Thursday, June 7, 2012

Project Movie: Part 4 - First Production Meeting

Well folks, the first production meeting for the Wesleyan Church of Hamburg 2012 movie project finally happened. It's not an easy trick to get eight busy people all in the same room at the same time for a meeting.

We started out by watching some source material. Bryan who wrote the story had a particular show in mind that he really liked the production values. Suffice it to say that it was a really good show and I'm glad it's on Netflix because I'm now totally addicted. After a couple hours we had soaked in a good deal of knowledge about transitions, angles, sound track, and most importantly character development. Less is definitely more when it comes to building characters. You can learn a whole lot about someone in just a few seconds, sometimes without any dialogue.

After a break we got into a conference room and Bryan pitched the story to us. No spoilers here, you'll have to wait till Christmas. He gave us a scene by scene outline, along with the music he had chosen and some dialogue when he had it. We traded ideas and tried to shoot holes in it for the next three hours. Very few holes, lots of ideas.

We zeroed in on some things that were just taking up time but not getting the story or characters anywhere and found a few places that need some more to them. We left with some homework to each think about a particular relationship between two of the characters. Once that's in our script writer, Gina, will start mulling it all over. Hopefully there will be enough dialogue written to start auditions in about a month.

At this point, I'm kind of in the back seat. I've gotten to be friends a little with Dan, the cinematographer and he likes to bounce ideas off me. But it's really his choices that will most heavily influence what I do as the sound designer. Sure, there's the basics of capturing dialogue and ambient sound. But whatever additional work I do will depend largely on what the material he shoots and Bryan scores will support. Last year the entire score was performed by a live band. We plan to do the same this year, but we're still working out if it will be all live, or if there will be things that are too complex to play live, or would be too distracting. There's also the problem of ducking a live band so you can hear dialogue.

It's my job to get my plans finalized for how I'm going to capture production audio and make sure all the hardware is on hand and working properly. I hope to do a test shoot in the next couple weeks and do a dry run of my audio process. From taking a cut scene with in-camera audio and adding a surround mix of production recording, additional dialogue recording (ADR), ambient sounds, foley, sound effects, and music cues. Not to mention deciding when, where and if I'm going to do any of the swishes, swoops and booms that are so popular in movies these days.

What I'm thinking about most is what the signature sounds will be. Certain scenes have a definite locale and that's relatively easy. I can just capture the sounds I need on site for the most part, and then mix them to set the place and support the action, bringing them up and down as needed. There are other scenes where the sound, or lack of sound, can almost become the setting itself. There's one scene in particular where I'm thinking about starting with all the sounds you'd expect to hear, and then slowly removing almost all of them but bringing up the remaining ones abnormally high.

There may also be signature sounds for certain characters. I have no idea at all what those might be so I'm just trying to keep my mind open at this point. They might come from brain storming sessions or just hit me while I'm driving. They may also find me as happy accidents in the course of filming.  The important thing will be to not just do things willy-nilly. I'll have my concept in mind (once I figure it out) and check all my work against it to make sure I'm maintaining the feel I'm going for.

That's all for now Brethren of the Knob and fader. Expect it to be fairly cryptic on the details from here on out, at least as far as something that would give away the plot. I'll be sure to spill as many juicy technical details as possible though to keep it interesting.

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