An Introduction to Pre-production Sound for Film | Black Goblin | Skillshare

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An Introduction to Pre-production Sound for Film

teacher avatar Black Goblin, Sound Design & Techology Company

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

18 Lessons (1h 11m)
    • 1. Welcome

    • 2. The Phases of Filmmaking

    • 3. Why Sound Pre-production?

    • 4. Recruiting a Sound Crew

    • 5. Recruiting a Sound Crew - Location sound crew

    • 6. Recruiting a Sound Crew - Sound Designer

    • 7. Script breakdown

    • 8. Script breakdown - Part 2

    • 9. Script breakdown - Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind

    • 10. Conversations with the Director

    • 11. Location & RECCE

    • 12. Location & RECCE - Part 2

    • 13. Storyboard breakdown

    • 14. Sound & Wardrobe

    • 15. Conversations with the Production Department

    • 16. Scheduling sound - A Short guide for Assistant Directors

    • 17. Conversations with the Photography Department

    • 18. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

Join Ana Betancourt, the Head of Sound Innovations at Black Goblin for a comprehensive introduction to sound during the pre-production phase of filmmaking. In this class, Ana will cover all crucial aspects of pre-production sound and walk you through the not so known audio facts that every filmmaker wish they knew earlier in their careers.

Learn how to prepare for sound production and post-production from the beginning of your project and practice industry-standard and highly creative methods for envisioning audio in an artistic way, such as a script breakdown and storyboard analysis. At the same time, find out how these methods can help you troubleshoot technical sound problems even before you are on set, saving you time, money, and a lot of hassle.

This class is aimed at filmmakers of all levels who wish to understand how sound works and how they can get the best results every single time and plan to do so.

Class modules:

  • The Phases of Filmmaking
  • Why is sound pre-production crucial to your film?
  • Recruiting a Sound Crew
  • Script Breakdown
  • Conversations with the Director
  • Location & RECCE
  • Storyboard Breakdown
  • Sound & Wardrobe
  • Conversations with the Production Department
  • Scheduling Sound
  • Conversations with the Photography Department

 An Introduction to Pre-production Sound for Film is the first on our series of “Introduction to Sound for Film” classes. The next class is: An Introduction to Production Sound for Film.

Meet Your Teacher

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Black Goblin

Sound Design & Techology Company


Hello, friends!

We are Gabrielle Haley and Ana Betancourt from Black Goblin Audio, a sound design and technology company based in the UK. 

Black Goblin was founded in 2018 and we collectively have over 18 years of experience in the audio production and post-production industry. 

Black Goblin offers a range of tools, like Subversive, a sound effect and video editing collaboration platform to be released in 2022, as well as sound effects libraries, like SHUDDER, our newest horror sound effects collection. We also provide specialised audio services such as sound design, mixing and recording for film, and games.


Our mission is to create accessible audio for all, and to empower creatives with as many creative tools as possible in order to h... See full profile

