Sound

🎤 FOOTSTEP SOUND PACK | 🎬 NOW ON SALE! 75% OFF!

Our FOOTSTEP SOUND PACK is now on sale!

The Film Look FOOTSTEP SOUND PACK features over 200 sounds, on 9 surfaces, in 6 types of footwear, giving you a plethora of available sound types to choose from when mixing the sound for your film.

All sound effects have been recorded in a low noise environment giving you a clean, loud sound for every single footstep. They have also been recorded as dry as possible, meaning there is no reverb baked into the sound so you can add reverb in the mix to replicate the scene on screen perfectly.

These sounds have been exclusively recorded as “singles”, meaning each step is completely individual so you can cut in and match up the steps without having to worry about creating more space between the sounds.

Every single set of footwear of every single surface has multiple performance types: light, standard, heavy, heel-to-toe, shuffles, and jumps. These have been created so you can match the performance of the actors on screen.

Is your character walking? Standard is all you will need. Are they running? Maybe go for heavy to match the high impact!

As well as creating this pack, we have also create a short series of videos showing you how we setup and recorded the footsteps, so if you want to create your own library of footsteps, go ahead!

The first video in the series shows you how to setup a DIY Foley Pit: a small pit for dumping your surface materials so you can record in messy stuff in a clean way!


Sharpen Your Dialogue with a Basic Audio Grade

Just like a film’s colour grade, adding some seasoning to the dialogue will step up your audio and make it pop alongside the image! You can achieve this with something called a basic audio grade!

Sound is something we are still learning, so we’ve asked Mark Edward Lewis of CinemaSound.com to show us how we can add a little salt and pepper to dialogue to really bring it to life.


🎬 https://www.cinemasound.com/ - check out the world's most comprehensive resource of audio-for-film education!

Check out Mark Edward Lewis' playlist of Cinema Sound examples: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWgshjbVTDM&list=PL7SC3ZDg9-3-Fr8ECv_2y-v7zsE68jfYT

📺 How to support the channel

🚀 bit.ly/artlistfilmlook - The music you heard in this episode is from Artlist. Click the link to receive 2 extra free months on when you purchase an Artlist subscription!

🎧 Listen to our Podcast!

iTunes: https://goo.gl/hikhGF

Android: https://goo.gl/fmsp4s

📞 The Socials

Website: http://thefilmlook.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheFilmLook

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheFilmLook

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DISCLAIMERS:

Some of these links are affiliate links, if you purchase gear via these links The Film Look will receive a small commission, but there will be no additional cost to you. Thank you!

Do you NEED to shoot Log?

Today we’ll find out if shooting a flat image like Log is worth the extra effort or just a waste of time. Welcome to The Film Look.

For those who are new to flat picture profiles such as log, let me give you a quick rundown.

Dynamic range is the name given to the number of steps between black and white. More dynamic range means more shades of grey between black and white, which in photography equates to an image which retains more detail in the shadows and the highlights at the same time.

For a colour image, you have red, green, and blue channels, and they all have a range between black and white, so it works for colour too.

Shooting-Log.gif

A “flat image” retains more information in the highlights and shadows - the shadows are lighter and the highlights are darker, giving you an image which lacks contrast, it looks “flat”.

Episode.00_01_28_02.Still004.jpg

So if you are shooting an image with harsh sunlight and dark shadows in the same frame, a flat picture profile will help the image retain information on both ends of the spectrum, giving you more room to expose both the shadows and highlights correctly.

On most cameras, zebras will tell you when you’ve gone too far. If you are seeing stripes on your monitor, you’re capturing nothing but a block of white - no information - no detail - that is something which can’t be fixed in post.

Episode.00_01_54_03.Still007.jpg

For our short film The Asylum Groove, we shot in Cine4, which is a flat profile.

We were having trouble battling the overblown windows whilst also trying to expose for the subject, so we switched to a flat profile in order to protect the highlight information, and we brought in some large soft lights to correctly expose the subject.

Out of the camera, a flat image looks milky; it lacks contrast and colour and doesn’t look very cinematic. This is where grading comes in. Because you’ve shot the image “flat”, you need to give it some contrast in order to make it pop.

But this begs the question: “why bother shooting flat if you are just going to put contrast back into the image later on?”

Well, this is because of the extra information you get. The final image may not present ALL of that information in the end (like if it’s been heavily graded), but it's still there if you need it in post-production.

Think of it like bonus information at the back of a book: you might not even read it, but it's there if you desperately need it.

Shooting a flat picture comes with extra work and you may even need extra equipment to handle the workflow.

Log is a VERY flat picture profile which retains a hell of a lot of contrast information in the image.

Log is so flat it can become difficult to properly judge a shot because you are looking at something which looks so milky and lacking in colour.

In this instance, an external monitor will help.

Episode.00_03_16_09.Still014.jpg

With an external monitor, you can adjust the settings to simulate a graded contrast-heavy image and use it as a shooting reference while capturing flat footage on the card.

On higher-end monitors, you can install LUTs, which are fancy image filters that give you a range of cool and colourful styles. Pick something which you think suits your film and use it as a guide when capturing a flat image.

Image Courtesy of Joshua Martin Studios:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChrlpVf3YqafEkYBtbWDN-Q

Image Courtesy of Joshua Martin Studios: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChrlpVf3YqafEkYBtbWDN-Q

You may also find that log profiles will increase the minimum available ISO so in order to expose correctly in bright light, you need an ND filter if you want to keep a 1/50 shutter and a fairly shallow depth of field.

Shooting-Log2.gif

Alternatively, you may want to choose a different flat profile which doesn’t affect the ISO so drastically, such as Cine4 which is on the Sony a7s. It’s not as flat as Log but only pushes the minimum ISO from 100 to 200.

Episode.00_03_51_16.Still018.jpg

There are LUT packs found online which are designed for specific picture profiles. These LUTs can be applied to your LUT-capable monitor and used in post-production. They do a good job bringing your flat footage back to reality, reducing the milky colourless image, and getting it ready for applying a funky colour grade.

So if you need the dynamic range when shooting, LUTs are the best starting point if you don’t have a lot of experience with grading.

If you shoot in S-Log on the Sony, check out these Phantom LUTs by Joel Famularo.

Phantom LUTs:  https://www.joelfamularo.com/colour   Use discount code “TFL” for 20% off at checkout!

Phantom LUTs: https://www.joelfamularo.com/colour

Use discount code “TFL” for 20% off at checkout!

He’s got LUTs for a bunch of Alexa Looks and a Film Looks on his website, and all of the graded S-Log footage in this episode has one of his phantom LUTs applied. Joel has also supplied us with a 6-month limited discount code if you want to buy them.

But this doesn’t mean to say you NEED to shoot a flat picture profile in order to get wicked-looking footage.

Episode.00_05_26_16.Still024.jpg

You may find it easier to capture a good-looking contrasty image straight out of the camera, or your camera may not have the option at all. Shooting without a flat profile is actually what we do with our YouTube videos. We usually shoot under controlled lighting, so we so we very rarely have to battle blown out highlights or shadows.

The standard picture profile on the Sony is actually a little bit flat. It’s mostly just adding contrast and balancing the images in the sequence, which takes about 5 minutes per episode.

So, shooting flat is not a hard and fast rule - it's a technical choice. If you need the safety of capturing more dynamic range or love the look you get from colour grading flat footage, go ahead and shoot it flat.


🚀 https://artlist.io/artlist-70446/?artlist_aid=TheFilmLook_370&utm_source=affiliate_p&utm_medium=TheFilmLook_370&utm_campaign=TheFilmLook_370 - Click this to receive 2 extra free months on when you purchase an Artlist subscription!

🎵 https://www.joelfamularo.com/colour - Use discount code "TFL" at checkout to get 20% off your LUTs purchase!

🎬 In case you missed it

Joshua Martin's Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChrlpVf3YqafEkYBtbWDN-Q

Feelworld Master MA7 Review: https://youtu.be/TEjwlnNKE4U

Get the Film Look with the Aputure 300D: https://youtu.be/FWThzBtyvsA

Upgrade Your Camera Battery with the Power Junkie: https://youtu.be/UZZ-UA4r3js

🎧 Listen to our Podcast!

iTunes: https://goo.gl/hikhGF

Android: https://goo.gl/fmsp4s

📞 The Socials

Website: http://thefilmlook.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheFilmLook

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheFilmLook

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thefilmlook


DISCLAIMERS:

Some of these links are affiliate links, if you purchase gear via these links The Film Look will receive a small commission, but there will be no additional cost to you. Thank you!

