Monday, 15 November 2010

Irfan Post 15 - Sound Editing Details

This is going to be quite an deep, geeky and long blog post about the post-production work currently raging round Irfan. While I have been back for three weeks, I have been busy working on finishing the sound for Irfan. Unlike previous films, I have decided to take a very different approach to utilising the soundtrack.

On my previous shorts I have been obsessed with trying to get the sound to match the picture as accurately as possible. On Irfan, this is very different. Why? Well, there are three very good reasons for this.

Firstly, the soundtrack is near perfect. Good sound quality in the first place makes you less self-conscious about what you have available to you, and what was captured during the filming process is of a high standard.

Secondly, all the actors were happy and willing to dub. A cast that is co-operative makes post-production easy, and you are not so obsessed with capturing the sound during production perfectly.

Thirdly, I have the sound track, at a very early stage of the editing timeline. See here for Nick's brilliant post about composing the music for Irfan. All these factors have meant that I could change my attitude to sound and the soundtrack of Irfan as a whole. How? Well, instead of trying to accurately match video to sound, I want to use the sound as a part of the story telling process, using it to convey the emotions I wish to tell in this movie itself.

This is quite a hard concept to explain in words, and it will become clearer when Irfan is complete. But I will take three instances from Irfan to show how I am using the soundtrack not as a device for aiding the picture, but as a means to convey emotions and the plot line separately from the picture.

This is the editing suite at the beginning of the film. Look at the long horizontal window at the bottom. That is my timeline. The blue bars are piece of video footage, and the green bars are pieces of sound footage. While you will see only one picture at a time - represented in the top right window where you see Sippy and Safirah (the characters of Irfan and Saira) - as you can see, there are many soundtracks that can potentially be heard at the same time.

Now this first scene has been dominated by Nick's music, with only one piece of 'live soundtrack' take form the actual footage. Why? Well, the beginning of this movie is peaceful, a moment of reflection, as the character of Irfan is contemplating...well, that is for the audience to decide (must not give too much away at this stage) and so I wanted to keep the soundtrack as silent as possible. The only bit of real sound is that of the car door opening and shutting. A significant moment, as the character of Irfan is creating a world when he sees Saira appear. The opening and closing of that car door, to me as the director, represents Irfan entering that world and shutting the door behind him.

(I did warn this post was going to get deep).

All right, this scene is halfway through Irfan, and is basically a straight dub. The sound capture was of a good quality, but you know what, I had the actor's voices on dub, and it would be easier to use that rather than mess about with sound correction itself. Although Nick's soundtrack is in tracks A7 and A8 (left hand coloumn of the timeline to see the number for the different Audio tracks), for the moment, there is no instrumentation coming through.

Tracks A1 and A2 represent Cristian's voice (playing the character of Vasile). Tracks A3 and A4 represent Marie Claire's voice (Playing Brenda). Tracks A5 and A6 represent the background or ambient sound of Vasile's attic space. Now, silence in a film is not truly silent. That is actually very uncomfortable to watch, but I do not pack out my films with dialogue itself. So naturally you need filler in between the dubbed bits and the ambient sound of the attic (taken from the original days' shots) provides that silence.

(I told you this gets geeky).

This final scene occurs towards the end of Irfan. At this moment Vasile's phone rings - in fact it vibrates. No, I did not want a phone ringing on set, as it is a pain in the neck to organise. I added the ring tone later on. But instead of picking out a ringtone from library of sound, I just set up my camera and recorded the ringing on my phone. Why? Well, firstly, it is at the same sound quality as the rest of the soundtrack, and secondly, it sound less generic.

It was not a perfect capture, but being such a short snippet, I removed the interference from the SFX by passing a filter through it.

What I did was bung the clip of the ringing mobile phone into my soundtrack software, and put a reduce noise filter through it. Got rid of the background static leaving a nice, crisp, vibrating sound.

(I said this was a long blog post)


Right that is enough geekery. Apologies to the cast and crew for the long gap in between postings, but I hope you can see why I have not bothered to post a blog up on the editing of Irfan for a while, as I actually wanted to show you all something far more worthwhile than just, here I am so far, so good.

Next time I report, it will be from the world of Colour Correction.


In other words that means sitting in front of the computer screen while it endlessly renders the bastard.



Asad said...

V. useful explanation, actually...

magiceye said...