Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Famous Last Words!

I’m done with audio! Yep, it only took me a scant year to finish that phase of post-production.


I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am to have that behind me. There were times I wasn’t really sure if audio editing was going to end. Ever. Maybe I’d already died and just didn’t realize it yet and this was hell and I’d be laying in footsteps by hand for eternity.

I suppose I should explain “laying in footsteps” a bit. I choose to explain this, as opposed to the deranged fantasy of already being dead and eternally punished. Anyway, sounds that are created to accompany the on-screen actions of actors, like footsteps or the sound of a door opening, are called Foley effects. And they’re usually created in real-time by a Foley artist on a soundstage watching the movie. So for example, if an actor walks across a room in a film, her footsteps would be rerecorded later by a Foley artist mimicking her actions, wearing similar shoes and walking across a similar surface, trying as best as possible to match the action on the screen.

But, we didn’t have a Foley artist or a soundstage, so I used Foley effects from the free (and royalty-free) sound effects libraries that I could find: the 5,000 + effects that come with Apple’s Final Cut Studio and two online libraries, the amazing Freesound Project (http://freesound.iua.eupf.edu), which I made extensive use of and can’t thank enough for its mere existence, and Soundsnap (www.soundsnap.com), which I didn’t use as much, but which also has some excellent recordings.

Which leads us back to footsteps. After locating the right sound (sneakers walking on a wood floor, for instance) I would then chop that clip up into individual steps and place them to sync up with the actors’ movements. Which doesn’t seem so bad the first, oh, hundred times, you do it. But, after adding footsteps to the whole movie…well, let’s just say I think I would have been better off building my own Foley stage. Next movie maybe.

“Things We’ll Do Differently on the Next Movie!” is going to be a rather lengthy future post.

To be fair, there were some parts of audio work that I really loved. Mixing, for example, although it would have been a lot easier with some sort of control surface (I just used a mouse and set keyframes where I wanted to make changes in volume, panning, etc.). And sound effects were a lot of fun to put together. There’s a camera flash sound that I particularly like that was made by putting together the sounds of an instamatic camera, a gas stove lighting, an Uzi, as well as a few other effects.

While I’m thinking about it, there are a couple of fantastic sites focused on sound in movies, if you're interested: www.filmsound.org, in their words, “dedicated to the art of film sound design,” has tons of great information and links; and www.filmsounddaily.com, which has some very nice interviews with sound professionals, as well as awe-inspiring (to the guy who used a mouse) pictures of real audio post facilities with their beautiful, enormous mixing consoles that I desperately want for my very own.

Next movie…


Kate Rudd said...

wow. I may be overly optimistic..but all i heard in this post was "the Next Movie"!!

I'm really happy and impressed with what you've done so far. And fully expect to be involved in the next project, which I now firmly believe will be made.


And speaking of 'last words'..I'll try to get that clip to you sometime soon.

Guy said...

Thanks, Katie! Absolutely no rush on the clip. Though I yearn deeply to return to the world of audio, I’ll find some way to sustain myself in the interim.

And yes, unlike some of us, Quentin--er, V., I mean--has been almost supernaturally prolific during post and we’re mulling over a number of follow-up projects. My favorite goes under the code word: Giant Pumpkin! Although those are two words! So it’s more of code phrase! You get the idea!

Anyway, as soon as he’s talking to me again (seeing as he’s still a little bitter over the loss of two of the last three scenes in the current movie), I’ve no doubt we’ll get right to work on preproduction.

Incidentally, if you’ll refer to p. 67 of your release form, subsection ii, paragraph 3, it clearly states that your contract with us is, well, forever really. Terribly sorry about that.

So, see you on the set!

V.Z. Montengo said...

"seeing as he’s still a little bitter over the loss of two of the last three scenes"

If it were *only* two of the last three scenes...

Editing is a heartless business. Heartless.