Audio Project Two was an ambitious project, but I feel as though it has been a successful one.
This project being what it was had it’s own set of challenges other than simply completing the audio for a film. Time management and people management was key to the success of the project, as was facility management. To do this successfully we needed to stay informed of what was happening in each film and the weekly meetings that we had were the place to sort any issues out. This was where we would sift through progress on the films, shooting days (during the production period) facility usage and what needed to be done and by when and by who. These were invaluable as it gave us all goals and a schedule of sorts for the ensuing week.
There were many positives to the way in the format in which we tackled Audio Project Two. One of these was the location work. Being on location is time consuming and takes up, often anyway, an entire day. So having a whole team of people meant that we could always have at least two people at every shoot, which made the entire process easier.
The benefits of there being five of us was present in post production as well. Extra sets of ears to help identify mix issues for example, or when doing Foley, always having one or two people around to either perform or record it meant we could make quick progress which we needed to do in order to make best use of the facilities we could get our hands on as well as meet both our own deadlines as well as those set by the groups we were working for.
As the project went on, it became clear that we needed to work to make sure that the person in charge of each film didn’t get too wrapped up in their own film. This was a difficult task, but one that I ultimately feel that we achieved. Each project was too big to handle for one person, which meant that collaboration was absolutely necessary. Now, of course, each persons involvement in each film varied. For example, I was most involved in Immort – with it being the film I was in charge of, followed by Descent for which I composed the music. The clear roles I had in these two films meant there was an obvious point from which to contribute. After that Remember was the film I was third most involved in, followed by Feel Good and then Cats. This kind of involvement chart was the case for everyone, with everyone most involved with their own film, then the other in various levels. The stages where everyone was most involved with each film was in production, with location sound being an extremely collaborative process and then the early stages of post-production, namely the stage where we were recording Foley.
The film that felt most detached, or at least I worried about it being too detached was Immort. This was because I was handling the bulk of mixing, composition and editing outside of the University facilities. This was a decision made both for creative and practical reasons and one that in the end became important in allowing us to finish everything on time. The decision to handle things outside of University, came in part from my preference for Windows over Mac’s, preference for certain plugins and knowledge of how things sound on my own gear. The decision was also made because of my preference for working late into the night, which was slightly easier to do outside of the University. The benefits to this decision were that Immort took up less facility time, something which, had we kept Immort in University as well, would have been a dire situation in which we didn’t have enough time in the studios to complete the projects. It also meant that the film got tested on a variety of speakers, which enabled it to have a more balanced final mix. The downsides to this decision were that it did end up feeling more detached from the rest of the project, with me never having my main mixing session in Uni, but rather bringing in stereo mixdowns to test and gather opinions on audio decisions, music and the overall mix the group had a less hands on approach to any issues they had, having to rely on me to fix the issues. That being said, I always made sure to be keeping the rest of the team in the loop as to developments and changes within the film and trying to spread the work for the film out as much as was possible. It is safe to say that without everyone’s input the final result would have suffered and I think the same can be said of the rest of the films.
In terms of my learning outcomes I feel that I succeeded in improving my knowledge on all three counts, though most specifically on outcomes one and two. This is perhaps most evident in the way that I used R128 loudness standards as a measure by which to aim while mixing Immort, using knowledge gained in another module – R&D where I had interviewed people at Soho Square Studios, an audio post production house in London to help me. The final product for Immort comes in just a touch too quiet for R128, but time ran out to get it up to the proper standard as the only person who had any software that could tell us the weighted level of the film was Gaz and mixing was taking place away from Uni. However, the delivery requirements for the film didn’t state it had to be at that standard so therefore, while I used it as a guideline when mixing it wasn’t a priority.
The most important thing that this project taught me is how to balance working on several different projects at the same time and the amount of time you need to put in to different organisation and admin. This is an experience I think will come in handy in the future, in terms of how I handle working with an audio team, having learnt how to interact with them in a manner where you can be truthful with your thoughts on various aspects of projects without worrying about offending people if you suggest a change and also how to act when working under someone, where I would often offer an opinion, but ultimately defer to their methods and ideas. The role of a composer in all of this differs slightly as generally the composer works in conjunction with the director, not working under a general audio supervisor as such. So, it was a case of writing music that fit the directors wishes, but then also taking advice from the audio supervisor, taking careful note of their opinion while being aware that it is the director who ultimately has the final call on musical decisions.