Sound Mixes Completed!

Last year I was involved in the location sound recording for 2 short films:


Slow Take

Both films were produced by a good mate Chris who runs CLU Productions and I had agreed to do the audio recording for both projects. I also agreed to do the sound mix for Reactions but was not initially asked to help with Slow Take as this was not directed by Chris...

The films were shot 2 weeks apart and both only consisted of 60 seconds as part of the South Australian Short Film Initiative so the days were pretty straight forward and the recording tasks were pretty simple. Both films were low budget with everyone donating their time for the cause. Many of the people were on both sets and working with all of them was fun as it always was. It was great to see some friendly faces from previous filming gigs and I would not hesitate to work with any of them again. 


You can find out more about the films from the above links.

In addition to location recording I had agreed to also take on the task of mixing and producing the audio for Reactions which involved a lot of sound FX and action "music" piece since the film had no dialogue but needed to have an impact. From reading the script even before starting filming I already had ideas for the sound design and after the 2 days of filming I knew exactly what I wanted to do. 

The process I take when reading the script is to play it in my mind and think of every sound that may be needed. I then highlight the words and actions in the script and make "sound notes" describing things like a door sound needed or a zipper of a jacket etc. Some sounds will be recorded just fine in the general run of things and these can be ticked off the script if they are recorded well. This leaves me a way to decide what needs to be done in foley or what I need to gather while on set. What I need to try and do on-set next time is copy the slate sheet and make notes on sounds captured so I don't have to sift thru so much audio for tiny sounds but on such a short shoot this wasn't a hassle and I was too busy socialising. 

The only mistake I made during the first day (night) recording was to not bother recording audio at all mainly because there were only 3 of us and someone had to hold a light (well the sound guy aint doing anything and he knows how to hold a pole...). I did manage to get some of the small sounds (such as sliding out the car driver seat and walking on the ground) from the cameras audio which was plenty good enough. 

For this intro scene I also had a recording of my car which I trimmed and timed with the drive up of the car complete with sticks and gravel noises of the tyres. I had some catalogued ambience sounds of city suburbs with crickets which filled out the scene nicely and then I filled in all the fiddly sounds with all kinds of bits. 

The next challenge was for a fight scene where the main character smashes a bottle over someones head and then starts punching and kicking into him and then finally smashing a chair over his head and throwing him through a table. Well there was a lot of nice sound recorded almost all of which sounded nothing like you would expect on film. 

The bottle smash was a recording of several different smashes I recorded in the toilet block at work. I had a thick sheet on the floor and a stereo NT4 Mic and smashed a coffee cup, empty beer bottle and cheap glass vase. I layered several of these and also used some sounds of single shards hitting the tiles to create stereo artifacts of glass flying around the room. all layered together it worked well.

For the chair and table smash I used dozens of recordings of bits of wood and pine trim pieces being snapped and broken. I also gathered a heap of wood offcuts together and dropped them onto a carpeted floor and moved them around a bit. There were about 10 tracks of wood breaking sounds for this part alone which was about 5 seconds of the film. The punches in the film were of me punching a canvas swag and also hitting my own chest. I alsy layered the low end sound of a bowling ball hitting a bowling lane for the deep thud.

The music track I created was actually simple as it was a pretty stock Native Instruments Komplete track. It was the second one I tested and worked very well for the piece. 

The final project was completed with a total of 40 audio tracks each only held a small number of audio samples. All audio and music used in this film was recorded and produced by myself with much of the audio from my audio catalogue. The project was great fun mainly because I was working with mates and all requests they had for changes were no problem because they were very pleased with the result... So much in fact they asked if I could assist on the other film project........

Slow Take

I was initially asked to do location recording for the short film slow take but because Chris (CLU Productions) was only producing this film and not directing the audio mixing was left to someone else initially. 

After I completed work on the other film Reactions I was asked if I could assist on this film because of the good job I had done on Reactions. Of course I was not only keen but kind of had planned for this anyway because I am that confident. 

I had already had many things for the sound mix planned and I had even recorded room ambience and "staged" an office environment around the cast and crew when they were on-set. They had no idea at the time but while they had conversations between takes I was recording background ambience while I also operated printers, used computer keyboards, opened doors and filing cabinets and called the office phones. I did this while I had a stereo Rode NT4 moc setup in different corners of the office and in closed rooms.

When I was asked to help with the sound design the director had edited together the audio dialogue he wanted to use so the voice parts were already done in a rough cut. I then filled in all the sounds of office ambience and foot steps and sounds when the main character uses the fridge and when he is writing an angry note to stick on the fridge.

This film was pretty easy to do audio on and took only an hour to do. We needed some ADR work from the main character so I met with him and the producer and we recorded the last pieces of the sound work to do the final edit.

Both films had to be rushed forward by 2 weeks because the media production company stuffed up the screening dates and forced us to complete the projects early but I was more than able to meet that deadline as I had things sorted well ahead of their completion.

These projects are such good fun and really great for learning the process and techniques. WHen I am able to I will post some examples of what was done.

Be sure to visit the face book pages for each film. use the links above. 


Last modified on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 14:40

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