sound speeding - Repositório Aberto da Universidade do Porto

sound speeding - Repositório Aberto da Universidade do Porto
FACULDADE DE ENGENHARIA DA UNIVERSIDADE DO PORTO
MESTRADO EM MULTIMÉDIA RAMO DE MÚSICA INTERACTIVA E SOUND DESIGN
SOUND SPEEDING
TACTICS OF NOISE AND SILENCE IN MOVING PICTURE PRODUCTION
THE HORSE BRIDE – A CASE STUDY
Presidente de júri: Doutor António Fernando Vasconcelos Cunha Castro Coelho (Universidade do Porto)
Arguente: Mestre Marco Paulo Barbosa Conceição (Escola Superior de Música, Artes e Espectáculo)
Orientador: Doutor Carlos Alberto Barbosa da Cunha Mendonça Guedes (Escola Superior de Música,
Artes e Espectáculo)
RUI MANUEL FERREIRA DE SOUSA E SILVA
mm10050
VISITING RESEARCHER AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
TO NI-ANN COLOMA
MAHAL NA MAHAL KITA
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Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
THANK YOU
Mãmã, Papá, Pedro, Susana, Zé, Sofia. Apple, Lemmy.
Vó Paula e Bú Ferreira.
Stevie.
Mr. Arnold & Mrs. Lelet Coloma, Shekinah. Molly, Olive, Rocket.
Diogo, Daniel, Sérgio & Sérgio.
Carlos Guedes, Andy Garrison, Sharon Strover.
Don Howard, Kat Candler, Eric Friend, Tom Hammond, Susan Fitz-Simon, Eduardo Magalhães.
Karen Gustafson and Homer Sanchez.
Simon Quiroz and Nathaniel Efstation.
PTM Crew (“a tua vida começa aqui…”)
Huy Fong’s Sriracha and Fai Jow’s Ming’s.
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Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
KEYWORDS
Audio, Sound Design, Film
ABSTRACT
A deep immersion on the way film students from one of the top Universities in the United States of
America work on their projects turned out to be a living testament of how sound is overlooked and
misunderstood, be it on set (production) or in post production, regardless of the student-filmmaker’s desire
to have a good, complete, final film.
Taking on the challenge of being in charge of sound in a number of student projects as a way of expanding
one’s skillset as a “sound person” for film, again, be it in production or post, it was proposed that this
project would serve as a on the field/hands on experiment on the realities of “sound for film”.
Supported by a brief theoretical starting point, this document introduces the audio production workflow
learned and implemented in a series of short films by the students of the Masters in Fine Arts in Film &
Media Production program at the University of Texas at Austin, from the recording of sound on set, to the
final stage of mixing for stereo and surround sound, for public screening.
This document reports on all the relevant small projects that were taken in the scope of the bigger project,
as well as on the conclusions that could be interpreted from each of its outcomes.
As a case study, the focus is set on a specific short film, The Horse Bride, which is an example of a
complete and extensive sound endeavor, from pre to post production.
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Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
PALAVRAS CHAVE
Áudio, Sound Design, Cinema
RESUMO
Uma profunda imersão na forma como os estudantes de cinema de uma das Universidades de topo nos
Estados Unidos da América encaram os seus projectos, revelou-se uma prova viva de como o a produção
áudio e o “som” por si só são parâmetros negligenciados e incompreendidos, quer no set (durante a
produção) como na fase de pós-produção, independentemente da vontade do estudante-realizador em ter
um bom e completo “produto final”.
Aceitando o desafio de estar encarregue de tudo o que estivesse relacionado com o som num número de
projectos desses estudantes, como forma de expandir o skillset de uma “pessoa do som” para cinema, mais
uma vez, quer seja em produção como em pós-produção, foi proposto que este projecto servisse como
experiência no terreno/prática acerca das realidades daquilo que é o “som para cinema”.
Suportado por um breve ponto de partida teórico, este document introduz um método de trabalho de
produção áudio, aprendido e implementado nessa série de filmes realizados por estudantes do Mestrado em
Cinema & Produção de Mídia da Universidade do Texas em Austin, desde a gravação de “som directo”
(“on set”), até à fase final de mistura para stereo e som surround, para apresentação pública.
Este documento reporta sobre todos os pequenos projectos que se tornaram relevantes no contexto do
projecto aglomerador, assim como sobre as conclusões dele retiradas.
Como caso de estudo, é dado enfoque a uma curta metragem em particular, The Horse Bride, que é um
exemplo de um completo e extensive esforço, desde a pré à pós produção do som num filme.
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Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
“The eye solicited alone makes the ear impatient, the ear solicited
alone makes the eye impatient.
Use these impatiences.
Power of the cinematographer who appeals to the two senses in a
governable way.
speed, OF noise, SET
TACTICS OF slowness, OF silence.”
AGAINST THE TACTICS OF
ROBERT BRESSON, NOTES ON SOUND
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Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
INDEX
ABSTRACT
4
RESUMO
5
INTRODUCTION
9
BRIEF THEORETICAL LOCALIZATION
10
CASE STUDY: THE HORSE BRIDE
12
PRE-PRODUCTION
13
MEETING THE DIRECTOR
13
ANALYSIS OF THE SCRIPT
14
SETTING UP GOALS
18
LOCATION AUDITION
19
PRODUCTION
20
CHOOSING GEAR
21
SHOOTING WORKFLOW
24
LEARNING HOW TO MOVE YOUR EARS
24
MICROPHONE PLACEMENTS
24
BEING ON THE CHASE
25
LOGGING AND “NIGHTLIES”
26
POST PRODUCTION
27
ANALYSIS OF PRODUCTION SOUND
28
REVISITING THE “GOALS”
28
“PICK-UPS”
29
LOCATION REVISIT - HEARING THE SILENCE
29
A.D.R.
29
SOUND DESIGN-ING
31
ANALYSIS OF THE OUTCOME & CONCLUSIONS
33
ATTACHMENTS
A: OTHER FILM PROJECTS (THAT ARE PART OF SOUND SPEEDING)
36
TRASH DANCE
37
CLAY CASTLES
41
THE LONGEST SUN
43
ROUTE 22
45
VERY SWEET LONELY PEOPLE/THRU THE EAST
47
HEARTS OF NAPALM
48
JENNY & STEPH
50
B: PERSONAL NOTE FROM DIRECTOR SIMON QUIROZ
52
C: BIBLIOGRAPHY/LITERATURE
53
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Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
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Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
INTRODUCTION
The project “Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture Production”
was first thought out after a preliminary three-month internship and stay in the city of Austin, Texas, in the
United States of America, while taking part on the Digital Media Internship Program, a collaboration
between the University of Porto (UP) and the University of Texas at Austin (UT).
Being that the purpose of the second year of the Masters in Multimedia – Interactive Music
and Sound Design could either be focused on the development of a dissertation or a professionalizing
project, this opportunity to go abroad and work closely with professionals and soon-to-be professionals in
the area of film and media production, appeared as the perfect setting to conduct a learning experience that
could be used to increase one’s skillset and also result in a document which would both report on the
experience itself, as well as contribute a set of proposed guidelines and tips for whoever embarks in a
similar kind of endeavor, and finds them helpful.
After those three first months, a period in which only one role as a sound editor in a featurelong documentary (“Trash Dance”) was taken, and used as a starting point, it was clear that a return to the
USA would extremely benefit the Masters’ project in terms of providing it with a huge variety of
experiences, all of them related with sound in both production and post production for film.
This document reports on that commitment with the University of Texas, some of its Masters
in Fine Arts (MFA) in Film & Media Production candidates/students, and with my Masters in Multimedia
program at FEUP, focusing in a particular short film, here used as a case study and example of all the work
developed during the course of this year – The Horse Bride, by director Simon Quiroz.
This report is divided in four sections:
-­‐
One very brief theoretical conceptualization on the Sound Design theme and some
comment of the projects’ influences and inspirations;
-­‐
A thorough examination of the process implemented in both production and post for
the case study film, The Horse Bride, by director Simon Quiroz;
-­‐
A global analysis of all the other projects and films encompassed in this venture;
-­‐
A set of conclusions and analysis of outcomes of the process as a whole, which can
be used as an outline of guidelines and tips for this kind of project.