1 Tip for Syncing Your Footsteps FASTER

Syncing footsteps can be a pain. Let’s be honest, they aren’t the most exciting part of sound editing, but you can’t deny how vital they are to an immerse film.

Let me show you a quick trick which will help get YOUR footstep sounds in the right place much quicker. Welcome to The Film Look.

I’m going to be using Adobe Audition today but this trick can be achieved in any sound editing application which uses markers.

Foosteps Sync.jpg

I’ve imported a shot from one of our films BACKSTAGE, and I want to begin by adding some footsteps because the production audio is noisy and unclear, have a listen…

I’ve also imported some footstep sound effects from our FOOTSTEP SOUND PACK. Here I have “Sneakers on Pavement” which should work well with our character walking in an exterior car park.

The shot I’m working with today actually has decent scratch audio to aid syncing footsteps. But let's pretend we don’t have that luxury. I’ll go ahead and delete it. What do we do now?

This is where markers can come in handy.

Foosteps Sync1.jpg

In audition you can place a marker on the timeline using the M key. We can use markers as a guide for cutting and placing in our footsteps.

Foosteps-Sync.gif

If you notice someone walking or running, they tend to keep a steady pace if they are moving for more than a second or two. We can study their pace, find their rhythm, and literally tap out the markers along with their stride.

Foosteps-Sync1.gif

I like to tap out the footsteps on my desk while watching the clip. I’ll do this a few times until I can roughly predict the rhythm. Then, once I’m ready, I hit the M key and add markers to the pace of the character on screen.

Foosteps-Sync2.gif

Once we have some markers on the timeline, we can zoom in and do some fine tuning. Most of the markers should be in-sync, but we can always go frame by frame and adjust any markers which are obviously too early or too late.

Foosteps-Sync3.gif

A footstep sound effect is made up of two major parts - attack and decay. The attack is the actual step sound itself and the decay is the tail end which fades out.

With all the markers set to the rhythm of the footsteps, we can grab our footstep sounds, trim them down, and place the attack right on the marker.

Trim the decay of each sound before it hits the next marker and then go ahead and place in the next footstep sound. Do this for all of your footstep sounds on each marker.

As you place in the sounds, make sure to extend the left side of the sound effect, known as the pre-attack, and cross-fade it into the decay of the previous sound. This will smooth over each sound effect and prevent any hard stops.

Next is fine tuning the sync; this is done mostly by your eyes and your ears. We have placed in our ground work using the markers, so we can delete these as they are no longer needed. Now it's just a case of watching the shot, listening to the footsteps, and looking out for any late or early steps.

This will take some tinkering, but if you do happen to have a scratch track from the video file with the original production audio, you can always listen to the take and try to match them.

If you can see the character’s feet, find the moment they make contact with the ground, and try to match each footstep sound to the image.

But, I find this doesn’t always work. Sometimes it’s better to just watch the edit and follow along. You’ll probably notice when a footstep is too early or too late.

Foosteps-Sync4.gif

You also might notice some footstep sounds are too strong or weak sounding for the step in the image. This is a simple fix. Just look for a step which has a stronger or weaker attack sound and replace the ill-fitting step.

Obviously right now the footsteps themselves don’t sound very realistic. They are very tappy. You can add a bit more grit to a footstep by adding a very subtle shuffle sound underneath.

Our FOOTSTEP SOUND PACK includes shuffle sounds on every surface using most footwear. Links in the description.

Foosteps Sync2.jpg

Here you can see I have essentially layered the shuffles under the footsteps. This will stop the footsteps from sounding so tippy tappy and will give us a sense of rubble or grit on the ground in the car park.

To quickly finish off the scene here, I have added a touch of reverb to the footsteps, added some street noise, a car door sound, and mixed it together.

Let me know if you found this video helpful in the comments below. I will be producing more episodes like this one in the future, so get subscribed if you haven’t already. And remember to achieve it one shot at a time.


🚀 https://www.thefilmlook.com/store - Step up your sound game with our FOOTSTEPS SOUND PACK. It features 200+ sounds, 9 surfaces, and 6 types of footwear, perfect for your next film project.

🎬 In case you missed it

How to Build a DIY Foley Pit: https://youtu.be/zO2hx7iToNY

$600 Mic vs $60 Mic: https://youtu.be/2VK6lYkK2AM

How to Mix Sound for a Short Film: https://youtu.be/7x5SnoftgUw

How to Record BETTER Footstep Sound Effects: https://youtu.be/vQ8bnF-OWSA

🎧 Listen to our Podcast!

iTunes: https://goo.gl/hikhGF

Android: https://goo.gl/fmsp4s

📞 The Socials

Website: http://thefilmlook.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheFilmLook

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheFilmLook

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thefilmlook


DISCLAIMERS:

Some of these links are affiliate links, if you purchase gear via these links The Film Look will receive a small commission, but there will be no additional cost to you. Thank you!

5 Tips to STEP UP your Foley Game!

Foley is the dark horse of filmmaking. It turns your film from “pretty good” to “polished”.

After creating foley for the last 5 films on this channel, I’ve learned a few tricks which will help YOU record some great foley for your films. Welcome to The Film Look.

DIY-Foley-Pit2.gif

Number one: footsteps are never alone.

If you’ve done any foley for your film, I imagine you’ve recorded or edited some footstep sounds. Footsteps are the most obvious run-of-the-mill sound effects to add into your scene, and usually I will tackle these first, but they always sound better when they are layered with other foley.

What I like to do is breakdown the possible sound elements associated with each character in the scene. Let's take this example called “Lost in the Forest” which we filmed for this foley series!

The character produces sounds from his footsteps, his coat, his backpack, and his map. These are all moving as he walks and they will produce their own sound effects, so if we record each of them and layer them into the scene, it turns it from this into this.

Recording-Foosteps2.gif

Which brings me onto Number two: how to record clothing foley!

When I first started recording foley, I used to wear the clothing and try to move around and mimic the character on screen. This doesn’t produce a clear enough sound to layer in with everything else. I found you need to exaggerate the noise to be effective.

5-Tips-to-STEP-UP-your-Foley-Game!1.gif

So take off the coat and bunch it up into a loose ball in front of the mic. Instead of mimicking the actual steps, just mimic the swing and movement of the character.

5-Tips-to-STEP-UP-your-Foley-Game!.gif

The clothing will produce some unique sounds depending on how you handle it, so experiment and try to find something which fits the scene.

Number three: accurate handling!

The next thing we need to record is the paper map. A prop like this can produce a million and one different sounds just by the way it's being handled. A map being crushed sounds very different to a map being folded, so this is where accurate mimicking comes in!

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If the character has the map out on display and is climbing down the hill, mimic that movement as close as you can by opening up the map and lightly bounce it up and down. If the character holds the map out and swings it, do the same thing. Don’t record generic foley; it never sounds good! Get particular and mimic the actions as accurately as possible.

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Number four: beefing up the props!

With something like a backpack, it would be easy enough to grab an empty rucksack and shake it around in time with the character on screen. This may sound okay, but it doesn’t sound at all interesting.

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Instead, you can beef up the sound of the prop by adding weight. This will help create a great sound when it swings around because of things like velocity and inertia.

That’s right - science is audible!

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Then, add some items inside it. For rucksack sounds, I like to take a set off mess tins and place them at the top of the pack. They will rattle around and add some extra dynamic kinetic audio.

And if the straps are producing an annoying flappy sound when you record, just tuck them in! Sound design is your choice, so if you find the sound can be annoying, chances are the audience will find it annoying too.

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Number five: environmental interaction

If your character interacts with the environment, nine times out of ten it will produce a sound, so don’t ignore these!

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In the scene “Lost in the forest” you can clearly see our character causing a bunch of dry leaves to roll down the hill as he steps down. Yes, we have footstep sounds, but the sound of leaves falling down a hill will produce something very different. So grab some dead leaves, dry them out, and record brushing and moving them with your hand. This subtle sound effects will really help sell the effect that the audio is real.

