Sound recording for Strangers

As my second technical crew role I was the sound recordist for Cheryl’s film “Strangers”. The shoot took place on Friday and Saturday 13.-14.3.

I picked up the sound kit on Thursday 12.3. and was disappointed to find out that the 744T recorder wasn’t available and that I was given the Tascam HD-P2 instead. I had booked the SD 302 mixer to be able to use 3 channels simultaneously (2 radio mics and the shotgun mic), but now I wasn’t able to attach the mixer to the Tascam because I didn’t have the right cables for it. I decided to leave the mixer in the film store and work with what I had.

The main shooting locations for Strangers, and also where most of the dialogue would take place, was Waverley Station and the roof of Princes Street Mall. These were both challenging environments because of all the background noise of people, buses, trains and other traffic. This is why I knew I had to use the radiomics to pick up the dialogue, but I would’ve also preferred to use the boom mic just in case. So I made the following plan:

In all the shots without dialogue I would be using the boom microphone and have the record mode on mono summed. I would attempt to pick up as much sound of movement and footsteps of the characters as I could, and also ambiences. For the 2 dialogue scenes, which both happened to be between only two people, I would use the radio mics. I would connect the radio mics to the stereo inputs and change the settings in the recorder to stereo. This way I would record a stereo track where I had one of the characters on the left side and the other one on the right side. I would still be able to control the levels separately during the recording. In post it is simple to split a stereo track to 2 mono tracks, and that way the editor will have both of the radio mics separately and also centered. I did a couple of tests and felt fairly confident before the shoot.

The shoot itself was scheduled so that almost the whole film would be shot on Friday, only a couple of interior shots would be done on Saturday. So the whole crew was expecting an intense day with a lot to do in a short amount of time. I was originally supposed to have a 1st year student as my boom operator, but due to the restricted access to Waverley Station and the decision to work in as small a team as possible, I decided to do the recording work by myself. Personally I think it was a good experience for me to work totally independently, since I’m used to having at least 1 sound assistant on set.  Now I had to manage mixing, boom operating, setting up radio mics, carrying the kit and writing occasional notes by myself, in a very tightly scheduled shoot.

All in all everything went very well during the day; all the crew members did an excellent job. I’m also very pleased with my input; the sound quality of the recordings are surprisingly. good. I’m glad I encountered some technical challenges because I actually had to do some problem solving to make this recording to even take place. Very proud of myself and the others, looking forward to seeing how this project turns out!

Some snaps from the shoot:



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