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Would you take this gig?
Old 1st May 2019
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Would you take this gig?

I've been working with an independent film company for the past few years doing composition, and they approached me today asking if I'd be interested in doing 100% of the sound work for an upcoming movie. This would mean in addition to all music, I'd do foley, dialog editing, ADR, and anything else that comes up audio-wise. I'd also be responsible for getting the movie ready to be distributed in multiple languages.

Right off the bat I'm limited in regards to my setup, as I don't have a 5.1 rig. I'm just 2.1. I suppose that isn't too big a deal to figure out how to upgrade my monitoring (although suggestions would be much welcome!).

However, what kind of work is involved with prepping a movie for multiple language formats?
Old 2nd May 2019
  #2
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I think you'll find far more people that are re-recording engineers as well as sound (dialog/production sound) editors and designers, foley recordists/editors etc in the post production section. You'll probably get more answers there.

My hunch is that everyone will tell you something along the lines of if you don't know the answer to the questions then you're in over your head. That obviously isn't very helpful but that'll be the gist of it.

Basically you can sort of work backwards a bit and look at the prep for foreign language dubbing. In order to do that "properly" you have to have a music+sound effects stem that contains everything that's needed for a scene to work - minus dialog. That sounds easy enough, but if an actor for example puts down a cup on a desk while talking, all right in front of the camera, then that needs to be added in the M&E track because as you cut out dialog it disappears. Arguably it may need to be 'extracted' from the production (dialog) audio as well - or the line of dialog needs to be re-recorded (ADR).

So thinking about it backwards it basically means that in order for distributors to be fine with the M&E, assuming what they want is more or less what I described, then there'll be a ton of editing plus likely a fair amount of ADR/FX editing.

I would be worried about simply managing all of this by yourself for the first time, from a logistical standpoint, and that's before you get to the aesthetics of it all.

The more I work in post the more I feel that there just is a tremendous amount of work that rests on the production sound track - unless pretty much everything is redone (which is time+money). So if you have experience with dialog editing, or production sound editing really, and you feel comfortable doing that in a way that works for film, then the next stem isn't necessarily conceptually difficult, it's just making sure all fx needed are added to the version without dialog.. but if you aren't that experienced cutting dialog on the other hand..

Perhaps more specific questions might be better.

PS: I would consider teaming up with someone on this job, someone with a lot of experience, and I think others likely will recommend that too.
Old 2nd May 2019
  #3
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bgood's Avatar
Ditto... unless you’re strictly the boss man hiring the folks who do this specific work all the time I can see a jack of all trades situation developing quickly
Old 2nd May 2019
  #4
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drBill's Avatar
Yup. It's a massive job for one person, and extremely daunting if you've never done it before.
Old 2nd May 2019
  #5
Gear Head
+1 it's a huge job - potentially nightmare-ish on an indie feature, if the budget is low and the production dialog is iffy - even if you had already been through the process many times. That said, if you're hoping to shift your career from scoring to post sound, and the production company isn't expecting big studio quality or delivering to a broadcaster (sounds like they are, though), then you could choose to use this as trial by (scorching) fire. You'd have to be prepared to never work for them again if you crash and burn, though. A better option, if you indeed want to shift careers, would be to find someone who can mentor you through the process and do a chunk of the work (including the mixing).

If you don't want to shift careers, say no.
Old 2nd May 2019
  #6
Do it for the heck of it. You have to be willing to fail to learn.
Old 2nd May 2019
  #7
Here for the gear
 

I really appreciate all of your honest responses, and my thoughts are in alignment. The Director of the film initially proposed this to my writing partner and I about a month ago, and we turned it down based on what we consider a tight timeline, plus the time it would take to teach ourselves how to do it, and the money it would take to upgrade our rig.

Regardless, the Director keeps bringing it up casually in conversation. I think he really wants us to do it so he can keep everything in-house, and maintain more control over the process. I can't blame him for that, and I'm grateful for the opportunity.

