Foley artist Sue Harding demonstrates the tricks of her trade. Clip taken from BBC Radio 4’s Film Programme.
Foley artist Sue Harding demonstrates the tricks of her trade. Clip taken from BBC Radio 4’s Film Programme.
THE SOUND OF CAPITAL
BBC new Drama Capital is edited by an ex-colleague of mine Philip Kloss and the Dialogue editor is by co-incidence the man who designed our Sound Effect Software we use here at LSFM.
This recent article is a fascinating insight into some of the sound post challenges.
To create an authentic soundscape for BBC drama Capital, dubbing mixer Howard Bargroff took a trip to the part of south London in which it is set,
writes George Bevir [from an article first published in Broadcast Online]
TX 9pm, Wednesdays, from 24 November, BBC1
Length 3 x 60 minutes
Dubbing mixer/ FX editor Howard Bargroff
Foley editor Stuart Bagshaw
Dialogue editor Peter Gates (two episodes); Michele Woods (one episode)
ADR supervisor Kallis Shamaris
FX editor Mike Wabro (one episode)
Picture post Technicolor
Director Euros Lyn
Writer John Lanchester
Lesley Sharp (Mary)
Stepping out of the studio to capture authentic audio is not always without peril, no matter how inconspicuous the individual or discreet the recording device. A few years ago, dubbing mixer Howard Bargroff needed some crowd noise for a rap album he was working on but a trip to a pub at closing time to record the sound of a pack of people nearly resulted in him being “lynched” by the suspicious boozers.
“You have to be careful you don’t look like a psychopath, but people can still be suspicious,” he says.
Fortunately for Bargroff, his trip to Clapham to capture the sounds of south London for BBC drama Capital passed by with little more than a few sideways glances.
The three-parter, which is based on John Lanchester’s novel, is a portrait of a road in Clapham that is transformed by rising property prices and then rocked by an anonymous hate campaign. Bargroff ’s brief was to give London a presence so that the city becomes a character in its own right and “leaks” in to every scene.
“It’s a contemporary piece about the gentrification of London, so I went to south London and made a bunch of recordings,” says Bargroff. “As I moved around Clapham, I saw microcosms of the plot – people interacting with builders, posh mums coming out of buildings, and so on. It was as though the book was coming alive and I was recording it.”
Bargroff says his recordings, made using a Zoom H5, became the “sonic backbone” of the series, comprising around 50% of the background sound.
“We used lots of bridging sounds, such as sirens, between cuts. At first I thought the recordings were a luxury, but they soon became a necessity; those recordings of Clapham High Street, of a park, of close and distant traffic, planes passing overhead and sirens became themes throughout the episodes. It helped to create the feeling that in London you are never more than a few streets away from a busy high street.”
Bargroff, who worked at De Lane Lea, Future Post, Videosonics and Pepper before going freelance, waved goodbye to the city a couple of years ago when he moved from Battery Studios in Willesden to a studio attached to his home in Woburn Sands. Since then, through his company Sonorous, he has mixed both series of Broadchurch (ITV) and From There To Here (BBC1) from home, and as a freelancer completed the pre-mix for Fortitude (Sky Atlantic) and Luther (BBC1) in his home studio.
Bargroff ’s standard approach for an hour of drama is to spend three days premixing at home, followed by two client-attended days at a dry-hire facility in London. That means he needs to keep his home set-up as up-to-date as possible so that it is compatible with other facilities (see box) and he can quickly pick up where he left off. For Capital, he completed the final mix with director Euros Lyn at the “excellent” Hackenbacker, which also provided the ADR and Foley.
“Dru Masters created a fantastic score and delivered it quite early so I had time to weave it and the music treatments in. That meant when I turned up with Euros at Hackenbacker on the first day, we could play the whole episode, so we had quite a lot of review time. I like the three-day premix because it means you can turn up with something cohesive. I try to protect that 3:2 approach; most jobs fit that template and clients are usually happy to accommodate it.”
CAPITAL KEY KIT
Bargroff’s home studio is equipped with Avid Pro Tools HDX2, an Icon D-Command 16-fader desk and PMC twotwo active monitors. Plug-ins are “industry standard”, including Audio Ease Altiverb, Waves WNS, iZotope RX, ReVibe and Speakerphone.
Projects are transferred between facilities using portable drives, with Cronosynch software to synchronise work completed at home with a transfer drive and a local drive in a dry-hire facility. “I keep the transfer drive synched to both ends so at any point during the job I have a mirror of the media in two locations, which is great for back-up. At the end of the job, everything is backed up to a Raid system for archiving.”
Bargroff also uses the Soundminer librarian program for managing his library of work. “It can scan multiple terabytes in a few hours and give you complete breakdown, or you can do a keyword search. All my libraries are well organised, but without that software I wouldn’t be able to find a thing.”