Number six (bonus): Don’t forget your atmos!

The final element to add into a scene to help ground in reality and trick the audience into believing these sounds were recorded on the day is the ambient noise from the location. If it’s inside you can use room tone, and if it’s outside, you’ll need some atmos.

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For the “Lost in the Forest” scene we recorded atmos at the location but it sounded horrible. That horrible droning wind is actually the sound of the cars on the motorway over a mile away. So instead, I found a track from https://freesound.org/people/bajko/

Adding atmos into the scene will help smooth over the otherwise moments of silence between sound effects.


🚀 https://www.thefilmlook.com/store - Step up your sound game with our FOOTSTEPS SOUND PACK. It features 200+ sounds, 9 surfaces, and 6 types of footwear, perfect for your next film project.

🎬 In case you missed it

How to Build a DIY Foley Pit: https://youtu.be/zO2hx7iToNY

$600 Mic vs $60 Mic: https://youtu.be/2VK6lYkK2AM

How to Mix Sound for a Short Film: https://youtu.be/7x5SnoftgUw

How to Record BETTER Footstep Sound Effects: https://youtu.be/vQ8bnF-OWSA

🎥 This episode's kit/gear/equipment:

US links:

The Sound Effects Bible: https://amzn.to/2sSWEUy

UK links:

The Sound Effects Bible: https://amzn.to/2DD9ZXc


DISCLAIMERS:

Some of these links are affiliate links, if you purchase gear via these links The Film Look will receive a small commission, but there will be no additional cost to you. Thank you!

How to Record BETTER Footstep Sound Effects

Last week we showed YOU how to setup a DIY Foley Pit for recording footsteps at home or in a small studio. This week we are showing you how to record them. Everything from microphone placement to mimicking the image for a perfect sync.

I suppose you can call this episode a step by step guide. Let’s record some footsteps! Welcome to The Film Look.

This episode was inspired by The Sound Effects Bible by Ric Viers. We aren’t being paid to talk about the book, we just think its a great resource for those who want to step up up their sound game.

US link: The Sound Effects Bible:   https://amzn.to/2sSWEUy    UK link: The Sound Effects Bible:   https://amzn.to/2DD9ZXc

US link: The Sound Effects Bible: https://amzn.to/2sSWEUy

UK link: The Sound Effects Bible: https://amzn.to/2DD9ZXc

So before we hit record there are a few things we need to do in order to prepare for recording footstep Foley.

The first thing we need to do is identify the sound source and its properties by looking at the edit.

Recording-Foosteps2.gif

The scene we are referencing is this short sequence we filmed in a forest. By studying the scene, you can see that we need the following:

  • Packed earth for the foundation of the pit

  • Crunchy dried leaves and twigs to cover the packed earth

  • And a pair of walking boots to stomp in

To simulate the packed earth, we bought a bag of top soil and patted it down until it was nice and compact. Then we grabbed a bunch of dried leaves from the location and sprinkled them on top. Then we matched the footwear, selecting a pair of walking boots to record in.

Recording-Foosteps3.gif

Now we’ve built up the surface and chosen matching footwear, we can think about sound-proofing our clothing so we only record the sound of footsteps.

Recording-Foosteps4.gif

Quiet clothing is a must when you record foley. Sweatpants are the preferred bottoms, but you can also wear jeans as long as they don’t rub or make noise when you move around. As for your top; cotton t-shirts, wool sweaters, but nothing too loose as it might flap around and make a noise.

Recording-Foosteps5.gif

Avoid anything made of vinyl, polyester, or nylon, as they tend to make crispy, rubbing sounds when you move. Strictly no jewellery, and if you have any zips or laces, get them taped down!

Recording-Foosteps6.gif

And if your trousers rub against the ankle on a pair of boots, tuck them in or roll them up to minimise unwanted rubbing noise.

Recording-Foosteps7.gif

Also, don’t turn up to a foley session hungry (or too full). Your stomach grumbles will be picked up by the microphone, and if you’ve eaten too much, you might...you know...fart.

Recording-Foosteps8.gif

Next we have the position of the microphone. This is an important one, because if its too far away you may lose a lot of detail in the recording and pick up the acoustics of the room. The same goes if the microphone is too close; you risk kicking the mic during a recording, and you may end up capturing more toe than heel or even excess bass during a footstep impact.

The ideal position we’ve found for the microphone is in front of your feet, in the middle between each foot, around 1-2 feet away and 1-2 feet off the floor. This will give you a nice loud recording of the relatively quiet footsteps.

How you mount the microphone is also important. If you are recording in a bedroom or small studio like we are, it’s likely you are standing on some form of wooden floorboard. Because floorboards are a little bit bouncy and hollow underneath, they can produce rumble.

We have the microphone on a mic stand supported with a shock mount. This will greatly reduce the rumble effect and give you a cleaner recording.

Recording-Foosteps9.gif

In the last episode we also spoke about padding under the foley pit. We use a stack of EVA foam jigsaw panels to pad out the floor underneath the tray. They are firm but bouncy so they soften a hard step just enough to prevent unwanted shock, rumble, and noise.

Next up we have levels. Get your microphone in position and try walking on the spot. Set your levels so each step hits around -6dB, also known as recording warm. -6dB will give you a little bit of wiggle room in case a step is louder than usual. It’s loud, it’s clean, and it’s safe.

Recording-Foosteps10.gif

Once you are ready to record, make a note of the following:

  • Your footwear

  • The surface

  • And the project name

When you hit record, you will want to very clearly state each of these. For example, “Walking boots on packed earth with dry leaves. Footstep Foley for project: LOST IN THE FOREST”.

Like using a clapperboard for syncing production audio to the film, this is called “Slating the clip”.

Recording-Foosteps11.gif

With video, you have the use of thumbnails and can jog through a clip to see what it is. With audio, you don’t have the luxury of a thumbnail and scanning doesn’t really work, so instead you must preface each clip with clearly state information so you can organise your clips with ease.

After listening to a hundred recordings, you will be happy you didn’t mumble or waste time at the start of the clip.

Now it's time to hit record and mimic the image. For project specific foley, you will want to set up a copy of the edit playing back in front of you. We like to have the edit looping on a laptop.

Recording-Foosteps12.gif

You can begin the foley session by mimicking the entire scene, I call these “Run-Throughs”. Run through’s will get you warmed up, it will help you practice mimicking the pace of the subject and match the strength of the impact.

With headphones on, you will also be able to hear if you need to adjust the way you step to create the right sound.

I tend to record 5 takes of run through’s for each character in each scene on every surface, trying my best to match their footsteps.

Next are “singles”. Now you’ve warmed up, it’s time to record a lot more footsteps. Only this time you won’t be mimicking the subject in the scene.

Recording singles is easy. You take a single step then wait for the sound to decay into near silence. Then you take another step. And another...and another hundred until you are completely bored of the sound.

Recording-Foosteps13.gif

Then change how you step. Step harder, step lighter, step with a slight shuffle, go heel to toe, stomp, jump! With each version of these footsteps, try to record at least 60 seconds before changing your stepping method, and try to separate the sound out so you can cut around the silence later on.

By this time, you will have burned off your dinner, so you won’t regret the meal you wolfed down in order to stop your stomach from grumbling!

You will notice that the way you step will drastically change the way a step sounds. When you start mixing, you may notice a footstep doesn’t sound quite right in the scene. Maybe it’s too hard or too quick or needs a shuffle.

This is why you record a ton of singles. You can think of these like footstep b-roll: emergency footsteps which can replace anomalies in the mix, and can be added to your sound library for future projects.

There are three main parts which will determine the way a footstep sounds: the surface you stand on, the type of footwear you choose, and the way you perform a step. Everything else is formatting, etiquette, and quality assurance.


🚀 https://www.thefilmlook.com/store - Step up your sound game with our FOOTSTEPS SOUND PACK. It features 200+ sounds, 9 surfaces, and 6 types of footwear, perfect for your next film project.