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Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
BRIEF THEORETICAL LOCALIZATION
This project was started after the interest focus was set on the audio production for film,
from production to post, as explored in the class of Sound Design for Digital Media, lectured by Professor
Carlos Guedes, at FEUP.
Throughout the document, there will be mentions of common audio jargon as well as
references to sound concepts that would be more or less assumed as acquired. Nevertheless, this brief
theoretical localization helps set some of these concepts on the same plane as they were implemented in
this project.
Sound Design, as a concept, is still much debated (specially among the film students at UT)
as to what it encompasses. While some people see it as the whole process, from pre to post production,
given that there’s a responsible department for that, some other people prefer to define sound design as the
single process of planning, manipulating, morphing, adding, and creating, etc…, sounds that will enrich a
production – be it connected to moving picture (like film, ads, commercial, etc…) or not – even separating
the function of a “sound designer” from that of a “sound mixer” and/or “re-recording mixer”.
In this document, it can be said that the term “sound design” is used kind of loosely, because
on the perspective of this particular project, the “design” was a process that started with the project itself,
accompanied it, evolved with it, and bloomed in the final product, as part of it.
Commonly defined as the art of reproducing on screen movements and actions, using the
same, or similar, objects and utensils, in order to substitute or enhance its sounds, Foley is a stage and a
concept also briefly explored in this document. A concept started in 1927 by Jack Donovan Foley, it’s an
indispensable tool in the modern days of filmmaking.
About Foley, David Sonneschein, on his book “Sound Design: The Expressive Power of
Music, Voice, and Sound Effects in Cinema”, tells us, “Foley sounds are primarily those created to
accompany the noisemaking movement of actors in real time. Even if footsteps, coffee cup clinking, or
squeaky leather chairs were recorded during the shoot, the standard practice is to replace them all in the
foley room for the sake of uniformity and ability to totally isolate these sounds from the dialogue, to be
able to construct not only a realistic sonic presence of the action, but also a complete M&E (music-andeffects) track for future international releases with foreign languages.”
This document also tries to encapsulate the timeline of the whole production into a film, by
defining it’s stages in three main blocks:
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Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
Pre-Production
Meeting the director
Location scouting/auditioning
Script Analysis
Setting up goals and preliminary sound mapping
Equipment Choices
Scheduling
Production
Sound recording on set
Logging
Equipment management
Post-Production
A. D. R. & Foley
Mixing
Output
All these stages are mentioned in the document, and they serve as a rough guide to what to
expect and what to look out for when starting a film production.
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Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
CASE STUDY: THE HORSE BRIDE
Of all the projects that were taken, there were a few that definitely stood out, in terms of the
input that was allowed to be offered; and, among those, one that eventually detached itself even more, be it
in the way the director looked for support on the sound department to make his vision come through, and
also in the larger scope of imprint that was allowed to be implemented.
The Horse Bride is an original script by Simon Quiroz (b. 1987), a then-second year MFA
student at UT. Pitched as a horror film, based on a very concise tale but with a modern touch and
refreshment, this project imposed itself as a challenge since the first discussion about it, due to its spacial
localization in two dimensions: the oneiric and the “real-Life”, as well as the literal “dimensions” of the
physical spaces where the action would occur, and also for all the details that were put in the table from day
one: stunt-ridden car chases, heavy gun handling and firing, the presence of a ghost, and outdoor, nightonly, shoots.
When the work crew started to get assembled to make this project real, the first step was to
meet the director.
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Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
PRE-PRODUCTION
MEETING THE DIRECTOR
The Horse Bride was the first short film to be analyzed in the scope of this project, and so
the first meeting with the director was a mixture of having a lot of questions with a sense of not wanting to
overlook any detail, with an assumed lack of experience in how to deal with this type of situation.
Luckily, the director, Simon Quiroz, presented himself as a listener and someone that, as a
film maker, was aware of the importance that sound would take as a role by itself in his film.
The main goals of this first meeting, probably very similar between departments, were:
-­‐
To gain access to the latest version of the script;
-­‐
To have the script read aloud by the director, letting him emphasize his points of
view and, while taking notes, understanding all the other places and moments that
the director used emphasis without noticing (the close relationship of the director
with his script, when he’s the writer, shows more in the way he interacts with it than
when he tries to explain it to someone else, like the sound department);
-­‐
To understand the chronology of the shoot and gain access to schedules and
planning, becoming part of it;
-­‐
Get in touch with the available equipment list (in this case, as it was a student film,
this is very important due to restrictions of the equipment rental facilities of the
University. Also, this should be planned way ahead when rentals are necessary, in
order to avoid not being able to get a specific piece of gear due to poor planning),
and also, make decisions about which equipment to request.
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Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
ANALYSIS OF THE SCRIPT
The script had previously been made available with the (soon to be common through the
other productions) warning that it would probably change and meet a lot of modifications until the shoot
date. Reading it thoroughly helped establish a few very important notions:
-­‐
How many physical locations will be used
o
In the opening scene, the room where Ines and Alfredo are;
o
The outdoor scenes, all along the road from Texas to the Mexican border;
o
The outdoors at night, during the car chase, which are different from before
due to the time and the location (Mexico, and not Texas);
o
The inside of Alfredo’s car, during the trip from Texas through the Mexican
border, as well as during the night car chase already in Mexico; the
perspective of the drug cartel SUV during the night in Mexico;
o
The outdoors at night, in the middle of the woods;
o
The main “haunted house”, which is the same as in the opening scene;
o
The “three-wall structure”, which depicts an oneiric “broken home”, and
mixes the elements of an unreal “inside” with an “unreal” outdoors; and
o
-­‐
The barn, which appears very briefly, and his open ended in both sides.
How many characters will interact/be on screen at the same time
o
The script shows that there are no intense dialog lines, but the only scene
where a conversation between two people is kept is also a key moment for
the performance, given that there are actually two conversations happening
at the same time: between the border patrol “Genaro” and Alfredo, in the
car, and between the other two “Oficiales”. For the sake of performance, the
director wanted these two actions to be happening at the same time, so the
total amount of people interacting at the same time was four (4). This
created a few challenges that are discussed ahead.
-­‐
What kind of clothing and garments are the characters using
o
Even though this is not a film that clearly denotes a specific time or “era”,
the localization sets the tone: Mexico and Mexican characters.
o
Alfredo: jeans and button down shirt, cowboy boots;
o
Ines: sleeping garments (in a moment where she is not wearing a
microphone) and then a heavy wedding dress with a lot of silk and
applications, throughout the rest of the film (the actress is actually wearing
two wedding dresses, one on top of each other);
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Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
o
Genaro and the “Oficiales”: military rough camos;
o
Drug cartel hitman (“Cicario” or “Man in black car”): jeans, button down
shirt, cowboy boots.
-­‐
References to diegetic and non-diegetic sound
o
There’s definitely an important distinction to be made:
o
The phone call that is heard during the scene when Alfredo is driving down
from Texas to the border with Mexico is a non-diegetic sound, because,
even though we’re hearing it as coming out from a source which is the
character’s brain, this type of construction can’t be considered diegetic.
Sonnenschein writes, “Any sound that would not be heard by a character or
is not emitted from a sound event in the story is considered nondiegetic.”,
and this emphasizes the questioning of the categorization of that sound. In a
more profound analysis, it’s understood that Alfredo is not “hearing” that
sound as “emitted from a sound event”, but is reminiscing it in his brain.
Either way, the phone call is placed as is, plain and simple, so it can be
understood by the audience as a pure non-diegetic sound, if they don’t
assume that Alfredo is “hearing it in his head”, and that it’s just placed there
to help “connect the dots” in the story. “Typical examples [of non-diegetic
sounds] include a voiceover narration and incidental music”, writes
Sonnenschein, adding that “In general, the non-diegetic sound functions as
an interpretive element, guiding the listener towards a certain feeling,
subjectively beyond the visual elements”, and this fits the exact purpose of
the placement of that phone call.
o
The blend caused by the use of the ghost whispers and overall sounds as
part of the music and sound effects (SFX) tracks can also create some
confusion as to which category do they fit better. Even though we see the
source of these sounds – the ghost -, we never really see it emitting them,
and the clear use of them as part of the overall ambience attributes them to a
non-diegetic categorization.
