I recently spent 10 days editing dialogue on a feature film. I’ve worked on a couple of features in the past but this was a bit different. I spent some time with Savalas doing some training and assisted on Red Road. I’ve mixed a feature length documentary (The Art of Time) but not for theatrical release, the same applies to the additional mixing work I did on Girlfriend 19. These forays into the world of film were fun but were fairly standard sort of work for me. Mandorla was very different. Firstly I was a Dialogue Editor, something I have done for TV and short films numerous times. However, the main difference was that before I have nearly always just worked on my own and was responsible for all the sound. To that end I found the process fairly simple as I was able to edit and clean the production sound knowing what other sounds would be in there. I was also able to work around noise issues by adding in sounds to cover issues like wind.
Mandorla was a whole different process and workflow. To start with I was working alongside Shaun Farley. I have known Shaun for many years now and have collaborated on a few online endeavours, mainly articles and online panel discussions with Designing Sound. I jumped at the chance to do some proper work with him, partly as he’s a friend and partly as I respect him as a peer. He’s a talented chap. I will confess now that I felt slightly like a fraud as this was highly focused work, the likes of which I have touched on but never actually done in full. That’s one thing I wish I could do more of, working with others as part of a team and to focus on one part of post-production sound.
After a chat with Shaun, I started my work piecing together a coherent dialogue track. It took a while to get into a good flow, mainly as this was a totally new way of working. Instead of removing as much noise as possible and covering the production sound with atmos tracks, I have to make the noise work. That meant more fades than I’ve ever created before. A trick I learned a long time ago is to take random small snippets of the production track with just the location’s atmosphere on and use that to cover gaps and noises in the dialogue. Again, this took that technique to whole new level that I’ve never done before. Using alt takes is another example of how I have only merely touched on dialogue editing in the past. All of this made me slightly like a fraud and was worried that my work wouldn’t be up to the job. Thankfully Shaun is a good teacher and gave me some great feedback, I’ve learned so much in the last week, it’s really stretched my sound editing skills.
The film starts the mix today (Tuesday the 22nd June) and I’m really looking forward to watching the film. Mainly to hear the results of my work and Zach Martin has transformed our work into a cohesive whole. I’ve never heard of Zach before but he must be damn good, mainly as he’s working as a mixer in Skywalker Sound! I will confess that I am bloody terrified of how my first attempt at proper dialogue editing will go down there. Hopefully it’ll be okay.
It’s actually been a busy time for me recently, a nice change after about 6 months of almost no work. A couple of recent projects have been my first collaboration with Dreambase Studios in Wootton Bassett. Again, I’ve known Alex Hudd for many years now but never had the opportunity to work with him. I was his Dubbing Editor on a cookery series that I’ve worked on before. Series 3 took Tales From The Bush Larder out of Kenya and into other parts of Africa. I’ve loved working on this show (Series 1 and 2 were done by Red Six Mix and Andrew Wilson is someone else I’m extremely fortunate to have worked with) as it’s full of really interesting things. Unlike other cookery shows, it shows food production and the culture in Africa, two things I love learning about. It’s almost more about anthropology than actually cookery.
Between these two projects I managed to squeeze in the post sound for an online sitcom called Staff Room. Thanks to a quick reply from me on twitter I did the post sound on the trailer and pilot last autumn and thought the show could do well as it was really good. Good writing, nicely shot and full of almost surreal moments of humour, not far removed from the likes of Spaced at times. The series got it’s commission from Wildseed Studios in Bristol. The series has lost the surreal nature and opted for a straight sitcom style. I love weird and unusual but the show is definitely stronger and will be far more (and deservedly) successful because of the change. The characters remain the same which is great as they are all well written and well acted. Ry McDermott (writer, lead actor and director) is someone who will definitely do well in the world of tv/film. I really appreciate that I got to work on the commissioned series as it’s 5 excellent episodes of good comedy. It says something when you have to stop work for a break as you’re laughing too much to continue.
I think that’s enough waffle for now.