🎬 In case you missed it

How to Build a DIY Foley Pit: https://youtu.be/zO2hx7iToNY

$600 Mic vs $60 Mic: https://youtu.be/2VK6lYkK2AM

How to Mix Sound for a Short Film: https://youtu.be/7x5SnoftgUw

🎥 This episode's kit/gear/equipment:

US links:

The Sound Effects Bible: https://amzn.to/2sSWEUy

UK links:

The Sound Effects Bible: https://amzn.to/2DD9ZXc


DISCLAIMERS:

Some of these links are affiliate links, if you purchase gear via these links The Film Look will receive a small commission, but there will be no additional cost to you. Thank you!

How to Build a DIY Foley Pit

Today we’ll show YOU our DIY foley pit for recording footstep sound effects. This is something that requires no big tools or heavy building experience, all the parts can be purchased online or found around the house, and can be assembled in less than 30 minutes.

DIY-Foley-Pit.gif

Let’s setup a DIY foley pit! Welcome to the film look.

With every film project we’ve made, we’ve always recorded footsteps on location. After the shooting has wrapped, we head back to the location on another day with a copy of the edit, setup the microphone, watch the scene, and mimic the movement of the actors.

DIY-Foley-Pit2.gif

But this doesn’t always work. A noisy environment isn’t the ideal location for recording footsteps, and if your shooting location is busy, loud, or now inaccessible, this is where a foley recording studio setup comes in.

So we thought it was time to build a foley pit!

Because we have such a small studio, we needed the foley pit to be cheap, easy to clean, and quick to assemble and disassemble. And because we know a lot of you guys are young filmmakers, we wanted to make something which didn’t require any heavy tools or building experience so you can set one up at home too.

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The first thing you need is a quiet room. A clothing closet, a bedroom, or a small room with a carpeted floor will work best. Carpets are important because they absorb sound, and we want the footstep recordings to sound as dry as possible; we don’t want any excess echo or reverb in the audio because we may want to add some in to match the scene later.

You can find out which room will work best by standing in the centre and clapping. You’ll notice a small room with carpets and furniture will absorb more sound than a big staircase exit.

We will be using our studio which thankfully has carpeted floors.

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There are a few free mobile apps which help you get an idea of how much echo a room produces. I have this one downloaded called RT by AppAcoustic. You simply place the phone on the ground, hit start, give a strong clap, wait a moment, then hit stop. The readings aren’t 100% accurate but are certainly a starting point.

So try out a bunch of rooms in your house and see which one will give you the best results! Just look for room acoustic apps on your app store.

Next thing we can do is acoustically treat the room. This sounds fancy, but it doesn’t have to be. The first thing you can do is switch off any electronic devices. TVs, computers, speakers; basically anything which might hum or buzz. Then find a load of curtains, duvets, blankets, towels, even couch cushions, and find a way to hang them up in the room, covering your walls, doors, and windows.

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We have a bunch of black out curtains which did the job, so we made a blanket fort with the help of some C-stands and some clips.

Basically, anything with a flat surface will reflect sound, and that’s what we want to avoid, so make sure you cover any flat smooth surface with some rugs, blankets, or even a pile of clothes.

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In order to see what I’m about to do next, I’m gonna take the blanket fort back down for the rest of the episode. Just try to imagine it's still up.

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So, the pit itself. We can start with a gardening tray. This one is 60x60cm so its large enough for footsteps, it has a short 7cm lip which means it won’t cause any reverb (preventing the sound you’d get if you stuck your head in a bucket), but is high enough to contain messy materials, and it is made out of tough plastic so it's waterproof, lightweight, and easy to clean!

If you are recording upstairs on wooden floorboards like we are, you will want to cushion underneath the tray to prevent any excess rumble during recording. We picked up a pack of these EVA foam jigsaw panels to pad out the floor underneath the tray. They are firm but bouncy so they soften a hard step just enough to prevent a Godzilla-sounding footstep.

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We recorded some samples based on a scene we shot in a forest. This is how it sounds.

A lot of ideas for this video came from The Sound Effects Bible by Ric Viers. We aren’t being paid to talk about the book, but think its a wicked resource for budding sound artists who want to set up their game. There’s an affiliate link in the description if you want to buy the book and help out the channel.

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A setup like this can also be used for recording other foley work such as clothing movement and prop handling, which we will be talking about next week! So if you are looking for more sound advice, hit subscribe, hit the bell, and remember to achieve it one shot at a time.


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🎥 This episode's kit/gear/equipment:

US links

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UK links

Gardening Tray: https://amzn.to/2QT0eY1

EVA Foam Mats: https://amzn.to/2Sa9pbr

The Sound Effects Bible: https://amzn.to/2DD9ZXc


DISCLAIMERS:

Some of these links are affiliate links, if you purchase gear via these links The Film Look will receive a small commission, but there will be no additional cost to you. Thank you!

FOOTSTEPS SOUND PACK is here!

Need footsteps for your next film project? Look no further!

The Film Look FOOTSTEP SOUND PACK features over 200 sounds, on 9 surfaces, in 6 types of footwear, giving you a plethora of available sound types to choose from when mixing the sound for your film.

All sound effects have been recorded in a low noise environment giving you a clean, loud sound for every single footstep. They have also been recorded as dry as possible, meaning there is no reverb baked into the sound so you can add reverb in the mix to replicate the scene on screen perfectly.

These sounds have been exclusively recorded as “singles”, meaning each step is completely individual so you can cut in and match up the steps without having to worry about creating more space between the sounds.

Every single set of footwear of every single surface has multiple performance types: light, standard, heavy, heel-to-toe, shuffles, and jumps. These have been created so you can match the performance of the actors on screen.

Is your character walking? Standard is all you will need. Are they running? Maybe go for heavy to match the high impact!

As well as creating this pack, we have also create a short series of videos showing you how we setup and recorded the footsteps, so if you want to create your own library of footsteps, go ahead!

The first video in the series shows you how to setup a DIY Foley Pit: a small pit for dumping your surface materials so you can record in messy stuff in a clean way!


Every Boom Operator Needs This! | Rycote PCS-Boom Connector Review

Today I want to talk to you about the PCS-Boom Connector from Rycote, and why I think every boom operator would be a fool not to have one!

I’ve been known to have trouble screwing my boom pole to my shock mount. So much so that I chewed up the end and broke the whole system...twice!

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To fix this problem, I was looking for a quick release system for my boom pole. I did find a budget option which did the job; the Triad Orbit IO-R...I did a review on it a while back.

Then the guys at Rycote saw that video and wondered if i’d be interested in reviewing their quick release system, so here I am. They also sent me some free swag.

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I’m gonna put these two boom connectors against each other. You have the budget option, coming in at around £20, and you have the premium option, coming in at about £80. So the Rycote is 4x the price of the Triad Orbit, but is it 4x better?

Weight

Let's start with the weight. If you are booming for long periods of time, the amount of weight you add to the end of the pole will matter a lot. You already have a microphone, shock mount, and possibly a blimp on the end, so any more weight will only cause more fatigue.

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The Rycote weighs 53g.

The Triad Orbit weighs over 220g. That’s over 4x the weight of the Rycote.

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After having both of these in my hands, I can really feel how light the Rycote really is. This thing weighs less than 3 AA batteries. The Triad Orbit is over 12 AAs.

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Strength

Both appear to be really strong. To test the strength I setup both on C-stands and hung sandbags from the tips. I can’t image you’d put any more than 2 sandbags on the end of your boom, so let's call this one a tie before I break something.

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Release System

If you are purchasing a quick release system, the thing you want the most is that it can be attached and released with ease.

Attaching the Rycote is satisfying: it locks into place using the grooves on the tip, and its tapered design makes fitting it into the hole really easy. It also has a very satisfying click. Releasing the tip is even more satisfying because it's spring loaded, so you can release it one handed.

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The Triad Orbit does a similar job, but everything is a little more tricky. The tip is hex shaped and lacks any taper so you need to feed it into the system more carefully. Not a big deal, but every second counts.

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Design Extras

Both feature mount locking systems to secure them onto a boom. The Triad Orbit uses a Hex key design like the Rycote, but the Rycote wins with its rubber shielding to stop you damaging the tip of your boom.

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One genius thing the Rycote does that the Triad doesn’t, is the hole they have milled out of the tip which is perfect for using your allen key and getting the tip rock solid on the end of your shock mount. It’s a clever little addition which shows that Rycote has thought about it from a user standpoint.

