Starting From The Begining – Recording Sound

Introduction

A Journey To Paradise has evolved into a very big project, not only in the budget and duration of the film, but also in ways that my module has become about the film, or at least using the film as my visual-audio response. At first I was offered to record on location, understanding I had my own film to do I still agreed as the shoot was looking to be only 3 days (which it was). Whilst I stayed in constant contact with Andrew I soon came to understand the magnitude of the film, this meant I had to make a few changes.

For one I really wanted to be more involved with the film, I understood that this was a great chance to work on what seems like a fantastic film, I also came to learn who was in the crew. Andrew, me, Rob Smith and Rob Marshal. Having worked with both Robs before I was really excited to work alongside them again, as well as this both me and Andrew will be working in the third year together for our final film, this would be a great chance to start a working relationship. A 4 man crew on a film of this size is something that shouldn’t work or be tried, however with the crew we have it seems more than doable, not only getting by, but taking the film and running with it.

With it being a 4 man crew it gave me great room to work on the film, as time went on I came to the position of being in charge of the overall sound of the film (with Andrews vision as director). This meant however that my workflow doubled, changing a few things around I made it work for me, I adopted this as part of my Moving Narrative, although this means I have chopped my work load a little I am a little confused. I am also looking at sound in negotiated but more from a directors standpoint, how to drive narrative with sound, as well as allowing sound to have importance in the construction of the scenes.

I am confused what it is I will be talking at for Moving Narrative, I am carrying out the overall sound for A Journey To Paradise but I’m a little confused/worried that I am not meeting the target of the module, however I will have to carry on with what I am doing until I get some clarification with what I am doing is correct.

Preparing On Location

I have carried out a few recordings before, all of which are met with 50/50 success and failure rates, a lot like everything else. I felt under a little more pressure with this film however and was aware of the expectations. This came from the realisation of the amount of time and thought that went into the visuals, with Andrews budget he manage to rent the C-100. This allowed both him and the D.O.P to gather great images, knowing this I was aware that my audio could not let it down. Before the shoot took place Andrew and both Rob’s went to take some location shots, to plan and find locations. We talked about it and decided it might be a good idea that I went along as well, here I could gather both wild tracks and scout the area for problematic factors that could hinder the recording. I gathered roughly an hour of wild track both wood and river, as well notes:

  • Loud river in places of dialog
  • Roadsides.
  • Hill vulnerable to wind.
  • Leaves underfoot.

scout

As far as problems go these are typical, I started looking to get past these problems. For the roadside and river we looked into Lapel microphones, these would capture the actors voices a lot more clearly, I would still carry out recording with the boom to make sure I get some ambient sound for that space.

For the wind I made sure I took a dead cat to decrease the chance of audio being disrupted, which ended up working really well. The equipment I worked with was the following:

  • Zoom H4N
  • MKH 60 Shotgun
  • Clamp
  • Boom Pole
  • Headphones

With all the kit booked it was time to shoot.

Recording Sound

The actual sound recording went well, with some exceptions. For one that Lapel microphones that we purchased didn’t work well, these were smart lavs that attached to the I-phone. It’s safe to say I will not be using these again, their effectiveness on a shoot is non existent. I had to result in using the shotgun microphone, thoughts to post work were already going through my mind. I knew the river behind me and in front would have to be silenced. I practised with sound sheets, but this failed to work. Post was the only way.

Water

On the hill shoot I was really concerned with the wind, in nearly 99% of shoots I have been on, the wind has always damaged some audio. On revision of the audio however this seemed to not happen, the dead cat worked perfectly. The one the ERC gave us didn’t fit correctly but I managed to make it work. Recording on the hill was a lot easier than I imagined, although I had to travel back down as one of the XLR’s we had been faulty.

What I did take in mind however was the day, when we first visited the location it was cold, damp and unpopulated. The day of the shoot however the sun was out and it was a hot day. I noticed that with this came a different type of wildlife, birds and insect. As well as this the wind had lessened, I gathered this wild track in hope that this would sell the location and world a little more.

Hill

The night-time shooting was one of the highlights of the shoot, here the surroundings were silent with only the night soundscapes and close fire keeping me company. So far I feel this could be the best sounding scene in regards to dialog. I could manage to get close to the actor which meant better sounding vocals. The only thing I wished we did however was shoot everything with the fire. I didn’t expect the fire to be so ferocious. It sounded more like a flame thrower then a fire, again this would have to be altered in post. Again I gathered a night wild track which to my mind is amazing, although the night scene allows for a darker feeling, I feel the sound scape will only enhance this.

Night

To conclude my thoughts on the set I was really impressed with how Andrew already has an insight into the sound of his film. With the use of the c-100, semi-professional actor and a beautiful landscape. Audio never seemed to take a back seat. There were times where I was a little unaware with the actors movements and a little pre warning would have been useful, but I felt part of the crew which meant I put 100% effort into the recordings. This will then carry on to post work. My mind is casted back to one scene, as all the locations were already arranged we arrived at the location. However the location had changed a lot, one major change was the introduction of people, it was a hot weekend which meant everybody was there. The noise was loud with laughter, talk and a car radio. As well as this the shot types were all wide, this meant I couldn’t get close the actor.

I was ready to hear the shout that we were going to record anyway but Andrew took the time to talk to me, I explained what was wrong and what he would get with this type of set up. He decided to change the location, this was unheard of in my experience with working in sound, the actor complained, the D.O.P’s were confused, it was great. This resulted us in moving to a different location which to my mind looked better and we also got amazing sound.

Recording

All in all it was a great shoot, not only was it a great experience I feel that my technique has leaped forwards immensely. I now look forward to working on post with this I can look and understand the theory of this film, in hope that I can create a narrative through the sound.

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