Composing : Feedback Outside Of Music by Joel Irwin

Joel Irwin

Feedback Outside Of Music

As composers, we are nearly the last set of eyes and ears of the film before its done - especially if we score an indie film or low budget film where there may be only 1 or 2 people other than you working on/looking at the film in post production. So what do you do if you see a 'problem'. Do you stay silent or do you mention it to someone. There is a risk either way. If you say nothing and the problem is missed, you might feel guilty for not saying anything. If you say something, you may get anger back for stepping outside your job or 'sphere'. A good working relationship and a 'sense' of whether your feedback would be acceptable (even if they do nothing about it) is a key ingredient for you decision. You may find, that even though they say the scene is 'frozen', they already know about the issue and plan to fix it (so much for freezing a scene :) ) In the last two years here are a couple of things I have noticed and passed on: 1. A boom showing up for about 15 to 20 frames (@ 23.97 fps) in the upper left hand corner of the screen 2. With headphones on, hearing the director say 'action' before the start of a scene. 3. A production person in plain view behind the actors in a scene The hope is that the three above should normally be caught by someone else anyway though who knows?. But what about the more subtle ones like: 1. Too much hiss from the boom microphone when no one is talking 2. There are four children in a scene plus the main actress, you see three of the children leave, the scene then shows the main actress in the room with no one else in it. When did the fourth child exit? And what if you are working on a film with a very small crew with no one tasked to look for continuity issues: in a scene right after a stabbing the actor/actress is holding the knife and there is no blood on it. And what if you are working with a filmmaker/director who really doesn't understand audio and audio mixes and after the sound mix session either: 1. Your stereo or surround 5.1 music audio track has been mixed in mono OR 2. The audio has been properly mixed but at such a low db level there is noticeable hiss and you can barely hear anything - neither the dialog nor your music.

Chris Hind

Hi Joel: Good question. If I put myself in the director's shoes, then I would want to know and would appreciate if the composer pointed these flaws out or any one else who worked on the film. Another set of fresh eyes and ears, in my opinion, is an essential part of film making as director's are spread quite thin especially on indies. So I wouldn't hesitate to point out flaws. If someone stamps their little feet in a tantrum - they'll get over it. And besides what are they going to tell their friends in the business? Oh there's that composer who pointed out all the flaws in my film before the public had a chance to see it and ridicule me! I'd rather be known as the composer with the great attention to detail who not only collaborated with me musically but saved my ass. Cheers, Chris.

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