Jump to content

Tech Scouts


syncsound
 Share

Recommended Posts

6 hours ago, syncsound said:

I start a feature soon, and this is the second show on which I was at first invited to the tech scout, then had that invitation rescinded.  I hope this isn't the beginning of a cost-savings trend.

Tell 'em having you on the scout will save them more money than it costs.  That should get their attention.

 

D.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just did a movie where the UPM (and he's not the first one) told me that they don't invite sound on tech scouts as a policy. I told him that it's nice for me to at least know what to expect and to be able to plan ahead instead of dealing with problems for the first time on the shoot day and he kind of shrugged. His logic is, the sound will be what it is and it's an area where he can save money. On this movie, there were so many times where there was a noise we couldn't track down until it was too late. The sound definitely could have been better.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Terrible attitude from that UPM. The good ones know the value of the tech scout but the desire to save money often overrides their better judgement. It is true, the sound will be what it is, but  as a UPM you can either be professional and helpful for the whole project, the whole crew, or you can sacrifice some department (and it's often sound) and get away with it. That's when the trend begins to take hold, that sound doesn't need to be on the tech scouts.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Tech Scout is not just to assess the locations for sound issues they are also vital for logistics around RF range and where to base yourself relative to shooting set plus you can take an RF explorer and check out the RF spectrum. These are reasons as important as sound issues and that is why I insist on being on tech scouts. It's not a case of sound "will be what it is" there may not be any if you have RF problems. Time to sell what we do in another way.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

24 minutes ago, Tony Johnson said:

The Tech Scout is not just to assess the locations for sound issues they are also vital for logistics around RF range and where to base yourself relative to shooting set plus you can take an RF explorer and check out the RF spectrum. These are reasons as important as sound issues and that is why I insist on being on tech scouts. It's not a case of sound "will be what it is" there may not be any if you have RF problems. Time to sell what we do in another way.

I agree. When I do have the good fortune of attending tech scouts, I'm the only one interested in where video village (and I) will live. No one else seems to think about it until the day of. I'm sure all this tends to be different on $20 million+ movies but then again every project is different. I worked on a huge television show for over 5 years that never had sound on a tech scout but I can name two others in my area that always have sound on it.

 

Point is, we all know how important it is but it's ultimately their call and they get what they pay for. I'm of the mind to try to go with the flow when all else fails and not get stressed out when things are out of my control. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I used to do a lot of "Made For TV Movies" (for you youngsters, that was back in the days before "Reality TV") and the producer that I did the most of that work for always had me in town, in my hotel, the day before tech scouts were to begin.  They were usually 2 to 3 days and he paid the hourly door-to-door.  Paid me for the Production meetings as well.

 

I always felt like the department was a member of the team and I worked hard for that guy.  He got good sound on those movies.  I was motivated by the companies attitude (not always ALL the company but those are a different set of stories) and inclusion.  I think fondly of that man years later.

 

D.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Things are different where you live!  'Round here, our bus drivers are instructed to let fare jumpers be as a matter of policy and public safety.  The majority of people continue to pay the fare.

I'm not sure where that goes other than making the analogy fall flat.  I think we can agree that production sound mixers aren't a public service, and producers aren't homeless vagrants!

I also think we can agree that tech scouts should be mandatory and paid for sound.  I'm just not sure I'm on board with the idea that giving needy (or drunk) riders a break on bus fare is so important to avoid because of precedent...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The cost of having you in tech scout, is not even the 0.5% of total budget of the film. Misunderstandings is being avoided in this phase of production, so everyone knows the limitations; as well as production knows if a budget for ADR required before the day 1 of shooting. If I was a producer and being asked me to throw extra funds for ADR last minute; I would not be happy with you a lot (UPM and Line Producer).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It isn't just a money thing, sorry.  A message is being sent: no complaints from you, it is what it is, you have no voice in any of the selections and anyway the audio fixes in post are not the UPM or AD's problem.   This sort of attitude and an explicit exclusion from the pre-pro info flow are one of the reasons I scaled back work in this field.  In the music and live-show worlds there are plenty of issues (and less money) but none of this no-meeting-invite and no-scout crap.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tech scout for the sound department? Blahahahaha. Mine are rare for industrials, commercials, docos. Then the AD gets upset with ME when I can't treat the environment to mask the sound from commercial rooftop aircon, elevator, computer server fans, restaurant exhaust fans, etc. Only on movies do i get any respect in this regard. Then it is my labor day rate.