-­‐
Key moments and sound effect cues (other than music cues)
o
Some moments on the screen were perceived to have a specially strong
connotation in the pacing of the film, and were noted from the beginning. In
the end, some of these “key moments” were dropped in importance, for the
sake of avoiding the creation of way too many “key moments”.
o
Some examples that were noted after reading the script:
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Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
§
The moment where the screen is occupied by the wedding dress
after Alfredo passes by it on his way out of the room – the first
thought was to mention this one to the music composer, so her
could keep it in mind in a scene that would be well complimented
by music;
§
The ringing of the phone, taking the audience out of a nice,
“emotional” and almost “dear” moment, and leading it to the
roughness of what was yet to come – here the sound of the dial
tone would be rough in frequency, loud in volume;
§
The roar of the cicario/drug cartel SUV’s engine turning on, yet
another sound that would help the audience keep feeling more
and more “worried” – it should be loud;
§
On page 6., the director literally wrote “The SOUND of a
HORSE.”, and then “Alfredo turns around but there is nothing.” –
this disconnection between sound and image would allow the
sound to be disproportionate and bigger than it should and
scarier that it would;
§
“Alfredo steps on what seems to be pieces of broken glass and
random objects around the floor.” - The footsteps on broken glass
were envisioned as “marrying” the music, and this was noted as
another idea to talk with the composer – maybe some pizzicatoplucked violins could be used.
§
On page 9., “The woman pushes the baby towards her chest, we
slowly hear the baby’s cry fades away.” – The idea that
transpires is that the baby is never really seen, so the intensity
and positioning of the cry must compensate for that.
§
On page 11, the breaking of the mirror. – Important moment in
terms of dynamics; the shattering sound could be borderline
unbearable.
§
-­‐
The ghost whispers calling Alfredo’s name.
The importance of voice over to the plot
o
There are two main fundamental voice over locations in the script:
§
The opening scene, when Alfredo reads the letter he’s leaving
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Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
Ines.
§
The phone call from Dominga, reminiscence while Alfredo drives
from Texas to Mexico.
o
There was also a new idea for the sound design, which would consist in the
recording of the same letter reading, but done by Ines, as if she was reading
it when she found it. – This ended up working really well and was added to
the “haunted house” sequence.
o
These voiceover needs made me feel like I should warn the director for the
eventuality of Automatic Dialog Replacement (ADR) and voice over (VO)
sessions in post production.
-­‐
And, in this particular case, when does the story cross the line between “fantasy”
and “reality”
o
On the 5:15 mark, when Alfredo’s car takes a turn after the chase, and the
ghostly ambience starts creeping in, there’s an unspoken transition that is
confirmed by the appearance of the horse. Reality -> Fantasy
o
When Alfredo gets to the house and sees the horse again, there’s another
brief transition, prompted by the calls of the cicarios. Fantasy -> Reality ->
Fantasy
o
Then there’s a sequence of immersion in this oneiric stage, where Alfredo
lives the haunt of Ines’ ghost, and that ends up by being broken by the
approach of the cicarios when Alfredo is trying to get to his car. Fantasy ->
Reality
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Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
SETTING UP GOALS
This process of analyzing the script was fundamental to allow the sound team to talk with the
director and put them “in the same page”. After the first meeting of acquaintance, and the referred script
analysis, another meeting was set up, and, upon agreeing about all of the proposed ideas and annotations, a
set of goals was placed, beginning by one that revealed itself to be one of the most important, even if it’s
sometimes so overlooked:
Deadlines
Production periods and shooting schedules were promptly presented by the director,
after being established by him in collaboration with the Producer. Preliminary
stages of post production and cut-off dates for the delivery of rough and fine cuts
were also set with a +5/-5 day margin. This commitment proved to be one of the
most important agreements set between the sound team and the director of the short.
Location Scouting
Dates for location scouting (even though the main location, a ranch and gated,
secluded community, was already established) were proposed and the sound team
was offered freedom to join and proceed to field tests and recordings.
Overall Objectives
True to the essence of the horror genre, the director expressed his ideas in terms of
how much he would like to get the audience glued to the seats and in a almost
frazzle. A green light was given to “creepy” themes and all the types of “scary stuff”
that could be added to increase the tension during the film, as it would be preferred
that sounds and exaggerated ideas could be “taken out” in the last stages of mixing
instead of losing time “adding more” to a more scarce sound design. This was
particularly liberating to the sound team.
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Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
LOCATION AUDITION
The sound team took on the offer to accompany the Director and the Producer, as well as
other elements of the crew such as the Grip/Electrical and the Director of Photography (DP), in a
preliminary visit to the location.
Due to the fact that this would be a night-only shoot, the visit was done during the night too,
which helped plan the shots in terms of framing, light; and plan the sound in terms of taking traffic and bug
noise into consideration.
The shoot was to take place in a very big, secluded community, gated inside a big perimeter
that was once a ranch. The closest region name is Dripping Springs, Texas, and, true to the type of sounds
that ring in our ears when the Lone Star state is referred, there was a lot of silence – the traffic noise was
irrelevant, almost inexistent -, only perturbed by the constant “singing” of the cicadas (the soundtrack for
Texas landscapes), a sporadic airplane here and there, and some howling dog and/or coyote. This all
sounded great, and some test recordings were made.
The fact that the shoot was to take place in the last weeks of October was the best
compromise between not being too cold (even though that night showed that it could get really chilly), and
not being too hot. The Texas weather can be hard to understand and estimate, but the lack of strong winds
even during the night in really big, ample and open spaces like ranches, really helped to produce some
quality test recordings.
Nonetheless, when gathering opinions and strategies with the other members of the crew, the
sound department was confronted with something that hadn’t occurred before – the fact that, in order to
shoot during the night and replicate the types of hollow and “scary” lighting that was desired, it would be
necessary to power an extended lighting rig with the help of two really loud generators. This would mean
that most, if not all, of the sound that was to be recorded during the production as ambience tracks, could be
in danger of becoming useless, evidencing the importance of a careful post production work, which had
already started being planned anyway.
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PRODUCTION
The production stage is the real “crunch” time, when everyone needs to talk to everyone and
get the last details straight, at the same time that no one really has time to talk with anyone. In this
particular college environment, it is pretty usual that shooting periods overlap between students, which
means that it can get hard to get a crew together and maintain it through production, given that the crew
members are usually other students/colleagues, who have their projects going on at the same time.
For The Horse Bride, fortunately, everything was planned with a lot of overhead time and
resources. Even the shooting days were scheduled a lot of time in advance, which meant that it was not
hard to assemble a crew among colleagues, and keep it more or less steady and without changes on the
most important roles.
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CHOOSING GEAR
Again, due to the fact that this production was planned with a lot of advance, there were no
major constrictions in terms of renting the desired equipment from the UT resources.
The sound department was able to choose among a satisfying array of options, and the most
fitting pieces of gear were chosen to be as follows:
Hard Disk Recorder – Sound Devices 744T
Sound Mixer – Sound Devices 302
These two durable, rugged pieces of hardware proved to be ready to take the harshest
conditions, while keeping a reliable and steady performance. Due to the fact that the batteries on the 744T
had had large hundreds of cycles after many years of use by countless students at UT, this machine proved
as particularly hard to keep on. This was circumvented when the sound team realized that what probably
consumes the most battery is the light on the screen – given that the battery life increased immensely (in the
order of the 4 to 5 hours) when the screen was kept off and the panel consulted with the aid of a flashlight.
This behavior was replicated in following shoots, with different units of the same make and model (744T).
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Sennheiser MKH 416 - P48 + Rycote Full Windshield Kit
The Sennheiser 416, due to its build and polar pattern characteristics, proved to be the most
heavily relied-upon microphone on this set as well as in the following ones. Its pickup pattern and
responsive gain range made it a great fit for the purposes of this shoot – Even though most of the
“ambience” sound became unusable, as I’ll explain ahead, a big part of the dialog lines on the wide shots
were picked up by this microphone, inside the Rycote windshield, and controlled by a boom pole, it
incredible clarity, even in moments when the framing of the picture didn’t allow the microphone to be close
to the subjects/characters.
