External Sound Question

Posted by rpearlster 
External Sound Question
September 01, 2014 09:11AM

Not sure if this is the right place to ask this question but here goes.

I'm cutting an indie feature (straight narrative, dialogue tracks) and it seems that the sound recordist on set was playing with his settings throughout the shoot. Some of the dialogue tracks are 4 channel mono (with some blank) and some are just stereo. Some are 2 mono and 1 stereo track together. There doesn't seem to be a clear logic to it. Is this normal.

My question is, what is the standard way to record external sound on set in a narrative piece? I want to make sure I know this so I can advise the next person recording sound on a piece I'm working on. I was under the impression that one recorded audio tracks mono and cut a single track of mono sound for the dialogue to start with in the rough cut.

Sorry for my inexperience. This is the second small feature I've cut with seemingly psychotic sound between scenes on the external track. I wanna make sure I'm not missing something.

Is there a standard proceedure?
Re: External Sound Question
September 01, 2014 08:18PM
"I'm cutting an indie feature ... There doesn't seem to be a clear logic to it ... Is this normal?"

for an indie film with a possibly inexperienced sound recordist... yes!

however, are the stereo tracks actual stereo pairs, like a stereo ambience?
that can be done.

and yes, Blank tracks i've seen, but mainly due to a strict adherence to some prevailing logic,
such as character B was not in that particular shot. no sound was needed, but an empty track was recorded to match the other shots for the same scene.

"I was under the impression ... cut a single track of mono sound for the dialogue to start with in the rough cut."

not necessarily.
a lot depends on who is doing the audio post.
while some editors have the luxury of being able to edit with a single mix-down track, that then puts a certain burden on the sound editors who would need the tools (and time) to conform back to the multi-tracks.

the common scenario is that you edit with all the tracks.
and 4 tracks is a pretty small number of tracks to work with!

there's no standard way, really. certainly no way that would be standard across an entire movie.
i know people who will standardise within a scene, as mentioned above.
i also know editors who like to only have an even number of tracks so are happy to get a blank track if it helps.

it might be worth showing some of these tracks to whoever is going to be doing the sound post, and get their input.

Re: External Sound Question
September 02, 2014 11:12PM
Good luck with sound recordists at the indie level, there's been a couple of good ones but the majority of ones I've come across...lazy, bad attitudes, some were down right incompetent. I mean you know it's bad when you know more than them concerning recording production sound.

Check out my experience with the sound mixer from hell

They literally get away with shoddy work because no one cares enough about audio.
Joe Director: You have the equipment? OK, hired, now let me entrust you with 50% of the movie experience, and never check your work.

Then the bad audio gets passed onto the editor, even if your only doing the offline edit, you're still going to have to do some decent audio work just to make the cut work.

More productions need to hold sound recordists accountable, particularly at the indie level, it's ridiculous.

If you're lucky enough to be brought on a project before the shoot, you can get in touch with the sound mixer and go over your expectations, but don't be surprised if they don't adhere to it.
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