Beginning of a New Era

So I felt it was time to reinvent myself in terms of presentation and pushing forward to begin climbing the ranks in the world of production sound. This has culminated in the creation of a new logo, twitter account and official facebook page in order to better promote my services. I have also had an in flux of equipment coming in, enabling me to provide a better service to various media projects without compromising. More equipment will be arriving over the coming months. Here's to progression, creativity and the dawning of a new era in the second half of 2016! Happy sound recording!

Dear Albion and The Past Couple of Months

So this is the first blog on my site since launching it back in October 2015. Its been a busy couple of months working on some very interesting projects. Some of the projects that I was involved with I'll be talking about within this blog. I'll be covering my experiences with regards to how I went about recording sound for certain scenes. I'll also cover what difficulties were presented to me during the shoots and how I overcame those challenges to capture the best audio possible. Some more technical blogs will no doubt follow in the future. The first project I'll cover is a short film titled of 'Minotaur'. 

Still from Minotuar (2016).

Still from Minotuar (2016).

This short film was a challenge to work on purely due to the amount of talent involved, all of which had small snippets of dialogue. I was brought in by a friend and colleague Ewerton Rodrigo to cover a day of shooting for him (filming was five days in total). The one scene that was challenging was within an art gallery. I only had limited resources in terms of sound gear and also had not been briefed in detail due to being brought on to the project fairly last minute. For the scene featured above I could not direct my shotgun microphone over the top. As this project employed unusual angles and framing, so I had to direct the microphone from underneath. For this scene it could have become chaotic quite quickly from a recording standpoint if all talent had been fitted with a wireless microphone. I was also the only sound personnel on set. So I decided after seeing a rehearsal that all talent were delivering their dialogue in fairly close proximity. This allowed me to get more of a general recording of the dialogue which worked well for the final edit of the film. The other aspect that helped was that most of the characters had their own close up, which is of course great for capturing nice crisp dialogue. 

Run (Behind the Scenes Still) - Photo Credit: Jess Espin-Thurgur

Run (Behind the Scenes Still) - Photo Credit: Jess Espin-Thurgur

I then was brought onto a short film titled 'Run' which begun the first collaboration between myself and Thea Gajic. I was very pleased to have been contacted by Thea to work on her new film. I had the privilege of seeing a screening of her previous work 'Wolves' at the Fresh Faced Film Festival at the Lyric Hammersmith. I knew that if I had the chance to work with such a talented filmmaker, I had to take it!

This film did present some challenges on the day of filming. The location was the first major concern as it was a public park which at some points during the shoot posed problems for background noise. In order to turn this around into an advantage I decided to record a wildtrack of the park and children playing etc. This is a general practice that I employ when I'm recording environments that are busy in terms of background. This recording could then be overlaid in post-production to act as a natural ambience in the scene. As although dialogue was captured at a nice level, it still had interruptions in the background. I also had to stay very mobile for filming as certain parts of the film the characters are very active. 

This project was a much needed break from the sometimes intense environment on a larger budget short film. Where sound generally suffers due to long setup times and larger crews to control (keeping them quiet) for capturing the best audio possible. The narrative of the film also felt very natural which is one of the reasons I was drawn to the project. 

Pavilion Theatre - Dear Albion (2016) - Director of Photography: Stil Williams

Pavilion Theatre - Dear Albion (2016) - Director of Photography: Stil Williams

Last week I had the pleasure of working on the short film 'Dear Albion' directed by Jack Taylor Cox. This was a project funded by BFI, Creative England, B19 Media and was a reunion of sorts as it was another great opportunity to work with the producer Lincia Daniel. I had collaborated with Lincia before and I will be working with her again in the next few months on another film project. I traveled to the lovely town of Cromer where part of the project was filmed inside the iconic Pavilion Theatre at the end of Cromer Pier. 

Cromer Pier - Dear Albion (2016) - Director of Photography: Stil Williams

Cromer Pier - Dear Albion (2016) - Director of Photography: Stil Williams

This particular project required the extensive use of wireless microphone setups in order to capture dialogue. Although the script had very minimal dialogue, a combination of wide shot cinematography and the scenarios of the scene required the use of wireless microphones as the main option of recording. Although I do not mind using wireless microphones, I try to minimise their use if possible as there can be more potential issues when recording (possible rustling, dropouts etc). This can all depend on what wireless equipment that is being employed to capture the required audio. 

Throughout the shoot there were also the general problems that the majority of sound recordists will encounter. Such as outside noise, extreme weather (in this case high winds) and interior noises that unfortunately could not be avoided. I learnt long ago that its not worth getting too stressed about noise that is out of your control. This will no doubt have an effect on the audio but sometimes you have to judge whether it can be masked or filtered in post, depending on your recording levels. As long as the main people such as the director, producer and other personnel are aware what the situation is. Then you have to proceed the best you can. Luckily there were only a few moments like that on this production and no sound recordist likes to be on a set with loads of MOS takes. 

Still from Dear Albion (2016) - Director of Photography: Stil Williams

Still from Dear Albion (2016) - Director of Photography: Stil Williams

There was one scene (still from the scene featured above) in the film that I was particularly pleased with in terms of the quality of recordings. One of the characters begins from a different room, enters the room (running) in order to eventually join the main area of action. I was also recording with a shotgun microphone to capture as much as possible in the main area where the majority of dialogue takes place. In a recording scenario like this, I decided to keep the discrete microphone placement between the layers of the main actors shirt (between the overlaying fabric that is used for buttons on a shirt). I was using a DPA 4071 to capture the audio as these microphones are specifically designed for this type of audio capture. This is due to their acoustical low cut that is incorporated into the capsule, in order to avoid frequencies below 100Hz. The DPA 4071 is also great purely because it captures speech clarity, which is what you need in film production. The additional use of a white Rycote undercover (due to the colour of the shirt) would ensure minimal rustling during the action. This was also one of my favourite scenes as it acts as the core of the narrative in the film. Upon reviewing the audio after, it makes my day when you listen and realise that you've captured a scene to the best standard. It's what makes this job so rewarding, especially if the recording environment has been particularly challenging. 

One thing is for sure that all these projects were amazing to work on and I'm looking forward to seeing the finished results. Its onward to more upcoming projects....