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Audio Technica 4073A
The short shotgun cardioid 4073A is “designed for critical long-distance pickup in
broadcasting, film/TV production and theater sound reinforcement applications”, according to the brand’s
website, but, in what regards to this particular shoot, the sound team invariably preferred the Sennheiser
416 for exterior shots. The 4073A was used mainly in the interior shots with great results, either as a single
“boom mic”, or in conjunction with the Sennheiser 416.
Sennheiser EW100 Lavaliers
Small, efficient and easy to use, the Sennheiser EW100 only created a little problem due to
the fact that the radio frequency at which the units we had available were configured to operate was too
narrow of a band, which provoked some leaking and interference between them, which went unnoticed on
the first couple of takes. As soon as this was discovered, the frequencies were quickly changed and the
problem was gone. This problem was felt in the “four people talking” scene, with Alfredo, Genaro, and the
two “Oficiales” keeping two different conversations between each pair.
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SHOOTING WORKFLOW
LEARNING HOW TO MOVE YOUR EARS
The sound team for The Horse Bride shoot was composed by only one person, who was in
charge of setting up, sound mixing, boom operating and logging. It was known from the start that the sound
team didn’t have enough experience to be considered “a professional”, but it had been through an intense
preparation period before the production period/shooting days.
One of the biggest challenges lived in the fact that controlling levels, gains, and overall mix
of the direct sound on set is a big commitment by itself, let alone when coupled to the need to do boom
operating. It was thought that the better option, after the first day, would be to get a dedicated boom
operator, but the production resources couldn’t cover it, so the team had to adapt – which actually turned
out to be a very good experience.
The sound recording setup was pretty easy and straightforward, as presented in the previous
chapter, and, even though it was a first time using these equipments, the sound department didn’t have any
problems understanding them and making them work rather effortlessly. The signal flow was as follows:
-­‐
Lavalier Microphones 1 & 2 would run directly into the 744T inputs 1 & 2;
-­‐
Sennheiser 416 on input 2 of the 302 mixer, with discrete output to channel 4 (line)
on the 744T;
-­‐
AT4073A on the input 1 of the 302 mixer, with discrete output to channel 3 (line) on
the 744T;
-­‐
Lavalier Mic 3 & 4 would be disconnected most of the time, except for the scene
with the four character talking, when:
o
416 ran straight to 744T Input 1;
o
Lavalier 1 ran straight to 744T Input 2;
o
Lavalier 2 ran to 302 Input 1 and discrete output to 744T Input 3; and
o
Lavalier 3 and 4 ran to Inputs 2 and 3 respectively on the 302, and it’s mix
out of the discrete output 2, to 744T Input 4.
MICROPHONE PLACEMENTS
After trial and error, and understanding that there would probably not be much cloth rustle,
the preferred placement for the lavalier microphones was hidden inside the talent’s shirts, on the inside,
careful not to show any wiring. The mics were carefully clipped on cloth, after a turn on the wire had been
made, to reduce vibration, and a ring of gaffer tape was glued to them, to create an invisible gap between
the actual body of the microphone and the surrounding surfaces.
The boom mic would always move as close to the image frame as possible, which caused a
bit of discomfort on the DP in the first couple of takes – and which led to discomfort in the part of the
Director, by kinesis. This situation was not brought up, even if the sound department had thought about
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bringing it up in case it persisted. Fortunately, the discomfort looks were quickly erased, and in the wrap of
the first night of shooting, the camera department commented “how great” it was that the sound department
“was not afraid of looking for the best places to get sound”, without interfering in their work.
To be noted, this proximity to the movements of the camera must be exercised with a lot of
care, due to the possibility of creating shadows, which could be seen and caught on film, ruining the shots
and footage.
The ability to move carefully and without causing too much fuss, while holding a firm grip
on the boom pole is a necessity. Depending on the scene and its movement, the boom operator might need
to walk to accompany it, or even run to catch it. In these moments it’s an imperative that sensitive grip with
the hands (to avoid shockmount rattle) and careful foot positioning be practiced, to reduce the risk of
causing undesired noises in the recording due to movement. The boom operator must remain silent at all
costs, in order not to compromise its own trade.
With the exception of very specific scenes, there was never a need to have all the talent
“wired” (using Lavalier microphones), but the sound department decided to have them use them all the
time, since they didn’t really “show” (due to the clothes the characters were using), and because that would
speed up the workflow every time there would be a line that needed to be recorded. Also, a lot of sounds
ended up being used, taken from these seemingly useless microphones, such as:
-­‐
Wild, non prompted/directed lines by the ghost – mainly deep exhales and cries, used
to make the scenes more realistic while shooting, while the talent did not really know
the sound was being recorded too;
-­‐
Natural and organic panting and heavy breathing sounds from Alfredo;
-­‐
Cursing “training” in between takes by the main drug cartel cicario, lines that
seemed more natural than some of the “acted” ones.
BEING “ON THE CHASE”
One of the hardest parts, but also one of the most exciting due to the challenge that it
encompassed, was the recording of sound during the car chase scene.
The production relied on the help of two professional stunt drivers, who made sure that all
the safety requirements were met and all the safety measures were taken to insure that the members of the
crew who would need to be part of the scene were not in any kind of danger.
This way, the sound department was basically stuck in the back seat of the big SUV, with
two seat belts and in a crouching position that assured both safety and non-appearance in the frame.
Due to the high speeds and insane engine noise that could be felt inside the car, the audio
recordings were stripped of lower frequencies and basically used to fill swerves and high frequency
squeaks that could be heard in the turns.
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Also, due to the fact that the cicario was always screaming out the window, no real sound
takes of his voice were used during the time when the sound team was inside the SUV.
LOGGING AND “NIGHTLIES”
Due to the fact that the sound department was comprised of only one person, a lot of
compromises have to be made, specially taking into account that the whole shoot as through nights and
that, during the day, the sound department had internship duties in the post production of another film.
This way, and knowing that it only takes the slightest slip to allow a production to become
messy and harder to get back to a “normal state”, the compromise that was assumed was not sleeping. This,
of course, brought a lot of problems and created an interesting workflow of asking oneself the same
question twice, to make sure that no mistakes were being made.
Something that was done in this set (but, interestingly enough, was not very common at all in
other sets that the sound department worked on) was a session informally called “dailies”, which is the
moment when the Director and the DP (and sometimes the Producer and the heads of Grip/Electrical
departments) sit down after the daily “wrap” and look at key point of the footage to understand if there was
any problem, identifying scenes or takes that might need to be reshot. This practice is really helpful, and it
is worrying to see that it’s not common. Either way, the sound department decided to do a similar exercise
every night, but, since the visual “dailies” took a long time, after a shooting “day” that usually lasted until 5
in the morning, meaning that no one else in the crew would be willing to partake on it… the sound
department decided to call this exercise the “nightlies”, and do it on the ride back home, using a 3.5mm
jack to jack cable to extract sound from the headphones output of the 744T, and running it into the Aux
Input on the car sound system. This had the advantage of keeping the crew awake.
Notes would be taken about the best takes for sound, and this allowed for a faster
categorization and organization of the media “dump” on the DTI (Data Transfer Interface) on the next day.
This proved specifically helpful in the post production phase.
POST PRODUCTION
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This process, that can be or become very lengthy, is the moment where all the footage is put
together and synced with sound, as a first step to get to a finalized product. After the syncing, the picture
cutting is done, generally with not a lot of concern about the sound, and a rough cut is assembled.
The director, in conjuction with the editor, might decide to screen successive cuts of the
“rough” to selected audiences, in order to get feedback about the progression of its’ story, which will help
shaping the post production efforts with the goal of having the best final product possible. Then, step by
step, cut by cut, both editor and director will agree on a finer cut until it gets to a “picture lock”. Usually
this is the phase where the video file is handled to the sound post production department, but in the case of
the Horse Bride, it was decided that the sound would start being shaped as soon as there were rough scenes
put together, given that there was a lot of sound design to be made.
