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HomeAwardsContender PortfoliosEmmy Contenders – Re-recording Mixer Scott Jones and Supervising Dialog Editor Jamie...

Emmy Contenders – Re-recording Mixer Scott Jones and Supervising Dialog Editor Jamie Caple, The Bible

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Scott Jones, (left) and Jamie Caple.
Scott Jones, (left) and Jamie Caple.

The original plan for the History Channel miniseries The Bible was to mix the soundtrack on a regular television dub schedule, but once re-recording mixer Scott Jones and the postproduction team realized the enormous nature of the program, they suggested two weeks of mixing per episode. The agreed upon schedule included a six-day pre-mix and a four-day final, but allowed for another week to do additional tweaking and improve the sound “every time we looked at an episode.” The goal was to make the final soundtrack the best that it could be, so they always questioned, “What else do we do with it?”

According to Jones, “It was TV, but not TV.”  The sheer volume of dialog, ADR, sound effects and music combined with scenes that were always moving, and which were filled with big moments and large crowds, made the series more like a feature film than television and required an approach to the mixing more like that used for a long-form production. Jones credits the sound editing crew for all the work that they did before the elements even got to the stage. There were numerous extra takes and extensive ADR in additional to the production dialog, creating lots of options. These options meant that choices had to be made, all taking time. To handle the hundreds of tracks, Jones – who mixed five of the episodes of the series while Dan Johnson and Nigel Squibbs mixed the remaining five – used a dual ProTools system which could handle 200 tracks each.

History Channel’s The Bible. (Photos by Joe Alblas).
History Channel’s The Bible. (Photos by Joe Alblas).

The talent of mixing such a complicated show lies in the ability to pick out the vital details in each scene. The biggest challenge dubbing the show came during the scene where Moses parts the Red Sea. It took three days to mix that scene alone, which had been shot with numerous perspectives that all needed to sound subtly different throughout the action. “That was a massive sound design,” said Jones. Most important was “getting the dialog to cut through all the shouting,” as well as the sea, wind and other effects.

To further complicate the delicate balance in the mix, that scene and the whole series, had an epic musical score that was bigger and more dynamic than the average television show. “The music was fantastic, but we had to keep it from overwhelming everything else,” explained Jones, who found it a joy to work with such a cinematic score.

LR-bible-episode-2-saul-PJones was guided by the mandate to “keep it real” while at the same time keeping the energy high and the story exciting. Being a series, different directors were involved, but the mix for each episode had to be consistent and stay within “the spirit of the show.” Strong communications with the editors and producers were critical. The team kept playing with the sound to make it better, explained Jones. “We’d analyze, go back to a previous episode, but it was so epic, it kept driving me forward.”

Supervising Dialog Editor Jamie Caple

Actors from all over the world, including Moroccan extras, were cast in the mini-series. The show was dialog heavy. According to supervising dialog editor Jamie Caple, “There was a hell of a lot of ADR.” In the case of the Moroccan extras, lines had to be re-voiced. Dialog had to be redone because of background noise. Using  multiple cameras to shoot wide and close shots during the same take, necessitated the use of radio mics, which in turn brought additional sound issues such as the materials in the heavy costumes creating fabric noise. Even the epic nature of the production made for a larger volume of dialog that a normal television series.

LR-THE-BIBLE-JESUS-CLEAN-PDespite these challenges, Caple commented, “Fitting ADR is one of my favorite things, when the director can’t tell what line is ADR and what is not.” He edits on Avid’s ProTools and feels the available plug-ins and tools, like waveforms that he uses to line-up the ADR with the original dialog, make his job more efficient. Caple loves building a relationship with the director and admits that it is important to get the performance right. Many directors dislike ADR, feeling they never get the performance they got on set, while others embrace an ADR session as another opportunity to “get it right.”

Some actors are better than others at recreating, and even improving their performance when they do ADR. “I’m there to help them,” said Caple. He uses different techniques, but because with many actors “their rhythm and timing is spectacular,” sometimes he just plays back a line and has the actor repeat it – a method that has proven quite successful. Diogo Morgado, the Portuguese actor who played Jesus, worked extremely hard when he was called to replace lines. “We spent a lot of time at performance,” claimed Caple. “I drove him a bit bonkers.”

In many aspects, the process of dialog editing on the 10-episode miniseries was more similar to the workflow of sound postproduction on several feature-length films than the average quick turn-over of a television show. To handle the volume of work while also keeping the editing top quality, Caple credits his five dialog editors. In addition to dealing with the accuracy of the dialog, the editors had to incorporate line changes. Even with a four-week per episode editing schedule, the sound team felt a crunch, especially once the initial programs started airing. Caple also acknowledges the work of the re-recording mixers who blended the dialog and ADR tracks into a cohesive whole. Caple explained, “They spent a lot of time getting it right so the ADR would not stand out.”

As difficult as a show like The Bible can be, Caple loves his work as a supervising dialog editor. “I like the challenge,” said Caple. “I never know what I am going to get. It’s different every day. I never get bored. I never dread coming into work.”

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