The Winner

So who is the winner? The Triad does the job, and would be perfect for musicians, for example, who have a bunch of mics on different stands and need to hotswap a setup. But honestly, if you are concerned about weight, like a boom operator would be, the Rycote is the best option, even for the premium price tag.


DISCLAIMERS:

Some of these links are affiliate links, if you purchase gear via these links The Film Look will receive a small commission, but there will be no additional cost to you. Thank you!

Turn ANY song into Horror Music

Today we are showing YOU how to transform a song into a nightmare using some basic plugins you can find in your editor or digital audio workstation, perfect for your upcoming horror film.

In our short film The Asylum Groove we wanted to emphasise a disturbing scene by slowly manipulating the music from a lovable and heartfelt song into something twisted and disturbing to give the impression our character is slowly realising he is trapped in a nightmare.

We did this with some default plugins found in Adobe Audition. The plugins we used can also be found in Premiere and other editors, or even free DAWs like Audacity. So if you don’t have access to purchased products, you can still achieve this effect.

The trick to making this technique work is juxtaposition, which is essentially a fancy word for something with heavy contrast. The heavy contrast for this technique is picking a song which you’d not recognise as being scary, spooky, or horror-like, which means when we manipulate it, it will amplify the juxtaposition and we will be left with something very disturbing to add to the freaky images on screen.

Juxtaposition is the reason why Tiptoe Through The Tulips sounded so scary in the horror film Insidious.

The nightmare scene in The Asylum Groove also includes some sound design elements to help emphasise the disturbing scenario even further. We have a video all about sound design elements and how to use them.

Okay, that’s enough card dumping, let’s get started. I downloaded a song from premiumbeat called Devoted To You. It’s cheerful and positive.

EQ

The first thing we want to do is play with the EQ and reduce the full-of-life sound into something small and tinny. We can do that by selecting an EQ plugin. I’m in Audition, but this will work in pretty much any editor or DAW. I’m going to usce a 10 band Graphic Equalizer; this is one of the easier EQ plugins to wrap your head around but also gives some flexibility.

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Right now the EQ is in a straight line. This means the frequency bands are all even. To make this song sound tinny and reduce its fidelity down to something more sinister, we want to create a ramp going up hill to the right.

Reducing the bands on the left will cut the bass from the song, and increasing the bands on the right will amplify the treble, giving us a very low fidelity song which sounds like its coming from a old, cheap speaker.

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Sometimes when you do this, you might notice it will clip the audio. If this happens you will find a master gain fader somewhere in the plugin which you can adjust to stop it from peaking.

Obviously, this is all to taste, so adjust what you think works for your film.

Reverb

The next thing we want to do is add some reverb into the mix. There are a ton of different reverb plugins and settings, so I would suggest picking something straight forward like convolution reverb and trying out the different presets until you find something you like.

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The purpose of this plugin is to give the impression that the room is bigger. More reverb basically means more space for sound to bounce around an enclosed space, so by adding reverb onto the song we are trying to make the character seem smaller in the scene by increasing the size of the room. This is psychological emphasis.

Pitch Shifter

Next up we have pitch shifting, which is the first plugin which REALLY gives the song a eerie and uncomfortable feeling, contributing to the nightmare effect.

With this plugin, you want it to be subtle. If you go too far in either direction, you get chipmunks or a bad darth vader impression, so be sensitive with this one.

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With the pitch shifter, we will decrease it two semitones. This will make the song change in key and will start to sound a little weird. Coupled with a slow fade-in with this plugin, it should provide us with a really strange final effect.

Echo

Next up we have echo. This is very similar to reverb, but instead of simulating a change in the size of the room, we are creating feedback which echoes more clearly.

The idea behind this plugin is to generating a disturbing, paranoid voice in the back of the character’s head, as the vocals repeat over and over from the echo.

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Play around with the echo presets until you find something which has tight echo with a quick decay. You don’t want to pick something which lingers too long or has an extended delay.

A delay plugin will give similar results.

Chorus/Flanger

Last but not least, we have chorus and flanger. This effect is basically to create the most weird sounding, alien abduction simulating, vocally destroying sound effect.

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This effect will add some paranoid static to the mix and will throw the sound from right to left and back again. We can go aggressive with this one. We want to hear it slowly destroy the song.

Crossfading

Once you have your song completely messed up and sounding really sinister, we can fade in the effects. To keep it simple, I’m just going to duplicate the track and crossfade between the clean song and the crazy-weird one.

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You will want to choose the best time to cross between the realms. And you might want to consider fading in each effect separately.

Extras

To sell the effect even further, I added a few sound design elements along with some foley art and the dialogue in the scene. And wouldn’t you know, we have a video about foley art!


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DISCLAIMERS:

Some of these links are affiliate links, if you purchase gear via these links The Film Look will receive a small commission, but there will be no additional cost to you. Thank you!

24 Filmmaking Tips

With every film, we’ve always learned something new and when we made our short film The Asylum Groove this was definitely true.

In this video, we are going to share 24 filmmaking tips, tricks, or hacks which can help you, make your short film.

Let’s get straight into it.

1 - Use your character's costume to help tell the audience about their backstory. For example, clothes that don’t fit shows they can't afford new clothes and may have been handed down to them.

2 - The same goes for clothes that are unironed, this shows the character does not take much pride in what they are wearing.

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3 - Or it helps to show a turning point when your character has stopped caring about what they look like for whatever reason.

4 - Create a mood board from past films to help with how you would like your film to look. This will give you a direction to work towards when it comes to creating your film.

5 - It will also help others to see what you are trying to achieve.

6 - Don’t just use reference images from films, look at other pieces of art. Google Images can be your best friend.

7 - A good prop can introduce who a character is without any words of dialogue being spoken. If someone flashes a police badge we know straight away they are police.

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8 - The version of a prop you use is also important. A plastic mop and bucket are a lot more modern than a wooden mop and metal bucket. A vinyl record can also help to set the film in a particular era or shows your character is a little old school.

9 - Build your story around a pre-existing location you already have access to. This will give your set a bespoke feel with a lot less work.

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10 - The right crew is more important than the camera, chose that first.

11 - When casting an actor, let them read the whole script. Don’t be too precious about other people reading it; it might convince a great actor to accept the role.

12 - If your script doesn’t include many lines of dialogue, ask your auditionees to read a monologue which they think suits the role instead.

13 - Then once they have performed it, direct them to act the same monologue but with a new character motivation. If they can take the redirection now, it is a good indication that they can mold to your vision on set.

14 - If you have many different actors coming in to read for the same role, ask them to read from one particular scene. This will allow you to see many different versions of the same character.

15 - Record auditions so you can review them side by side later on.

16 - Use these DIY T-Brackets as t-marks so your actor knows where they need to hit their mark.

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17 - Gaff tape the DIY T-Brackets so they can easily be seen.

18 - Don’t underestimate rehearsals. The more time you spend with your actors, the more they will understand what you require from them before the shoot day.

19 - In fact, spend time talking to your crew before the shoot so everyone is working from the same plan.

20 - Create key phrases for each character’s emotional beats throughout the script and add them to the storyboards. This will help you give quick directions when on set.

21- When you need an authentic shock from your actor, pop a balloon next to them.

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22 - Use a door wedge to help level out your camera when it’s on uneven ground.

23 - Add tape your lens so you can set the focus marks you need to hit.

24 - When working with other filmmakers, find out which areas they are most passionate about, and take advantage of their skills.

If you want more filmmaking tip and tricks, check out our 100 filmmaking tips in 10 minutes video here.


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DISCLAIMERS:

Some of these links are affiliate links, if you purchase gear via these links The Film Look will receive a small commission, but there will be no additional cost to you. Thank you!

Short Film Post-Production Workflow | Part 2

A well-planned post-production workflow, even as a zero budget filmmaker, will save you a lot of time and prevent any hiccups during editing, sound design, VFX, and colour grading.

Once you have a picture lock, it’s time to share the edit and work on sound, music, VFX, and colour grading; and for some, this can be done all at the same time by a team of collaborators.

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Last time, we spoke about organise and sync, first picture assembly, initial feedback, re-edits & picture lock.

So now you’ve made the decision to lock the edit. You are happy with the cut, and any other edits will be strictly for emergency changes. You’ve already gauged feedback from other filmmakers, you’ve made those changes, and now it’s time to move on.