 

I really liked, "Check if they're actually planning a silent film."

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was hired for a 6 month job, the first season of a show.  I was invited to the tech scouts for the pilot, my name was even on the tech scout memo.  Then a few days later we start the show.  A few days into it, the UPM visited set.  He came to me and just started yelling.  Stuff about how he's never paid a sound person to go on a scout, and mainly that he's not paying me for tech scouts.  I am proud of how calm I was and simply repeated that if he didn't want me there, he should not have invited me.  After the scene was made, he left and I called my rep.  By the end of the day I was told I was getting paid for those two days, the studio took one look at the tech scout memo and instructed the UPM to sign the check.

 

That was in 2015, and I wonder what happened to him.  And all the sound mixers who didn't get paid to his scouts.  Strangely my job with him ended up being a very nice sounding show!  Maybe he just believed that everything sound can be fixed in post, and the sound dept. is a relic department.  

 

I have a good memory of being on a tech scout in 2007.  The scene was a walk and talk, and they were liking this walkway that went direct past a super loud machine room.  There was a metal door and next to it was a vent that was just screaming.  A typical loud machine room noise.  As the DP and director were talking about seeing this or that, I mentioned to the UPM that if they chose this walkway, the scene would need to be looped.  BOOM!  He walked up and told everyone we were moving on - it was great!  I did approach the location manager about it and he said something about the DP liking it. I wasn't able to find and confront the person who thought that would be a good walkway.
 

One time on another job we scouted a hospital cafe that was sooooo loud!  It was a 5- page freakin love scene, where one character says how much he's always loved the other one blah blah.  I told the everyone it would only work if the cafe was closed and all its machines turned off.  They laughed and said we'll be shooting at night after the cafe was closed - problem solved!  Then on the day the call sheet order was changed around and lo and behold - that scene was not to be shot during business hours!!!!!  I immediately want to several producers (yes, it was one of those) and told them this was not going to work, but they just smiled and nodded.  The director acted like he was strapped to a chair, totally powerless.  So, as a last resort I told the main actor.  He freaked out and refused to do the scene.  So they had to close the cafe early, and the hospital made the locations dept. do the dishes!!  We shot the cheesy ass scene and then we stayed late and washed dishes with locations.

 

The moral is, even if you are on the tech scout, forces will possibly work to undo any good work you may do.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In a recent group discussion with production mixers the concept on improving how production sound is viewed could be resolved by a change in the culture was discussed. I have lived by that over my years as it pertains to location scouts. And yes I got spoiled early on in my career working with people who wanted us all engaged up front and put it in the budget.

 

For those who have travel this path successfully by virtue of clever producers or your deal memo I know this view is not unique. I offer this for those who mention they are not in practice of this. Most of my work has been features so no scouts on commercials or other styles. Day playing or splinter … forget about it.

 

Sorry to be late to this discussion for you syncsound. You should be there on the tech scout and you should be paid for the time you are present doing work for them … IMHO. Especially if it is union work.

 

You need to change the culture of old thinking and show them why it is important for you to be there, if they wish to get the full measure of your skills they are investing with you.

 

The normal refrain I often hear is … we will not change locations. So be it. If they are a repeat client then they start to ask your opinion of what is possible and is this something to let go of or can you make it work. That might be the director or producer who shall follow the show into post. They might be asking and I certainly appeal to them in early discussions for me to be included on the tech scout. UPMs and ADs are long gone after the shoot so they have little experience as to what happens in the cutting room and the effort and cost it takes to fix things small and large. In time your resume or support from post sound recommendations will help this process.

 

The reasons I state I need to be included is HOMEWORK … like everyone else does. Why would sound be different. Homework ahead of time could save time and money both for production and post production. Things can be ordered and done to help the shooting workflow when it could cost less or just a phone call away before the day of … On the day of is usually too late.