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ANALYSIS OF PRODUCTION SOUND
The “nightlies” sessions really helped a lot in the organization of the sound post production
of The Horse Bride. Knowing that a lot of takes were “ambiences only”, due to the lack of dialogs, which
meant that sync issues wouldn’t be a problem, a lot of the not-so-great audio takes were discarded really
early, which meant less clutter and “irrelevant options” in the sound design/sound construction phase.
The main problem that was encountered with the production sound had to do with the
generator noise, which rendered most of the outdoor audio takes as unusable. Only the lavaliers and the
boom mic in the precise moments where there were lines (like the cicario, for example) were kept, and
even then, it was decided – after a lot of tries to “clean up” – that it would be better to bring back Alfredo to
the studio so he could re-record some of his panting and breathing, which proved very important in the
film.
Other than that, all the lines sounded good, and a lot of effects that the analysis of the script
showed to be necessary, had been recorded on the set (like a “on location Foley”), like for example:
-­‐
Rustle sound of the leaves and bones when Alfredo picks up the “baby”;
-­‐
Various takes of the glass breaking;
-­‐
Footsteps on the broken glass;
-­‐
Door banging;
-­‐
Horse sounds (which were hard to get, because the horse that was on set, due to it
professional training, was very quiet and barely made a sound).
REVISITING THE “GOALS”
This careful analysis of the sounds that were obtained during production helped the sound
department, in collaboration with the director, to understand the direction in which the sound design would
move. It was understood that there was enough material and with a satisfying quality, so the next logical
step was to correct what needed to be corrected, like, for example, the problem with the generators that
“dirtied” the ambience sounds.
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“PICK-UPS”
LOCATION REVISIT – HEARING THE SILENCE
The concern about the ambience sounds that had been rendered useless because of the loud
generator noise, were passed on to the Director in the first meeting after the shoot, and it was quickly
agreed that the sound department would go back to the location on another night, just to record some long
“silence takes”.
This opportunity created enthusiasm, and the desire to experiment. Since the final mix was to
be done in theatrical five point one, a plan to record ambiences in surround was sketched, and the sound
department decided to apply the techniques of the Decca Tree and the Double M/S while recording
ambiences on location.
Unexpectedly, it was hard to get ahold of a figure of eight microphone for the specific date of
the recording, but, also unexpectedly, it was possible to get ahold of five (!) Sennheiser 416. This meant
that the Decca Tree configuration was tried, but the sound department also decided to experiment and
record the five discrete sources, placed on the field like they were the actual surround speakers. This was
done using two 744Ts and one 302.
At least 35 minutes of silence were recorded, which was considered to be more than enough,
given that the short would be capped at 13 minutes maximum.
A. D. R.
THE GHOST WHISPERS
One of the things that were left for post production was the recording of the actress that
portrayed the Horse Bride, while she cried, whispered, sighed, etc…, with the goal of incorporating these
sounds in the ambience and this way creating a “scary” atmosphere.
This “VO” session, not exactly “ADR”, was the first of a series of sessions that occurred in
three consecutive days.
Something that is really important for these kinds of sessions, and that can’t be too stressed
enough, is the presence of the Director.
In the case of the recording of the cries of the ghost, it was necessary to create a heavy
atmosphere in the studio. This was accomplished by turning off all the lights, covering the Control mixing
board with sound blankets to hide the flashing lights; and having the Director conduct the talent to a deep
state on angst. This was not an easy task, specially because the talent was having a super bright and
cheerful day, and that showed in the first couple of takes – they were literally cheerful, and it took a while
to get to the “scary” place we needed/wanted.
By the Director’s indication, and this might be something to take into account every time a
session like this happens, no footage was shown to the talent. In the same vein, the recorded takes were not
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played back to the talent, in order to impede that she would, in the words of the Director, “direct herself”,
leaving this task for him only.
In this session, the actress also recorded a reading of the opening scene letter, and this was
used to enhance the “mirror breaking” scene.
ALFREDO’S BREATHING
The actor that played Alfredo came by on the next day and had a stellar performance. After a
short run in the corridors outside of the recording studio, he was set to record some heavy breathing and
also some vocalic sounds, characteristic of someone who has been running and is afraid, that were not
captured in all its essence in production. There was still time for him to take another try on the reading of
the letter, but it was easy to understand that the recording the sound department had made on the set was,
without a doubt, the best one.
DOMINGA’S PHONE CALL
The last voice over session was very short and easy, and basically served to record the phone
call message that’s heard as we see Alfredo leaving Texas on his way to Mexico.
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SOUND DESIGN-ING
THE ROOM
The intention was to make the room where both characters are as plain and neutral as
possible. Even though it is possible to understand the sound of the cicadas and the common traits that set it
as an early morning in a rural environment, the main focus was to be given to the voice over. Nonetheless,
all sounds, including “foley’d” footsteps, are present.
THE CAR CHASE
All car sounds in this project are a mix of the original set recordings with the use of
commercial sound libraries. The first intention was to stay away from this type of sound libraries, but, after
some careful listening, to both production sound and some library examples, and after consulting with the
Director, it was easy to conclude that this sort of “prejudice” did not make much sense. This way, the car
chase was probably the part of the short film that took more time to get together and “complete”, as the
whole process was faced with a lot of care – the “real” car engines were carefully matched with the ones in
the libraries, and each movement, each swerve, each tire squeak, carefully placed and “designed”.
There’s another element that was carefully thought, even though it might go unnoticed.
During the chase, and with the cicario screaming at Alfredo, there are various levels at which his voice is
processed (it was recorded clean, with the megaphone off):
-­‐
When the cicario is far away, shouting through the megaphone;
o
Approx. 15% of direct sound and 75% of processed “radio” sound, with a
short delay.
-­‐
When the cicario is close, but still using the megaphone;
o
-­‐
Approx. 60% of direct sound and 40% of processed “radio” sound.
When the cicario is approaching in the car, and the megaphone is not steady in his
hands:
o
The automation of the processing was done in conformity with the visual
movement, trying to emulate it the best way possible.
THE OVERALL AMBIENCE
The ambience that starts when we jump for oneiric world for the first time (when Alfredo
turns and escapes the car chase, seeing the horse), and sticks around from then on, is composed by a rich
mixture of a lot of wind and ambience sounds recorded on location (as a “pick up”), mashed together with
some “eerie” “cavernous” sounds found in commercial sound libraries. What seems to work great is the
fact that loops were avoided (thanks to the fact that long takes existed), which allowed the environment to
“progress” and breathe on its own.
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As opposed to what is usual in other types of production, when the ambience is cut right after
frame every time there’s a perspective change on the visuals, the ambiences in The Horse Bride were kept
as a way of maintaining the feeling of surrounding, and, as Sonneschein puts it, the feeling of “common
fate and belongingness”, even though it’s a belongingness to something that doesn’t exist in real Life and
is, therefore, fabricated. It feels like the environment is, at least, credible, because, even though it represents
a fantasy, it didn’t raise any questions regarding its purpose or effectiveness.
THE SOUNDS OF THE GHOST
The sounds of a ghost are something really hard to replicate, taking into account that there’s
yet to be a valid and confirmed source of real Life ghost sightings, much less a recording of what they
might sound like. With this in mind, and also knowing that the general rule of thumb in horror movies like
this, where there’s a strong “scary” intention, is to add a lot of reverb, the sounds recorded in the Horse
Bride voice over session were carefully selected and spread all along the timeline, with different kinds of
reverbs being sent to different channels on the multichannel mix, helping create the environment.
One of the most notable placements of a cry is around the 6:30 mark, a moment where the
sound of the ghost takes over the whole ambience (even the music is dropped down) and keeps going, until
Alfredo gets in the barn, and the cry is slowly replaced by a deep slow breath, which prompts the
resurgence of the ambience tracks.
MUSIC
The musical score for The Horse Bride was completely written and recorded with the aid of
virtual instruments by Nathaniel Efstation, who was curiously also the Director of Photography for this
film.
The final version of the music was provided to the sound department in stems, which allowed
a better grip and control on the way they were mixed and, consequently, in the way the interact with the
film and trigger emotions in the audience. The placement of instrumentation and its mix into the final
soundtrack is careful and takes into account the tactics of noise and silence, avoiding being too present and
fitting right when the ambience asks for it.
