Cecily Blinkstop—Sound

I focused on sound in the short film The Amazing World of Cecily Blinkstop, as I will be the sound mixer as my role in the production process. The first thing I noticed, among three main stand-outs, was the use of room noise.

Room noise is essential in making this film what it is. Without the crickets and cicadas of summer chirping in the exterior shot of the house in the evening, or the sounds of the outdoors in that first long shot of the golden day, the film would not have the same feeling of nostalgic wanting that pervades each and every scene.

The second stand-out piece I noticed from the sound side of things was the use of silence. Silence in the film also plays a huge role in developing the plot and mood of the piece–the silence at the dinner table, the silence of Barney mentioned by Cecily as she prays to God, Cecily’s yearning for a companion to talk to and play with, etc… these develop the motif of silence and how the family refuses to communicate, and, that through this refusal, they can never move forward.

Finally, the score of the film does much the same as the room noise and silence put together. I would argue that it is difficult to develop motifs within a spare 17 minutes, but this is achieved not only through the aspect of the visual (the cranes), but through auditory stimulation. The music is at turns playful and mourning, especially when the low strings come in at the end of the film. Without the music, the film would not have the same tone (ha, pun!) and the ending would have seemed, at least in my opinion, far more ambiguous and hopeful rather than upsetting.

If I had not been focusing on sound the whole time, I would have missed the role it plays in setting the tone. Sound in films can be overlooked, as film is mainly considered a visual medium. But it is this combination of the visual and the audio Tory that makes film as a medium so complex and so compelling.

In short, sound plays a huge role in this film–and it will play a huge role in ours, as well.

Workin’ hard or hardly working? (Just kidding, we’re working super hard)

First things first: here’s a list of the things we all agreed to be responsible for:
  1. Create production binder: Molly
  2. Create an equipment list from shotlist: Me for sound equipment, Shane for camera equipment, and Alberic for light equipment
  3. Reserve equipment for shoot: Me, using the materials provided by Shane and Alberic, at class time on Monday
  4. Post casting notices and print sides for auditions: Aramadine
  5. Create scene by scene production design needs (separate by costume, set, props, and hair and makeup): Bella (who was not at the meeting on Wednesday, but who I assume will pick up the slack)
  6. Clear locations for production by reserving specific locations, discuss with CAMPO, and speak with owners of any property off campus: Molly & Andy
  7. Schedule date for a tech scout day and reserve and equipment/space as needed: Molly
  8. Review production schedule and make sure that you have a plan for meals: Molly for production schedule, Andy for meal plans
  9. Discuss backup – who will handle data backup and what will you use to backup data? Andy

I pulled sides today from The Singer in Red for three characters: Allison, Violet, and Gemma. I figured the rest of those auditioning can look at a script and do not need separate sides–if I’m wrong in this assumption, I can pull sides for all characters. Pulling sides in Celtx is considered “locked” in that you need a subscription to do it, so I just opened the script in another tab and copy/pasted the pieces I wanted. Easy enough to do without Celtx’s automatic sides function!

I also made the list of equipment for sound that must be reserved. Together with Shane and Alberic’s help, I will reserve the equipment as guided at Monday’s class.

As a group, we also came the consensus that we needed to move auditions to Tuesday at community time. We felt that we’d garner more responses that way, and we have, so I think it was a good move.

I feel like we’re all pulling our weight pretty much in equal measure, which is an awesome feeling–I don’t feel like one person has to micromanage everyone, which is a fantastic feeling. I’m proud of our progress and hope we only gain steam as our production week rolls around.

Summary of work Mar. 27-April 1

-As a team, the entire group went location scouting together on Friday, Mar. 29.

-I filled out the location scouting forms by myself, because I thought the process would be quicker if one person worked on them–we scouted five locations total.

-I will upload the images of said location scouting forms to Group 1 on Moodle.

-I helped a lot during this piece and am proud of it! I think now that we have an idea of our locations and several to choose from, we will do well in our shooting.

-As a group, we also decided when casting auditions will be–this Tuesday, April 2, at 12:30.