Maybe we'll consider taking this on for the next movie, that would at least give me some time to figure out more about what's required. However, I dig Desire Inspire's gumption
Old 2nd May 2019
  #8
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Well if you're a business you could hire a supervising sound editor to manage the audio-post process, or at least someone with experience to budget it. If you can get the budget to work there's no harm in getting a supervising sound editor hired to either do the work or farm it out to talent that can execute it properly, and wherever you feel you can contribute you can do so and it'll be a learning experience. And when you can't you still get to see the entire process from 'within', learning as you go.

On top of that if it's done on your system you'll have all of the sessions available for learning after the job is done, and you can see how things are split out and edited and so forth.

But yeah, it's a fairly big deal if it's supposed to be done right.
Old 3rd May 2019
  #9
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Jeff Hayat's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc View Post
... if you don't know the answer to the questions then you're in over your head.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Desire Inspires View Post
Do it for the heck of it. You have to be willing to fail to learn.
While both of these comments have merit, this comment stands out to me:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flatrock View Post
Regardless, the Director keeps bringing it up casually in conversation. I think he really wants us to do it so he can keep everything in-house, and maintain more control over the process.
If that's the case, then ask for a ton of money. Make the dir make you an offer you can't refuse; ensure for yourself, that is is worth it for you to do this. So when you are struggling with this, and come to the realization that you may have bitten of more than you can chew, at least you will have the satisfaction that all of that dough is rolling in.

Cheers.
Old 5th May 2019
  #10
Gear Maniac
 
Sunshy's Avatar
 

I've done this and, I definitely do NOT recommend learning as you go under a tight deadline (especially when money is at stake) and you've never worked with surround. Having said that, it's how I learned all my post production skills. But, I really [email protected]#$%! some things up in the process, causing a lot of stress to me and the producers. Now after a number of projects under my belt, it's not stressful (as long as there is enough time), but keep in mind you are literally doing the work of 10 men...alone. Dialog editing, SFX, Foley, Music, ADR, Scoring, Recording, Mixing & Deliverables (very complicated), these are all complicated tasks handled by skilled teams of of people. When I've been in a crunch, I've had to farm out the more creative jobs (like music) that I could pay less for in order to meet the deadline. Trust me, NO ONE will edit dialog for free or credit. Many more people will score for free or cheap. Anyway, it's a living, but not always fun. Though I do like the variety of tasks.
Old 5th May 2019
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunshy View Post
When I've been in a crunch, I've had to farm out the more creative jobs (like music) that I could pay less for in order to meet the deadline. Trust me, NO ONE will edit dialog for free or credit. Many more people will score for free or cheap.
Words of wisdom: learn to edit dialog.
Old 6th May 2019
  #12
Here for the gear
 

Thanks again for all the replies! It seems that the biggest hurdle here might be handling the dialog, which I had a hunch would be a challenge. However, I feel ok about the dialog as I recently wrapped up recording/editing an audiobook that in print was over 300 pages, and to top it off it was a book we had translated to Spanish to be distributed in S. America for an educational program. I ended up delivering about 40 hours worth of audio, and since that went well for me I think I could probably handle movie dialog. Although I do recognize the challenge, as the audiobook was indeed time-consuming.

I feel like my head needs to be in a composition mindset so I can give 100% to that, rather than rushing the music so I can get back to all the technical stuff like editing.

I'm thinking we'll sit down with the Director and let him know we'd be interested in jumping in on the next movie so we can have some time to learn more about post, and to upgrade our rig, and maybe find some qualified help as it seems our 2-man crew may be little understaffed.

