You know the score

I’ve faced problems focusing on my film-work over the past few months so have decided to simplify things. Rather than juggling multiple projects all at the same time I’m planning to consolidate my efforts on one project at a time. I will begin with Spare Change, a project which has been in limbo for too long. Adding additional focus to the mind is the fact I will plan to enter it for this year’s Virgin Media Shorts. In order to do this I need to resolve the following:

1. Some of the shots are under-exposed meaning some shots look too dark. Sadly the video compression (h.264) didn’t retain darker black areas particularly well. We shot most of the footage on location over one evening so our shooting ratio is extremely low. This means we do not have the luxury of alternative shots we can fall back on. Reshoots are sadly not going to be an option (much as I’d like to do them), so there needs to be some other way to address this problem. Plus the picture also needs grading. So if there are any after-effects or colour grading gurus out their listening who want a new challenge – please get in touch! 🙂

2. The whole thing needs to be edited down to 140 seconds to comply with the Virgin Media rules.

3. The sound needs finishing. If you recall, I threw all of the sound out and started from scratch. At the moment people are still gliding across the pavements.

After addressing the run-time (point 2), I turned my efforts towards the final point: sound. Initially I made a list of the sounds which were obviously missing (most of which were footsteps). The next part wasn’t originally planned, I composed a score for the film. This wasn’t strictly necessary but it was part designed to cover some of the missing sound. This is easily some of my most understated work – you barely notice it’s there. I wanted to create an ambient and slightly alien soundscape, so it is mostly synthetic/electronic (with the exception of some bowed cymbals). You could argue with the exception of two tonal moments that it is less scoring and more sound design. The interesting discovery I made whilst doing this was how much quicker I am able to work when I am also the director. This also follows exactly the same pattern as my previous directorial projects – presumably because by this point I understand the requirements inside-out.

With an underscore in place, I set about doing some additional foley work. I clearly could use better sound recording equipment, but one thing I did take away from this experience was how enjoyable this was! I paced up and down the street recording myself walking in various types of shoes and in different manners. The neighbours probably thought I was raving mad. I swung around the washing-line in the back garden as if I was holding on to a hand-rail. I cursed the fact I did this on a beautiful Spring morning when the birds kept interrupting with their twittering. I had some therapy by thumping against the sofa to get some solid-bass thud sounds.

Sound in Premiere

All of this was terrific fun! Now comes what I suspect is the less fun part – which is layering it all together.


One response to “You know the score

  1. Been there. Under-exposed footage; low shooting ratio; sound issues. You have to finish it and make the best of it. I’m no guru but would be happy to come over one evening to give you some feedback.

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