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1. Welcome: Hi, I'm Ana. And welcome to an introduction to pre-production sound for film. I'm the co-founder and director of Black Goblin, an audio services and technology company based in Edinburgh, Scotland. I have just over a decade of experience working in sound for film, taking on different roles throughout my career, including those of boom operator, location sound mixer, sound editor, and dubbing mixer. Collectively, the co-host of this channel, Gabby and I pull over 17 years of experience in the creative industries. This class is for filmmakers at any level and for all of those who have an interest in sound for film and want to know about all aspects of it in order to get the best possible results. Pre-production sound is a subject that you don't hear too much about, but it is so crucial to the success of a film. As the independent sector rises, the way in which we make films has changed and redefined. This is great! But it is important that no department or aspect of filmmaking falls through the cracks. Sound, after all, is 50 percent of your project. You will hear us say this countless of times throughout our classes. So, it is only wise to think about it as soon as you can and bring it into the creative process. In this course, we will learn about the different stages of filmmaking and where sound starts and ends. We will also talk about all of those little management yet, super important aspects of filmmaking, such as budgeting, planning, scheduling, and equipment. For the class project, you will be doing a script breakdown from an original work by the amazing screenwriter Anna Kumacheva. You will get the chance to unlock your creative self and imagine a world full of sound possibilities while forecasting any potential issues that may occur, thus, helping us save the film. Sound is one of those areas in film that seems to be quite mystique and, frankly, this is why I love it. But as a filmmaker you want to spend as much time developing your ears as you spend developing your eyes. So, let's get started and thanks for watching. 2. The Phases of Filmmaking: Welcome back. I'm so glad that you decided to join me. To get started, I want to briefly go through the phases of filmmaking. Depending on the literature that you consult, there are five or seven phases of the filmmaking process. I'm going to go through the seven first. We have development, pre-production, production, photography, wrap, post-production, and distribution. Photography and wrap are two aspects of filmmaking that mark an additional management of resources and specific tasks particular to the production stage. So, they can be compressed within that phase thus leaving us with only five phases. For the purpose of this and future courses, we will stick to using five phases only. Broadly speaking, the development of the film starts with an idea. Fleshing this idea out and writing the first draft of the script plus, figuring out the financial logistics of the project are all crucial aspects of the development stage, which can be quite long or quite short, depending on the complexity of the film. It is not usual to find sound professionals involved in this phase. And that is quite alright. Realistically, you do not need to get a sound person involved here just yet. Not at least until you get a clearer picture of what the project will be like. Next, it's the pre-production, the focus of this course. Pre-production happens once the film is greenlit. This is where the planning for the film shoot starts, and it includes aspects like finalizing the script, location scouting, production budget, scheduling, equipment decisions, and hiring of the film crew such as you know, cast, production team, director of photography, assistant directors, art, and of course, super-important the sound department. From here, we get to the fun part, which is the creative process, and the script breakdown. The director also holds discussions with the heads of each department and shares their vision of the film. Ultimately, the production also seeks to understand what each department requires in order to fulfil such a vision. Now we have the production, which some also call principal photography. And it refers to when the actual shooting begins. Any additional crew will be hired at this stage, such as script supervisor, and makeup, lighting, and so on. At this point rehearsals with the talent occur, and it is imperative that you consider at least your sound mixer, but ideally, your boom operator as well to attend these rehearsals. By now, your video and sound editors should be hired. Although we will argue in this class that this should be done from the pre-production stage. Post-production comes right after the film shoot wraps. And this is where audio and visual materials are cut together to create the film. After the video editor assembles footage, audio post-production starts. Planned ADR and voice-over is recorded. Foley artists come to the studio and recreate all relevant movement sounds, and the audio editors for each of the five sound categories, which are: sound effects, Foley, ambient, dialogue, and music, they all edit and puzzle together the material. Finally, the dubbing mixer works on positioning, any editing enhancement, levelling and balance, as well as preparing the materials for their delivery and encoding where necessary. Finally, we have the distribution stage. Commitments to investors are fulfilled at this stage, advertising, of course, and your deal of distribution kicks in, and you might have the film release in theatres, online, DVD, or any other platform of your choice. This is also where all the parties involved in the process can celebrate and wait for deliberations on the success or failure of the project. So, as you can see from this quick summary, you would expect for sound work to start no later than the beginning of pre-production, and finish alongside the conclusion of the post-production stage. 3. Why Sound Pre-production?: As a filmmaker, I bet you spent countless hours, and days, and weeks, and gosh, even months preparing for all the worst-case scenario issues that may occur when filming. For instance, what if the wardrobe does not work or does not look good and camera? Do we have enough time to be in and out of a specific location? What happens if your camera suddenly stops working, and many, many more. You take countless precautions for this planning, having agreements in place, doing location scouting, as well as lots and lots of meetings with the director and the heads of the department. As you should. But now, think about all the potential issues that you can have with sound. Perhaps you already have a long list of them, or perhaps you have none because you have no idea of what these might be. In both cases, what this tells you is that you need to prepare and bring in the experts as soon as possible. When we talk about production meetings, for example, you should always include your supervising sound editor or sound designer. This is the person, of course, coordinating your sound post-production and making artistic choices regarding sound in your film. You should definitely also include, without a question your location sound mixer. Their experience and knowledge put together will help you avoid countless traps. And, if you think this is too early or too much, wait until post-production, you will see, it is not too early. A good rule of thumb is you should be interviewing candidates for both your sound design and production sound from the moment your project is greenlit. And, you should have for them hired by the time you barely start looking for locations, but way before you have done any RECCE or even your initial location scouting actually, preferably. So, if you have done location scouting and taken any decisions before having your team of sound experts on board, then you are too late. Why? Well, simply put, when scouting, DOPs and directors can get really excited about the visual components of the space, and everyone forgets to listen. This is why you want a sound professional right there with you to focus solely on sound. But we will go into more detail about this in the location and RECCE lesson. Additionally, you want to make sure you have your sound crew already put together to maximize the artistic outcome of sound in your project. Sound, can help you convey so much beyond dialogue. When well-thought, it can drive the narrative, give you information which is not immediately seen in the picture, and bring out underlying emotions which overall adds to the sense of immersion. Bringing in sounds at the pre-production stage can be the key difference of your project and help you collect all of those accolades that your great story deserves. 