MPSE Wavelength

Fall 2022

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Page 13 of 67

12 I M PS E . O R G SOUND EDITORS AND M&E VERSIONS Part of our responsibilities as supervising sound editors is to prepare an M&E version of the soundtrack. M&E stands for "Music and Eff ects." This means that the soundtrack of the fi lm needs to be prepared with NO audible English dialogue. M&Es (also called Foreigns) are used for every other country in the world that wants to play the movie in their own language. Our goal is to provide a full and complete soundtrack using as much of the actual production sound as possible—minus English dialogue! (This includes LOOP GROUP ADR as well.) This process starts when we begin our production sound editing. 1. To start with, create a couple of PROD FX (PFX) (production eff ects) tracks in your Dialogue Editing session. These will contain any "stand-alone" sound eff ects from the production track that can be split out of production dialogue tracks that will be bussed to the EFFECTS (FXS) stem. You have to be mindful of keeping the production sound smooth and not duplicating any background. If you're going to split out sounds, make sure you don't lose the ambience. It has to play as if you haven't split it out. Examples are: production glass down, door opens/closes, car doors and/or engine starts, some BG (background) with FS (footsteps) that are in and of themselves. The mixer can decide whether to move those kinds of sounds to his/her FX stem. The RULE OF THUMB is: If it's a long stretch of production sound with no dialogue, it can go into the PFX tracks. 2. I also create tracks called FOR FXS ONLY (Foreign FXS only). What I put in there are edited tracks that can be used in place of the production dialogue tracks where there might be a word or two in English that I have taken out and fi lled through. Mixers have told me that these are very helpful! And I will explain more about that later. 3. We used to do domestic Foley recording and foreign Foley (and studios had separate budgets for each) but now most productions provide almost 100% Foley to accommodate the M&E version. We often don't use 100% Foley for the domestic release because FS may exist in the production tracks already and Foley would make it sound doubled up. It IS the production dialogue editor's job to make sure to "top" any production sound, whether it's footsteps or props, with edited Foley. BUT if you, or another dialogue editor, has rearranged or replaced any production sound with an alternate take, chances are that you (as a Foley editor, for example) would need that take from the dialogue editor in order to "top" the new production track. That's a lot of work to keep track of and organize. You really have to be a good Dialogue Detective to fi gure out what will work and what won't!! The mixer will decide what Foley to use for the domestic and what to use for the foreign. One of the most important Foley tracks that is often overlooked is the CLOTH TRACK. The cloth pass is crucial for foreigns and for scenes that have a lot of ADR. My mom, Kay Rose, felt the cloth track was almost the most important track of all! She was meticulous about using diff erent clothes-sounds so that it didn't just sound like a "shusssh" track. John Roesch, premier Foley artist, says this about cloth passes. "Kay was so choosy about her cloth tracks. For other supervisors, it would take us about the length of each reel. But for Kay, she wanted to emphasize particular sounds as they applied to the story. And of course, those took more time. If it didn't help the story, it wasn't done. She was way ahead of her time in how she approached this." To budget properly for Foley is an art unto itself. One needs to know what the Foley artists are capable of and one way to know that is to be able to run a close-to-as- possible locked version of the fi lm with them. An experienced cuer is crucial to the artists so that they don't spend their time having to move tracks around for recording purposes and an experienced BY VICKIE SAMPSON MPSE DEAR DIALOGUE DETECTIVE cuer will make sure that the cues are spot on so that it triggers the streamers to be in the right spots. A character who has a distinct sound—like a leather jacket or a princess dress—may be cued in props as opposed to a cloth track. You don't just want a generic cloth rustling throughout. As with anything in sound, it must be well-intentioned and planned out. 4. After the "domestic" version of the fi lm is done, it's time for a day or two of mixing the M&E. Usually there is a representative from the distribution company who comes to the mix stage and supervises what goes into the M&E and what goes into "optional" tracks. According to Joan Gianmmarco, International Localization Dubbing Director/Producer/Actor, who has been supervising foreign mixes since 1994, says that this aspect of post-production has exploded. Most tentpole fi lms are dubbed into about 30 languages! Especially kids' fi lms like Kung Fu Panda, because children don't normally read subtitles. Streaming platforms are experiencing a huge uptick in wanting fi lms dubbed into diff erent languages. The two day mix of the M&E (probably longer on more action-driven fi lms) involves creating a "dialogue only" track and FXS and Music (MX) tracks (stems). There are also "optional" tracks that may or may not be used. An example might be a breath and grunt track; or a walla or loop group track. If a foreign actor has such a diff erent breath or grunts and can't match to the domestic actor, then they can't use the domestic actor's breaths and grunts. An example would be The Rock in an action fi lm where he is fi ghting, grunting, breathing etc. These would go in the "optional" track. We also do a "flip and fi ll" pass, a term leftover from magnetic fi lm days where we literally made a splice and "turned over (or flipped)" the mag so it wouldn't play and then made a fi ll track for whatever we flipped. Today, the editor takes the dialogue stem of the fi lm and determines what, if anything, can be salvaged from the mixed production dialogue and used for the foreign. An example would be one or two English words in a scene that is mostly ambience. Then the mixer would use the "flip and fi ll" track as part of his/her M&E

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