Summary of work: week of Mar. 25-27

-Andy and I did location scouting on Saturday, March 23

-I helped break down the scripts with Molly and Andy

-I was responsible for the shortlist of scene 1 (we figured breaking it up with assigned people for each scene was smart)

I was fairly responsible for these assignments, but I am glad we broke up the shortlist so it wasn’t all on Shane’s shoulders. Hopefully it turns out cohesive…

Preproduction—Planning, Planning, Planning!

The preproduction process so far has been fairly smooth. Certainly, we only have limited time to meet up with our group, but I feel we are pretty cohesive as a whole and willing to work hard to get things done in a timely and polished manner.

As for our script, I helped make changes to verb tenses and awkward, stiff dialogue. I wanted the dialogue to seem as natural and believable as possible so our point would get across to the audience without hindrance. Breaking down the script, meanwhile, really helped me to get an idea of what materials we need to begin production, which is coming up soon. If we had not broken down the script, I think we would be scrambling for equipment, looking for costumes, and generally trying in vain to get a sense of what we want to portray. Obviously this is not ideal, so breaking down the script thoroughly was crucial.

We decided to go location scouting early on. It was myself, Andy, Molly, and J (who went along to take artsy pictures). We made notes of when we might need the muff for the microphone, taking care to get dialogue both up close to the mic and far away to see what sounds we’re working with. The only issue I can see is wind, but the muff will help eliminate that.

I’m really excited to mix the sound levels for our production, because I’ve never down that before. I am worried a bit about everyone participating; Andy and I seem to be taking on a lot of the work. I’m certain though that others will step up as their roles become more essential.

I feel as if we are getting more and more prepared to shoot, and that’s both exhilarating and terrifying. I hope we will do well!

More on Sound

For the “Singer in Red,” I think we will need to capture a variety of sounds.

Obviously, we’ll need some operatic music (the actor we have in mind to play the singer in question is an amazing soprano, but we will definitely need her to sing some royalty-free music, or something that’s aged out of copyright, which may be hard to find–that’s something I want to tackle as soon as possible).

We will also need to capture dialogue in a manner that makes sense (i.e., not too close for long shots, not too far away for close ups, etc.) That will mostly be a matter of communication between Andy and I as we work the rooms. We plan on going today to do some early location scouting, which will be fun and help us to understand the ambience of the rooms we will choose based on what the script calls for.

I also want to play with diagetic versus non-diagetic sounds and music to see how that impacts the outcome of the script and shifts the mood to where we want it to be.

Andy and I were also toying with the idea of Foleying some sound–what we’d Foley is unclear, but it’s something we wanted to dip our toes into.

It seems like a lot, and that’s because it is, but I think we can get everything done to a satisfactory degree.

I know that Andy wanted the actor playing the singer to sing the Habanera, which is royalty-free. Here is a link to it: https://youtu.be/WqL4xxE_zoQ

Here is some royalty-free music that might work to build suspense, especially during the flashback scenes in which Gemma stalks Violet:

I like the third one the best, personally, but it is up to Armandine, the director, to make that choice.

Boom, Thwack, Pow! Taking on the Role of The Sound Mixer

My crew position on this project is sound mixer. I will work alongside my boom operator, Andy, to create, capture, and consolidate sounds to accompany our script. I think I will be good at this role because I am very detail-oriented, have a good ear for sound, and can both give and receive direction in conjunction with Andy. We will not only record sound on-set, but scout out locations prior to shooting, collect “room noise” and take note of the ambience, and work (hopefully minimally) in postproduction to ascertain that the sound captured is of a high quality.

My concerns are remembering to reserve the equipment (I struggle with tasks that involve organization due to my neurology, but am working on this) and operating the mixer properly. I am hoping that I do a good job; I’ve never done anything like this before, but it seems to appeal to both my logical and creative sides.

The name of our script is “The Red Singer”. We chose this script because it was the most developed out of all of them, and it seems like the most fun to shoot. Some challenges are that I think Andy has specific casting choices in mind, and I hope they people they envision as playing the roles are available to play their roles! If not, it may be hard to go against the vision Andy had in writing their script.

Any sound challenges can be overcome fairly easily with performing due diligence–scouting locations early and seeing how the room sounds is essential to capturing quality audio. I am confident this will go well!