4. Recruiting a Sound Crew: Ok, so, you might tell me, Ana, you've told me a thousand times that I need a sound crew and a sound designer as soon as possible. I get it. But who do I need to hire then? How does this sound crew even look like? Well, let's get started with your location sound crew. Realistically, and particularly for a feature film with more complexity to it, you will require a minimum of three sound crew members, a sound mix assistant, a boom operator, and a sound mixer. In my over 10 years of experience, I have encountered several times that production wishes to cut costs down, choosing to reduce the numbers of crew members in certain departments. Unfortunately, sound tends to be one of them. But I always suggest to compare the sound department to the photography department. Your minimum crew for a photo department is your director of photography, your first assistant of photography, and your second assistant of photography. The three crew members have a vital function and I'm sure that, you're more than aware that if you take one out of the equation, your picture will suffer. It's exactly the same with sound! Every member of the crew has a vital function and taking one of them out can lead to longer setup times, mistakes, and overall, not the best results that you can get. Now, you might have seen smaller crews. Well, for short films, which might be maybe not too complex and with not a lot of action or actors, you can perhaps take this number down to two members. However, do bear in mind that if you are wanting to recruit only two people, they better be the most experienced people that you can find. These two members are of course, the boom operator and the sound mixer. 5. Recruiting a Sound Crew - Location sound crew: Now, what do each of these people do? A boom operator is a key role within the sound department and, contrary to popular belief, it is not an entry position. For the role of a boom operator, you will require a person with a set of skills that range from physical resistance, I mean of course, you have seen a boom operator resisting for hours in a row to get you the best sound. But most importantly, what you really need is someone with an exceptional ear and a great attention to detail as well. An example of this, is the ability to master micking for scenes with multiple actors in a wide shot, where perhaps a lot of talking is happening and when the talent positioned at a not so close distance within each other. In this scenario, the boom operator needs to come up with creative solutions to effectively mic each actor as they speak without causing dramatic changes, dips in the audio or even worse, produce noises as a result of the boom pole moving too suddenly. The boom operator works with the sound mixer and the director of photography to quickly choreograph any last minute changes. Additionally, the operator's knowledge also extends to the handling of a variety of microphones for different situations. Usually, your sound crew will come to set with at least a couple of shotgun mics for sound capture of course, and a couple more for indoor ambiance. The boom operator as well as the sound mixer, they both need to know their kit very well and identify which shotgun microphone is optimum for each scene as well as understand very quickly when colour and consistency needs to be maintained by sticking to the same model, for example. Like light and filters, microphone decisions impact more than just the quality of sound. There're also artistic decisions that might portray a character's voice in a specific light and perhaps enhance storytelling at a subconscious level when done right. Moving on, we have the sound mixer. A sound mixer is sometimes the most senior position in the sound crew. However, different crews have different strategies of course. At the very least, it is a position filled by a sound expert that has had experience with several if not all aspects of the sound production. In our team for instance, both the boom operator and sound mixer are considered senior positions as each of us have years of experience and have developed skills particular to our roles. Having said that, usually the sound mixer is indeed responsible for the overall recording of the dialogue and other sounds during the filming. And they also detect any problematics and suggest any solutions on behalf of the sound team at the pre-production such as, location changes, audio equipment decisions, and very much like a photography director, the sound mixer can also influence on mic positioning and character relevance for the purpose of sound capture. The sound mixer also creates different monitoring mixes. A monitor mix is a version of what the audio recording device is capturing that then is sent to any audio output as needed. An example of this is, creating and sending the mix to the boom operator so that they can hear their shotgun mic live for example, but without listening to any of the radio mics or ambient mics that the mix is capturing at the same time. Another very realistic example is the creation of a mix which can be sent to the director's headphones and which might include the shotgun mic mainly, but also a much lower signal from the radio mics giving the director a clear picture of what the mixer is hearing but without being too chaotic or distracting. Sending a sound feed to the director is really important as it allows the director not only to fully immerse themselves in the performance but also, it raises awareness of sound and the potential aspects that can ruin a performance if not taken into account. It also clarifies why the sound crew is always so adamant for everyone to be extremely quiet in the set, amongst other things. Depending on the size of the sound crew, additional technical troubleshooting can also be part of the job description of a sound mixer, which takes me to the last role. The sound mixer assistant. When we talk about a sound mixer assistant, there are several responsibilities that this crew member can have. One thing is for sure, regardless of any of these three roles. You require a specialist in microphone concealing. In our team, this task is performed by Gabby Haley who has plenty of experience concealing mics and coming up with creative solutions to capture the best sound possible while keeping microphones hidden and secure. By the way, she shows a lot of her amazing techniques and tricks in the course "An Introduction to Production Sound for Film", also on this channel. But, anyway, in other crews this task could fall to the sound mixer assistant for example, or the sound mixer even. It all depends on the abilities and skills developed by each crew member. In any case, make sure that when hiring, you have an expert on board who can conceal microphones as this aspect is often the difference between superb and poor capture of audio. Going back to the sound mixer assistant, a crucial part of this role includes data backup. This is key to make sure that we are keeping our sound data safe at all times. And it also allows us to perform some of the preparation tasks while filming, such as metadata tagging for example, and preparation of sound reports for the editor, saving us a lot of time and hustle. Many other technical tasks also fall under the scope of the sound mixer assistant's job. Some of these include frequency sweep for interference for instance, or setting-up of radio mics and ambiance mics, battery change, safety cabling, and quick troubleshooting to mention but a few. Nowadays, it is quite common to see advertising for job seeking for a boom operator and a sound mixer separately. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this approach by the way. In fact, some audio professionals working on a freelance basis are very used to work this way and you can get exceptional results. Having said this, I wouldn't discount the value of finding a team which can offer members for all positions since this certainly brings advantages with it, because, it ensures you that, you have a sound crew that is used to work with each other and that has developed an effective communication system and a rhythm which, of course, will make everything run smoothly. If you want to know more about what to look for when recruiting sound crew and what questions to ask when interviewing, go to our course "An Introduction to Production Sound for Film where Gabby will give you useful tips to tackle this job. 6. Recruiting a Sound Crew - Sound Designer: In terms of your sound designer, well, location sound and post-production sound are very different set of skills. There are some teams that have plenty of experience on both sides or that have a big enough crew that they can have experts in each area that is required and basically see your sound completed from the pre-production to the post-production stage. This is certainly the case of the way in which Gabby and myself, and our team, work within our company. In a way, this is an advantage, of course, because if as a filmmaker you find a team that can effectively respond to all of your sound necessities, then, of course, you can rest assured that sound will be captured in a way that will be beneficial to sound design. And likewise, you can also make sure that your sound designer is involved as early as needed in the project and participate you know, in aspects such as the RECCE and the script breakdown, which is what we will talk about in the next lesson. This does not mean that