This is where we can branch out. If you, alone, are the sound, VFX, music, and colour grading department, then you can follow these steps in a linear fashion. But if you are a team, it’s time to divide and conquer these tasks.

First, let’s talk a bit about VFX.

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This is the only department which may need access to footage BEFORE the picture lock. The visual effects in the film will influence the sound design, music, and colour grading. So if it is at all possible, visual effects should be the first to get their hands on the edit.

If you already know which VFX need to be added to certain shots, the visual effects department can begin working during the editing process, but please be aware that some shots might be cut. So this is a balance between getting in there early and not wasting time on shots that won’t make the final cut.

Next we got sound design.

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With an export of the edit, the sound department can start to work on Foley Art. Foley can be a long process as it includes re-recording all the run of the mill sounds in sync with the edit, and experimenting with sound effects libraries.

We’ve covered foley in a bunch of episodes in the past. There’s a card in the corner and a playlist in the description if you want to learn more.

In the meantime, a colourist can be working on the colour grade.

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Just as sound design only needs the edit for sync points, colour grading doesn’t affect the sound in any way as it’s all visual, so these two can be easily worked on at the same time and brought together in the end.

Then you’ve got music.

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A locked-picture will give the composer the exact timing to create and tweak the music throughout the film. Having the edit in front of them while they compose will also give them inspiration in the images.

There might be something in a scene which they want to harness and use as a musical device, so giving a composer the edit will let them work their magic to its full potential.

Visual Effects make this process of divide and conquer a little more complicated.

VFX is the only department that will cause the other departments further changes. If you are working on your own, I would suggest working on the visual effects before sound, colour grading, or music.

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Once the VFX have been produced, extra sound effects will be added to the sound design, gunshots and explosions and spaceships for example. The colour grade might need tweaking once the VFX have been applied also.

Basically, every department will produce a another draft of their work with the final VFX in mind.

Once all the departments are finished, it’s time to put everything back together. This brings us to quality control.

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Device testing and volume referencing are key contributors to a great looking and great sounding film. We’ve covered these topics in another video if you want to check it out. There’s a card in the corner and a link in the description.

Once you feel you’ve done everything you can with the film, it’s time for one last feedback stage: the 99% feedback stage.

Don’t say you are finished just yet! You might jynx it. Show the film to as many of your filmmaker friends as possible, or least the ones who give great critical feedback. You’ve already asked them but there might be something which they point out which nobody has before, so it’s worth doing one last check.

Make any last minute tweaks if the feedback requires it, then hit EXPORT. After this comes the hard part: convincing people to watch your movie!


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DISCLAIMERS:

Some of these links are affiliate links, if you purchase gear via these links The Film Look will receive a small commission, but there will be no additional cost to you. Thank you!

Short Film Post-Production Workflow | Part 1

Editing is a particularly interesting process. After long days of shooting, you are finally placing down the building blocks for your film, and you can begin to see how it all flows.

But with a lot of things to complete including the picture lock, sound edit, music, and colour grading, it can sometimes feel like a mammoth task, especially when working with a lot of footage and sometimes with multiple post-production collaborators.

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So today we are going to share with YOU some tricks WE’VE learned along the way which will help give you a smooth workflow and divide and conquer your post-production elements.

Everyone’s post-production workflow is a little bit different. Today we are going to share ours, but we’d also love to know your post-production workflows. If you have any useful advice, drop them in the comments below!

First things first, let's map out the whole post-production process:

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We’ll be covering organise and sync, first picture assembly, initial feedback, re-edits & picture lock, sound, music, VFX, colour, quality control, device testing, a 99% feedback stage, last minute changes, and EXPORT.

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You can see that this isn’t a linear process - as it is stackable in places. This is to accommodate multiple artists working at the same time. But we will get into that once we reach these stages.

Let's get the boring one out of the way: organise and sync

Have you ever been working on a film, then suddenly you are greeted with a message telling you it can’t find a bunch of footage?

Or, did you think that because it's only a short film you don’t need to put anything in folders, to then discover you regret the complex mess you’ve now made?

Getting organised before you edit will prevent any of these headaches from happening.

We’ve covered organise and sync in a previous episode.

One more thing we’d like to add to organise and sync is labelling usable takes.

On our recent short film The Asylum Groove, the 2nd AC Mr. Adam Opie, took note of every take from the shoot and noted down bad takes, good takes, and great takes, including if there were any particular things to look out for.

During organise and sync, we followed Adam’s notes and labelled each take using different colours. Red being unusable, orange as emergency spares, blue as good takes, and green as the best takes.

Next up we have the first picture assembly.

If post-production was compared to building a house, this would be laying the bricks. The first assembly is there to build a foundation on the timeline.

Take your footage, cut yourself an edit, and get it to a watchable standard, but don't start working on colour grading or VFX yet, as you may end up working on shots which will be cut short or cut all together during the next editing stage.

You CAN spend as long as you need on the first assembly, but just remember that the next stage is FEEDBACK, so don’t worry about working on frame to frame details just yet, and be open to your peers’ interpretations and opinions on the cut.

If you are looking for creative advice on editing check out the channel THIS GUY EDITS. He’s got plenty of educational and entertaining videos all about how powerful editing choices can be for your films.

If there was one mistake made by some of us zero budget filmmakers, it’s not letting people see the edit before upload!

This is the next crucial stage in post-production, initial feedback.

During the editing process for a short film, there may be some things which you don’t notice, and when you are looking at the footage for a long time, you start to become “edit-blind”. You start to anticipate the cuts and the edit no longer feeds you new information which means you are no longer watching the film from an audience perspective.

Find your filmmaker friends, buy them a coffee, sit them down, and ask them to review your edit.

Find a mix between people who know the story, such as the crew who helped work on the film, but also find some filmmakers who know very little about the project so they can give you a accurate first impression of the film.

And if you need to, ask your family to watch it. But just make sure they understand that this ISN’T the finished product, and ask them specific questions to gauge their feedback as they might not know what to say until you ask them.

Next up we have re-edits.

The first thing you should do once you have a list of feedback is step away from the edit. Step away for a few days and come back with fresh eyes and a fresh perspective.

When you come back, watch the current draft of the film and make notes. Then compare these notes to the feedback you were given and start to work on the next draft of the edit.

A lot of the time, you’ll be given technical feedback: “This could be cut shorter”, “This shot was jarring” “The montage was a little too quick.”. This is feedback you can use to help give the audience a better viewing experience.

You might also get feedback from a storytelling perspective. “I didn’t understand why this character did this”, “the character's motivations are unclear”, “why was he mopping?”. This is feedback which is harder to fix in the edit, but if you have enough coverage, you might be able to solve it by extending the length of a shot or placing that insert back in.

If you can’t solve it in the edit, and it’s a MASSIVE detriment to the film, please consider shooting some pickups and retakes.

We actually had this issue with our short The Asylum Groove. There’s a moment when the character trips over a bucket and hits the floor. We had coverage of the fall but no takes where we see our Actor Chris actually make contact with the ground, which made the edit very jarring.

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So we scheduled a day to return to the location and shoot it. Without it, it just looked weird, so shooting those pickups were worth the extra time and effort.

The feedback you get will be VERY subjective: sometimes it's invaluable, sometimes it is just a matter of different taste. But this is your film, and it’s your decision. If you wholeheartedly believe the cut works the way it is, then keep it. But, if multiple people point out the same thing, consider changing it up.

This leads us to the picture lock.

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At some point, you have to make the decision that you can’t do any more to the edit! A picture lock is a promise NOT to change the edit. This is so departments such as sound design, music, VFX, and colour grading can begin to work.

I say “departments”. I imagine most of you, and us included, are just a bunch of people trying to make cool films. But officially, these are “departments”, so let’s stick with that.

All of these departments will need a finished picture to work with. And by “locking” the picture, it means each department is working from the same source, which means when they are finished, they can simply plonk their work into the edit.


This video was Sponsored By

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DISCLAIMERS:

Some of these links are affiliate links, if you purchase gear via these links The Film Look will receive a small commission, but there will be no additional cost to you. Thank you!

Add Impact to your Edit with Sound Design

“Sound effect” is a broad term. You’ve got hard sounds like gunshots, foley sounds like footsteps and clothing, and background sounds like wind and city streets.