(The copyright to this content lies with Broadcast Online and is reproduced here under educational licence)
Original article is here http://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/techfacils/capital-bbc1/5097498.article
Blog post by level 2 Audio Production student Daniel Marnie.
Photograph by Chris Hainstock.
My fellow Audio Production students and I, recently received a guest lecture from BAFTA and RTS nominated Dubbing Mixer and Sound Designer Neil Collymore. Neil’s credits include the critically acclaimed TV series Spooks, as well as Hustle, Law & Order UK, and the films Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Billy Elliot, and Chicken Run.
During his lecture Neil talked us through his workflow when beginning a project, using his own Pro Tools sessions from an episode of Spooks and a promo for the E4 TV channel. As he worked though the project file he would outline the sort of state a project might turn up in, and showed how he’d get the best out any situation. He was at all times open to questions, of which there were several!
He spoke at some length about some of the restrictions TV faces compared to film; discussing how the new loudness format (R128) provides a little more technical freedom over its predecessor (PPM6). It is hoped that this new format could help combat the high audio levels that companies request in their ads in order to stand out from the competition. Neil also stressed that the projects he works on are not his, and that the Director always has the final say in any decision.
Neil gave us a fascinating insight into his work, and closed the lecture off with an excellent Q&A session in which we learned about his time as a freelancer, his working preferences and workflow, as well as the kinds of costs involved with sound work.
I watched INTERSTELLAR last night. The soundtrack was (as you would expect from a Christopher Nolan film) electrifying.
Music was composed by Nolan’s composer of choice Hans Zimmer.
As I watched I realised that the predominant instruments were strings and what sounded like the biggest church organ in the world!. I wasn’t far wrong it seems.
“Over the course of the film, the core five-note melody (the soundtrack is released on November 17th, but for a taste listen to Trailer #3) is expressed in different ways. The score is an ensemble effort combining 34 strings, 24 woodwinds, four pianos, and 60 choir singers, all of which get their time to sound off. But the starring, and most meaningful voice, is the 1926 four-manual Harrison & Harrison organ, currently housed at the 12th-century Temple Church in London and played in the movie by its director of music, Roger Sayer”(i)
What also became apparent is that on many occasions the audio track was so loud that at times when actors were speaking you could not hear clearly what they were saying. As I watched, my sound editor’s head said to myself “this must be deliberate, Nolan must WANT US to be straining to hear what they’re saying, to make the scene tense, threatening or downright overwhelming. I certainly thought at times that the cinema sound system was going to blow. I was being affected physiologically, my heart-rate was increasing. At other times however, quieter times, The main dialogue was relatively low in level – almost hard to hear what people were saying. This huge dynamic range (only available in cinemas) made me wonder how it will sound on DVD/streaming etc. You cant really watch a Nolan film anywhere other than the cinema it seems to me.
Afterwards some research into the sound led me to an article on this very subject, which confirms much of what I thought and far more.
Here’s more from the article:-
Hans Zimmer’s score drowns out dialogue and has already broken an Imax theater, but there’s thematic significance in all that noise
“As Zimmer recently told the Film Music Society, the organ was chosen for its significance to science: From the 17th century to the time of the telephone exchange, the pipe organ was known as the most complex man-made device ever invented. Its physical appearance reminded him of space ship afterburners. And the airiness of the sound slipping through pipes replicates the experience of suited astronauts, where every breath is precious (a usual preoccupation with sci-fi movies that is taken very literally in Zimmer’s music, which also features the exhalations of his human choir).
Zimmer’s score—which alternates between a 19th-century Romanticism and 20th-century Minimalism—of course has an element of spirituality to it. But the organ does more than just recall churches. From the movie’s earliest moments, it performs some very necessary narrative legwork for the overburdened screenplay. When it kicks in as Cooper chases down an Indian surveillance drone, a light touch on the organ keys, paired with rousing strings, creates a whirling, ethereal sound that channels Cooper’s interior life. The giddy tone it sets demonstrates that Cooper is a risk-taker and adventurer, which solves the screenplay’s early problem of establishing emotional motive for Cooper to leave his children.
As organs are wont to do, this one resonates. And there are moments when the decibels at which it does can only be described as an action-movie crutch. The organ gets a noticeably more heavy-handed touch as the plot becomes ever-more preposterous. It blasts when the elder Professor Brand, played by Michael Caine, hands over the keys to the spaceship—and his life’s work—to a farmer (Cooper) who presumably hasn’t piloted anything except a plow in a while. It booms when Ann Hathaway’s younger Dr. Brand shakes hands with “Them,” heavily foreshadowing events to come. Some of these moments necessitate the extra spiritualistic oomph, but it’s often the case that when the plot turns implausible, Nolan and Zimmer ramp up the organ.”(i)
X FACTOR 2014
VT Editors, often have to wrestle with a huge amount of sound information. Especially on shows that have discreet microphones all over the place – such as the X Factor.
Editor Janci Kovic recently did this screengrab of his final timeline for a Bootcamp Episode of X Factor. This was bootcamp the episode after auditions.