you must always seek to go for this approach of hiring a complete team. When looking for a sound designer, make sure that their commitment to the project seems quite open and not unique to the post-production stage. The more a sound designer emphasizes the importance of being involved early or as soon as you get in touch with them, the more they have questions as well in regards to the pre-production. You can bet that there is experience, and a disposition to contribute meaningfully to the project. Additionally, ask to see a demo reel or proof of previous works and look at the style. It is not always about the number of credits I would say, but the quality of them, is there, for example, good production value there? Can you hear that? Can you hear these works perhaps in a cinema comfortably, do you picture them there? Also, for instance, if your film is horror, but the sound designer does not have any horror films in the portfolio, do not discard them just yet, but ask why the interest in horror. If the sound designer shows a great command and knowledge of horror filmmaking and sets examples drawing to your script, this is actually really good signal. A previous work on the genre will not secure that the work done for your film will be the best. But, interest and engagement into the project and suggestions that you feel comfortable and attracted to, that is a good person to bring into your crew. If you have found the sound designer with all of these characteristics plus plenty of experience in the genre of your film, then, you should probably hire them soon. 7. Script breakdown: We have now come to one of my favorite parts of pre-production. The script breakdown. There is something so exciting about reading a script for the first time, it feels almost like discovering something new. When we do a script breakdown, there are two main areas that you want to make notes on, technical and artistic. Read the script and highlight those scenes that are difficult, particularly those that have unique or difficult spaces. Do we have parking lots, for example? Or are you trapped in a moving train for the first 16 minutes of the film? I don't know. Do we have several scenes in an actual airport? These are all questions of troubleshooting nature you want to ask right away and identify while reading the script for the very first time. We will see more about potential problematic spaces, and what a sound professional looks for when doing RECCE. However, we can pinpoint specific problematics related to space and location even from the script. And this is a very valuable thing to do as it allows directors and photographers to think about these things when doing their initial location scouting. Another very important piece of information you can get from the script on the technical side of things, relates to how many people are talking at anytime in a scene. Is it four people at once? two, or maybe eight? How important are all of them? This is crucial to understand the maximum amount of radio mics for instance, that you need. If you have a 100 characters in the film, but there's not a single scene that has more than two characters talking or engaging in a conversation, well, probably only need three sets of radio mics, one for each one of these characters and an extra one for caution. You should also look out in the script for complex coordinated scenes. A good example is those long sequences that are attempted in one shot and that move across one or several rooms. And, you might want to ask how the scene will be coordinated. Will there be a dolly or perhaps a Steadicam? How can the boom operator navigate through this scene will depend a lot on how the scene is shot, but also, the content of it. Is there any dialogue going on? or, any sound effect we're capturing? And if we do have to capture some sound effects, also, it's important to ask the question, do we have to do that during the talent's performance or can it be done at another time to avoid camera and people moving around noises? A sound mixer should be part of the RECCE and the location approval process, as we have mentioned before plenty of times. And, both production and directors should be as accommodating as possible. Also, as we said, because the script breakdown is a great way to identify potential issues even before filmmakers go location scouting, it means that you can take into account any problems when choosing a space rather than say, falling in love with a location, only to find out it will ruin everyone's performances because it doesn't work sound wise. 8. Script breakdown - Part 2 : Now, talking about the artistic aspects of the script breakdown, this is normally done by the sound designer. But, if you have an only one team as we discussed in the previous lesson, there might be overlaps on the people. However, if your production and post-production audio are totally different crews, it is also great to get your location sound mixer's opinion from an artistic point of view. This can ensure that agreements between director, sound designer, location sound mixer, DOP, and production team as well, are done so that, all the aspects of planning bear in mind audio for artistic purposes too. For the artistic breakdown, we can start by visualizing all the objects in one scene and what sounds they produce. Our brains are actually quite interesting in the sense that when you read any kind story, whether a script or any other narrative form, we cannot only imagine how objects look like, but we can also attach a sound memory to them. The act of visualizing objects and hearing them in your head can bring to the foreground some elements within the scene that might not have been thought of by the screenwriter as significant, but that can serve to the narrative because of the sound that they make. In one of the most recent films I had the opportunity to work in, there were two scenes that mention a clock within a particular room. In this, the character or specific character would look and see the time. And, that was as much description as the script would actually give. However, my team and I started noticing other elements throughout the narrative that pointed to time quite clearly, such as a church bell and not only this, but the whole narrative had an underlying theme of time and age and vulnerability because of time and age as well. So, this gave us the idea that the clock in that room could be an additional character that could connect with the narrative and the seemingly running against the clock aspect within it. So, we proposed via our script breakdown for the clock to become this sound element that, depending on the context would be more or less prominent within the ambient sound. Based on these notes, the director then decided to add some inserts of this clock to the shotlist and hence started developing this aspect into the narrative too. This is just a very simple example on how sound can be used to forward the narrative just as you would use light or colour, and you can do it from the script breakdown. As a filmmaker, don't be afraid to take some ideas proposed by your sound designer and integrate them. This is one of the vital reasons why you have a sound designer so early. Remember, sound designers are old artists, so use them to further enhance your storytelling. For this part of the class, I would like to take you through a scene where we do exactly what I just described in my previous examples. There are several methods I have used to make notes on the script usually, and if you get a PDF copy you can use an editor such as Adobe Acrobat Pro. However, you can also use a Word document version and do pretty much the same thing. Here, for this example, I will use Adobe Acrobat as it is the software I normally use anyway, but however the editing process, will be very similar in word and wherever you decide to go. These are by no means the only methods to do this. I know that if you are a, for instance, a director or a screenwriter, you might be using a scriptwriting software and you might find it easier to actually put your notes there as well. This is absolutely fine. Whatever you use, the creative process is pretty much the same. For this lesson, we will borrow a script from a brilliant film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, directed by Michel Gondry. And there are many brilliant scripts out there with which you can practice, as long as you respect copyright laws, but for educational purposes, there are a couple of sites online where you can find a plethora of these and practice this exercise as many times as you need. Likewise, if you have your own script while doing this course, by all means, start to run a script breakdown with your own work. For this class example though, we will do two things. First, we will look at the script without taking any regard for film. So, if you have seen it, try to get the memories of it out of your head which will be quite fitting any way, for the film. And if you haven't seen it, then fantastic, you are already there. So, let's have a read at it first and this first scene that I'm presenting you now. 9. Script