This is the second part of this article. In this part we cover ADR, Editorial mixing and False Economy.
#4: Doing ADR instead of Looping
What’s ADR? It’s the process of re-recording dialogue in the studio which was badly recorded from set. Until about twenty years ago, no one had ever heard of ADR. We did “looping.” The result was the same as ADR, but the process was different. Back in the day, we’d spool film across big pulleys in a studio and run it through a projector which would then be projected in front of an actor who would then re-speak their dialogue into a microphone and then be recorded. All takes were recorded and later edited into the final mix. This process was infinitely faster than ADR where there are silly streamers and beeps and constant interruption of the actor at every pass. however, the way I teach people to do Looping is to actually NOT SHOW THE ACTOR THE PICTURE. If the brain processes information in film at 24 frames per second but processes audio at 48,000 frames a second, what are the chances that looking at picture are going to render a more favorable result than audio? Add to this the maniacal responses that actors have to watching themselves on screen, and you can see how the process of Looping has no downside. Tweet: Learning how to do looping will, in my experience, improve your “ADR” speed ten times or more, and your actor will have a much better experience doing something which all actors dread.
#5: Allowing the Editor to Mix the Project
Ever noticed when you’re watching films at a festival that they seem to sound “tinny” or “harsh” or even
distorted? This is a strong sign that an editor was allowed to do the mix of the film. Unless your editor is prepared to do the final mix in a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), an editor simply does not have the understanding or tools to be able to make a professional “Hollywood-grade” mix. They’ll argue with you about it, and to the extent to which they argue with you is the extent to which they shouldn’t do your mix. Editors also have very little understanding of how the human ear works. Most importantly: what frequencies the human brain is sensitive to. Without understanding this, your editor will render the standard, substandard tinny mix that is the bane of most independent productions. This also causes many films to have their deliverables rejected by the quality control house hired by the potential distributor. And since most distribution deals allow a 30 day window for delivery of approved deliverables, and since most filmmakers wait until the last minute to get these deliverables done, there is rarely time to do a remix of the editor’s mix (required), and the distribution deal falls through. Hire a professional or at least knowledgeable re-recording mixer to finish the audio elements of your film. Not only will it save you time and money, but you will also find your film to be much more likable by your audience.
#6: Committing False Economy
You’ve got @EvangelineLily cast in your film for $10,000/day because she’s a golfing buddy. Congratulations. You’ve got a 20 day shoot, and you’ll be spending $200,000 on her. Now, you need to record audio. You could hire an “A” list production recordist for $2,000/day, but you don’t want to spend $40,000 on audio. Instead you hire your cousin who has an iPhone and a mic for $50/day. You, naturally, get audio which sounds like crap. Now you’re in the studio. Again, Evangeline is $10,000/day. It’ll take her 5 days to do her ADR…but then you’ve also got the $2,000/day studio and the $750/day engineer. You’ve done poorly financially all because you committed the very common act of “False Economy:” saving money now only to spend more of it later. This is one of the most common mistakes indie filmmakers make day in and day out. It’s also powerfully connected with the lack of foresight to plan for post production – or even starting post production in preproduction. If you can learn how to discover and route false economy in your productions (and in your life), you’ll be able to save large portions of your budget – possibly even monies which you never had in the first place – from being wasted unnecessarily in post production.
Post production can be a giant money pit which can easily insure your production is never finished. If you can begin learning how to implement these six common filmmaker mistakes, you’ll have a much better chance of seeing the reactions of your audience’ faces instead of the reactions of your investors and crew when you have to tell them the project was scuttled.
What are your thoughts on surviving post production? Let us know or Tweet about it!