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ANALYSIS OF THE OUTCOMES AND CONCLUSIONS
The project “Sound Speeding” had the main intention of putting into practice all the concepts
and know-how acquired during the course of the first year of the Masters in Multimedia - Interactive Music
and Sound Design, specially the Sound Design for Digital Media class.
The biggest shock was when the theory became practice, and a lot of projects started
appearing, needing sound care, from recording on set to editing, to full post production work. It was a
shock because it’s easy to get overwhelmed when the desire to practice is as big as the lack of experience.
Fortunately, all of those mishaps were fixed as time went by, and in the end, looking back,
it’s solid to consider that a whole new experience has been gained and it makes sense to take knowledge
from it, knowledge that can be shared in the form of proposed guidelines and overall tips.
The main conclusions that can be extracted from this year long project are as follows:
It is very important to meet the director before hand and go with him/her, over
expectations and goals.
The Horse Bride would never work out as well as it did if it wasn't for the close contact the
director walkways made sure to keep. Setting up goals together allows the sound designer to exceed (and
excel) on his field, taking the film to a whole new level, while if previous planning is not set, there might
be discrepancies between what the director is expecting and what the sound designer is willing to offer.
It is fundamental to analyze the script and make annotations before the shoot.
Knowing the script and feeling close to it allows the sound designer to have a better grip and
a more concise input in the way the shoot is going to go. Knowing what to expect in terms of the narrative
really provides a better understanding of one's own role on the set, as well as prepares you to ask questions
about things you didn't understand, or demand things that you need are necessary and might be being
overlooked.
Going over the shot list and meeting with the DP can be a huge deal of help.
Feeling comfortable with your workspace on the set can be something easily attained by
having a brief meeting and conversation with the DP, and telling him/her what are your plans, as well as
listen to his/her own ideas and try to incorporate them in your attitude and workflow - in the end, you'll be
his/her ears, and he/she'll be your eyes.
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The opportunity to check the locations of the shoot beforehand should be requested.
Conducting field tests on the locations of the shoot is a pretty easy and simple way of making
sure that you'll have the advantage of knowing how the place sounds beforehand. And even though traffic
changes - or other more simple and less controllable things, like the weather change! -, being ready is the
key, because it will allow you to come up with answers without the pressure of having to resolve to
problem right there, right then.
Knowing the gear that's available is important.
Get acquainted with the equipment, and test it before going on the field. Surprises happen
and things will stop working mid-shoot, but at least you'll be available to jump start things, and always try
to avoid that the rest of the crew hangs on because of sound. The sound department should always be ready
to go - also because it's easier for a crew and cast to understand camera problems than to feel like they're
waiting "on sound".
The boom pole has got to get all the way there.
If you're fortunate enough to be part of a production that provides you with your own
monitor, you'll be fine, but if not (because it probably won't happen very often), the sound designer cannot
be "afraid" of asking for a frame reference so s/he can know what's the limit of his scope. The boom pole
with the shotgun microphone is supposed to be all the way until the frame, and the microphone itself can
and should be used to seek for the momentarily sound source, instead of just lying there, flat.
As a sound person, either only in production or with the intention of taking the project
to post, ask for what you want.
It might be a cultural thing, but it's a fact that no film student really cared as much about
sound as they all like to say they did. Countless times scenes will be rolling without slating, and most of the
times polite requests to even tail-slate will be ignored, or, at least, not understood. It's clear that sound is
rarely a main concern, so it needs to be the sound person's concern to make this easier to itself. If you're
doing sound, you will thank yourself, but either way, the director will always end up thanking you, even if
s/he doesn't understand it at first.
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ATTACHMENTS
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ATTACHMENT A:
OTHER FILM PROJECTS THAT ARE PART OF THE SOUND SPEEDING PROJECT
The year spent in Austin, Texas, provided a lot more opportunities to apply know-how and
gain experience. This section takes an overall look among some of these projects, in a less thorough or
analytic way, as an attachment to the case study that The Horse Bride provided.
This attachment is presented as is, as a draft, with a less defined structure and language, so it
should be taken as a reference of other works, and not as a “report”. Access to the final videos is restricted
due
to
copyright
issues,
but
it
can
be
personally
[email protected] .
36
requested
through
the
email
address
Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
TRASH DANCE
Andy Garrison
Sound Editing, SFX
Sometimes inspiration can be found in unexpected places. Choreographer Allison Orr finds beauty
and grace in garbage trucks, and in the men and women who pick up our trash. Filmmaker Andrew
Garrison follows Orr as she joins city sanitation workers on their daily routes to listen, learn, and
ultimately to convince them to collaborate in a unique dance performance. Hard working, often carrying a
second job, their lives are already full with work, family and dreams of their own. But some step forward,
and after months of rehearsal, two dozen trash collectors and their trucks perform an extraordinary
spectacle. On an abandoned airport runway, thousands of people show up to see how in the world a
garbage truck can “dance.”
__
Andy Garrison is a professor of digital production and film at UT. He is also an incredible
filmmaker and definitely a reference when it comes to film.When he decided to document the process of
accompanying Allison Orr, an Austin- based choreographer, in her intention to create a dance and art
performance with a group of Solid Waste Services employees, he was not expecting the massive
importance of this production to the city of Austin, the workers, and the community in general. Trash
Dance documents the time that Allison spent, since she initiated conversations with the Solid Waste
Services department, until she finally saw a dream come true, showing all the details of a long process of
captivating the workers’ attention and extruding potential that they denied having.
Trash Dance is a film about “An unnoticed army moves a city’s trash daily. It’s a world of dirty
work neatly categorized into five categories: Trash; Litter; Yard Waste; Bulky; and Dead Animal.
Choreographer Allison Orr begins a project with employees of the City of Austin’s Dept. of Solid Waste
Services to re-imagine their everyday work as dance and make a public performance. From safety training
to riding out with crews, Orr watches, listens and tries to recruit collaborators. The film follows employees
and Orr in the process, getting to know individuals. At ten months in, they begin ragtag rehearsals. After
one year they mount a performance in the rain on an abandoned airstrip--16 trucks, 24 dancers, a piano,
violin, and cello--and over 2,000 in attendance.”
The world premiere of the film was at the world-acclaimed multimedia festival South-BySouthwest 2012 (SXSW’12), in Austin, TX, on March 10th, at the Paramount Theatre.
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Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
The film has since received critical acclaim by both audience and film festivals juries,
having achieved the Special Jury Recognition Award at SXSW’12, the Audience Award at the Full Frame
Documentary Film Festival 2012 (Durham, North Carolina), and the Audience Award at the Silver Docs
Film Festival 2012 (Silver Spring, Maryland).
__
Contribution
I started working on the Trash Dance project in September 2011, right after arriving in Austin.
After a briefing meeting with Andy and the rest of the team, we were assigned on our tasks, and I took
charge of starting to create the sound effects for the Trash Dance video game that would accompany the
DVD release of the film, while waiting for the new cut of the film, to start editing its sound.
The process of creating sounds for the video game – a Kinect-control based driving game, where
the user body and hand movement controls the steering wheel of a trash truck in an amazing graphic
rendition of the landing strip where the performance occurred, with Austin landmarks in the background,
while avoiding obstacles and performing routines to get points – was a lot of fun. Andy has strong
connections with the Solid Waste Services, and that allowed me to interact with the workers and the
machines and trucks used in the film, in a very interesting field recording session.
The process of editing these recordings, as well as working with sound libraries to modify stock
sounds and make them fit with our needs, was a fast and easy one. The video game programmer, using a
free framework of the Unity game-engine, designed the whole programming of the game, and took in his
hand the work of connecting all the sound effects to his script, as I was starting to work on the audio editing
of the film itself.
This was a longer, more time consuming endeavor. Due to my inexperience with sound for film,
and the standards used in sound editing for this kind of medium, I had a comprehensible learning curve,
specially adapting to Pro Tools 9, the new revision of the software that was out by then (I was still using
Pro Tools 8, and in a much less constant way). On the other hand, and because we had a not so strict
deadline, I was able to learn a lot on my own, by trial and error, and discovered my own way of facing the
software, its shortcuts, and started creating my workflow, that I’d be developing in the future, and still am.
