The Water Cycle

Just started this blog month and a half after shooting The Water Cycle Memorial Day Weekend. The script won the Words Matter Now Screenplay Contest, allowing the writer/producers to rent some high end equipment from RULE in Boston, MA.

I heard about this opportunity through New
England Film Coalition on Facebook and applied for a position working on the this SAG Indie short film in Boston, MA. I worked as the Audio Mixer with a ton of advice from Aaron Miller. Using a Sennheiser shotgun, SankenCos Wireless Lavalier, and Sound Devices 4424 (4:2) channel mixer, I tried to get as good of a feel for it and all the other equipment (shotgun, boom pole, wireless lavs) as quickly as possible. I tested out the quality of the microphones before we were ready to set up and film, and I really liked the quality and easiness of the lavaliers. So, for the first shot, I set up the lav mics on the talent and was a little too optimistic about it. Decided to ditch the lavs for a shotgun due to some very bad rustling sounds from the shirts when the actors walked. Shotgun wasn't perfect but what are you going to do on your first indie mixing gig?

After the first day, I started getting a hang of the equipment and the crew, but in the film business, there is never a day without obstacles. Second day of shooting was a long one- 7am-10pm (Missing Celtics Playoffs). People really started getting cranky around the 12 hour mark- snacks and some quite would have been nice, but whatever gets the best result recorded I guess. I experienced a few huge problems that ended up being very minor problems. I learned, before you can use your creativity and skill in filmmaking, you need to be able to solve problems on the spot, and luckily I was able to do that promptly without freaking out aloud too much.

Sunday began at 5:30am. Felt like 10am with the sun though. Sunday went very smooth until our final shot: my biggest test on the entire film. Interior shot with the camera far away from the moving subjects. Looked like there was no space for me to stand/put the shotgun in that room, so I decided to give the lavs another chance. They sounded better, but there was still some rustling every now and then, as opposed to the shotgun's less consistent sound (adjust levels in post) and echo (reverb). So after the lavs failed me once more, I tried figuring out a way to get that shotgun in the action without getting in the shot. I decided to place it on the ceiling fan right above the actors and tape the mic and XLR along the ceiling and down the wall. I tried running both lavs and the shotgun into the mixer all at once but just decided to drop all of the complications, take the shotgun down, put the lavs away and lie down on the floor with the shotgun getting as close to the action as possible (inches away from actor with dialogue). Pointing the shotgun upwards ended up giving me much better audio since the echo was coming mainly from the tile floor rather than the hollow ceiling, so pointing the shotgun up instead of down, eliminated the reverb bouncing off the tile floors. This one shot probably took at least an hour to set up, but we got it and we got it good for a great wrap of The Water Cycle.

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