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Voice Of The Crew - Since 2002

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PP-CAS audio seminar

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At the Cinema Audio Society’s workflow seminar on June 18 Sony’s Holden Theater, moderator John Coffey, C.A.S., owner of Coffey Sound, led a panel of experts through their thoughts and experiences recording, editing and mixing sound for picture. The workflow chain was represented by production sound mixer Jeff Wexler; Encore Hollywood’s Mike Walker, postproduction supervisor specializing in telecine; picture editor Steven J. Cohen; supervising sound editor Steve Williams; supervising sound editor Larry Blake; Wexler Video’s Joel Ordesky, representing reality TV; re-recording mixer Charlie McDaniel, representing TV sitcoms; and re-recording mixer Gary Bourgeois, representing features.Ingredients for making the workflow run smoothly, it was emphasized, include communication between production sound and postproduction sound departments on matters such as exactly what formats are coming in, what equipment was used, documenting information on tracks (with a suggested production mix on channel 1), drop and non-drop frame distinction, detailed and legible sound reports, sample rate, bit rate and time code. As Walker noted, without all this information they sometimes don’t have the tools to read the information and do the necessary work. The overall message was that by clearly defining what post sound needs, production sound can make sure they are “in sync.”All participants emphasized the necessity of having a plan worked out in advance and following that plan to completion. Blake told how he and his production sound mixer, Paul Ledford, routinely perform a technical run-through, from syncing camera through telecine. It gives them good reference and provides leverage for budgets and schedule.Cohen suggested that not only the communication between departments be clearly defined but that communication between these departments and Avid be established. He urged editors to “speak loudly to Avid” lest the manufacturer read their silence as contentment.The audience—about half production sound and half post sound—was eager to ask questions and present some of the problems they’re experiencing on sets and in edit bays. Issues raised ranged from dealing with broken time code (suggestion: use 10 seconds of pre-roll), to the changing of sample rates with pull-down, to how to deal with the complexities of multi-camera, multiple-location reality TV that doesn’t have the staff or budget to do in-depth post sweetening or ADR—thus placing more pressure it then places on production sound.Technology is changing fast, the panelists acknowledged, and the passage from production through post has evolved, creating a need for a clearly defined work system to meet the demands of each production. In a community of artist-technicians who know their jobs but sometimes can be resistant to change, they agreed that there has to be more information disseminated so technical—and mental—breakdowns occur less frequently.

Written by Kathy Anderson

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