Scoring the Film Pray For Daylight
It is finished. As Treebeard told Perigrin Took, “…your part in this tale is over. Go back to your home.”
The Pray For Daylight score has been leveled, mixed, shaken, stirred, gargled, swallowed, regurgitated, and run through a lovely mastering plugin to pretty it up for public consumption.
Last night, for about 4 hours, and the night before for another 4 hours, Tony (Producer/Director of Stone Soup Films) and I slogged through the mix with the New-And-Improved video which had been color-corrected and special-effected by Rob.
I will reserve my review of the movie until the completed version is…well…completed. But I can tell about the scoring/mixing process we went through.
Before this project, I Hated temp tracks. Capitol-H Hated. Because the director knows the temp track will be replaced, they are free to use anything to convey their musical idea of the score, even copyrighted music. So, let’s say the director tosses G-N-R’s ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ on there, because he/she wants something totally kicking all ass. Great. Then, they listen to that track as they edit and preview the movie…over…and over…and over…and over….
…and then they take out the G-N-R, and hand the video to you, and your job is to put something in there. Something where that G-N-R song was, but certainly not G-N-R, because that would be copyright infringement, but you know, it was really cool, how the drums and bass worked together on that…no, no, synth just isn’t sounding right there…um, can you yell? You know, that screechy, banshee yell, kind of like Axl, but not really Axl, because that would be copyright infringement, and we don’t want that…but still, something I don’t know…more G-N-R-ish…without being G-N-R?
Right. So I Hate temp tracks. Mostly. But we were fortunate that Tony used very bland, generic temp music. If this music was food, it would be in the Generic Section of the grocery store, labeled ‘Dramatic Music’ in that generic black-text-on-white-label, and it would taste like overcooked oatmeal. This kind of temp track makes you sound like a pro, because pretty much anything you do will be better. So it worked out well. But I still hate temp tracks.
Although Tony does not know it, (until he reads this) we disagreed about the levels of the sound effects Colin and I added. Tony and I both have the same mantra, “We’re all about the subtle.” Difference is, that his mantra is sarcastic and mine is not. That difference works out to about 20db. (ie: A LOT) Since this is a subjective thing, I didn’t even bring it up.
Setting the levels should have been a breeze, but the original audio (recorded through the camera) had a lot of noise in it. I mixed the score to play over that noise. Rob had used SoundSoap on some noisy pieces of audio, and some were ADR-ed (audio was replaced in the studio). Once that background noise was reduced, it made the score sound Really Loud and so we had to remix on a scene-by scene basis. This was expected, and therefore a non-problem.
Locked (Wink Wink) Video:
The standard procedure (as I know it) is that once the Editing is finished, the locked video file is sent out to the other departments (score, audio mix, FX, color correction…) After that point, the video edits are Locked In Time, as in, They Don’t Fucking Change. Never. Ever. Neverever. This ensures the special effects and audio and such line up where they are supposed to on the final master.
Somehow, there was a difference between the Locked Video Track Colin and I were given (and mixed to), and the Color Corrected Locked Video Track for the final mix. As though somehow, David Copperfield had made thirty or so frames of video disappear. (I saw him make the Statue Of Liberty disappear on TV once…)
Like Magic, the score was off for the entire second half of the movie. Now, all music start and stop points had to be tweaked and checked. Fortunately, it was not as bad as I thought it would be, but I will make sure that for future projects, the expected completion date for scoring is moved accordingly if there are any time changes to the video. It was a good thing to have Tony there so that he could see the repercussions of “Locked” video becoming “Unlocked”…
Contracts should be signed before work starts, not after. The contracts should not only have all the legal bullshit, but they should also include time limits, what resources will be provided, and what is expected (file types and other requirements) Maybe this does not need to be in a legal signed document, but there should be an understanding of “What do you expect from me, in what period of time?”
In this project, Colin and I simply agreed to drop songs from our album into the movie, and to score the spaces between the songs. (Official contracts were picked out later, from VersusMedia.com and will be signed before the final production master DVD is authored.) This worked out OK, because we are all friends and we all know each other. If working with/for people I don’t know, I am getting it in writing beforehand.
All in all, I had fun. While it was work, it was fun-work. Audio writing/editing/production is enjoyable work, and I look forward to scoring more movies. But first, I will stare into the jaws of Oblivion….