having it turned off before a take, that's a PAs job usually. That PA works for 1st AD, who in turn works for producer and director who both want clean tracks. 

Your 3rd had other responsibilities like 2nd boom, etc. A quiet set is production's responsibility. 

In my experience, 1st AD's call in the radio for AC to go off before calling rolling, particularly if it takes a minute or so to cycle down. 

Good luck!

+1.

That's exactly as I see it.

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The first AD should have you talk to locations. remember,locations is responsible if something is damaged by turning it off. I've been at locations that won't allow the telephones to be shut off until that "perfect take" is ruined. A PA is usually station at the breaker panel with a walkie to shut things off while rolling.

 

                                                                                                                                               J.D.

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I had a 1st AD tell me it wasn't his job to get locations to kill the house A/C upon rolling.

In my neck of the woods it's definitely the 1st AD's job to tell everyone to get ready for rolling. And that includes eliminating all kinds of noises, be it crew talking or AC cooling. Who's doing the actual switching off? It Depends. Politics. But usually, it's a PA with a walkie.

It might, however, not be considered the 1st AD's job to "get" ( = convince, explain) another department to do something they just don't think of, like switching off a device that guarantees comfortable temperature but makes a constant noise nobody notices until editing begins.

Edited by pkautzsch
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  Thanks fellas!  I'm happy we all have the same opinion: production is responsible for the actual off/on business, and we are responsible for identifying the need for the off/on business.

  I have no idea why this fellow was so caustic about denying something that was his job.  Usually he is stellar about these things.  Strangely enough, after I got on walkie after he announced that picture was up, and asked for locations to kill the A/C once, he did it for the rest of the scene.  Maybe he realized how ludicrous it was for me to be on channel 1 or something.
  I am still curious about the traditional approach that Mr. Perkins mentions as what happens when he's got experienced AD / locations depts.  In other words, when production and locations is on point, sound merely mentions that yes, it is an issue, and they take care of it.  Isn't this the way it should be?
  Dan Izen
Edited by Izen Ears
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At the end of the day, it's your responsibility to get clean audio. It doesn't matter if the AD or producer didn't do their job. You'll still get blamed for any noises that could have been cut before rolling. You did the right thing by getting on it and reminding this guy.

Often times I'll be doing an interview where I'm told not to switch off AC because talent will start to sweat and be uncomfortable. All I can do at that point is make a note to the person in charge that you will hear the AC. That same talent wouldn't even take off her dangling necklace -___-

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  Thanks fellas!  I'm happy we all have the same opinion: production is responsible for the actual off/on business, and we are responsible for identifying the need for the off/on business.

  I have no idea why this fellow was so caustic about denying something that was his job.  Usually he is stellar about these things.  Strangely enough, after I got on walkie after he announced that picture was up, and asked for locations to kill the A/C once, he did it for the rest of the scene.  Maybe he realized how ludicrous it was for me to be on channel 1 or something.
  I am still curious about the traditional approach that Mr. Perkins mentions as what happens when he's got experienced AD / locations depts.  In other words, when production and locations is on point, sound merely mentions that yes, it is an issue, and they take care of it.  Isn't this the way it should be?
  Dan Izen

Yes, that's the way it should be.  It's also how it WAS in the days when sound was recorded as a mono mix with no isos--production tried a little harder.

p

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Well,

 

 

  If it's HOT outside the location or stage...  90 degrees or above and some climates less, you have a few choices...

    As has been mentioned, notify production BEFORE the shoot to let them know hot temps will be present .... Tell them that they need to spend money on Portable quiet units to pipe in AC so the talent,  Make-up and other crew, others as well don't suffer through a 10 hr. day or longer from hell...

  Turning AC off or having NO AC will often do more damage than good in relation to the production, Talent or peoples ability to work through the day.

   Once on set, see how bad it is... I OFTEN decide it is better to leave it on than turn it off...All AC and your proximity to the "noise" is different... YOU make the call, unless your overruled...

  I have shot MANY MANY times this Summer, 100 degrees and over in offices where you can't control the AC, on stages with it on and in homes with it on STILL getting good sound... Suss it out... figure it out yourself... only you know how bad it really is... Often, it's not REALLY heard on the mix enough to roast the crew, yourself and talent in a 100 degree day.. It's just not worth it in the long run...  We all want pristine audio, but there are times when you flex...I think this is one of them...

