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Audio post houses and transfer of sound to film??


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#1 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 03 November 2010 - 02:45 PM

There was a discussion over at Konvas.org regarding making a commercial shot on film to be shown in a traditional movie theater, surprisingly, the hitch came, not with shooting the commercial it's self, but with applying and syncing sound (mostly the expense), it's costs and where to have the work done.

This particular theater has optical sound reader and while reading and discussing the project, I was a bit surprised to realize that although I understand the process in general terms and have done some tentative research into costs associated with the work, there are huge gaps in my practical knowledge of how to achieve this final answer print at a reasonable price.

Now I know in today's world there are several ways to sync sound to picture as with putting it on a disc with more modern theater sound systems but in this case they don't have the equipment. SO I wanted to get an idea of sound post houses, who's good, who's reasonable, the questions I need to ask, ect.

This discussion over at Konvas.org may be a blessing. A commercial, shot on film to be shown in a traditional theater with optical sound, they're going to have to get it done as cheaply as possible and as a low budget indy film maker, I'm sure lessons can be learned from their experiences so any information would be appreciated. B)
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#2 Hal Smith

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Posted 03 November 2010 - 06:19 PM

Sound on film


For the best optical sound you'll want a Dolby SR surround sound processed optical track. Dolby Digital movie house playback processors have it built-in since DD falls back to optical SR if the projector loses the digital signal for some reason or another.
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#3 John Sprung

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Posted 03 November 2010 - 07:16 PM

OK, so you cut your show, lock picture, and turn it over to the sound editors and neg cutter or DI. When the sound editors, foley, scoring stage, etc, have all got their tracks done, you mix. The result of the mix is a set of Dialogue, Music, and Effects stems. In the olden days, these were on magnetic film. Today, you'd probably have them as files on a ProTools disc. The stems are then combined into a Print Master, again, formerly on magnetic film, now probably a file.

You need to get from the Print Master to an optical track negative. This requires exposing and developing the special B&W sound track stock. In the old days, there were sound companies that would do the mix and the optical track, such as Glen Glenn. They did the developing, too, because it's a little different quantitatively from B&W picture. The track has only a very small area exposed, so the vast majority of the silver in it doesn't get exposed, and has to be washed out and reclaimed. So, they had developing machines dedicated to track work. It's possible that your wet lab provides this service now. If not, they'll know who does. Be sure to also ask them about sync pops and sync marks, especially if you're coming from files. The full explanation of how it works should come from the companies that will actually do it, because there are various ways to get the same result.



-- J.S.
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#4 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 04 November 2010 - 01:19 AM

How about costs? What kind of average costs are involved and who out there has the best deals? Of course the complexity of the elements contained within the sound track will vary greatly and those costs will effect the final mix and the final cost but in a somewhat broad ballpark estimate for a small low budget feature budgeted at say 50 grand to 1.5k, what kind of damage is we lookin' at? B)
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#5 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 04 November 2010 - 03:47 AM

I suspect the final cost may depend on where you're going to do the final mix. If it's going to done in a specialised mixing theatre, or a diy job.
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#6 Simon Wyss

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 03:16 PM

At my lab the offer was 81 Rp. per foot of 35 sound negative and 86 Rp./ft in 16 until August 2008. Today’s currency is more or less one to one, so Rappen would be US Cents. Rebate with increasing mileage. Fresh noiseless variable density track
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#7 K Borowski

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 03:50 PM

I think, Simon, you're trying to say "discount with increasing footage" or "volume discount."

Lol. No offense intended, but are you running German through Google Translator, idioms and all? Granted it is very difficult going from one language to another with any sort of colloquialism or idiom. In the movie "2010," the Russians are always mixing up "Piece of Cake" and "Easy as Pie," instead saying "Piece of Pie" and "Easy as Cake." :-D
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#8 Simon Wyss

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 03:40 PM

Most times I write like I speak. Sometimes I use Leo. Sometimes it’s fun to play with words for the risk that it might go wrong. Then I was unsure whether footage or mileage.

But I never employ an electronic automatic translation service, ne-ver. Everybody is right smiling over my English. At least I can make myself understood. My French is better. Them is also nearer to us.

“what kind of damage is we lookin' at?”

:)

How much watch?
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#9 K Borowski

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 04:19 PM

Haha, have you ever seen Star Trek VI?


I give you credit, you do a lot better of a job than Lt. Uhura, whose job is supposed to be communication. There was a scene, added for comedic relief, where they said something that translated "We is condemning things" or something like that.



Sometimes you do a good job with translating idioms, other times its kind of understandable, others it's total gibberish.

"How much watch?" is a meaningless string of words to me. Then again, I can't say I'm "speaking the King's [English]" ala "Inglourious Basterds." God, Quentin Tarantino really must have given the translators a headache with that one: The title is two mis-spelled words, the former for now reason, the latter to satisfy the censors.



I have to admit too that usage of customary units seems to be totally arbitrary depending on what field of work. Generally you switch to miles (also yards in the UK but we tend to stick with feet in the US - except for [American/Canadian] football, golf) after you go over 10,000 feet, but not with film. It is the "metric" unit of filmmaking. There are Kodak articles that quote the amount of film used in movies as X.X million feet.

Mileage tends to be used only when talking about distances travelled, gasoline (petrol) consumption, as a reference to miles per gallon (U.S. or Imperial is always implied, never specified). Your mileage may vary though ;-)

Movies are almost always referred to in footage, or reels in the theatres, 2K foot reels, never 1K anymore. Sometimes the distinction is made as camera reels versus lab reels / house reels / 2K foot reels. Then it's feet per second, feet per minute.

[Note NONE of these numbers are correct because the pitch isn't 3/16" (0.1875 in.). With 0.1870" pitch print stock, it's 1.496 feet per second (not going to convert that to feet and inches, notice), or 89.76 feet per minute with a 4-perf. movement projector. In a 4-perf. camera movement, it's 1.4928 feet per second, 89.568 feet per minute.

So the "projection room foot" is only 99.97-1/3% of an International foot, and the "camera assistant foot" is only 99.52% the size of an int. ft.]


Now that I've totally derailed your thread with useless trivia, JSB, I suggest you check out "Your Flim and the Lab" or another similar book. You can actually expose the negative yourself, and then have the lab test at the beginning of the roll to get the right gamma, or you can (I would recommend, everything can't be DIY, can it?) just send in a mixed tape and they will make the sound negative for you.


Costs? I'd estimate them to be comparable, making the actual negative, to a B&W print, but the actual transfer will probably be much more expensive, with a minimum charge.

What John said, there used to be specialized labs doing this. I'd recommend for starters getting in touch with labs that do student films for probably the best rates. Then again they're geared towards 16mm, and the quality standards may be lower there.


There are plenty of ads on film still made that come in analog soundtrack only. They all seem to be coming from Technicolor, not that that means anything, so at least that is who NCM uses in the U.S. I assume that they have high standards, since they're used by the major theatre ad distributor in the U.S., so you'll probably want to get in touch with Technicolor or NCM directly, either posing as an interested advertiser or just being straight with them, and they can probably recommend a lab if that procedure isn't done in-house at Technicolor.


With Technicolor closing its West Coast facility, this workflow may all be in a state of flux.
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#10 John Sprung

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 08:21 PM

"How much watch?" is a meaningless string of words to me.


Take another look at "Casablanca".... ;-)




-- J.S.
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