View Full Version : directing/audio recording on set/location

06-07-2004, 10:17 AM
Hi folks,

Love the site. I've been lurking for a few weeks and this is my first post. I'm going to be directing my first feature later this year (extremely low-budget, of course). I saw the thread about acting as DP/director on a project and was wondering if any of you act as on-set sound recordist and director at the same time. And if so, what problems this may have caused while trying to pay attention to sound and actors' performances at the same time. Since this is an extremely low-budget (and self-funded) flick, I'm trying to keep the crew as small as possible. I'd rather not pay a sound guy since I've got a background in recording, but I also want to make sure my primary focus is on the actors. What do you all think? Thanks.

06-07-2004, 12:52 PM
If there is more than one person in your crew, the second position should be sound mixer/boom operator. *If you're concentrating on booming, listening for ambient noises, and setting levels--then you won't be able to focus very well on the performances or the myriad of other details a director needs to oversee. *If you look, you can find a sound person will to work for experience or love (of the project).

06-07-2004, 02:13 PM
I agree entirely with Barry_S, it'll be impossible to make sure you're doing a good job with the boom and audio levels, and at the same time pay attention to (much less, direct) your actor's performances. I'd do what I could to find another person to work audio...

06-08-2004, 04:50 AM
Mike and Barry,

Thanks for the advice. The more I think about it, the more I realize you're right. Since we're going to have a small crew, I wanted to do as much as possible. I'll likely have more experience in the audio arena than anyone else on the crew, so I thought I might take on that responsibility. But watching the performances and being there for the actors needs to come first.

06-09-2004, 01:40 PM
If you really want to monitor the audio, theres no harm in you getting a feed of the output. It can be the audio guy's job to set it all up and make sure its all working, but you can get a tap and also hear it. That way if the guy REALLY sucks you can do something about it...

06-12-2004, 09:48 PM
Personally, I don't find there's any problem at all with being the sound recorder and a director for your film... I only say this however, if these are the only two things you're doing, as well as if sound is your strong point and that's why you'd be the one on that. If you are not doing Cinematography, there's one less thing that YOU are going to have to worry about whereas I know for a fact Mike acts as a camera operator and a DOP for most of his films. He's able to concentrate on both of those, so I think if you only have 2 things going at the same time, you should be able to concentrate on both as well... as long as you're not being camera op, DOP, director, and sound technician... that would just be far too much...

06-13-2004, 08:54 AM
I don't know, Thinspirit, I think it's a little different doing camera and directing than it is doing audio and directing...mainly because, at least with being the DoP and director, you're watching the actors at all times. With audio, you've got to be monitoring your levels, and therefore may not even be looking at the actor's performances.

But, you never know...it still could work. I don't know, but that's also mainly because I don't know much at all about audio :P

06-16-2004, 02:53 PM
I recently did the camera on a low budget shoot where the sound guy did not show up and the director elected to do the sound. I have to say, he did not do justice to the job. The reason is quite simple. He had to monitor the the scene on a field monitor, help the actors, and run the sound- with all the accompanying adjustments required when several actors are in action! Get a sound man. Get a lighting guy who knows what he's doing. These people are very important to a project if you do not want to waste time and effort.

06-17-2004, 04:38 AM
Yeah, I'll definitely be getting a sound guy. At first my plan was to act as director/sound recordist and have someone else DP. I wasn't planning to also be DP/camera operator on top of it all. I'll take Mike's advice and get an audio feed though, mostly because I'll likely have a fairly inexperienced sound person, given my non-existent budget.

06-17-2004, 11:48 AM
Where are you shooting, Josh?

06-17-2004, 11:57 AM
Southeast Michigan, mostly near Ann Arbor.

06-19-2004, 07:45 PM
You really don't have to monitor levels as diligently as you might think. You can generally tell just by listening. Same reason why you don't need to pay attention to the specifics of cinematography as diligently. You just do whatever looks good. With audio, it's the same thing, you go with whatever sounds good.

