Sound Recording

On 11th April, I recorded sounds for the short film “The Night We Opened for the New Ed Sheeran”. This was a comedy Directed by Josh Farrell and produced by Sammy OA

There was minimal preparation time, and whilst we did undertake a location visit before the shoot, and I had made several recommendations for sound recording options, none of these seemed to have been taken into consideration on the day, so I was left with little to do other than to record some dialogue and to do my best to record the ambient sounds and room tone on the day. Everything else was just a recording of a loud noise as the microphones supplied (Rode NTG2/NTG3) were totally unsuitable for recording “gig” noises, and whilst I had recommended that we hook into the professional soundboard at the venue in order to record a mixdown for editing later, this was rejected by both Josh and Sammy, as it would have been too complicated and too time consuming to get the venue to assist, and all they really wanted was some dialogue… they didn’t care about the crowd scenes too much or any of the other sounds as they just wanted me to dub those in post …

Jon and Ana discussing audio from one of the takes

During the day I experimented as much as I could with the levels, however the recording equipment itself wasn’t really suitable for the job at hand and we experienced a large amount of clipping even with the input levels set as low as possible

Sound design has been fairly basic. Adding reverb to the recording of the band playing so that they sound as though they’re in a large room rather than a recording studio, some noise reduction on one piece of dialog that was recorded with the microphone hidden out of shot on a wide (because again, we weren’t allowed to hook into the physical mics which were on stage)

Jon and Santi preparing to record sound on a scene

The edit I received also had 3 different sets of dialogue plus random bits of music all on one track, so this needed to be edited and split into multiple tracks. Bouncing the mix down from Premiere into Audition and then back again seemed to introduce some timing issues with clips, partly because many of the clips don’t seem to have in/out markers, they’re just “compound” clips that stretch to the exact length required .. there were also some gaps that were apparently intentional, but other gaps which weren’t. With deadlines looming I tried my best to discuss these with the Director by email, however that didn’t seem to work, so I now have an 11th hour meeting scheduled after class on Wednesday to review the final mixdown before passing it to Sammy to add to his render and then submit on Friday ahead of the cut off for Raindance submissions. We’ve already missed submissions for the London Short Film Festival sadly (although I suspect Sammy has submitted an earlier edit to meet their deadline)

I received instructions along the lines of “can you try some tumbleweed sounds on the crowd scene” and “add some club sounds on the tracking shot” … despite asking for more detailed descriptions with timecodes. We are currently playing with “guitar riff” sound effects to try and find “the right one” and at this stage I’m waiting on Sammy to produce something himself (or from the band) that would fit the requirement as the 4 versions I’ve submitted so far have all been rejected as not quite right for the shot/scene.

Sample log sheet taken by Arabella

We kept a combined shot and audio log which was maintained by Arabella. These were then written up and stored as a spreadsheet for reference during the post-production process.

With hindsight, the workload for all concerned was high, we had limited time to plan and even less time to post produce. If I were doing this in the real world, I would have hoped that the production team would have spent more time planning and rehearsing and that we would have been able to utilise better equipment, including the venue’s own mixing desk, in order to record better quality sound. The sound design process has been stressful too as I have effectively only had a week in which to review the film, identify key moments that require additional sound, work on cleaning up the various clips which had noise and adding in effects to make the film more believable. The Director has not been available to review the changes due to other commitments, which again means that the finished project is further delayed, and at this stage, I don’t know if it will actually be finished to everyone’s satisfaction, by the hard submission deadline. All quite frustrating considering the amount of effort put in by all concerned, but I believe this is just how the industry works!

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