Challenges
The toughest challenge I faced was the simple fact that I was very inexperienced in the art of
serious sound editing, design, and mixing, and I had this incredible luck of starting to work in such a big
project. Also, the fact that I was removed from my comfort zone, which made me strive to try to understand
38
Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
“how things worked” here in the USA, took a big chunk of my ability to be faster and more productive in
the first couple of weeks. Starting to meet new people, specially students connected to the film Masters in
Fine Arts program at UT, helped starting to develop a better sense of space and to evaluate the challenge in
a better perspective. I got assigned to work with Nathaniel Efstation, an MFA candidate, and Sarah Deuel, a
soon-to-be graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Radio- Televison-Film, two people with a strong interest
in sound and film editing, and it was through them that I started knowing where to turn when doubts
appeared.
I am also very glad that I was able to come to Austin in the beginning of the 2012 year, because
the final stages of mixing of the film started around the beginning of February, and so I had the absolute
pleasure and honor of assisting Tom Hammond, the main sound designer in the most well known and best
audio post-production facility in Austin, the Soundcrafter, in mixing the final product.
Tom Hammond had come to FEUP before, to lecture the Sound Design for Digital Media class, of
the Masters Degree in Multimedia, on sound design, and film editing and mixing. I had the memory of
those lectures as some of the most important I have ever attended, so working with Tom and applying his
concepts in practice, helped me a lot, and I feel like I can say that in the roughly-two weeks it took for the
project to be done, I learned a lot more than in the first three-months that I stayed in Austin by myself.
I worked closely with Tom, mostly pulling sound effects from libraries and from B-roll
recordings, filling the timeline with the little details that helped craft the final sound of this film, while he
was mixing it, and making it sound ready for public screening.
Output
I feel that having Trash Dance as my first project was both a scary and a very rewarding thing. In
the end of the day, I feel like all the challenges and doubts that I faced, accepted and solved, were the best
first step in this world, because they prepared me to what was coming next. Working with great and
talented people like Andy and Tom was definitely my safety net, and it made me realize that I shouldn’t be
afraid of wanting to learn so eagerly. Trash Dance was mixed in 5.1 surround sound and down-mixed to
stereo LtRt.
39
Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
Trash Dance SXSW 2012 premiere poster
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Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
CLAY CASTLES
Nina Vizcarrondo, MFA Candidate
Production Sound Recording, Sound Editing
I met Nina Vizcarrondo through Simon, who I had met through Nathan, as they were all in the
same class. I was approached and asked to be a sound recordist on set, with the possibility of editing the
sound and mixing the final product.Clay Castles depicts the fantasy world where little Madison lives, and
tries to hide from (or, at least, give another meaning to) the real one, where her parents are separated, and
things don’t seem to not make much sense. This was a Pre-Thesis film – the MFA’s second year project.
__
Contribution
We shot Clay Castles in November 2011, and I took part on set for all of the days as sound
recordist (boom op + sound mixer). After picture post-production, it was identified that the crew would
need to reassemble and get more footage (pickups), and so I joined them again in April 2012.I ended up not
working too much on audio post production, aside from some editing and SFX, because UT hires
professional sound mixers from Austin, to work with the students for a few hours, getting their mixes ready
for screening. This happened with all the students, except for Simon and Nathan, and I always took those
opportunities to sit in the studio and learn from the pros at work.Also, this professional mixer situation was
enhanced by the common pressure that students feel to finish their projects, and that led to the movie files
(picture-locked cuts) being delivered too late – which meant that I wouldn’t have the right amount of time
I’d need to work on them, while a professional mixer could be way faster than me. When these situations
happened, I tried to never stand between the directors and the hired mixers, preferring to stay on my corner,
learning from them, and helping them however I could, since I already knew the projects beforehand.
Equipment Used
In production:
- Sound Devices 744T Hard Disk Recorder;
- Audio Technic 4073a shotgun microphone;
- Sennheiser 416 shotgun microphone;
- Sound Devices 302 Mixer;
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Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
- Sennheiser ew100 lavalier microphones.
In post:
- AVID Pro Tools 8 HD;
- Waves Mercury Plug-in Bundle;
- iZotope Noise Removal suite. Challenges
The biggest challenge on the production sound recording of this film was, definitely, learning how
to deal with crew and cast. If in The Horse Bride I felt at absolute ease because I knew everyone in the
crew (and the fact that we spent so many weird night shifts awake, together, also helped strengthening the
bonds) and the made friends really quickly among the cast (which was composed by only 3 main characters
and a few extras); Clay Castles was my first experience with a crew that I didn’t know and that was
working in a very professional way, which was amazing, and a cast composed by very experienced actors
and actresses. So, the biggest challenge for me was to be unnoticed and manage to do my best. In terms of
post, the biggest issue was concerned with time, and the fact that in “crunch time”, I didn’t get the movie
files until very late, to a point where all the standard work I could have done would be so minimal that
would probably be discarded by the professional mixer. Nonetheless, I cleaned up the audio the best I could
and arranged the tracks on the project, to make it easier to read and work on. OUTPUTClay Castles
premiered on May 13th 2012, at the SAC at UT.
42
Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
THE LONGEST SUN
Patrick Smith, MFA Candidate
Sound Editing, Foley, Sound Design
“The Longest Sun is a narrative short film inspired by the mythology of the Tewa peoples of
northern NM, and is told entirely in the endangered language of Tewa (less than 500 native speakers
remain). A blend of fantasy, mystery, and romance, The Longest Sun is a quest story that follows Than Pi,
a young Tewa boy who sets out on a mythical journey to stop the sun from setting.
Derived from a traditional origin story regarding the creation of the sun and the moon, Than Pi’s
mission stems from a desire to stop time itself in order to prevent his loved one, Than Povi, from leaving
the pueblo. Narrated by an elderly man on his deathbed, the film straddles two distinct timelines (the
present vs. the past), gradually interweaving the two. As the sun races toward the horizon, Than Pi (and the
elder storyteller himself) must either come to terms with the consequences of time or defeat it entirely.
As the first film told entirely in the Tewa language, The Longest Sun is the culmination of nearly
three years of collaboration with the San Juan, San Idelfonso, Santa Clara, Nambe, and Pojoaque pueblo
communities and local governments. From conception to translation, the filmmaker and various Tewa
community leaders worked together to document and preserve the oral traditions and language of the Tewa
people through the medium of film.”
__
I met Patrick Smith through Nina, Simon and Nathan, since he was also in their class. The Longest
Sun is a beautiful film, completely told in the Tewa dialect, a dying language spoken by the Pueblos people
of Northern New Mexico. It builds a bridge between a Love story and the tale of the longest sun, creating a
very emotional metaphor about Time and the way we use it. This was a Pre-Thesis film – the MFA’s
second year project.
__
Contribution
When we first talked about working on this project, it had already been completely shot, so there
was no need for production help.
I edited the audio in the OMF that was given to me, and added the sound effects, using Foley
techniques as well as digging through commercial libraries. The director of the film, which also spend a lot
43
Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
of time with me in the studio, giving his input and helping me make decisions, was also the composer of
the score, and it wasn’t until the very last day of editing that we had the final music ready – not to say that
it slowed us down or anything, but it was definitely a very interesting contrast, to work with temporary
music until the end, and then switch it for the final mix, and try to find balance again, in our way of
watching the film.
Patrick had been assigned to work with Brad Engleking, the amazing sound designer known by his
role in the sound of Sin City, and most of Robert Rodriguez movies, so it was an absolute lesson and
intensive workshop, to see him working so fast and precisely, and I learned a lot about what kind of details
make a movie sound great.
Equipment Used
In post:
- AVID Pro Tools 8 HD;
- Waves Mercury Plug-in Bundle;
- iZotope Noise Removal suite.
Challenges There were not many challenges in what concerns the work I did in this project. My main goal was
to make the project cleaner and ready to be worked on by the professional mixer, and this meant putting it
up in a Pro Tools template that made sense, do the first round of cleaning the sound, and waiting for Brad’s
input. This project proved to be a great one in terms of allowing me to keep on developing my speed and
overall skills in understanding the software and they way it works. OUTPUTThe Longest Sun premiered on
May 13th 2012, at the SAC at UT.
