Does this sound ok to you?
In an effort to clear up some misconceptions about the craft of film
sound, I have put together some concise definitions for commonly used
terms. Kevin, Matt and I exhaustively researched the information below
over a pitcher of Jagermeister. We stand by these definitions until our
headaches go away.
The debate rages whether this is a six channel or somewhat less than
six channel system. Some believe that there can only be whole channels,
but if that is the case, how can there be a tenth of a channel, as is
clearly occurring here? This confusion is compounded by the fact that
the “.1” channel in fact feeds a single, very large speaker, and not
some fractional portion of a normal-sized speaker. Can somebody tell me
what’s going on here? Perhaps the world is simply not ready for true
six channel sound.
Automated dialogue replacement, formerly called looping. If you can
tell me what part of it is automated, I’ll buy you a falafel. ADR is
most frequently done when there is a technical problem with the
production audio. It is laborious, time intensive and sometimes even
works. When the ADR’d audio is acceptable to the director, it is
unacceptable to the engineer and vice versa.
Can we find true love in the world of sound? It is not certain, but
when considering the coexistence of an uncontrollable craving for
finely recorded sound with the demands of modern relationships, some
formidable obstacles exist. The need for a quiet room. The budget for
gear that precludes the acquisition of housing or clothing. The Wife
Acceptance Factor. This postulates that the larger the piece of sound
equipment, the less compatible it will be with existing decor. Yet,
while you may love your equipment, it will never love you back. This
cautionary poem will sum up the basics:
An audiophile from Great Neck
Had an amorous yen for his tape deck
While copping a feel
He got caught in a reel
And wound up wound up to his neck
A device to distract directors and producers during budgeting, planning
and mixing. It will increase the time necessary in postproduction, and
will provide funding to complete postproduction.
An audience member. They don’t notice things that we know to be
critical such as distorted audio and bad lip-sync, but notice other
things we overlook in the process of manufacturing a film such as plot,
character and theme.
Audio clean up:
People are forever asking me to do this to their dirty, dirty sound. It
usually means to attempt to improve poorly recorded audio from the
field. I’ve occasionally heard of production personnel insisting that
the sound be recorded clean to begin with, perhaps by recording it in a
Production punch. It helps us show up on time and function properly
when we do.
A person with more money than content. Everything takes longer; on the
other hand, we get to charge more. (See independent filmmaker.)
One or more events that occur when the project screens this evening. If
we did not have to actually manufacture a film or master tape before
screening there would be no deadline, and thus no need to make
decisions. Once, while mixing a film in New York City that was set to
screen in Park City in thirty two hours, the client suggested that we
would be in better shape if we possessed an extremely powerful
projector that could project the print to the screen at Sundance
directly from our facility, thus giving us more time to decide if we
were finished. We were excited by this possibility until an engineer
pointed out that we were not allowing for the curvature of the earth,
which would likely change the aspect ratio of the film for the
Either the savior or the nemesis of modern video art, we’re not sure
which. We’ll look back on it fondly when the next format comes along.
A person with more content than money. (See commercial client)
That chaotic, confusing place outside of the studio where one is forced
to carry all of their equipment. Locations have unusual features, such
as geography and weather, which complicate the recording of audio.
These are the things that people always ask me if I wear when I tell
them, I do foley work. Yes I do, sister.
A recording or post studio in a person’s home. The quality of such
facilities range from being every bit as good as a commercial facility
to “a really awesome, but you know, kind of old computer they let me
have from work that I think has Garage Band on it”. Home studios are
popular because they are inexpensive to equip and a joy to share,
things which are also true of scrapbooking and gas grilling.
The person who makes the final blend of sound elements for your film.
She or he cares more about the overall effect of sound in the film than
whether the composer is your boyfriend.
A home constructed upon poles of some sort, which are stuck into the
ground. Frequently found in wetlands, swamps and bayous.
What I give someone when they ask me how much it’s going to cost to do
their sound. These people expect me to provide a precise quote for a
film, even before they shoot it. Or they write it. Some clients will
ask me how it will sound when it is finished, and I always sing out,
“doo-bee-doo doody-doody doo!”
What I charge per hour to work for someone. Also, what the Motion
Picture Association of America does when you have nudity in your film.
My rate is lower if you have nudity in your film.
A flexible, negotiable timetable that determines when you must
absolutely do things. The more important a project is, the less
important the schedule is, with the most important projects of all
having no schedule whatever. All scheduling issues vanish when the
final check clears.
A person learning to make movies, as distinct from one whom simply
picks up a camera and shoots the film without first learning to do so.
Picture and sound on tape. The word is deceptively from the Latin “to
see”; deceptive because any person of even meager mental capacity can
plainly perceive that videotape, obviously, also contains audio! At
least two channels of it! In recent years, a powerful and righteous
movement has sprung up to rename videotape videaudio tape or,
alternately, audivideotape. Send your contributions for this vital
We’re waiting to hear from you.
Carmen Borgia is the head of audio services for DuArt Film & Video
in New York City. He oversees a post production sound department that
provides mixing, sound design, restoration, transfer and printmastering.
His department caters to independent projects in all formats from mono
optical up to digital 5.1.