breakdown - Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind : Welcome back. So, now that we have read this opening scene from the film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, let's get started. Now, you do not have to write notes in any particular order, I would just encourage you to let your ideas flow. But, take note of every thought that comes to your mind. For this example, I will choose a green highlighter for all technical notes which you can find up here. So, I've kind of selected it already and then I'm going to choose a yellow colour for everything that I consider of a more artistic nature. To give an example to how to go from green to yellow, for instance, I'm going to select this first phrase here and by default you can see it is green. But if I want it to be yellow, I'll just click on it and you can see the green colour here, I'll click on that as well and I can change it. So, I'll be using this yellow one for any artistic notes. So, I'll just delete that for now. The very first thing that I'm thinking after reading this script is, what does "a lack of colour" sounds like? This is definitely a creative note. So, I will highlight the phrase which refers to lack of colour really and I will write this question over there. So, I'll click on it and you can see a little comment box on the left-hand side that says add note. So, I'll click on that and that's my question that I will write. What does lack of colour sounds like? Previously on the script, we had a reference to the colour grey as well, which you can see there's a lot of references of colour and it's just a little paragraph, which is amazing. For weather purposes, grey often means overcast, or rainy or cold. I know as a sound person that the best way to perhaps portray this is by having a very cold weather ambient treatment. So, a technical question to ask in this regard could be, when will this be recorded? When or which ones are goal filming dates really? Is there a type of weather we're aiming for this? So, in a way, this is a technical but also an artistic note. As you can already start imagining that, if you're filming today in, for example, a snow storm or a rainy day, that can cause some issues at capture with dialogue. So, I will write down all of these notes in my script. I'll select, "it's grey" over here, click on it, and then I'll go with my creative note. I'll just put a note saying it's both a creative note and technical question as well. So, yeah, that's all the notes that we were talking about just now. So, I'll post those. Now, there's a lot of mention, I mean, from the start, we have a mention of the train station here. And we can also have the feeling that the air also, that the ambient sound is not flowing as much as in a regular open space. Train stations are always a weird kind of space because it varies a lot from station to station. But, it is good to understand if there've been already, several different locations that have been spotted or if not, which is normally as we mentioned throughout this whole course, the optimum thing, we're going here with the idea that the director and the production have not yet selected and the locations without a sound Crew. But, even if they have not selected any locations, what are they thinking? what is the director envisioning for this scene? What kind of train station is it? Is it a wide, closed off space or is it one of those more smaller local ones, which seems more like it because, we're having a description of a platform right here. Platforms are sometimes a strange place, because they're not completely open but they're not indoors at all. What is the vision for this space? and of course what are the implications of that? In the same sense, we can also have the feeling that, like I said, the air is not flowing and sometimes this particular shape of whatever station is to be chosen will have a definite implication. So, we'll write that down, and rather than selecting a specific section, I'll just write it as a general comment. So, in order to do that, I'll just click over here on the comment icon or sticky note actually, and I'll just add it next to the description of the scene. So, on that same note, we're filming in the train station. I mean, one of the first questions that I probably should have written down is, do we have dialogue? And, the reason why I skipped it is because we obviously don't, which makes us really lucky because it could be a very big problem to be in an open space where there might not be a lot of control about the comings and goings of people. So, not having dialogue, it's a very lucky thing here. It's definitely going to be really noisy, like I said. So, we might have to redo the whole sound design on post-production. So, this is definitely a technical note, which again, I'm going to add as post-it, general one and I'll just put that towards the end and say, "most of the sound design will potentially have to be done in post-production". Location mixer will definitely want to capture as much wild tracks as possible from this station, ideally without any people. Again, where is this station, that's definitely an important one. Like said, we presume at this point that we don't really know yet, but this is something to add as a consideration. Can we get rid? Can we try to choose a location where we can get rid of people for a bit and do a short recording session, so with just audio, just wild tracks? And of course, this does not have to be done during the principal or the main shooting schedule. It could be scheduled in a different time, but this is something for a production, first assistant director to consider right away. Again, it's a general note rather than something that we're going to highlight here. So, I'll put another comment in that regard. And just post that. Now, I love trains, I don't know about you guys. There are whole soundscape on their own, which is really cool. But what is the role of them here? in the film, in this particular scene, and how can they help forward the narrative? And that takes me to the overall intention of the scene, which is a much more creative in nature scene, which reminds me by the way, we kind of said this one. It's both a bit of technical and creative question. So, I'm actually going to change the colour here or attempt to at the very least. There we go. So, I was saying, what's the intention of the scene? For me right away, what I'm seeing is this immediate message that, it seems to speak of a lack of individuality in this world. You know, we have all of those people looking exactly the same with just some little lights of individuality here and there with the heart shape, red box of candy under someone's arm. But, everyone looks pretty much the same, almost black and white. Again, this reference to lack of colour, and it also comes a bit as a kind reflection of solitude that comes as a result of this lack of individuality and everyone kind of really immersed in their own lives. In a way trains have that quality of denoting lots of things like passing of time and the environment that is just really busy and rich, but that kind of drowns individuality in a way. I think all of these things are very, very important to note here and to start thinking about how, sound can denote that. So, for me, one way in which we can do that is that, if we have all the characters or the people movements, feel small and almost isolated, while, the space surrounding everything, it's a bit more suffocated and taking over. This means potentially having type of ambient that slightly is really overpowering. Potentially trains coming and going, and we see a lot of movement potentially of people or not moving at all, but it just feels really really small. So, we'll put a note about that here. and say "Ambients can be slightly suffocated and take over people's movements". So, I think that's something interesting to play with. Another thing to bear in mind here is that there's a great potential, a great opportunity for the music composer to do a good theme here. And that is something that you definitely want to be open to as a sound designer and as a location sound mixer that it's proposing artistic stuff here. However, personally I'm inclined for this particular scene to, push for a scene with no music. I think that, that would definitely enhance this feeling that we're looking at in terms of solitude. Sometimes, something like silence or more like the perception of silence can make people really uncomfortable, which is something that can definitely be used to our advantage here. So, I will write that down as well and you know say, we can definitely use silence in smart way here, to create that sense of solitude, but also, uncomfortable feelings. I think in that same note, another interesting thing here is, we're having a train that pulls to the platform across and we see these men who lurches up the stairs two at a time. So, I think this is one of those situations where the train ambient and the overall ambient overtakes. So, we can see this man moving, but we don't really hear the movements, we just see the action and