And finally we have sound design elements. These are sounds that tend to be used to aid the edit and give plot points added drama.

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Today we are showing you how using sound design elements can give your film extra impact and a smooth but pacey edit. 

We’ll be using our film The Asylum Groove as a reference, so if you haven’t seen it yet, there will be a card in the corner and a link in the description.

In this scene, our character Sam is about to pour water over his head which causes him to wake up from his daydream and suddenly slip into a nightmare.

Sound-Design-to-Aid-the-Edit-21.gif

In its current state, the scene feels lacklustre. This moment is supposed to aggressively transport our character from his happy place to a dark place and invoke a strange mix of false realities, so we can start to layer up some sounds which will get us there.

Firstly, let's grab a punchy sound, and add it onto the cut mark.

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If we place this on the cut mark, it should give us that instant BANG which we need. 

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Okay, this is getting us somewhere! But there are a few missing elements.

At the moment, the sound is sudden, and it almost feels like it's trying to be this cheap jump scare. So we need to include some suspense. We can add a sound element which will hint to the audience that something dark and mysterious is about the happen.

We need to add a crescendo, which is a sound which rises in volume or intensity.

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We can create a crescendo from our existing impact sound. If we duplicate the that sound, then reverse it, it transforms from an impact into a slow rising crescendo with a strong punchy tail. 

This is a lot closer to our final desired product. Now all we need to do is find a few more sounds which we can use for layering and add them in. 

To help give the moment even more impact, I have added a few more sounds. Firstly, I layered in a low rumbling impact. This is similar to the first one but has more low end for a crunchy bass tone.

And to compliment the first crescendo, I used a hissing impact sound which I reversed.

And I also added a very short-attacking high frequency sound; a mouth click, recorded in a large room with lots of reverb.

This sound is supposed to represent the exact moment of change for the character. To me, it feels like when a magician snaps their fingers and puts someone under a spell, for our character, he is snapping out of it.

The only thing left is adding the music and manipulating it, and we have the finished scene.

You can find some great sound design elements online: checking out websites like freesound, sonniss, and 99sounds. Look for free samples, get them downloaded, and experiment.

🎹 Sound Design Resources:

https://freesound.org/
http://99sounds.org/
https://sonniss.com/


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Enhance Your Dialogue with Sound Design

A film is 50% picture and 50% sound. But the sound of your film is not just there to simply compliment the picture. When harnessed correctly, it's a powerful tool to drive the plot and help deliver the story in a really creative way.

Dialogue-Manipulation.gif

Today we are talking about how YOU can use creative sound design with dialogue to make your film more immersive and unique.

Dialogue is self-explanatory. It’s a conversation between two or people, and its sound that delivers that conversation. In film, dialogue should be clear, loud, and audible so the audience can understand what the characters are saying throughout the film.

But this rule doesn’t always have to apply!

A really simple and creative sound design technique is the manipulation of dialogue.

Let’s use one of our films, Backstage, as an example. I’ve altered the scene to help the concept. The Medium is lecturing The Flyswatter but The Flyswatter is so preoccupied that he completely zones out of the scene.

The first thing we can do is muffle the sound of The Medium’s dialogue. We can achieve this with a plugin called a LOW PASS FILTER.

Dialogue-Manipulation1.gif

This plugin cuts the high frequency and leaves only the bass, and can be adjusted for taste. It generates a sound which seems like someone is speaking on the other side of a wall. We can fade in the effect just as The Flyswatter loses eye contact, that is our cue.

A classic sound effect we can add to this shot is a “shell-shocked” buzzing tone. We can add that in and slowly raise the volume to emphasise the moment even further.

Dialogue-Manipulation3.gif

Now we are starting to get in the realm of preoccupation. He isn’t just tuning out of The Medium, but his mind is generating a numb tone.

Lets go one step further and compliment the high-frequency tone with a rumbling cinematic bass.

Dialogue-Manipulation4.gif

And the last thing we can do to help smooth out the cut to the next scene is grabbing a cinematic impact sound effect, reversing it, and placing it at the end of the scene as a crescendo.

Dialogue-Manipulation5.gif

Something as simple as some dialogue manipulation and a little bit of layering is a powerful storytelling tool. We went from the character simply staring off into the distance to BEING inside his mind.

We want the audience to feel what he is experiencing, so by numbing the sound of The Medium and adding some uncomfortably noise, it feels like we are really jumping into his head.

If you are new to sound design, it’s definitely worth checking out our Indie Film Sound Guide to get caught up with all the basics of sound for indie short films.


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Get Cinematic Sound with LAYERING

Foley Art is the process of recording everyday and run of the mill sounds and adding them BACK into the film.

You may think Foley is just recording everything you see in the film and trying to sync it all up. Well...it is, but it CAN be a very creative storytelling tool with a technique called LAYERING.

Foley-Art-&-Layering.gif

Without Foley, a film will feel unnaturally quiet. If there was one element of sound design you NEED in your film, it’s foley. It’s definitely worth the time and effort and will get you closer to achieving the film look.

Foley-Art-&-Layering1.gif

Layering is quite easy if you categorize sounds into different groups:

First of all, you have sounds which are low frequency: bassy, rumbly, dark sounds. Then you have mid-frequency sounds; clear, audible, and comfortable for the most part. And finally you have high-frequency; squeaky, buzzy, and sharp.

The idea of layering is to fill out the soundspace by choosing some high, mid, and low frequency sound effects and place them on top of each other. This will give the sound effect a richer tone and extra punch.

Lets use our film The Asylum Groove as an example:

We have a moment in the film where our character Sam, played by Chris, runs, kicks a bucket, trips over, and hits the ground with a thud.

When we filmed this scene, Chris jumped and landed on a pile of cushions, so we are actually starting from scratch.

Foley-Art-&-Layering2.gif

We are going to scrap all the production audio, other than the grunt from Chris, and build it up from scratch, starting with the impact with the bucket, then the impact with the floor.

The first thing we want to do is add a bassy impact sound.

Foley-Art-&-Layering3.gif

We recorded hitting a cushion with a broom handle in the location. This sound will give the impact some weight and intensity because of the low-frequency thud and the long echoey decay.

Next we need a mid-frequency sound.

Foley-Art-&-Layering4.gif

We recorded myself jumping onto a cushion. Originally I thought this would provide a bassy sound from hitting the cushion but the noise is actually coming from my boots hitting the floorboards.

In sound design there are no mistakes, only new discoveries! And the last thing we need to complement the low and mid frequency sounds is a high-frequency sound!

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As the bucket is a metal, hollow container, it will provide us with a tinny, high pitched sound effect. So we recorded picking up and handling the bucket.

One sound effect which will really bring the shot home is adding some sound for the post-impact. This will change depending on the shot you are working on, but for this shot, we used a sound of the bucket being kicked and rolling along the floor.  

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This is very likely the first sound effect you’ll record if you want a “bucket kicking” sound effect. But layering them together definitely gives the impact more cinematic punch! And this is good proof that using the obvious first choice isn’t always the best!

Once we fill in the scene with more sound effects, it really starts to give this shot life. 

With some simple layering, we have given this scene emphasise. It’s an important part of the plot and character development, so giving it some extra OOMPH helps tell a better story.

When layering, try not to add too many sound effects of a similar frequency because you will start to muddy the audio and won’t be able to recognise each sound.

And remember, you don’t ALWAYS have to fill the sound space. Sometimes two or even one sound element will do the trick.

Sound design is all about experimenting, so try things out and see what works.


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Match your Audio to a Hollywood Film

Before you hit the final export, there are some things you should be doing to make sure your film’s sound is audible, clear, and comfortable for your audience. Let me show you TWO tricks that will help your sound stand out from the crowd! 

Just like testing the picture of your film on a bunch of different TVs, phones, and computer screens, you should also be DEVICE TESTING the sound before you export the final mix.

If you are in the recording, editing, or mixing process: check out our indie film sound guide here for all the basics of sound. 

First of all, try listening to your mix on the best quality audio device you have access to. In our case, this is a set of studio audio monitors owned by our friend Jordan, a musician and producer. But not everyone has the space to set up an acoustic-proof studio with mega expensive equipment.

