The Indie Film Sound Guide is a step by step series teaching you all of the basics to achieve better audio for your films. This includes preparation, recording, and mixing. The guide uses a scene shot specifically for the guide, and follows a proper workflow from start to finish. This is everything you will need to know to start recording great sound for your short film!
So you’ve finished shooting your film. You have a bunch of cards you need to unload onto the computer which contain the picture and sound elements for your movie. But before we start editing the footage and mixing the sound, let’s get all these files into a clear and precise structure, and synchronise the production audio to the shots.
Editing and mixing without a proper folder structure is an absolute nightmare. Files get saved in the wrong place, shots go missing, footage can’t get re-linked, and it just becomes a fighting battle.
It can get even worse if you’re working with multiple post production artists, all sharing the same files and muddling everything up when you bring it all back together.
To help alleviate some of that stress, I’ll show you the folder structure we like to use here at The Film Look, and I’ll also show you a handy application to create the structure in an instant!
Get yourself over to digitalrebellion.com and download their programme called Post Haste. It’s a free desktop app for managing projects, and has some great features.
Once you’ve got it downloaded, you’ll see this screen. They already have some awesome templates for a range of creative workflows, but we are going to design one from scratch specifically for organising short films for use with multiple artists, and hopefully prevent any unlinked and dodgy files in the future!
Let’s start off with the film’s root file, where absolutely everything for the film will be located. In order to keep files from going missing you must save everything used for the film inside this folder, even if that means duplicating some assets from graphics libraries, for example.
Keeping it all inside this folder means you can move the hard drive to another computer, open it up, and everything you need is already in the correct place.
Inside here we have project folders where all of the session save files will go. Inside these folders will be one for dragging old versions of save files to keep it tidy.
Next we have a media file. This is where all of the video and audio files will be transferred to, as well as any photos, graphical assets, and music used in the film.
Inside the video folder we have folders separated by each of the shooting dates. Inside the dated folders, transfer everything from each card you have into their own folders. This means copying all of the system files as well as the video and audio files. This is to ensure if anything goes wrong, you have the full image of the SD card if you need to transfer anything back over to the camera. Fingers crossed you never have to do this!
Having dates on the folders means you will know exactly what you shot on that day, and you are able to link the video dated folders with the audio dated folders.
The audio folder is similar to the video folder; everything is firstly dated then the whole card image is copied and pasted into their own audio folder.
Then there is a production documents folder for scripts, storyboards, shot lists and other documents like forms, permits, and contact information documents.
The last main folder in the structure is the export folder. Inside here is a folder for the film and scenes, and another for rendering out VFX sequences.
So now we have a folder structure, let’s make a bin structure inside your editor!
We are using Adobe Premiere for our projects; if you are too, you can find our Premiere Template in the description below. If you’re using something else, follow along and you can create and customise it to suit you!
First of all we will create a sequences bin; this is where you can save your main timeline, any duplicates if you want to save versions, and maybe even something like a selects sequence.
Then we have an assets bin, which will hold all of the global music and graphical assets for the film.
Next is a media bin. Inside here will be a bin for the shooting date, inside here will be a bin for the video and audio, and an extra bin called Synced A\V.
When you have your footage imported and inside the correct dated folders, we will start to rename clips, synchronise the video and audio, and place them into the Synced A/V bins.
Go through each video clip and rename them to the mark written on the clapperboard at the start or end of the take. The audio will have an audible take with the same numbers and letters called out.
Some shots may have no audio to sync. And if you have recorded any wild takes, rename these according to the mark you can hear at the start of the take.
To synchronise and merge the audio and video takes, first of all double click on the video file to bring it into the source window. By clicking on the audio icon, it will display the waveform. Scrub along to the audio spike and bring the in-point right up the start of the spike. You can set an in-point by scrubbing to the point and hitting “I” on your keyboard.
Okay, half way there. Find the production audio of the same take, double click on it to bring it into the source window, and set the in-point just like the video file by hitting “I”.
Now that we have the in-points selected on both clips, hold control and click on both the video and audio files. Right click and go to Merge Clips, set the Synchronise Point to In Points, and check the box next to Remove Audio from AV clip. Checking this will get rid of the scratch audio and just use the good production audio. If you want both, uncheck this box.
Then place the newly merged file into the Synced A\V folder. Do this with all of the files, and you will have synchronised audio for your scene.
Now it’s time to edit!
Anything we didn't cover? Leave us a comment and we'll create a wrap up episode at the end of the guide, answering any questions we missed!
More tips in the video.
The Indie Film Sound Guide is a step by step series teaching you the basics of recording sound on set.
Episodes released weekly:
The Scene: https://youtu.be/dGD8pIOx2ls
Minimise Noise: https://youtu.be/e6MEJd_rGvI
Gain & Room Tone: https://youtu.be/U5MJvJ9_guQ
Wild Takes: https://youtu.be/Ci9RIH5d1ew
Organise & Sync: https://youtu.be/ZyVvwsWQIwk
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