“A Sound Designer is responsible for providing the sound for screen action.” – Creative Skillset
Have you ever watched a film, but something has felt off about it? The compositions are fine, acting is good, even the story is okay. So what is it that doesn’t quite feel right? Nine out of ten times, it’s the poor sound design choices. According to a 2015 article by IndieWire, a lot of issues can be forgiven with a film, unless your sound isn’t clear – then it’s almost unwatchable.
This week, we’ve “EXPOSED” Sound Designer Stephen Holliger for his work on the short film MAN.
“Considering the attention, time, and money that goes into a film, too often the focus that should be put into audio during production, and post, is overlooked. Even George Lucas agrees that sound is 50% of the motion picture experience.” – Stephen Holliger
Stephen was brought onto the production of MAN after he responded to an online ad from Director Amir Motlagh. Amir had listened to a few songs and pieces that Stephen worked on, and then offered him the job. Overall, the project took 6 months for the audio to be completed.
“There are many aspects that helped shape the overall tone, which includes…a certain kind of intimacy in watching a film entirely through the eyes of our main character…With MAN being shot 1st person, the realistic ambiences and diegetic perspective shifts were key in this day-in-the-life, Cinéma vérité film.” – Stephen Holliger
Stephen played two roles on MAN: primarily as a sound designer, but also a sound mixer. While he had to not only create the sound which influenced the atmosphere of the film, he also had to ensure that the dialogue recorded was clear. Whether your designing sound or mixing it, there are a few crucial skills you’ll need to have: expert knowledge of acoustics and all sound recording, knowledge of playback and editing equipment, being able to work under pressure, and ability to think on your feet.
“A number of scenes contained audio that would have negatively affected the overall production value of the final film. In post, I was able to replace problematic audio or sweeten existing audio with foley and additional diegetic SFX.” – Stephen Holliger
There is a lot of debate of which audio software is best to use, but for this project, Stephen stuck with something that was reliable and efficient. On MAN, audio was mixed in Pro Tools 12, with help from RX6 and the SA2 Dialogue processor. RX6 and SA2 are tools that help bring clarity to an audio mix, and help clean up any problematic production dialogue audio.
“Very often, cleaning up dialogue consists of over 50% of your work load in a mix if sound is not procured on set, and when the film is 120 minutes in duration, the majority of one’s times post mixing is focused on browsing this great length of material, opposed to any other aspect.” – Stephen Holliger
Thank you, Stephen, for sharing your work and process with us! If you’d like to work with Stephen Holliger, be sure to click the “ABOUT ME” button over his photo! To hear some samples he created from the film, be sure to check out his Bandcamp!
Thank you for watching this week’s Exposing the Crew “EXPOSED” indie project!
(We just want to do our part in supporting the indie community!)
We’ll See You All Next Tuesday,
Samantha George (Producer, JJack Productions)