CAS Quarterly

Summer 2019

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40 S U M M E R 2 0 1 9 C A S Q U A R T E R L Y We all know that technology and techniques are in constant flux. In the entertainment industry, it's simply a reality. It's a reality for any field profoundly influenced by computation. On top of that, those of us on the audio side of entertainment are heavily compartmentalized. Not for secrecy 's sake, but in the name of efficiency. Secrecy, however, seems to be a byproduct. Sometimes it can seem as if one hand doesn't know what the other is doing. There are production mixers who believe their mix from the set is what makes it to air and there are re-recording mixers who don't have a clear idea of their dialogue's origins. To that end, it seems instructive to chat with some people in each compartment and spell out the "chain of custody " for our precious dialogue. Where does it start, to whom does it get passed to, and for what reason. LET'S START AT THE BEGINNING: THE SET. BLAS KISIC is a longtime production sound mixer who offered his insight and some basics for those unfamiliar with production sound mixing. WHAT DO PEOPLE THINK YOU DO? I don't know! Some people hear my title and think I produce music. Ha! Even people in the business are a bit confused. SUFFICE IT TO SAY, YOU RECORD THE ACTOR'S DIALOGUE ON SET AND SOUNDSTAGE. Yes, but we also mix live. In general, we record my mix of the mics for picture editorial and picture dailies, as well as separate boom mics (or booms), isolation mics, and plant mics. WHAT IS A PLANT MIC? It's a mic hidden on set to capture dialogue in a particular situation like an actor crouching to a POV prop, like a body. FOR PERSPECTIVE? Exactly! HOW IS DIALOGUE CAPTURED IN GENERAL? Well, there is a team. In my case, a mixer (me), a boom operator, and a utility person who can double as an additional boom op when necessary. We record the mics used pre-fader and I create a live mix. I also manage all the files (and documentation). It all really starts with rehearsals. HOW SO, WITH THE ACTORS? Yes, ideally, the actors are standing around on set reading/practicing their lines, and we learn about each scene that way. Then the actors go to last looks (wardrobe and makeup) and that's where we mic them up with the isolation or lavaliere microphones. Second is the blocking rehearsal where the actors execute the scene with its necessary movements. Here's where we get our real-world mic levels and learn our movements to best capture the dialogue and stay off camera. Lastly, after we have choreographed our movements, the lighting is set and we shoot. Usually, we shoot wide- establishing shots, then progressively move closer until we arrive at close-ups. During this progression of shots, the actors, the camera ops, us, and everyone else get better as we repeat the scene. WOW, I DIDN'T KNOW YOU'D GET SO MANY SHOTS AT IT. Ha! This is just an idealized version of how things should go. As you know in production, one has to be flexible. There are oftentimes where schedules, weather, or other factors "play " with that ideal. IS THERE A BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WORKING ON SET AND SOUNDSTAGE? Things are a bit more relaxed for us on Dialogue's Chain of Custody: From Set to Screen b y P a t r i c k S p a i n

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