everything else takes over. So, I'll actually underline that, and we'll highlight it, change it to yellow and say precisely this. "This is an example of what I've been saying in the comments". I think, this sound over here, the door's opening, that needs to be probably one of the only sounds that is going to be quite a bright in the sense of its frequency composition. Not only because the train doors will have that more high-frequency or high pitch composition to them naturally, but also because we do need some sound effects here that gives us a little bit of light and tells us, you know, this is the status quo, this is what the world looks like for this unknown character as of yet. But there's a glimpse of "things are about to change for this character right from the beginning of this film". So, definitely, this is something to consider and I'll highlight that as well. First, I'm going to put it as a creative new, but then I'll add another comment saying, technically speaking, locations sound mixer will want to record as many of these train doors as possible to be able to have original sound effects that we can then process in post-production rather than going for only for what's out there. Here we go. So, you know, I'm going to stop a little bit here because, the truth is I could go on and on and on and on about this. There is so much more information than you could ever imagine in one of these paragraphs in the script. And, it's not just about what this screenwriter's meaning to tell us, but also our interpretation of the materials. So, you know, for such a small paragraph, like I said, we actually added quite a lot of information here already. And of course, this is before even speaking to the director or looking at storyboards. Take this scene which I have added to the materials of this class and try to do your own version. After you're done, watch the opening scene of the film. I have also left a link on the resources, to see this opening scene. You will see how much the scene changed from what we originally have here in the script. In a way, a lot of what change has to do with sound actually, which is really really cool to see, particularly for the purposes of this class, because you can already understand how sound sometimes can overtake the narrative in a very, very beautiful way. So, please go and take some time, have a look and practice a lot, like I said before, practice with this scene, but also you can use your own work or you can have a look online, there are so many resources. Remember that for this class project you will be doing exactly what we just did, but with an original work by the amazing screenwriter Anna Kumacheva. Her film is called Tomorrow, and I will upload several scenes where you can actually try to do this. All we need is one scene, we don't need more than one scene. Although of course, if you feel passionate about it you get into it and you want to do the whole short film, you're more than welcome to do. It's always amazing to do this process from the beginning to the end, because you already kind of going for the narrative with all of these notes. So, two things for you to do at this point, practice a lot with this little piece of script that I'm going to put in the resources, watch the opening scene, and of course start thinking about your class project as well. 10. Conversations with the Director: Once that you have done the breakdown of the script, it is time to sit down with the director and discuss intention, and overall vision. If you're the director of the film, make sure to read the sound designer and location mixer's notes. If the vision and the feeling that they got from reading the script for the first time is extremely different than yours, then a bit of guidance might be in order. But also, you can try to understand why there is so much difference in what they have perceived during your first meeting, and decide whether any of their observations are in fact valid and can be introduced into the narrative. Be open to this, as it has the potential to make your film so much better. In your first discussions, it is good for both parties to have the scripts with the notes. The director can start by letting the sound designer and location sound mixer make as many questions as possible. These questions might include general ideas as to what the shot will look like, etc. If you already have a storyboard, please send that to them either before of this initial meeting or if you didn't have it then but you do now, go through it with them. We will briefly touch upon storyboards later in this class, but the point is that this first encounter allows your sound crew to be fully immersed in a narrative and basically buy what you're selling. If you hold this conversation where the talk is more artistic, and you portrayed your intentions as a director and your goals for the narrative, as you would do say, with the director of photography, then, you can have a team dedicated to achieving these goals through their craft. 11. Location & RECCE: So, indirectly, we have touched a lot upon location already, but, I thought it would only make sense to have a lesson which focuses on this process and details of it more. Locations scouting and RECCE are essential and established parts of the pre-production stage. The terms are used interchangeably and the truth is that depending on where in the world you're working, you can hear directors and producers using one or the other. The important thing to know is that usually, there is an initial location scouting done by producers and director in which they focus on selecting a few options for a given location. After this, a RECCE or technical scouting, if you may, occurs, where heads of departments, mainly photography and you guessed right, sound, assess the suitability of the space. It is important to have a degree of flexibility here, and it is possible that photography and sound do not agree on a location. So, it is very important for directors to keep an open mind and trying to understand the bit of why a sound person is pushing towards a no with a specific location. Dialogue is your goal number one when recording sound in a film, as you know, and this is because one of the most expensive processes in post-production is ADR or automatic dialogue replacement [Automated dialogue replacement]. This requires budgeting for studio rental, time of ADR recordists, and plenty of extra hours for your talent to attend the sessions. Particularly for independents, it is very often the case that budget is really tight, so, you want to make sure that you avoid ADR as much as possible, as not only able to take a huge chunk of your money resources, but it can also have repercussions in the performance of your actors. If you really, really want to appeal for a location that your sound recordist is marked as a no, then, it is convenient to discuss what can be done to diminish the impact of noise in that place. A good example of this is, a space that by the nature of the script is meant to be quiet like a cemetery for example. But, that maybe it's just near a road. One of the things to consider is to stop the traffic during shooting times. This will involve permits, and management on behalf of the production team, and it is definitely not optional. It absolutely needs to be considered. Directors and the production team will often look at the sound mixer for a technical solution like a fancy, state of the art piece of equipment, or even ask if dialogue can be perhaps cleaned post-production. When, very often the only viable solution is not technical, like say, reducing the noise coming from a nearby road by stopping the traffic for a couple of hours or turning off a refrigeration system that kicks in at odd times. This might seem inconvenient, but trust me, there is not a single piece of technology that will get rid of noise issues as effectively and as simply as attacking the source of it. And remember, once a take of audio is bad, it is equivalent of having a visual take with no focus. You can say goodbye to it. It cannot be fixed in post-production. For this reason, you need to have sound people at this stage as their evaluations of the space will not limit to sources of noise in that particular area, but they will also include things like wireless microphone frequency sweeps, and electrical requirements assessments. You should treat the presence of your production sound mixer in the location scouting as no negotiable. Because once you're in the location for filming, there is no turning back and the consequences can be quite big, and, of course, if you want to look at it from a numbers perspective, which we all do, think that pain, two or three hours to your sound mixer and two or three hours to your sound designer for RECCE time will save you between dozens and hundreds of billable hours in post-production, depending on the length and the size of your project of course. 