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  • Can you make a film in 21 days?
    Indie of the Month May

watch just won audience award

unfortunately, the theater speakers were shit on the presentation of this (quiet and "underwater" sounding) but here it is: CHARGE.

We ended up winning the first place audience choice award for the Holland Project (local arts and music venue) 3-Minute Film Fest (despite the audio being way too quiet!).



let me know if there's anything I could have done to improve the audio. i realize now that perhaps i even exported it with the audio too low.


enjoy!
 
unfortunately, the theater speakers were shit on the presentation of this (quiet and "underwater" sounding) but here it is: CHARGE.

We ended up winning the first place audience choice award for the Holland Project (local arts and music venue) 3-Minute Film Fest (despite the audio being way too quiet!).



let me know if there's anything I could have done to improve the audio. i realize now that perhaps i even exported it with the audio too low.


enjoy!
Congrats on the award. To improve the audio, what I do is get it into place myself with a bit more foley and then I hand the whole thing over to a sound pro to get it into shape.

Incidentally, I love the idea that you took a whole heap of risks with this project.
 
Congrats on the award!!

let me know if there's anything I could have done to improve the audio. i realize now that perhaps i even exported it with the audio too low.
If the audio on your uploaded vid is the same level as your exhibition copy then it should have been too loud in a cinema, much too loud in fact! Lower tier fests cater to amateur filmmakers, who generally have no idea that there is such a thing as theatrical audio levels, let alone have the knowledge or equipment to achieve it. So, lower tier fests typically turn down the cinema's sound system significantly, to avoid the audience being deafened by most/all the films. This of course makes it difficult/impossible for any filmmakers who do take sound seriously because it's usually impossible find out if the sound system will be turned down (and if so, by how much) until your film is actually screened. At the low (and even many mid) tier festivals, achieving the right audio mix levels is therefore pretty much either a complete lottery or at best a rough guess. It's not until the higher tier fests, where commercial theatrical levels are adhered to/enforced, that one can be confident of an appropriate mix level.

On an aesthetic level, there are a number of improvements you could have made to the sound, depending on what you wanted to achieve. More Foley for example could have been used to aid the pace and/or realism and along with some vocalisations (breath sounds, etc.) could have been used to enhance the drama. The audio perspective is also a big weakness, as is common with amateur filmmakers. Kudos on making a fairly believable attempt to create audio perspective in your wide shots but you seem to have largely ignored audio perspective between your mid shots and CUs, and there is no movement of the audio when the characters move (across the frame). The perspective of your sound is not helped by the fact that the music is very present, more distance/depth of the score would have provided more options with the sound.

G
 
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Congrats on the award!!



If the audio on your uploaded vid is the same level as your exhibition copy then it should have been too loud in a cinema, much too loud in fact! Lower tier fests cater to amateur filmmakers, who generally have no idea that there is such a thing as theatrical audio levels, let alone have the knowledge or equipment to achieve it. So, lower tier fests typically turn down the cinema's sound system significantly, to avoid the audience being deafened by most/all the films. This of course makes it difficult/impossible for any filmmakers who do take sound seriously because it's usually impossible find out if the sound system will be turned down (and if so, by how much) until your film is actually screened. At the low (and even many mid) tier festivals, achieving the right audio mix levels is therefore pretty much either a complete lottery or at best a rough guess. It's not until the higher tier fests, where commercial theatrical levels are adhered to/enforced, that one can be confident of an appropriate mix level.

On an aesthetic level, there are a number of improvements you could have made to the sound, depending on what you wanted to achieve. More Foley for example could have been used to aid the pace and/or realism and along with some vocalisations (breath sounds, etc.) could have been used to enhance the drama. The audio perspective is also a big weakness, as is common with amateur filmmakers. Kudos on making a fairly believable attempt to create audio perspective in your wide shots but you seem to have largely ignored audio perspective between your mid shots and CUs, and there is no movement of the audio when the characters move (across the frame). The perspective of your sound is not helped by the fact that the music is very present, more distance/depth of the score would have provided more options with the sound.

G
Thank you! I will relay this info to my sound guy - he did all the live sound, foley and score. I will also have to be more vigilant about what I want next time; this film was made on a budget of $55 which paid for the costumes, gas, and four sandwiches, so I didn't want to be too pushy about him doing his job correctly.

How, as an audio person, would you prefer to be made aware that the foley/perspective was off-target?
 
That was pretty cool, and unexpected. The audio being too low could in fact be a sign that your audio guy was doing it right, and that the theater turned down their speakers as protection against poor mixing. You'd have to ask if the system was set to Dolby level 7 (what all theaters should be at, but migrate down to 5.5 because of over loud trailer etc.)

The sound track seemed to have plenty of dynamic range (one can't get that by pushing it up against 0db)
 
How, as an audio person, would you prefer to be made aware that the foley/perspective was off-target?
It might sound strange from your perspective but I've never really thought about what I prefer, I just accept the way it's always done, which is one of two ways: Either there is a final mix phase, at which the director is present (usually along with the producer and sometimes the pic editor too). During this final mix the director or producer will ask for the playback to be stopped at any time and simply say; they don't like something or something is not working how they expected/envisioned, that they want to try switching a particular sound effect, that a particular element is too loud or too quiet, that the pace is too slow or the "feel" not quite right, that a sfx is missing or that something not previously mentioned needs to be added to draw the audience's eye to a particular visual event/element, etc. I make the changes there and then or if it's a more major/time consuming change, I do it once they have left for the day and then we review it first thing the next day. The other way is when I'm working remotely; I send the director an "approval mix" and a day or so later I get a list of comments/revisions.

I don't expect (or get) insults/abuse and likewise, I don't expect the director/producer to "pussy foot" around, trying to avoid the possibility of hurting my feelings. I just expect a brief, direct instruction of what change to make. Of course, this process isn't always entirely as efficient as it sounds, occasionally the director or producer may disagree with each other, be indecisive or not be able to express themselves clearly, in which case we can end up going round in circles a bit but generally this is rare, especially with the better/most experienced directors.

In my situation I'm a paid professional, working with professional directors and producers and my job is to; meet technical requirements/specs, get the aesthetics ("feel"/emotional response/shape) the director and producer want and to achieve this efficiently, effectively and within the timescale agreed. I'm not sure how applicable any of this is to your situation though. Your sound guy is not a paid professional, appears to be more of a music production guy than an audio post guy and technically/legally you have already approved the mix anyway. On the other hand, if he's eager to learn/improve the audio post side of things, he might be grateful of the additional constructive criticism. You're going to have to judge for yourself whether you should just let sleeping dogs lie with this short and be more observant/assertive on your next project or whether it's worth re-hashing this one.

Just to be clear, I'm not saying the sound currently is bad, it not, I've certainly heard far worse! I'm just saying that the sound could have more effectively dragged the audience even deeper into the realism, drama, tension, pace, aggression, etc., of the main part of your short, created an even more dramatic contrast with the ending scene/sequence, making it even more surprising/amusing and thereby significantly enhancing the telling of your story.

G
 
Totally, totally awesome! I can see why you won, it's funny, the joke escalates, the shots are gorgeous, the wardrobe is on point, the actors really got into it, it felt very Python-esque, the soundtrack works well and I didn't have any mixing complaints, either, (I'm not APE, but I listen as carefully as I can). I hope you find more success with this, you deserve it!
 
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