You just say it's different DPing and directing when really it isn't, just so long as you're comfortable doing what you're doing. You just happen to be more comfortable with the cinematography because you don't have to think about it as much and can concentrate on your actors at the same time. Audio can be very much the same thing, if you're an auditory person and are good with sounds and such, you really don't have to think about it and can focus on your actors perfectly.

You can really take on as many tasks on the film set as you want.

David Jimerson
06-23-2004, 06:23 PM
Agreed. But the place to find out what your limits are is probably not the set! :D

David Jimerson
06-23-2004, 06:24 PM
Southeast Michigan, mostly near Ann Arbor.

Ah, so close to home . . .

06-30-2004, 11:10 AM
I like to think of myself as a pretty good cinematographer, a good audio mixer, a talented lighting designer and a good director, but I discovered something about doing all of those things together last year.

A casual friend discovered that I have an interest in directing, and approached me with a series of short films he had written. He asked me if I would be willing to direct the shorts as a series of demo reels for his troupe of actors. He then sweetened the deal by bringing a brand new DVX to the table, and a three person producing team to handle all the gross details. Thinking that I was walking into a relatively well-packaged project, I decided to take on the duties of director. Little did I know that the producers didnít plan to have any technical crew available beyond the writer's friend who had an interest in sound but no experience in booming. Oh, and he only spoke Brazilian.

The producers, actors by trade, apparently had no appreciation for the technical side of production, and thus didnít bother to get me any help on the day of the shoot. While it was already understood that Iíd be doing the cinematography, but what I didnít understand is that when they said Iíd have help, they meant more of the ďIíll go buy the pizza and napkinsĒ kind of help.

Halfway through the first day of shooting, I realized that I was intently staring at the monitor in one scene to achieve the rack focus I needed, and I was totally ignoring the performances. In another scene I was so bothered by the handling noise on the boom that I drifted the camera off the correct framing without noticing. In another scene I was desperately trying to tell my Brazilian boom op to raise the mic out of the frame, and I completely missed a continuity problem. In another setup, I worked so hard to get the camera where I wanted that I completely missed the blistering hotspot just off frame. In another scene I was so intently focused on the actorís argument that I didnít realize the camera was out of focus for one of the takes.

My point being that it was a very humbling experience for me as a creative person and as an able technician. Iím often inclined to think that I can do everything simply because I have a strong understanding of the individual tasks and techniques, but when they were all coming at me the same time, I did none of them very well.

The actors I worked with that day later became good friends of mine, but it took a good five months of reluctant editing before I could even bother to show them their performances. In the end, they were shocked that I could pull out something so watchable from the sketchy script and the desperate shoot, but I would have preferred an easy daysí shooting to the months of polishing it took to finally come to terms with my own performance that day.

Doubling up may certainly work for some people, and I always thought Iíd be capable, but now I realize that I donít have the omnipotent focus needed to do all those tasks to the best of my abilities. Actively involving myself in any part of the technical process, be it turning a knob, pointing a boom, holding a camera, or just pushing a dolly is enough intellectual activity to draw me out of the scene.

But of course, I wouldnít have learned that about myself without failing in the attempt!

06-30-2004, 05:02 PM
Great post man, but I am yet to meet a person that only speaks Brazillian. And I was born in Brazil.

You know, Portugal was a leading country back in the 1500's. They had the plain domain of navigation techniques and managed to estabilish a vast colony realm all around the world. In south america and africa, mainly, but also in asia. Unfortunately (for them), they took a wrong turn when it came the time to develop their industry (mostly because they took too long to perform a bourguese revolution, like the french or someway to undermine the absolute monarch, like england) witch led to the english pioneering the industrial revolution (there were other reasons for that, as you all know) overpowering them as the main world economy. Anyway, we brazilians had the luck to learn this beatuiful language that is Portuguese, and got the nasty habbit of getting pretty upset when someone come saying we speak "brazilian". Not that I am actually enraged right now, but just so you know when in the future you run across some Brazilian operator who can actually speak english.

But I agree with you. We can't have the luxury of doing everything ourselves, even though it can be tempting...


David Jimerson
06-30-2004, 06:01 PM
Don't you get more upset if someone says you're speaking Spanish?