Ya'll are a huge help, and I really appreciate your feedback.
Old 6th May 2019
  #13
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Just a short note:

"Dialog editing" isn't really just editing dialog in the same sense as you're cutting together sentences and paragraphs in an audiobook. It's far more involved than that. you're dealing with extracting effects from the production sound (dialog) track as well as matching room tone (which can be outdoor ambient sound) across edits. Imagine an outdoor scene with two people talking. They did multiple takes with several closeup takes on each person, including both medium-wide shot and a wide shot. Sometimes there was a truck idling in the background, sometimes and airplane flew over, sometimes it was windy. But all of that shifts from line to line, cut to cut. It's your job to make sure the scene plays smoothly.

If there are "bumps" in the dialog the director is going to turn his head and look at you wondering why he's still hearing that. They may or may not understand the problem these things pose, but regardless they rely on you getting rid of it or dealing with it one way or another. It's a massive time-suck.

So, it's a lot more involved than cutting an audiobook together.
Old 6th May 2019
  #14
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flatrock View Post
Thanks again for all the replies! It seems that the biggest hurdle here might be handling the dialog, which I had a hunch would be a challenge. However, I feel ok about the dialog as I recently wrapped up recording/editing an audiobook that in print was over 300 pages, and to top it off it was a book we had translated to Spanish to be distributed in S. America for an educational program. I ended up delivering about 40 hours worth of audio, and since that went well for me I think I could probably handle movie dialog. Although I do recognize the challenge, as the audiobook was indeed time-consuming.

I feel like my head needs to be in a composition mindset so I can give 100% to that, rather than rushing the music so I can get back to all the technical stuff like editing.

I'm thinking we'll sit down with the Director and let him know we'd be interested in jumping in on the next movie so we can have some time to learn more about post, and to upgrade our rig, and maybe find some qualified help as it seems our 2-man crew may be little understaffed.

Ya'll are a huge help, and I really appreciate your feedback.
Yeah, get yourself some help. Someone who's assisted or been involved on the post side of things that's not locked down into a 9-5 at a post studio. Get them in, see if they are a good fit, and utilize them to make this happen. I've done it that way before and it worked OK. By myself..... OY!! I can only imagine the pitfalls I'd have encountered.....
Old 6th May 2019
  #15
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc View Post
Just a short note:

"Dialog editing" isn't really just editing dialog in the same sense as you're cutting together sentences and paragraphs in an audiobook. It's far more involved than that. you're dealing with extracting effects from the production sound (dialog) track as well as matching room tone (which can be outdoor ambient sound) across edits. Imagine an outdoor scene with two people talking. They did multiple takes with several closeup takes on each person, including both medium-wide shot and a wide shot. Sometimes there was a truck idling in the background, sometimes and airplane flew over, sometimes it was windy. But all of that shifts from line to line, cut to cut. It's your job to make sure the scene plays smoothly.

If there are "bumps" in the dialog the director is going to turn his head and look at you wondering why he's still hearing that. They may or may not understand the problem these things pose, but regardless they rely on you getting rid of it or dealing with it one way or another. It's a massive time-suck.

So, it's a lot more involved than cutting an audiobook together.

YES!! Re-read this - ^^^ - several times. Understand it. Embrace what the difficulties are. You'll see how much of an undertaking doing this right is. It's why there are TEAMS of dialog editors involved in big movies.
Old 6th May 2019
  #16
Gear Addict
 

I second what the others have said ... I've done sound post for a couple of short films (everything from dialogue editing to foley, sound design, etc.) as well as the music. It took me much more time than writing the music, also because the sound deliverables were all pretty bad (poorly recorded sound on the set, poorly labeled sound, etc. etc.).

And that when I had a pretty flexible schedule and plenty of time.

To do all this for a feature film, for the first time, where presumably you have a deadline ... that's almost asking for trouble. It's great that they want you and trust you but you're sticking you head in what could be hornet nest.

Honestly I'd partner up with someone who has experience doing this, or even a team, and then you can be a fly on the wall or get as involved as you want / can. Be open about it to your director, and maybe have a conference call / meeting with the director, producers, you, and a prospective sound team, who can explain what's involved. And get the producers should get a quote, and see if that works with the budget.
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