My First Time on a Film Set.

Shay Jagger Operating Boom

Last trimester I accepted the offer to be involved in the audio for Jamey Brown’s upcoming short psychological thriller The Point & Click of No Return. This has been a huge eye-opening experience, just seeing how much work goes into making a film. I signed up to manage the team looking after sound in post (ADR, Foley). They had someone with more experience looking after the location sound who needed one vol

unteer to assist them. So being a huge fan of film and curious about how films were made, I put my hand up. This was a really good first-hand experience to be on a film set for a grad film with some really skilled individuals working together as a team to make everything happen. Being a part of this team was an amazing experience. So I’d like to look back on the experience and share some of the things I’ve learnt.

Sound really is an important part of film and capturing it correctly is an iportant step that saves a lot of work later. Check out this awesome article...

A Rough Guide to Location Sound Recording

Apartment Scene We shot the footage for Scenes 2, 4, 5 & 7 in the director's apartment. It was a very small apartment and we stripped everything out to make the space ready for the design team to redecorate it, so it would look right for the film. There was a really big team of people working on this so once people started to arrive we all separated to our areas to get set up. I was working on sound with Sean Maguire who has studied film primarily and has done location sound on a few short films so far. He knew exactly how he wanted everything set up. We had an F8 Zoom Recorder, 2 Sennheiser G3 wireless lapel sets and a Sennheiser MKH 4167 Boom Mic. First things first we factory reset the F8 and wiped the SD cards. We then set everything up just how we wanted it.

Sean Maguire Monitoring Sound

  • We set it to pre-record for 6 seconds which is a really handy feature, just in case you press the record button too late.

  • We set it at a bit rate of 24 with a 48 Hz Sample Rate so it would be good quality, but not fill up the SD cards to quickly.

  • We set it to record simultaneously onto both SD cards so we would have instant backup

  • We set it up in dual recording mode which means you are recording each signal onto two channels, for our purposes this meant we could have one channel gained up and the other gained down a bit so that if it clips we have a backup.

  • We used a lapel on the actor and also used one as a wireless receiver for the headphones.

  • Once we were all set up we recorded an impulse response in the room by playing a frequency sweep from 20 Hz to 20 KHz through a portable speaker and recording it with the boom mic, We also recorded a bit of Bach and some ambient room noise. We did this so we had a reference to the natural reverb in that space.

A short video on how to use the Dual Record function

Here's a short article about the importance of sound in film, which makes reference to the dual recording

I was on the boom for the night so I had to learn very quickly how to use it. I was clumsy at first but I got better with each take. You really need your eyes and ears to be alert and your reflexes to be quick. It’s also very important to be aware of the camera and stay out of the shot. I adapted to this new situation reasonably well and in between takes Sean gave me heaps of advice. It was really hot and sweaty with 12 people in such a small space and the 1st AD did a great job of keeping everyone motivated and on task. The whole crew worked really hard and really well together across 2 long nights in this location.

Torture Scene

For scenes 1, 3, 6 and 8 we had hired out a huge warehouse, which during working hours was primarily used as an art studio. All the painting stuff was removed for us, but the shed still had built in walls in one area, like an alcove. These walls diffused a lot of the sound so it didn’t reverberate as one might expect for such a large shed, but it still had a reasonable amount of natural reverb. We set up our equipment the same as last time and recorded an impulse sweep of 20Hz - 20KHz followed by some Bach again. We did have one lapel mic that got no signal even though it was all set up right, after checking everything 3 times we changed the receiver and transmitter to a different channel and then we were cooking with gas. By this stage, I was heaps more confident with the boom mic and was more aware of my surroundings, constantly looking at where I could be, where I should be and just more comfortable operating the boom. We had the whole room covered in plastic, people tied to chairs and blood everywhere but if you want to see that, you’ll have to wait until the film comes out.

After 2 really long nights of filming at this location, everyone was really happy when we were done. Everyone involved had put so much of themselves into this film and while for most of the crew their work is done, for those of us working in post. It’s only just begun.

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