12. Location & RECCE - Part 2: A personal experience that justifies why you should have a sound professional included in your location scouting, is from a film that we did sound recording for. And it required a hot dog stand and vendor to be filmed for that scene. The director wanted the feel of a very busy city. But, looking at the storyboard in shotlists, we realized that the actual one and only shot at that location was a close-up and it had a lot of very important dialogue. So, the director was pushing for a location that was situated pretty much in one of the busiest roads in the city. Speaking with the hot dog vendor who participated in the film, he agreed to do the filming in a completely different location. So, we got another place with the same visual feeling but considerably less traffic and less noise. So, if not for our insistence to look for an alternative, the scene would have been filmed there and the performance completely ruined as the production was already confirming location before even consulting with us. A cool way to understand this is that, one of the main differences of picture versus sound is that, when you do not like the look of something, you have the choice to change camera placement. You can go closer, you can go further away. We do not have a zoom in option, so to speak, with audio. So, whether we see a source of noise in the screen or not, there is not a lot that can be done to get rid of it other than physically remove it. If you want to know a bit more about this and even hear an example of when this applies, have a look at the interview linked in our course materials from sound mixer Jeff Wexler, talking about a situation just like this one. If there is a very compelling reason why you need to film in a super noisy environment and you cannot absolutely get rid of the source, then do consider ADR, as we mentioned before. But again, of course, do remember that even with a good amount of budget, performance can suffer as even the most expert actors can modify the delivery because the space and time is just simply not the same. So always aim for getting the best, greatest dialogue in the shoot. 13. Storyboard breakdown: Storyboards are one of the most informative, creative, and amazing things that can be done in the pre-production stage, along with the script break down. This will be a very short lesson where we will have the chance to look at and analyze a really cool scene of the film Gladiator by Ridley Scott. Rather than writing our own notes though, we will try to read this storyboard from a film perspective, and try to understand what this means for sound in terms of ambient and effects. I'm not assuming that everyone has seen the film, so, in our class resources, there will be a link to this scene so you can relate it to the storyboard. If you haven't seen the film, you can press pause here and, watch the video of the scene first. So, with the storyboard you essentially have a shotlist, here, I have eight different shots showcasing what is going on in the scene, and I will not get into the details of you know, are we having real tiger? and how is this going to be coordinated, although this is probably one of the very first questions a location sound mixer will make when talking to the director and the production, after first seeing the script of course. But in our shot number 1, we have a medium close-up at low angle here, and all we see is the magnitude of the tiger. We barely see the face on the background of the character, but this is already given so much indication about the ambient. Our perspective is not from the coliseum here, but from whatever the tiger is coming from, and this is a really good thing to consider as, this whole scene will be charged by a powerful sound of a crowd surrounding the whole action. So having moments where this intensity in the sound can be balanced with the different perspective is super useful to create a more compelling narrative. So, see how shots 1 and 2 right here are all about the tiger's movement. There is a clear mark of the tiger's paw and although presumably the material of the floor and the floor is sand, of course, the footprint is already given us a hint as to how much weight we want to have on the tiger's movement. So, these two shots are also a small sound break, as I said, which kind of preempt the first attempt of a attack from the tiger at the shot 3. So, here in shot 3 the sound of the main character shielding and reacting is important to bring to the foreground as well as other elements, but almost in a smaller measure, things like the chains of the tiger, for example. Overall however, the main character movements and you know, his footsteps, the swords and the shields are the main sound source that you need to note in this shot 3. So, also a medium shot, low angle tells us from a sound perspective that the individual movements are going to be more prominent than the crowd noise, because we're not seeing everything from a big perspective. Shot 4 right here, is super crucial because it is the first moment from this mini sequence where we have a clear picture of the context and the space. The crowd sounds will be overtaking on the movements, and this is from my opinion, of course, the gladiators become smaller and we have a high angle that tries to tell us a bit more about the lack of power that these gladiators as characters really have in the great scheme of things. So, they are great warriors, but they're really powerless, and this is really reflected by this high angle, wide shot. This really amazing shot as well, is very well thought, I think because it puts us in this spectator's position quite literally. We are then overwhelmed and overtaken by the crowd with the sound. That's what I'm envisioning. So, if I was doing the sound design for this scene, I would say this is the moment where we have the roar almost, parallel of the whole crowd, and us, as people watching the film, we get immersed in that sound. Now, in shot number 5 over here, what we have is a medium shot, low angle. Again, we have the sounds of the tiger, swords clashing, and Shot 6 is one of my favourites actually, a medium shot from a really, really low angle and a view of the Emperor, quite a literal representation of his power in a way. Small parentheses by the way here to say that, notice how the angles in the fight, when we're seeing the main character, Maximus, are also low angles. In a way it's representing a different kind of mightiness and power, I guess. So, I would suggest that the shot 6 is another small breather in terms of sound, from all the action, which can look into a little bit more of the psychology of the characters as well, and where our ears from a slightly more technical background, can quite literally have a small break. Now, we have a stop and we break abruptly from the break, on shot number 7 with the image of the tiger's paw right here. Potentially, we want a very clear roar here as the main sound, and the sound of the flesh being ripped, so, something quite visceral. Lastly, but not least, we have Shot 8, which is tying the whole narrative in a way, very nicely, that kind of image of the chain, very prominent. The sound here can accurately give the spectator a feeling of caging, so to speak, the same feeling that, unfortunately, the main characters are feeling throughout the narrative. So, as you can see, you can get so much information about how to play with sound, how to capture it, and what it means for the story you're trying to tell. I will leave this storyboard plus another one from the film Pacific Rim, and try to do this analysis as well, and think, if you were the director or the sound designer, what would you like to hear on each scene? Break it down, add some notes, and share it with everyone. I will leave my take of, the gladiators storyboards as well on the class resources for your reference. So, happy storyboard breakdown and have lots of fun. 14. Sound & Wardrobe: So, this is a quick lesson on the relationship between sound and wardrobe. One of the first things a professional location mixer will ask is to speak to the head of wardrobe and to find out as much as possible about wardrobe choices. As a producer and as a director as well, you want to instigate a direct line of communication between the wardrobe and the sound departments. From a technical perspective, wardrobe will want to consider the impact their choice has on the sound capture during the film. Questions all of you want to ask yourselves are, for example, what materials are the actors wearing? Are there any scenes in which the actors are nude and have dialogue at the same time, actually? Where do these occur? For instance, is it a location where we can hide a microphone somewhere else rather than in the actual talent, the actual people? Thus capturing that dialogue with no issues. How close up is the shot? This can also help. So, it could also be the other way around. How many layers of clothing is the actor wearing? Do this create conflicts or add noise to the lavaliere microphones possibly? It is important to remain open, and understand that changes in clothes could be possible if they do not work with sound and potentially, a slightly different choice of materials or layers can be a lifesaver. Another reason why a synergy between sound