Having the ability to cut off words, change the order of what judges are saying and soloing the backstage reactions at the same time was very helpful to get the story done.
THE AUDIO TRACKS SHOWN INCLUDE:
Jury 4ch’s, crowd 2ch’s, singers port, mic and his instrument 3ch’s, band 12ch’s, backstage with moderator 3ch’s, stage mix 2ch’s, music 6ch’s, sfx 4ch’s, vo and other ports.
THE VIDEO was recorded on QUADRUS
Richard Hastings-Hall visited Audio Production level 2 students today to talk about ‘dubbing mixing’, in particular mixing for medium budget daytime drama and the technical and creative constraints that working on shows like this can have. They are often handled very differently to other dramas, documentaries and television series etc.
For example the directors of these daytime dramas are not paid to be present at the final mixing session – it’s only the Exec Producer who signs off the mix.
Richard brought his Pyramix set-up (made by Emerging Technologies) with him which sadly did have some technical issues – but this was a good example of how ‘anything that can go wrong – will go wrong’. A thankyou must go to Luke Johnston who showed his skill in drive re-mapping!.
Some students found it reassuring that it wasn’t ‘just them’
Richard mentioned metering and loudness, and the need for good adherence to technical standards.
To find out more about the BBC delivery requirements look here
Richard revealed that often with quick turn around drama shows like Doctors – the sync sound recordings are not always perfect. the crew often doesn’t have time to go again. So very often
The dubbing team are left to ‘fix it in post’. Alternative lines of dialogue are hunted down from the rushes, smoothing techniques are used and generally the pressures are such that all this must be done in one 12 hour session. No foley ar ADR sessions are possible.
“In Doctors we don’t have time for foley sessions, so we have to be very resourceful when it comes to our use of time. Much of what we do is fixing problems”
Louise Wilcox, another dubbing mixer was featured in an article in the Institute of Professional Sound Website which may be of interest
On another occasion during a Jane Austin themed episode he went overboard on a fight scene and had to remix it due to a topical news event which happened close to transmission.
Richard also talked about Brinkburn Street for BBC, which presented some unusual sound dillemas, as it was set in both the present day and the 1930’s so sometimes there were horses and carts outside the houses and sometimes jet engines and traffic. See iPLayer
Richard has been a dubbing mixer for over 20 years and has mixed 717 episodes of Doctors. He is currently freelance, based in Nottingham.
As part of the BBC’s Sound of Cinema season, Trevor Cox, Professor of Acoustic Engineering, visits Pinewood studios to meet Glenn Freemantle, Danny Boyle’s sound designer. Freemantle describes the extraordinary lengths he went to in order to re-create the soundscape of a remote desert canyon in the film 127 Hours, so that the cinema audience hears exactly what the climber trapped under a rock for 127 hours hears as he tries to escape. And he shows how to build up the sound in a creepy scene to make the audience feel uneasy.
Trevor Cox also learns how the sound of a futuristic motor bike is created in the latest Judge Dredd film ? how does a sound designer create a sound that is incredibly powerful but also believable?
And there’s a revealing trip to a screening room in central London to experience the very latest technology in the world of cinematic surround sound
Our visiting lecturer Grant Bridgeman is currently shooting a feature film called The Falling, directed by Carol Morley.
Set for release in 2014 in cinemas, THE FALLING tells the story of Lydia, the troubled girl at the centre of a mysterious fainting epidemic, who is determined to discover the cause of the malady spreading through her British all-girl school in 1969, a year when the whole world seems poised on the brink of change. Following her films BAFTA-nominated The Alcohol Years, Edge, and the critically acclaimed Dreams of a Life, writer/director Carol Morley presents her skewed and dream-like coming of age story THE FALLING, with director of photography Agnès Godard (Sister, Beau Travail).
THE FALLING is a BBC Films, BFI production in association with Lipsync, a Cannon and Morley/Independent production in association with Boudica Red, a Carol Morley film.
The film was developed with the BFI Film Fund. Written and directed by Carol Morley, Produced by Cairo Cannon and Luc Roeg, Line Producer Donall Mccusker, Executive Producers Lizzie Francke, Christine Langan, Philip Herd, Andrew Orr, Norman Merry, Peter Hampden, Rebecca Long and Ian Davies.
You can keep up with the film’s Twitter feed here @TheFalling_Film
Grant Bridgeman’s Blog is here – and he is also on twitter @Grantsound
This interesting documentary celebrates the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who and explores the sound design of Doctor Who, both in its early years, and in recording the seventh BBC Wales series. Matthew Sweet interviews Tim Ricketts, Paul Jefferies and Brian Hodgson who are all involved with sound design on Doctor Who, past and present. Also interviewed the voice of the Daleks and Ice Warriors, Nicholas Briggs. It was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 during the interval of the 2013 Doctor Who at the Proms.
Listen to the programme here