Turning it on and off has its own pitfalls as well... as we all know... now the best take had it left on cause the PA forgot to shut it off...  you get the idea...

 

If you have to shut it off, as has been suggested, ask locations after notifying the AD...  If your shot down, make note... record all day in a cool environment..  You've done your job.... Move on and always remember.... It's NOT YOUR MOVIE, COMMERCIAL, SHOW or PROJECT... It's theirs... Do what they say... AND MAKE NOTE OF IT!!!

Edited by afewmoreyears
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IMO, it's a team effort. As long as it gets done, who cares?

+1 Jose, and if they don't want it off, as a team player, I comply with no fuss, make a note in the sound report that it was cycling during the take, roll room tone, and move onward with the day. Their tolerances might not be as rigid as mine, or they might consider the take 'throw away' audio anyway. Initially though, boom mic goes up first, and it's my ears that'll be the one to find the offensive noise, usually walking my boom (or boom op) around for what it might be, as the build is happening. I try to catch noisy HVAC systems, buzzing ballasts/squealing heads, and rattly gel frames when the issue can still be dealt with, so as not to detain camera. Sometimes I arrange 'First Listens' (they get Last Looks), and have the 1st AD stop the work for 15 or 30 seconds. If I see air traffic or identify an airport nearby, I do F.L.'s when there's air traffic overhead to hear the effect of that. I might even offer the 1st AD the cans for that minute. I typically won't have the luxury of scouting locations, and they usually don't think of sound minutiae on the scout, so I deal with it ASAP, and how ever I can. I'll delegate outward and see follow the issue. 

Your guy sounds like a prick.

If you can't roll because the A/C is on, then it's his problem. His timeline is affected. 

I would put the responsibility on locations to find out about turning off/on the AC. In terms of having it turned off before a take, that's a PAs job usually. That PA works for 1st AD, who in turn works for producer and director who both want clean tracks. 

Your 3rd had other responsibilities like 2nd boom, etc. A quiet set is production's responsibility. 

In my experience, 1st AD's call in the radio for AC to go off before calling rolling, particularly if it takes a minute or so to cycle down. 

Good luck!

+1 Robert. I've had the good fortune to never hear some jerk AD say "that's not my job". I don't understand that attitude. Quibbling over petty issues like job descriptions? It's simply not the time for that, and semantically speaking, that seems to go in the direction of a power play, and not toward a solution. Before I ask, if they look really busy with other, bigger issues, I'd rather be polite and flexible and do whatever it takes to get the place quiet. If I have to borrow a PA, I ask the AD.

 

+1 Mr. Perkins. 

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On location, if its a portable unit rented by the production, then they usually come with someone who turns it on and off. Otherwise Prodcution (PA) does it.

 

If it's practical AC, then I talk to locations/site rep and work out how to shut it down. Then either the site rep, or Production (PA) does it. I always ask them to test their ability to shut it off, regardless of how certain they are that it isn't a problem. In my experience, site reps mean well, but have no idea what constitutes quiet for our purposes.

 

All other noises are my department's responsibility to locate and address. If solutions are available, like turning off refrigeration, then we work with the appropriate department to make that happen (and to undo it upon wrap). If there are no solutions available, then we make the production aware and shoot.

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My typical process, identify all obvious and potential sound issues, preferably while crew is having breakfast. A brief conversation is had with the first AD about what will or will not work, followed by a confirmation of who will be responsible for, AC off, while rolling and locations specific issues. As far as who is responsible, in the end, that usually comes down to who is available. It is most often an eager PA, but I've also been on sets where, as one example, the hair and makeup department was closest to the thermostat, so they managed it. It is always interesting to me, the people on set, who have a vested interest in managing something, that keeps both crew and talent happy. 

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We, as a team, find the offending noises.

We then bring these to the attention of the AD Dept, and - especially if ignored - sometimes to the on-set producer.

I go in this direction as often some degree of authority is needed to clean up the problems expeditiously, as they are often inaudible until we actually are rolling.    It is very difficult these day to get the set quiet enough to ferret out the problems, as lately "Take One" has evolved into the "New Rehearsal".

 

MF

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