and wardrobe departments is crucial is because, techniques such as sewing microphones and other clever tricks to hide microphones in the talent's clothes can be the difference between poorly captured audio and superbly captured audio. Gabby goes through a set of amazing techniques on how to conceal mics in our course "An Introduction to Production Sound for Film". So, if you're interested, go and check that out. 15. Conversations with the Production Department: The production team has a lot to do with sound. They are the main point of contact in terms of budget and scheduling, but also the primarily point of contact between audio and the rest of the film crew. If you are part of the production team, you will be interested to know about the very basics of audio and how does these concern you. We have talked a lot about sound crew and who to hire, but it is equally important to understand the basics of equipment too. Professional sound crews will have their own equipment. However, and of course, depending on the necessities of your film, you might find that additional equipment needs to be rented or hired. For this reason, I'm going to list the minimum types of equipment required for any given film. First of all, you require at least one recording device which can capture sound at a high-quality. Most professional sound crews will have at the very least, one, but more realistically, we are all carrying several pieces of equipment with us to suit our necessities and the environment in which we need to record, so, potentially two or three audio device recorders. Another crucial bit of equipment is a shotgun mic. Again, a production sound crew will have several options and will have done a technical assessment at the RECCE stage to determine which bits of equipment are more suitable or which microphones really are more suitable for each location, and potentially different scenes too. Radio microphones and good quality lavalieres are a must, as your sound mixer will want to record several options of dialogue so that you're not only relying on the shotgun mic for post-production. Make sure that you have enough radio mic sets available. The rule is, you always get at the very least, one, but preferably two more radio mic sets than the amount of people talking in any given scene. Cabling, electricity, gaffer tape, consumables for mic concealing, room microphones, all of these things are also necessary. Additionally, and if you're recording outside, you want to make sure you have several options of windshields for the shotguns your sound crew uses. If all the shotgun mics belong to the sound crew, it is very much likely that they will have windshields that fit them. But if you're renting any shotgun microphones, you want to make sure that these are then included in your rental kit. Boom poles and stands of different sizes should also be part of this basic kit. Backing up drives and a good Internet connection is always a must, not only for the sound crew, but for the whole production. So, potentially, a wireless rental system is required if you are in remote locations or have no regular access to Wi-Fi or LAN connections. As a production manager, make sure you're in touch with the sound department and ask if any additional equipment is required for rental. On this same note, and now talking about budget and to finish this lesson, bear in mind that when you are hiring a sound crew, you are not only paying for their time, you're also paying for their equipment and the transportation of such equipment. The fact that a lot of this equipment comes with the sound crew does not mean that this cost must not be budgeted. So, if you separate them, you can see how the cost start to rise and getting quite high. To have an idea of realistic costs of production of sound crews and their equipment, visit the Bectu production sound rates and budget accordingly. We will leave a link on our class resources for you to check out. 16. Scheduling sound - A Short guide for Assistant Directors: A very important thing to bear in mind is scheduling for sound. If you are a first assistant director, what is needed for sound, you need to know, very simple: always scheduled time for wild tracks. You require at the very least one wild track recording for each location every single day. A wild track is a recording of sound in a room with no actors or crew. so the room sound print so to speak. Which can give you an overview of the space. It is utilized for several purposes during post-production. But two of the biggest ones are, first of all, have a sample of the space and be able to use these recordings as ambient tracks, laying them out when needed during the editing of the sound. Another super crucial use for these wild tracks is that, if you have a recording of the room with no human-made noise, you can also use it to correct any room noises such as electrical hums or refrigeration hums, or any of such things that you might have in a specific place. If you're filming for a whole day in the same location, bear in mind that you might have to schedule several wild track recordings in order to portray the sound of the room at different times in a day, very much like light. Additionally, and particularly to small budget films, you might want to consider recording voice-over as part of your production schedule. This can have benefits from a budget and time perspective, but also from the performance aspect. As you can get the actors in the right space to deliver the way the director ambitions. Ultimately, and another less use trick is to potentially schedule bits and pieces of ADR during the production, setting up a screen and getting some time for the actors outside of the filming regular schedule to deliver on an already recorded scene. Once again, this can have bought budget and performance benefits for the same reasons as the voice over does. If as a first assistant director, you take these things into consideration, you are already 10 steps ahead of what is required to capture the optimum sound for the film. 17. Conversations with the Photography Department: One of the most important relationships during filming is the one between photography and sound departments. Photo and sound are two sides of the same coin, and they must work together to ensure that the overall vision is sustained throughout their work. To get started, sound needs to communicate with photo to discover the following things. First of all, what frame rate is picture recording to, and second of all, what camera are they using? It is crucial to have a dual recording system in which camera is capturing audio for reference purposes at the same time as the audio device is. Some cameras do not have an in-built microphone. So, it is key as a director of photography to make the sound department aware of this in order for the sound mixer to plan and perhaps agree on a solution such as connecting an external microphone to the camera, for example, or doubling down in other methods for syncing to support the editor in post-production. Frame rate is super important for this reason too. Having an audio which is preferably synced, but minimum in the same frame rate allows the editor to sync picture easily with sound. Also, how many cameras are being used in the film? Is it just one or more than one? This is super important for the sound crew to know, as it directly impacts microphone positioning, the boom operator, of course, and even the number of crew members that need to be part of the sound department. Perhaps, a second boom operator might need to be part of the crew or brought in as a solution to this potential difficulty. Lastly, but not least, the photography department must consider providing a picture or a screen relay to the sound mixer too. This can be done in conjunction with the picture provided for the script supervisor, but also as a separate screen. This will enable the sound mixer to balance audio as per what is happening in the shot. All these basic aspects will allow both departments to work in synchronicity and towards a common goal. 18. Final Thoughts: Congratulations. We have reached the end of this class. I hope that you have found the content provided useful and perhaps even fun. We have talked about all the basics of sound pre-production for film from the perspective, not only of the sound professionals, but also from that of the film director, production team and photography. We have also performed several exercises such as script breakdown and a storyboard analysis both of which by the way, are crucial and done as a standard in professional settings. So, I truly hope that you will feel confident using these techniques in the future to make you work the best that it can be, and of course, to use sound as a powerful artistic tool full of possibilities. We will soon be releasing new content, including a post-production sound course, which alongside this one and our other class, "An Introduction to Production Sound for Film", will give you a well-rounded knowledge and the correct tools to succeed when working with sound. So, Good luck, happy filming and thanks for watching. [MUSIC]