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I have yet to record for features, will very soon I think, but choosing my love for production recording as a career. What are the biggest things I should look out for, buy, rent so I can at least crash but not burn on those fantastic days. Thanks the replies!

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Honestly, I don't know how mixers who have never seen it done can expect to just jump in and do a good job.  Narrative sound is different than other types.  Not harder, but different.

My advice would be to get on as many narrative sets as possible to see how it flows.  Not just from a sound point of view, but a "filmmaking" point of view.  You can learn just as much by seeing someone do poorly as you can by seeing someone do well.

Don't take on a project if you don't feel equipped to succeed.  You might only get one opportunity, so it's best to be prepared.

Robert

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Honestly, I don't know how mixers who have never seen it done can expect to just jump in and do a good job.  Narrative sound is different than other types.  Not harder, but different.

My advice would be to get on as many narrative sets as possible to see how it flows.  Not just from a sound point of view, but a "filmmaking" point of view.  You can learn just as much by seeing someone do poorly as you can by seeing someone do well.

Don't take on a project if you don't feel equipped to succeed.  You might only get one opportunity, so it's best to be prepared.

Robert

Great advice Robert,

I've been doing location sound for over thirty years but rarely get the chance to do narrative work.  Its usually reality, documentary, news,industrial or sports.  I do take on free narrative projects when my friends/colleagues are doing a no budget (48 hour film challenge, festival) type project because I recognize that its very different from what I usually do and I want to know what goes on in case a real gig comes my way.  I find it to be easier in some ways, and much harder in some ways, but always a lot of fun.

Best,

Bernie

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I agree with Robert and can give you an example.  Frantic call two days ago from friends who hired a guy who was interested in film production because he now mixes Jingles at a local studio.  As you might expect, disaster.  Set pictures show him standing behind the camera point a "Studio" type mic towards the actors basically worse than an on camera mic.  The levels are so low they aren't even showing up in Protools.  If it's your first feature be sure to get an aggressive boom op who is not afraid of dropping the mic close.

Remember what the camera see's is there territory, the rest of it is where we get to play!! The best purchase I made for my first feature was a Mic that I still use as my primary mic to this day. Remember to yell "Speeding" so everyone can hear and if the boom does dip in just tell them "I dip because I care"!!!

Mark

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Sorry for not being more clear. I'm still in school learning more and more about production mixing on my own and a lot of my friends have asked me to record for their final project and I am wondering if here are any accessories I could get to reduce hum or if I ever run into a huge problem like a weak signal or the lights mess with my lavs. Sorry for being vague, just trying to learn from mistake of my own and others when possible.

Also for the future for when I work on larger budget shoots. The does and don'ts so not to get fired, or do more harm than good on a production.

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Sorry for not being more clear. I'm still in school learning more and more about production mixing on my own and a lot of my friends have asked me to record for their final project and I am wondering if here are any accessories I could get to reduce hum or if I ever run into a huge problem like a weak signal or the lights mess with my lavs. Sorry for being vague, just trying to learn from mistake of my own and others when possible.

Also for the future for when I work on larger budget shoots. The does and don'ts so not to get fired, or do more harm than good on a production.

Posted and removed this message earlier, having hit 'post' by mistake before finishing.

What gear you got so far? Sorry if you posted this info elsewhere.

My carts and cases are loaded with stuff gathered in response to or anticipation of unforeseen sound tragedies. Some of those things are based upon conversations / visits with others, some by virtue of sound dreams (early on, had lots of sound dreams in which the most troublesome setups of the day were replayed endlessly until I figured out what / how to solve / prevent).

What seems to have happened is that layer by layer, confidence and gear has built up so that (and I know I tempt the vengeful hubris gods here) when the crap hits the fan I know the crap can and will be dealt with, and that in the big picture, it'll all be OK. The tracks may suffer a bit for a take or two, or even for an entire setup, but I still know that it will be alright and remain calm.

Early on, the idea of sacrificing a take to the inevitable screwup (gear or operator error) was enough to make me freak out enough so that my own performance suffered. Those layers also apparently insulate me from that emotional failure, too.

Freaking out doesn't help anyone, not me and my team, and not the rest of the crew either.

Short answer? Carry a large bottle of chill pills.

Wanna get fired? Continually mess with post production.

  • Don't do what they ask of you.
  • Don't ask them what they want/prefer.
  • Be snippy, defensive and uncommunicative with them.
  • Don't mix with their job in mind.

Off-the-top-of-my-head antiperspirant ideas:

  • ground lift
  • as many alternative ac/dc powering options as you can muster
  • repair kit
  • all the manuals are in pdf form on my computer and phone (talismans)
  • when I can afford it, I buy two
  • buy the best gear you can at the time
  • learn how to read a script for sound implications
  • First thing, I watched a stone cold expert mix for four months and kept my mouth shut, which is probably why they didn't drum me off the set
  • know your sound purveyors / manufacturers / repair houses, and treat them well
  • know your colleagues and treat them well
  • keep an up to date address book with all the #'s of purveyors, manufacturers, and colleagues, their specialties and notes on their gear; they will one day prove your savior
  • pay particular attention to those colleagues who work with the same gear you do (to replace you or you replace them in the inevitable pinch)

That's all I got time for.

