This trimester has been quite full-up in terms of freelance work! Mainly with film, which has been a fairly unchartered and newly-found gratifying experience for me. It makes me think even more that I'd like to move into post-production as a career.
Firstly, I had an unbelievable opportunity to record on-set and mix audio for the Australian Embassy of Finland, on a series of films to celebrate the 100th year anniversary of Finland's independence (100-Mates of Finland). My team and I created five short YouTube videos all up. Three containing clips and interviews from Melbourne, another in the rural Wattle Glen, and, most excitingly, one in Bondi, Sydney (some pictures in this page).
The variety of locations meant I had a good range of on-set audio experiences, environments ranging from the traffic-heavy, noisy CBD, inside a restaurant, a placid ‘forest’ (a.k.a a 'flacid'), a busy beach and lanes in Melbourne, interviewing passersby. All along simultaneously getting a nice range of atmos for my own personal collection from the scenes.
It was unreal to have been given this variety of work, and I realised how much I enjoy working in part of a creative team - with camera ops, directors, producers, editors etc. - each with our own specialties and responsibilities. It gave me insight into how Post-production on documentaries and film works with the range of people involved, and their roles at which stages of the film-making process.
I also, very importantly, was schooled in the highly demanding job of pleasing a client; meeting time-restrictions and briefs, and communicating seamlessly with all other contributors and stakeholders. Post-production isn’t a breezy, independently-driven style of working - there’s no going at your own pace. In a way it’s positive in terms of my work ‘process’ - it meant I wasn’t overthinking, over-brewing, the work. Plus I learnt that it is more about your ears than technicalities - that people take it as it is - and to focus on making the video seem ‘normal’, rather than being a highly creative or stand-out product (though that is often a part of it).
In the process of working on these films I have thankfully found some sort of a personal workflow with post-production, and found myself (naturally) getting much more efficient with every experience; finding ways to increase both the pace at which I worked and the quality of the products. Though there were extremely high turnovers for these projects, I think I have been able to create decent sounding videos (for my level of experience and the time allowed).
Great news is that the group of us (those who worked on the Finland films) have decided to start our own company! We have already been finding opportunities for work (with a film, and a music video to be started in the break). I will be able to share our website (and the rest of the videos) soon.
Here are the videos thus far shared by the Embassy of Finland on their Facebook and YouTube channel -
This time management issue was greatly tested with a documentary I worked - ‘Austin’, directed by Monique Bettello. The picture lock occurred later than expected, and in the end I had four days to complete the sound mix, for an 8-minute film.
It was actually very lucky for me that I had other experiences of working post-production through a tight time frame, as this made me more efficient at producing higher-quality work.
It does often mean, however, that I am not 100% happy with the products - there are always areas where, had I been granted more time, I would have edited more thoroughly - but overall I am happy with the result. I feel I was able to produce a good-quality sound mix, that hopefully did the film the justice it deserved.
It was also great using the Avid S6, as I hadn’t previously had the proper chance to use it for a project. I find it very enjoyable to navigate - it’s extremely user-friendly.
Something I used a lot in this film, and a new favourite function of mine, is the ‘Trim’ automation tool. I realised I hadn’t actually used it before! It’s great because often the automation I’ve put on is on point, but the whole area needs to be raised or attenuated, and whilst you can highlight the spots and raise or lower the automation that doesn’t always keep it intact and can be a little fiddly! I found the trim so smooth and easy to use, it’s like an extra, more broad, step of automation to smooth across larger areas. I’ve grown a fondness to it.
The Austin project also involved me recording the subject of the documentary, Austin Lutrov, playing guitar and singing, which I mixed to be used in the film (and will mix as a separate release for Austin). I enjoyed having creative reign of where to use these tracks in the film - it was a cool all-rounded mix, and was an awesome experience for me to be a part of. I’m very glad I accepted to take it on, and hope to have more work like it in the future.
Just as I was thinking four days was short to mix an 8-minute film, I was then given the hilarious task of mixing a 9-minute film in one night. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the short film 'Hardened', was going to be left unfinished the night before the due date. So I decided to jump in and try to complete a mix in one night! Bringing a friend on board (Jeremy Tang), because I knew this would be a large task, we worked the S6 together and managed in five hours to complete what would have taken a week or more ideally. Despite the stress of the time limit, I really enjoyed working in a pair with intense efficiency! It really tested our abilities and speed, and was quite satisfying when the final project was miles better than where it was when we received it, five hours before!
The more I work in Post-Production the more I love it! It's so satisfying working with images - it feels like a puzzle moving through projects, and at the end being left with a concise visual and aural product.
Overall, I am extremely pleased with the opportunities I had this trimester in audio, and the amazing people I was able to work with, in a range of cool places. It's a very exciting field to work in - its ever-changing and always-interesting nature - and I look forward to more chances of being a part of it!