Film Audio Recording

March 12, 2001 - Phils informal guilt party + ambient recording

So guess what happens when you get your production in a major paper? Nothing. I think I got an extra 60 hits over average at the website over the course of a few days. I was hoping I'd get at least a couple of e-mails from a few people along the lines of "hey, saw the article in the paper, went to the website, it looks interesting. I work at a department store." (Let alone someone actually in the FILM biz.) No e-mails, nothing. Now my MOTHER got a bunch of phone calls from long forgotten family members and friends who knew of me and saw the article. At least SHE got to act like a big shot. I just took shit from the cast for being described as "athletically built". :-P

Finally got my M-S stereo microphone set-up working. I've friggin' been waiting for 2 months for my snazzy AKG CK-94 Blue Line Figure-eight mic to show up. By combining my expensive MKH-50 mic (hypercardiod) with the CK-94 figure-eight capsule, you can record M-S (mid-side) stereo audio.

Go HERE to learn all about M-S stereo recording.

What these mics allows me to do is record some nice sounding stereo recordings for background ambients that I'll need for the film. Since I was at my corporate gig earlier in the week, I stuck the mics and my DAT into a gym bag and walked around the building, setting the bag down in choice spots, and recording stereo ambient of whoever was there...all without anyone noticing what I was doing. Got some great quiet and busy office ambients, a loading dock, busy and a very busy cafeteria plus a boiler room. (To be used for a "bowels of the spaceship" ambient in the next science fiction picture I'll never make.)

What I've found is that a scene can really be "sold" (made more believable) if you give it the right amount of background sound. If you've done a good job at recording the basic voices, it should sound like they are in a pretty dead environment, but if you cut the scene together as is, it ends up sounding really strange. (Nothings HAPPENING around them.) The nightclub sequence felt really weird when I cut it together without any ambient noise. The second I layered in the background music and chatter...Bingo! One real place.

I canceled our low-level wrap party at my house because of snow and certain people like Phil Rectra who could not attend. Later in the week, Phil calls me and feels guilty that I changed everything around just for him. He offers to pay for a round of drinks at the Wonderbar and then have everyone go to his house for an informal gathering. I used this time to show about 30 minutes of the film to everyone who had shown up. Got some great responses, even though everyone had something to do with the project. A few people were wondering where I had found Shelly the mechanic. (Therese Chase) We had to explain to this person that she sleeps with the director and that she indeed did not actually look at act like that.

I had my DAT machine and m-s mics with me, so I recorded us chattering away in the kitchen. Since everyone had a good buzz rolling by then, they immediately forgot that I was recording them. I come back in only 10 minutes and everyone starts going, "you mean that thing was ON?" Jeez. Later, with Johnny was passed out under the dinning room table and Phil showing us how great his porn channels came in, I had rolled the DAT "by mistake". Made for some interesting stereo ambient that I won't be able to use anywhere. Oh well.

Watchin' early preview

Hangin' in kitchen

Where's yer hand Phil?

Phil & Juliet

Wonderbar table

Robin: who's that guy?

March 20, 2001 - Johnny at his home computer

Tonight we shot all the night time sequences of Johnny at his home computer. Since we were able to put the microphone on a boom with a stand, we were able to shoot these chunks with an entire crew of two. Johnny as the talent, and me as everything else. (How much smaller can you get? Someone holding a camera towards them as the act?) The shots were basically of Johnny chatting online with his online friend Enigma. I'll be shooting the screen close-ups later, I just needed the footage of him sitting there typing. I have a couple of concerns about these sequences, they are:

In real life, when you chat with someone online, there's a delay between the time they read what your wrote and their response. It's a ton of dead air while your subject just sits there scratching himself, waiting for the next reply. There's no way am I gonna present this in true real time, it's boring enough waiting yourself, but to have a movie audience WATCH this will probably make them riot.

Just filming a person reading a computer monitor is about the dullest thing I can think of to film. (OK, maybe someone sleeping, but you can always cut to their dream sequence to make it interesting.) In real life, a person chatting with someone online is pretty damn quite. Forcing the audience to read everything that transpires onscreen would suck out loud. I intend to use Apple's "Speech" playback capabilities of text on screen so the audience can LISTEN to what's being said. (Steven Hawkings uses it exclusively when he wants to be heard.) Hopefully these fake computer voices won't sound like shit and just end up annoying everyone.

On top of that, I need to have Johnny speak out loud what he's typing to Enigma. (Who the hell needs to SAY what they're typing as they enter it? Children?) Like I said, I think it would be tedious to have to comprehend everything that is typed into a small text box on screen. I want the audience to feel like he's communicating with someone online as close to real time as possible. Since Johnny wasn't a fast typist, I had him pretend to type onto a little towel in front of him so it would appear that he's whizzing away while he spoke.

I Hopefully this all will make sense to the viewer, and not just appear to be a pile of fake, cinematic dogshit.

The lighting was a bitch to control in my living room where we shot these sequences. The scenes take place at night, so I wanted the room to be sorta dark except where Johnny was sitting. When you turn on a light in white room...everything gets a little bounce light. There goes the darkness. If you notice in "real" movies, they hardly ever shoot in a white room, it's just too hard to control the light spill. I wasn't about to paint my living room a different color to film this scene. (Now that I think about it, maybe I should've.) :-P

Remember I said that NO ONE contacted me regarding this project from the article? I take that back. Someone did...Andy Ihnatko! Andy writes funny columns about computers for MacWorld (the back page article) and was published as a regular in MacUser and plenty of other places. I've enjoyed reading his shit for years. When he told me that he read this entire journal I was honored. Apparently HE'S motivated now to do a little film idea that he's had kicking around in his head. It's a great fucking feeling to know that someone has been reading this crap and has had an effect on someone you admire as a writer.

After sucking up to Andy, I immediately leapt at a chance to exploit my new contact. He was able to supply me with a contact at Apple who could answer some legal questions regarding using Apple products in a film, and perhaps where I could get my sweaty hands on an LCD monitor. (for the computer close up shots)

You'll notice we used a blue Apple iMac. I gotta get my little "digs" in here. In no way did Apple lend us any equipment nor gave us any support of any kind. The typical reply would be: "Yea? So? What does Apple computers owe YOU schmucko?" They don't. Dan Bridges had pursued a few contacts at Apple to perhaps get a few computers on loan just to film and use during production. He thinks he might've heard laughing while they hung up on him.

Dan DID get further in talking with a rep from Compac and E-machines. They had expressed interest in supplying SOMETHING and would get back to us...yada yada yada. I'm a total Apple loyal nit-wit. It would've bugged me (kinda) if E-machines did supply us with a computer, thus we would've been forced to use their products on screen...even though they're complete cheap-ass knock offs of iMacs! Apple supposedly paid millions to feature their stuff in the film Mission Impossible, yet lending one out for a month to be FILMED wasn't an option. I was joking with Andy Ihnatko, "So help me, if I ever direct Mission Impossible 5...those bastards are gonna PAY!" :-P

Two guys in kitchen

Man with tie

Computer scene LS


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