-- Jan

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What Jan says, big time! Read this carefully, there is so much wisdom and common sense in the last post, all of this I know has come from Jan's own experiences --- we can all learn a lot.

Not ALL from personal experience; some of it is from legend, LOL.

-- Jan

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Posted and removed this message earlier, having hit 'post' by mistake before finishing.

What gear you got so far? Sorry if you posted this info elsewhere.

My carts and cases are loaded with stuff gathered in response to or anticipation of unforeseen sound tragedies. Some of those things are based upon conversations / visits with others, some by virtue of sound dreams (early on, had lots of sound dreams in which the most troublesome setups of the day were replayed endlessly until I figured out what / how to solve / prevent).

What seems to have happened is that layer by layer, confidence and gear has built up so that (and I know I tempt the vengeful hubris gods here) when the crap hits the fan I know the crap can and will be dealt with, and that in the big picture, it'll all be OK. The tracks may suffer a bit for a take or two, or even for an entire setup, but I still know that it will be alright and remain calm.

Early on, the idea of sacrificing a take to the inevitable screwup (gear or operator error) was enough to make me freak out enough so that my own performance suffered. Those layers also apparently insulate me from that emotional failure, too.

Freaking out doesn't help anyone, not me and my team, and not the rest of the crew either.

Short answer? Carry a large bottle of chill pills.

Wanna get fired? Continually mess with post production.

  • Don't do what they ask of you.
  • Don't ask them what they want/prefer.
  • Be snippy, defensive and uncommunicative with them.
  • Don't mix with their job in mind.

Off-the-top-of-my-head antiperspirant ideas:

  • ground lift
  • as many alternative ac/dc powering options as you can muster
  • repair kit
  • all the manuals are in pdf form on my computer and phone (talismans)
  • when I can afford it, I buy two
  • buy the best gear you can at the time
  • learn how to read a script for sound implications
  • First thing, I watched a stone cold expert mix for four months and kept my mouth shut, which is probably why they didn't drum me off the set
  • know your sound purveyors / manufacturers / repair houses, and treat them well
  • know your colleagues and treat them well
  • keep an up to date address book with all the #'s of purveyors, manufacturers, and colleagues, their specialties and notes on their gear; they will one day prove your savior
  • pay particular attention to those colleagues who work with the same gear you do (to replace you or you replace them in the inevitable pinch)

That's all I got time for.

-- Jan

Thank you so much Jan, this is exactly what I'm looking for. As of now, unfortunately, I do not have any gear of my own. I always use my schools gear. I usually "check out" the same things every weekend, 744T, shotgun, lavs, and a dynamic. I might as well have my own shelf. ha.

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Awesome Jan,

Almost everything I have in my arsenal of gear, is an anticipation of trouble that I've had in the future.  Specifically (and well said by you Jan) is I look for issues that can trip me up, or that have tripped me up..  For example.. If you run across a production where they have 2 cameras.. Then your next immediate investment should be toward another boom pole, slate, etc..

-Richard

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I have an emotional (or real) scar for every widget in my kit.  Sound people are expected to be a pain in the ass, so go ahead and ask all the questions you want to of production etc.  Information is power.  Scout anytime you can.  Don't be intimidated by people who think you bring too much gear (esp if they are from the camera dept.). 

phil p

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" take on free narrative projects when my friends/colleagues are doing a no budget (48 hour film challenge, festival) "

and

" a lot of my friends have asked me to record for their final project "

the big issue here is that on these projects you often end up learning how movies should not be made!

get on a real production, as a utility tech, or sound intern, even just as a PA, and learn how it is really supposed to be done!

" I always use my schools gear. I usually "check out" the same things every weekend "

and the first thing to do when you "check out" the gear is to check out the gear!!  (every time!!)

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" take on free narrative projects when my friends/colleagues are doing a no budget (48 hour film challenge, festival) "

and

" a lot of my friends have asked me to record for their final project "

the big issue here is that on these projects you often end up learning how movies should not be made!

get on a real production, as a utility tech, or sound intern, even just as a PA, and learn how it is really supposed to be done!

" I always use my schools gear. I usually "check out" the same things every weekend "

and the first thing to do when you "check out" the gear is to check out the gear!!  (every time!!)

Getting on bigger and better projects is a goal that will probably always remain - you'll just keep moving the goal posts.

But you're in school and working on student films - here's where you get to make mistakes and try things and succeed, learn and maybe even fail a bit. But oh well. Enjoy it. Stay curious. Ask the electricians about their lights. Ask the camera assistants why they do what they do and what those focal lengths are.

When I was in school, our equipment packages provided by the school did not have wireless mics and I'm happy that the projects I worked on didn't rent them. It was great to have to learn to use plants and to be a part of the discussion when scenes were being planned. Things did get hairy - I once wired an actress with a hard-wired lav in her hair and a producer hiding at her feet ready to unplug the XLR connector so she could exit frame - and all departments made mistakes, but that's what those jobs are for (that and sleeping at the director's parent's house and eating massive homemade meals).

Josh

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