“WAS ALL THIS LEGAL?!”

In order to create the cinema scene, Jannath and I had the right location, props such as popcorn and popcorn boxes, and the right lighting thanks to a projector. But there’s something missing from this that would sell the scene – sound. A film is supposed to be shown right in front of Peter’s eyes. Recording the audio from the movie on set along with the dialogue would just be impractical, lack quality and undoubtedly ruin continuity. In the editing process it would be a nightmare.

Film poster for Night of the Living Dead.

Film poster for Night of the Living Dead.

However, I realised the best way to execute shooting the scene would be adding the film soundtrack later on Final Cut Pro. I could have used a soundtrack from my past films or possibly shot an entirely new audio track to place over but in my research I found an opening I could not refuse. George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead served to create the old-fashioned atmosphere I wanted for the cinema which would be violently interrupted by and contrast with the youths.

But was this legal? In a short answer: yes. The 1968 film, and its soundtrack, has entered the public domain due to an “error by the distributor”. When the film was released, US copyright law required copyright ownership to be displayed on the actual print of a film (e.g. in the credits). Early prints of Night of the Living Dead had the title Night of the Flesh Eaters, under which was the copyright information. When the title was changed for theatrical release, the distributors apparently failed to include the copyright information – leaving the film uncopyrighted and in the public domain. So it was that the distributors received all the profit from the film, and Romero never made a penny from it. This also explains why there are so many different VHS and DVD recordings (mostly of poor quality) available today. Anyone is allowed to make and distribute a copy.

This all means I am free to use the film as I please and even add it into my own movie, which is exactly what I’ve done in Screen Three. Anyone interested in watching the film, click the link below – it’s legal!

.

ADDITIONAL SOUND RECORDING

The majority of the sound in regards to the first scene of our film, Screen Three, was recorded whilst we filmed. Recorded externally, I synced up the audio with the footage on Final Cut Pro’s timeline and worked to create the desired sound perspective and quality for the dialogue however, some sounds needed to be added in post production.

I wanted the “Youths” to be as aggravating as possible. They’re intended to irritate the film’s protagonist and also, the audience and so, in order to emphasise this idea, I recorded myself munching on popcorn and added it in when the footage needed it. When Gareth’s character bites into the snack for the first time in the scene we hear a loud crunch which arguably suggests his ignorance in his quiet, hushed enviroment and quickly gives the audience a first glimpse into his personality, especially when paired with the bashfully delivered dialogue.

Professional Sound Recordist, Grant Bridgeman, on set doing his thang!

Professional Sound Recordist, Grant Bridgeman, on set doing his thang!

The BFI Film Academy course I’m undertaking offers filmmakers, like myself, the chance to meet industry professionals to help us improve our talents. Recently I was lucky enough to meet Grant Bridgeman; a sound recordist who has worked on productions such as ITV’s television series, Mr Selfridge. He went through the do’s and don’ts of recording sound and made a short video clip highlighting errors inexperienced recordists like myself might make. This included distortion, interference with elements such as traffic and an insight into sound perspective. Sound perspective concerns a sound’s position in space as perceived by the viewer given by volume, timbre, and pitch. Getting it right is vital in creating the right effect. For example, if a wide shot makes an actor appear as small as an ant, having the dialogue he’s delivering seem close to the viewer and loud is very distracting and unnatural.

His job concerns“the art of capturing sound without comprising the image”.

Screen Shot 2014-01-14 at 09.44.58

IMDB’s page on Grant Bridgeman displaying parts of his impressive filmography.

Despite the lack of light, warmth or energy to much of anything, my father and I visited when he keeps his vehicles to record additional sound. With the Zoom H1 digital recorder and a pair of my UrBeats headphones, we recorded a range of actions such as the car starting up, lurching forward, braking to a halt and finally the engine simply running whilst the car’s stationary. Thanks to my headphones I could check for any interference while I was recorded and so I ended up with great quality sound that went straight in my film. I also recorded the pushchair falling over and a female scream to add to the intensity of the finale.

upload image

If you look below you can see an area of my timeline during post-production on Final Cut Pro. Each file is explained on the left of the image.

editing scene two

hhdfghdfhd

Screen Shot 2014-01-16 at 12.45.31

UNDERSTANDING AND PREPARING FOR SOUND RECORDING IN FILM

It’s a rare thing to see a professional team of film-makers recording sound in-camera and not using an external microphone. It just doesn’t get the quality you need and in my own work you can see this lack of quality in “PRAY”.

IMG_8505

The microphone. This is what records the sound than surrounds it and can be plugged into the camera itself.

IMG_8521

The cable. Its purpose is to get the sound recorded from the mic’ to the high-quality sound-recorder.

IMG_8523

The recorder. Sound can be recorded just from using but with either technique audio is saved onto an mini SD card.

IMG_8526

IMG_8516As you can see from above, to use this equipment in unison to get a great quality of sound, one must plug in the RODE microphone with the cable and connect it to the recorder. Wherever the mic’ points is what will be recorded. And so it should be aimed towards an individual’s mouth if they are talking in a scene. However, it’s not easy to get it close to the actor/actress without being in the camera shot and this is where the boom pole comes in. The microphone is attached the the end of the boom pole and the wire flows to the recorder which is held by pole’s operator. It is their job to direct the pole, follow actors but simultaneously remain as quiet as possible. It’s a difficult job especially since I have no experience doing it before and also I’ll be focused on actors and what’s going on behind the camera rather than what quality of sound’s being recorded.

A single person cannot put together a film. It has to be a group of understanding, experienced individuals who all know what’s going on. As a director I have to hand over the responsibility of recording sound to someone else, prepare them well enough and hope for the best!