I am not a sound designer, That much is clear, I have spent some time watching others who are or working alongside them, but that does not qualify me as even a fledgeling. I make this point straight out because even though I was able to get hold of a copy of Logic pro, and begin a short learning cycle I was unable to apply the power of this software and therefore a real working knowledge to my film. I have long bemoaned the loss of a sound designer on this film, and I take it as far as saying I would even like to go back at a later date and work with someone to fix the weaknesses within the design as I see them.
I have spent a lot of time researching and trying to learn all manner of post-production techniques over the course of this film It recently occurred to me that I should probably have made a proper documentation of this process, as It very possibly runs close to 100hrs possibly more of tutorials experiments, in colour correction, titles working with Luts, Digital Masking, working with noise reduction software, and I could go on, the fact that I haven’t properly done so probably reflects my attitude toward this learning as “necessary working knowledge filmmaker skills” therefore not specific to this module, I am probably wrong, but The way that I approach this is similar to the way that I approached the corporate work I took on last year, which is to compartmentalise it and work on it in a different head space. this means that some of the skills, of course, cross over and get reused making it hard to see clear delineations.
For Low season I have less excuse I put time aside to work on how I could optimise black and white images that have mostly been shot in a flat log style, and how best to process these using Luts (Look Up Tables) learning to read and then working with, it took over a weeks work, and I still feel that there are compromises and that My knowledge is rudimentary at best. Did I want to get help here in the grading of the film? Yes, but as with a lot of things, this skill set went north to Coventry with my Producer Jake.
So when it comes to working in post with sound I had almost no time to learn Logic and was forced to work with what I had and Know a little, which is Adobe premiere and Adobe Audition, this meant post foley session I had intended to go back in to College and work with a Sound designer. Instead, I took the route of working in longhand, on my own at home. This sounds counterproductive, but unless I was to pout this crucial process in the hands of someone I absolutely trusted, who I already had a shorthand in of communication of ideas in sound It would be a fruitless and dark experience of compromise.
As I say I took the long route of recording sessions around machinery in cafes in town with my own sound equipment and finding racks I already had, finding free royalty free sound bites off the internet, and in the case of the cafe scene Which I would estimate took upwards of 100 hours for less than 5 seconds of soundtrack, I simply worked my brains out.
It was actually a very interesting if frustrating process, which owes more to reductionism than to adding, at one stage I think for this cafe piece I had 23 channels of sound open, this was considerably reduced, as I had to hit the muddy point of too much going on before I realised that less is certainly more! Also, the only tools used in this process where various forms of reverb within Audition and time changes within Premiere. to put this in perspective every time I worked in Audition from Premiere It would mean generating a different composition to replace the original sound clip in premiere, this takes time and then you have to listen back to the mix to see how it fits… This is why it is longhand, however, my longhand became through necessity both fast and reasonably efficient, it had to!
In terms of headspace after even 4 or five days working on a small segment of sound which is supposed to represent something quite internally dark for the character, It literally was messing my head up! It was both frustrating and mentally exhausting to have to keep going back to this short burst of sound but as such, the moment represents such a crucial shift in the states of the film and character I had to keep going.
What do I think of it now? Well to be perfectly honest I came to a compromise with this section, I reduced it back to a mere shadow of its former self until it at least in part described what I wanted, and then I had to move on, it is not perfect, in fact it is not quite what I intended, but it is a working solution…For now. other sound elements I am much happier with the footsteps leading to the arcade sequence I am reasonably happy with, the mix here, of course, is much simpler and less conceptual, but I think it works. overall I think my total lack of knowledge has been improved upon, and I know I have one thing in my favour, I have a pretty good ear for sound, however, the gulf between this and production and mixing of a professional soundscape still remains a wide and deep one.
The edit of the images themselves is a different matter, I have mentioned already a meeting with John Sealey and his critique of the middle of the film in terms of edit. This lead me to totally get back into the film become more experimental again and nothing short of look for the film within the dead and lifeless material that was currently on screen as the assembly edit.
My first major point here is that although John Suggested I think About this I had already tried something similar, and when I went back into the timeline I found the segment of experimental edit further up the timeline, the reason it had not worked became instantly apparent to me, it was attempting to intercut footage that was either already preceding or two or three shots ahead in the timeline, it gave no clear sense of time or purpose for our character, no trajectory, it achieved a broken feel to the nature of the edit but that was all, rather like a spinning top it eddied but went nowhere. By making a clear-cut to a future event and this future event is a stationary one, ie we cut from movement to stillness not only did this introduce movement and trajectory and a feel of a mind fragmenting to the edit, but it also crucially described or suggested where this mind was. the static shot is our anchor as a viewer, not just a destination. It tells us or suggests that this could all be going on in the head of the character, it means that we avoid narrative but still feel connected to the world of the character (at least I hope so)!
John Had shown me Point blank, and yes I lifted the idea in a big way, yes I went for the footsteps (this Similarity is after all why John showed me the shot) But rather than want to copy this shot I wanted to harness some of the power and energy that it created and completely distort it to my own ends, that is my shot goes from movement to stillness, then to moment. it also overlaps this movement to suggest lack of actual progress, it wants to play with our perception of the characters movement in the real world because perhaps this is not entirely the real world we imagine it to be.
Now John Boorman’s use of the shot does something similar, but essentially he is cutting from movement the walking ‘Walker’ and incoming trajectory represented in sound as well as image, and then the parallel action is someone his ex-wife going about her day totally unaware of what is coming, it is brilliant, he uses an overlapping edit to create again momentum but to bring actions and characters together to one point. for me, it was always one character but to show a parallel between mind and physical world and to bring them to a climax in the arcade sequence to almost find themselves again under the pier.
I hope it follows in the rich tradition of ‘influence’ that everyone from Scorsese to Godard has admitted to doing, not simply the nicking of ideas. To sum this process up It has reminded me once again that the films I make I really do have to be lost and found again in the edit, I may like the idea of storyboarding as I followed here, but I believe that films come alive or perish in this magical process we call the cut.