Jordan Miller

For most of us, and that’s us included, a set of headphones is what we have access to for the majority of the sound editing and mixing process.

If you are serious about your sound, it’s worth investing in a strong and great-sounding pair of headphones which give you great dynamic range, rich tone, and are built to last.

For Rob, this wasn’t the case. I bought these headphones 15 years ago and gave them to rob when I upgraded 3 years ago. They’ve lasted, but the audio quality isn’t great and they are quite literally falling apart.

Rob's dodgy headphones

The team over at 1more heard Rob’s cries and have sent over their Triple Driver Over-ear headphones for us to try out.

After using them for sound mixing, listening to music, and watching films, myself and Rob both pretty much said the same thing “It’s not like it makes things just louder or even just more clear, you can literally hear sound which you can’t with other headphones”, which is funny when we found out that 1more’s tagline is “hear more”.

1more triple driver headphones

But honestly, they’re a great bit of kit: sound great, built really well, comfortable, and at a price which a zero-budget filmmaker can actually afford.

So if you are on the market for a new set of cans, follow the link: 

 

So once you’ve listened to and are happy with your your mix on the good sound kit, it’s time to work your way down the audio-clarity scale.

Think about where your film is going to be listened to the most. If you’re putting your film on YouTube for example, you’ll want to listen to your film on a phone, a laptop, through earbuds, and on a TV. These are the most common devices used for watching YouTube videos, so cater the sound mix to the majority of your audience.

Laptop phones earbuds TV.jpg

You may find that some sound effects or lines of dialogue that are clear using headphones aren’t being picked up on a TV, for example.

Go back to your mixing application and boost the sounds you feel have been washed out, but don’t push it so far that it sounds bad on your default headphones. Try to find yourself a happy medium.

Another mistake we zero-budget filmmakers can make is exporting the film without VOLUME REFERENCING the sound.

We came under this problem with our last film, Backstage. The audio was mixed so the sound effects, foley, dialogue, and music were working together and were clearly defined in their own soundspace, but when we played it on a TV, we had to push the volume up a lot more than usual.

So even though everything was mixed together correctly and sounded loud enough on the PC through headphones, it was simply too quiet on everything else.

Mixing Backstage.jpg

In order to make sure the loudness of your film is matched with that of TV shows and films, you can do something called VOLUME REFERENCING.

For a quick and easy way to accomplish this; find an episode of your favourite TV show or Film on Netflix or a Blu-ray, set your volume to a comfortable level you’d usually set it to and listen to it for a few minutes.

Then pause the film and listen to your own film. If you needed to grab the remote and turn the volume right up to match the previous film, your mix is simply too quiet.

By doing this, the volume of your film will match (to a decent degree) that of films and TV.

When you are mixing audio on one device it can sound as loud as needed. But until you reference your film’s audio to something else, you might not realise it's too quiet or sometimes even too loud.

The audience shouldn't have to adjust the volume of the film mid-way through. It’s not like you have a remote in your hand in the cinema! And if you are planning on taking your film to festivals, you don’t want YOUR film to be the one which nobody can hear!

Match your Audio to a Hollywood Film

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3 Tricks to Recording Dialogue in a Wide Shot

You’ve just set up an great-looking wide shot during a pinnacle moment of your film. You want to hold the wide shot for the majority of the scene because you want to utilise the close up for the climax.

Problem is, your lav mic is cheap and doesn’t sound great and the boom pole for your shotgun mic is too short to to capture your actors lines! There are few ways to tackle this problem!

There are a few different ways you can capture audio in a wide shot without having to purchase more equipment like extra long boom poles or more expensive radio mics.

Turn your talent around

Close ups are your best opportunity to record clean dialogue because you can position the microphone really close to your actors without getting it in the frame.

More on positioning your microphone here! It’s the first step to great sound!

If you can find a different angle where you can no longer read the actor’s lips such as from behind, from the side, or so far away you can’t barely even make them out, you can edit in the audio from the close ups and the audience will be none-the-wiser! Just make sure you aren’t changing the overall vision and direction of the scene.

From the side.jpg

Plant a microphone

If there is an object between the camera and the actors, you could use it to hide the microphone in shot; such as a tree a bin or a car. Aim the microphone towards your actors and get it as close as possible. You might have to position your actors closer to the planted microphone to capture your actor’s lines better.

planting a mic.jpg

Again, try to find a middle ground between standing to your creative vision and capturing solid audio. There’s nothing worse than bad audio in a film.

Paint out your sound recordist

If the other 2 options simply won’t work: you need to see their lips, and there are no objects to plant a mic, you can still capture great audio by employing some post-production movie magic.

As long as the sound recordist isn’t physically in the way of the actor in the scene you can use something called a clean plate to remove the sound recordist in post production.

Film your scene with the sound recordist booming the mic beside the actor, then ask the sound recordist to leave the frame and keep rolling so you have plenty of footage of empty space.

Clean-Plate.gif

In post-production you can use the empty frame you captured to place it in front of the sound recordist, masking them out of the shot. Add a little feathering to the mask layer and you should have yourself a convincing clean plate.

There are some things that might disrupt the effectiveness of this technique.

Please be aware of any shadows or reflections being cast by the sound recordist, as well as any drastic changes in light. You can avoid the shadows and reflections by having the sound recordist stand on the other side of the frame. A ghostly reflection of a sound recordist will break the illusion. And if the sun just went behind the clouds - your clean plate will no longer work.

3 Tricks to Recording Dialogue in a Wide Shot

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How to Record Stabbing Sound Effects


Today we are gonna record some stabbing sound effects!

Recording your own sound effects does a few things. Firstly, you don’t have to deal with copyright issues! Secondly, you have complete control over the sound you are producing.

Some sound packs can be awesome, I use downloaded sound effects all the time. But if you are able to record your own sounds, you might get something unique and authentic.

So we got a bunch of blankets and wooden boards and set up what I’m calling the ‘pyramid of silence’. We bought some melons, got various weapons, and smashed the crap out of them while recording in the pyramid.

Recording-Stabbing-Sound-Effects.jpg

Unfortunately, because I live so close to a motorway, the sound was poisoned by a horrible white noise throughout the entire take. Basically, it wasn’t usable. I wanted to record outside because of the juicy mess from the melons, but it didn’t work out as well I had hoped.

So, we started again. We bought some more melons, grabbed the weapons, but this time we recorded everything in our studio, in a pop out tent. We covered the tent with blankets and recorded the stabbing sound effects inside there.

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So this is how we recorded it!

You want to get your microphone as close to your subject of sound as possible. This is so you can turn down the sensitivity on your audio recorder which will reduce any background noise and records a nice, clean take.

Your audio sensitivity (also referred to as gain) is like ISO on your camera.

You can push it higher, but you will start to introduce elements you don’t want – with video you get grainy visual noise, and for audio you get audible noise, or hiss. Try to close the distance between the microphone and the subject the best results.

Stabbing-a-Melon.jpg

So where do you set your gain? When you get yourself positioned and ready to record, perform the sound you want to record. In this case it’s stabbing a melon.

Looking at the read out on your audio recorder, and adjust your sensitivity to around 3-6dB under the peak line. This will give you room for the sound to raise and lower in volume without you having to adjust your gain further.

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So once we got set up, we stabbed the melons. When handling something round like a melon, you might find yourself holding it down with your unarmed hand to stop it from rolling. Instead, make a ring or a wedge to do this. You don't want any of your body part anywhere near the stab zone because if the knife slips, you’re gonna have a bad time!

You want to record your sound effects as singles. By this, I mean record one stab, give it a second or so, and go for another. If you record multiple stabs in quick succession, you won’t be able to separate the sounds out in post as they are baked together. If you need to have quicker stabbing sounds, you can group the single stabs together to create a succession.

Speaking of multiple fast stabs, we recorded a bunch of whooshy sound effects by whipping a coat hanger and my lightsaber stunt blade in front of the microphone. You can use these together with the stabbing sounds for emphasis of the stabbers fast moving arm.

And for good measure, both myself and Rob threw a few punches to record clothing foley. So you have the soft sound of my hoodie, and a stiffer sound coming from Rob's waterproof jacket.

You can find all of these sound effects for free in our store.


How to Record Stabbing Sound Effects.jpg

DISCLAIMERS:

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