 

Being present on the scout reveals … How do you get to set? The logistics of building or ground or water or swamp covered. Different wheels might matter. Different rigs might be needed. Some carts will not fit through old non-standard doorways. Or tiny elevators if there is one working. Are you working from four wheel vehicles? What is the working distant for RF? How about the cave of a room they want to do the court room scene in? Have that list ready to present assuming you have read the script.

 

I have been doing RF scans on location scouts for many years. That is a must for me and the best time to do it is on the tech scout. Now you can do that with a scanner that captures the data to download for later use. Every show scout I have done there is someone who walks up to me to say “Gee they have never seen that … what are you doing?”   Producers, ADs, Production designers or effects folks … it has run the list. Never gets old.

 

In today’s RF soup, it is something we should all be doing because trying to scan on the morning of is crazy in my experience. The PA herd is already running at us to know when we can wire up talent as we are trying to fully deploy. Having that homework done is a plus to the workflow and if you can get those walkie talkie freqs to fold in, you can have a smoother day … tell them that!!

 

So when I do get push back I go over this concept and ask them remember on your last show when the camera head or light board did not work for a time … well this helps prevent that more often than not. Remind them of all the RF devices in use on the set they are paying for now. You do need to have contact with those other RF devices in those departments … and you can start that in prep and on the tech scout for your homework.

 

If they do not have the experience you need to educated them with past examples. RF coordination needs to be part of the change of culture.

 

The other great benefit is for you to get to know who is who and listening in on what is being planned for … by the production meeting everyone is so panicked to move on … they wish to breeze through that or side bar. So gathering that intel is to your benefit and thus theirs on set. Who else is going to remind locations about ITC or door access or to keep the AC units back. And as mentioned before you might be one of the few department heads to ask for space to put carts where you need to work. Getting those locked rooms open or reserved for your use. The other departments also get to see you and you can make the rounds.  I take lots of photos and share them with the folks not present as well … Video assist, costumes, etc … it helps form good working relationships.

 

Side conversations with transpo and art departments have often been of great help to my work on set. Nothing worst than to run around on day one or prep shooting trying to find out who is who when you need to work together on the set. You have plenty to do at your cart as it is.

 

To mangle the well known saying… you need to be the change of the culture you wish to work within. If not this time … then during the show for the next time.

 

Happy scanning.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd like to add that I think going to the tech scouts is also important for team building, as in getting to know the rest of the team and building relationships and trust, or just getting a sense of who these people are. 
 

In Sweden the sound mixer is very often invited to scouts but would have little or no say over the choice, but there's no question that we should be there. 
 

I have no experience with working in the states so  I don't know the on set dynamics at all, but over here we are a tight knit team and every single position is paramount to the production, and every one is a team player and everyone is telling a story. And if you’re going to be able to play that part well (and endure) , a tech scout might aid that transition, even if you have no say over the location. 
 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 hours ago, Olle Sjostrom said:

I'd like to add that I think going to the tech scouts is also important for team building, as in getting to know the rest of the team and building relationships and trust, or just getting a sense of who these people are. 
 

In Sweden the sound mixer is very often invited to scouts but would have little or no say over the choice, but there's no question that we should be there. 
 

I have no experience with working in the states so  I don't know the on set dynamics at all, but over here we are a tight knit team and every single position is paramount to the production, and every one is a team player and everyone is telling a story. And if you’re going to be able to play that part well (and endure) , a tech scout might aid that transition, even if you have no say over the location. 
 

I agree with what Ollie has said completely  ---   team work, team building, personal relationships, all these things are so important and often begin on the tech scout. On the scout I find some of the most useful observations, for me, are the interactions between the DP, the Director, the Key Grip, Location Manager, etc. All of this will often provide more benefit for the sound than any piece of equipment I can purchase. I was so fortunate in my career, similar to what Paul Ledfrod has said, to have worked mostly with people who always wanted me on board from the very beginning of pre-production. This sort of collaboration is was really the gold for me, made my participation on movies so much more satisfying (and also provided the opportunity to do really good work).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Being "allowed" to scout locations for recording, whether on my own or with the production entourage, has become a litmus test for me re: whether I want to do that job.   For small corporate style "record the air-conditioning" type gigs, or verite doc shoots where the situation is a bit sensitive, I can live without visiting the location.  Anything bigger or longer, anymore if I can't get a look ahead of time then I'm not your guy, thanks.

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...