I had a girlfriend in college who spoke fluent Portuguese. She was English. Her dad worked for Ford in-country.

06-30-2004, 07:28 PM
I don't get upset at all. I'm just kidding.

I think it's outrageous, but I also think that the hate for americans, driven by this american-ignoant mith is very unhealthy. Intead I go with this theory: USA needs to be criticized, but from inside. There is no point in pointing the bad things in america from over here. Our job as foreigners is to learn the beautiful things you have there and the great things you manage to accomplish, and your jobs as citizens is to be critic at all times and fight aggainst allienation. Criticizing from outside culmines in hatred, and thet could generate one of those disgusting things like those happening at Iraq. Going for this "you don't care for other people's culture" is the same as saying we speak brazilian. I hope I made myself clear... Don't want to start a flame war over here...

07-01-2004, 05:38 AM
Well the only reason I specifically said "Brazilian" is because I have both native Brazilian and native Portuguese friendsÖwhile the Brazilians say they speak Portuguese, the Portuguese joke behind their backs that the Brazilians can't speak the language properly.

As far as your comment about "not yet meeting someone who only speaks Brazilian" Tom (the boom op from Brazil) did actually also speak Spanish...but as I do not speak Spanish fluently, the language barrier was still in place and thus that information had no bearing on the story.

But, sad to say, I have met several people now who only speak Portuguese. Iím sorry if this conflicts with your view of the world, as you obviously feel passionately about your countrymen, but I think that being multilingual is less about someoneís interest in the world then it is about they way they need to interact with the world.

I think people from countries outside the US tend to hold onto this idea that we're a lumbering oaf of a country and that our people are uncultured and unworldly, but that's a rather trite assessment of our country. Generally, we speak English because itís all we need to learn to be successful. In other countries that are more closely tied to their foreign neighbors, language is a tool of trade, and thus is essential to their livesÖthat simply isnít the case here.

Regardless, 17.9 percent of the American population speaks a language other then English in the home, and currently the rate of study in languages other then English is about 8.7 percent. That means that one out of every five Americans speaks a language other then English on a daily basis, furthermore one out of every ten is making strides to learn a second language in school.

Sure you can go into any city in the US and find someone who only speaks English and couldn't find Costa Rica on a map, but you could also go into any city in any other country and find someone similarly challenged.

As far as the ďyou donít care about other peopleís culture is the same as saying we speak BrazilianĒ comment, Iím afraid that you did not make yourself clear to me, and Iím doing my best to remain unoffended.

07-01-2004, 08:54 AM
Nah, you didn't understand it at all, because we are in agreement.

That's exaclty wat a was saying. I don't want to support the mith that goes around that americans are all ignorants... Especially because I also have many american friends (and a good common sense) that proved me otherwise. And if you were joking about that Brazillian language comment that's great, because I can eat my words, and we have one less person in america who doesn't know what language we do speak, even tough as you said, that number can already be lower than I think. Sorry if I came out blunt. I was joking as you were and the missinterpreted irony on both sides came as harsh.

As a wise man once said "I am not ashamed to change my mind, as I'm not ashamed to think." So my deep apologies.

About the comment that got you on the verge of being offended, you misinterpreted also. All I was trying to say in a very late hour here is that was I to go saying americans didn't care for other people's cultures, I would be making the same uninformed comment as saying we speak Brazillian. Of course, then again, it was not an uninformed comment for it was a Portuguese joke.

So, I hope I could clarify myself... Yeah, prejudice is a bich, yesterday it was mine. But on my defense, I've heard misinformed comments on Brazil a lot of times, and wouldn't be surprised to hear someone seriously saying we do speak brazilian again in the future...


07-01-2004, 09:20 AM
Okay, taubkin, I was getting the feeling that I wasn't reading you right...so I'm glad I understand you now.

All these "cheers" are making me thirsty... is it wrong to crack open a beer before 1 pm?

07-01-2004, 11:03 AM
Nah, I think we earned the right from this whole mess. If you were in Brazil I'd offer you a "Caipirinha" instead!

Cheers! ;D