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Friday, September 16, 2005

Toofy Film Festival, sound mixing, World Premiere

Stomp! Shout! Scream! had its first public showing as a work-in-progress at the Toofy Film Festival last weekend. The audience laughed in all the right places and had nothing but positive comments after wards. It was a great learning experience and quite a thrill to see the film on a big screen for the first time. I could see (and hear) that there’s still work to be done, but the film is close to being complete.

Leading up to the screening, Juan and Tony at Soapbox Studios worked very, very hard to get the audio ship-shape, including a session from 6 pm to 3 am Wednesday, after working a full shift at their day jobs. It’s incredible what professional studio speakers reveal. What I thought was a pretty strong mix coming out of Final Cut turns out to have endless, irritating flaws. No matter how good the location sound is—and this film’s is damn good—once you start cutting it up, you introduce all kinds of problems. In locations like a working garage or a public beach or even in a controlled environment like a warehouse office, sound recordings are just going to be different on different takes. There’s no way to avoid extensive labor when it comes to getting a pristine sound mix. I’m sure the film’s sound will be great, it’s just a much longer run than Juan or I anticipated.

Part of the process of mixing is bringing in the actors to re-read the lines that can’t be used from the location recordings. Its called automatic dialog replacement (ADR), but that’s a misnomer because it is anything but automatic. The actors and Juan did a super job, making something that’s completely disjointed look and sound seamless. The best part was adding in screams of terror. All the actresses have incredible horror screams, but for a distant scream on the beach I put Tony in the booth to perform his best girl scream. It’s awesome.

Saving the best news for last, Stomp! Shout! Scream! will have it’s world premiere as part of the Austin Film Festival and Screenwriters Conference. This is a great honor for me and for everyone associated with the production. The film will screen twice during the week-long festival with the premiere on Friday, October 21 (exact time and location TBA). This is the deadline I’ve been waiting for. In the next month Stomp! Shout! Scream! can finally be put to bed, production-wise.

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