44
Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
ROUTE 22
Malina Panovich, UT RTF Student, Advanced Narrative Class
Production Sound Recording, Sound Editing, Sound Design, ADR, Foley, Sound Mixing
This project was for the Advanced Narrative undergraduate class, where the students would pitch
story ideas, and then divide themselves in small groups, according to the roles that each wanted to take in
the crew, and then go out a make a short film. I audited this class because I really liked the lecturer and her
approach to filmmaking (being that she’s definitely one of my main references now), and I was also good
friends with some of the students, which allowed me to work in the whole audio process of one the films:
Route 22.
__
Contribution
The film was shot in four days, and I worked on set as sound recordist (boom op + sound mixer).
After production, and because I lived in the same house as the editor, I spent long hours with her watching
footage, being in touch with the art of cutting picture, and understanding her mental process as a video
editor.
I worked on the audio post production of this film with a lot of enthusiasm, because of all the
effort that I saw being put in it, and also because the cast performances are amazing, exciting, and
contribute immensely to the amazing outcome of this project.
Equipment Used
In production:
- Sound Devices 744T Hard Disk Recorder;
- Sennheiser 416 shotgun microphone;
- Sound Devices 302 Mixer;
- Sennheiser ew100 lavalier microphones. In post:
- AVID Pro Tools 8 HD;
- Waves Mercury Plug-in Bundle;
- iZotope Noise Removal suite.
45
Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
Challenges
We had assumed, since the beginning, that sound would play a crucial role in this short film,
mainly by being absent. We wanted to allow the audience to connect to the mental turmoil that was going
on with the main character, and the best way to do this was to put them inside her head: a seemingly empty,
clear mind, that is, in fact, contorted and full of existential conflicts, but, as the main character so well
represents, doesn’t want to “blow up”.
All of this was quite challenging, because the absence of sounds made the ambience detail be even
bigger and more accurate, which led to a more cautious approach on the mix.
Output
Route 22 premiered on May 12th 2012, at the McCullough Theatre at UT.
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Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
VERY SWEET, LONELY PEOPLE / THRU THE EAST
Adrian Alejandro Arredondo, UT RTF Student, Undergrad Thesis
Production Sound Recording
The director of this film, Alex Arredondo, asked me to replace their sound guy in the last minute,
and, because I really liked the concept of the film (and the director himself), I jumped on it and found this
set to be a great opportunity to improve some of my production sound recording skills, such as stealth.
__
Contribution/Challenges
The film was shot in two days and one night (I had to miss one of the daytime shoots because of
prior commitments).The first night was a very interesting shoot, entirely inside a car distressed as a taxi. I
had to find my way inside the car trunk, and figure out the best options that I had in order to record the best
sound possible without sticking the boom pole in frame.
The first day was a interior shoot, in a small house without a lot of space to move around, which
provided me with a good opportunity to test different microphone setups, while, again, trying to keep offframe.The post production phase of this film overlapped with the post production phase of other projects,
so I couldn’t really help out.
Equipment Used
In production:
- Sound Devices 702 Hard Disk Recorder;
- Sennheiser 416 shotgun microphone;
- Sennheiser ew100 lavalier microphones.
Output
Thru the East premiered on May 12th 2012, at the McCullough Theatre at UT.
47
Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
__
HEARTS OF NAPALM
Andrew Irvine, MFA Candidate
Production Sound Recording
“There are 3.6 billion orgasms every night. Ashley is looking for one.”
Contributions/Challenges
The scenes for this short were shot in only one full day, inside a single bedroom. It was a pretty
intense shoot, as the final product can tell, and the biggest challenge that I was faced with, apart from the
heat generated in that small, small, bedroom, was the vocal range dynamics of both the actor and the
actress.
48
Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
Equipment Used
In production:
- Sound Devices 702 Hard Disk Recorder;
- Sennheiser 416 shotgun microphone;
- Sennheiser ew100 lavalier microphone.
Output
Hearts of Napalm premiered on May 13th, 2012, at the McCullough Theatre at UT.
49
Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
JENNY & STEPH
Elizabeth Chatelain, MFA Candidate
Production Sound Recording
“Jenny, a headstrong girl on the cusp of adolescence, is forced to grow up over the course of one
night when she must rescue her older sister, Steph, from an accident at a house party.”__
Contribution/Challenges
This short was shot over the course of 5 days in Clifton, TX, a small town two hours out of Austin.
The main difficulty with sound on this shoot was related to the fact that the recording devices were two
Zoom H4n handheld recorders, that can’t be sync’d in production, which brings a lot more problems in
post.
Equipment Used
In production:
- 2 x Zoom H4n;
- AT4073a shotgun microphone;
- Sennheiser ew100 lavalier microphones. Output
Jenny & Steph is on post-production phase right now.
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Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
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Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
ATTACHMENT B:
PERSONAL NOTE FROM SIMON QUIROZ, THE DIRECTOR OF THE HORSE BRIDE
There are no real words that can really make justice to the amount of hard work and dedication
that Rui Silva brought to the project of “The Horse Bride”. This is not only speaking in terms of merely recording
sound but the ideas that he contributed and shared as the project developed. His work truly enhanced the final product
in ways I would have never imagined. When I started conceptualizing the project of “The Horse Bride”, I knew that in
order to create the experience I wanted towards my audience, the project would have to rely on amazing sound and I
was extremely lucky to meet Rui just when he had just arrived while he was in to Austin in the exact moment I was
desperately looking for a professional sound mixer to be on my set. Rui was a professional from the very beginning and
never failed.
Working with Rui Silva exceeded my expectations from the start. You can tell someone’s dedication
and passion about their work from the moment they select and prepare their tools of work. When picking up the
equipment we were going to need during production, his command and domain for his instruments was really
impressive, his choice of one microphone over another during a scene and then a different one for another depending
on location, among other things was one of the things that completely made me stop worrying about the technical
aspects of sounds for I knew I was in great hands. When on set, he kept on insisting on grabbing the best takes for
sound.
But the real challenge with this project came during post production. This is where I can honestly
say that the strength of the project was truly held in Rui’s hands. I knew from the very beginning that this short film
would rely heavily on sound. I am thankful for the amount of dedication and attention to detail that Rui put on this
project. I had a couple of meetings with Rui to talk about ideas I had, then he would spend hours in the studio doing
sound design, Foley sound, mixing, etc and every time he would show me something new I would come out extra
excited for little by little, the experience became more and more cinematic.
One idea I had for example is to have a ghost whose lament would sound distant when the ghost
was close to the subject. I had no idea if this would even be possible, and I was truly happy when I heard that happen
on the screen thanks to the magic of Rui. At the beginning I was looking for someone to record sound on set, but I
struck gold because I got a professional on set, an amazing sound designer and sound mixer.
I could go on and on describing different moments, scenarios in which Rui made what I envisioned
a reality but in much better ways than what I originally had thought of. But the important thing is that I am thankful for
Rui’s dedication, passion and detail to his work and especially for sharing those traits of a professional with my project
and I am hopeful that as he gets better known and much more experienced he will be willing to work with me in future
projects.
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Sound Speeding – Tactics of Noise and Silence in Moving Picture – The Horse Bride (A Case Study)
Rui Manuel Ferreira de Sousa e Silva – mm10050 - Mestrado em Multimédia – Ramo de Música Interactiva e Sound Design
ATTACHMENT C:
BIBLIOGRAPHY/LITERATURE
- HOLMAN, Tomlinson – “Sound for Film and Television, Third Edition”, 2010
- LOBRUTTO, Vincent – “Sound-on-Film: Interviews with Creators of Film Sound”, 1994
- ROSE, Jay – “Audio Postproduction for Film and Video, Second Edition: After- the-Shoot
Solutions, Professional Techniques, and Cookbook Recipes to Make Y
our Project Sound Better”, 2008
- ROSE, Jay – “Producing Great Sound for Film and Video, Third Edition”, 2008
- SONNENSCHEIN, David – “Sound Design: The Expressive Power of Music, Voice and Sound
Effects in Cinema”, 2002
- BRESSON, Robert – “Notes on Sound”, http://filmsound.org/articles/bresson.htm (Website
visited last in July 17th, 2012)
- MURCH, Walter – “In the blink of an eye”, Los Angeles, 2001
53
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