Trygve.Com > Diary > JournalWeblogDiaryWhatsis - September, 2001
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September 2001
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because ... well ... why the hell not ...?

it's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it.

Sunday, September 23rd


Return of the dropouts:

"Smooth" is a quality of peanut butter, not--unfortunately--an adjective that applies often to film and video production.

Thanks to the talented ears of Bruce Marshall, who brought home one of the test samples of the VHS version of Dragon and the Hawk, at least we found out that the copy of the replication master tape had a one-and-a-half second long defect in the ProLogic surround mix. It's comforting that none of the other master tapes shared this defect (nor, as we determined after another exciting day of testing tapes, did any of them have any other lurking defects).

But, then, what would a day be like without an unexpected frenzied rush to deal with a new crisis and then find some way to get production back closer to its schedule and budget?

Actually, I don't know. But, someday, I hope to find out.

Monday, September 17th


Layback and relax:

After devoting six weeks to the task of rebuilding the sound for Dragon and the Hawk up to the point of completing the Dolby Pro-Logic surround mix, it was almost startling to be able to complete the 5.1 digital surround version over the weekend. Translating a Pro-Logic mix to a 5.1 discreet surround mix isn't as straightforward as pressing a button and waiting while the encoders perform their magic: Dolby Pro-Logic relies on encoding the center and surround channels into a pair of analog stereo tracks by modifying their phasing, fortunately in a manner that's not too disruptive of their sound when played through on a decent pair of stereo speakers.

5.1, on the other hand, besides having two additional channels (the ".1" aka "LFE" (Low Frequency Effects) aka "subwoofer" channel and the stereo surround channels rather than the single mono surround in Pro-Logic), has its channels encoded individually and multiplexed into a digital stream, albeit with fairly aggressive perceptual-based lossy compression.

Which all means that neither encoding process is simply a matter of saying, "this sound goes here and it should sound like this"; there's a great deal more art to the process of making the result sound natural to the viewer and to making sure it sounds right when played back through a non-Dolby stereo system, a low-end TV set, and a high-end surround sound home theater system.

with Bruce Marshall at the mixing consoles

All of which is further complicated by the minor detail that nobody seems to set up surround systems in a consistent manner, particularly when it comes to the placement and design of the surround speakers themselves.

In the end, no amount of expertise in the theory of the encoding and reproduction processes is enough; you just have to test it--which is why no high-end studio is complete without at least one certified piece-of-crap TV and sound system.

rebuilding scenes from the location recordings with Jim Boardman

It's been a long sonic journey, but to keep it in perspective, even when you count the time it took to locate and restore the original location sound from a boxful of DAT tapes, create sonic mock-ups of the relevant sets and props on a soundstage to capture a few more compelling foley sounds, and all the weeks of editing and mixing, it's still quicker than the filming itself was.

Not to mention that you don't have a crew of 55, a few hundred actors and extras, and several trucks filled with wardrobe and equipment to haul around.

... um, okay, I guess I did just mention that bit about the crews and trucks and stuff. So let me also mention my thanks to Bruce Marshall and Haidee Chaman, whose tireless efforts made it all possible.

Thursday, September 13rd


The Foleys of Man:

And life goes on. Out here at the treehouse, the world is relatively free of chaos and horror, at least of the real kind. There's still the business of manufacturing the gentler kind where the heroes win in the end and the world put to right by the time you shut off the TV.

This midnight past marked the moment when we'd finally reached the end of the music surround mix for Dragon and the Hawk, and the last piece of the home video production puzzle was nearly in place. After another session for QC purposes, we'll whip up the duplication masters on Friday and then visit the sessions meant for the DVD release (which include additional materials and options that don't have to be worried about for VHS).

After six weeks of tearing down the film sound mix into its component elements; evaluating, processing, and, where necessary, replacing them; and rebuilding it from the ground up in glorious surround sound, I'm still in the mode where I can't hear a random car door in a parking lot or the shuffling of paper in someone's hand without automatically running through its tone, timbre, and presense for accuracy and placement...except, of course, it is real.

Luckily for me, outside of a studio, "real" usually does sound pretty darned real, because there's not much opportunity to go back and edit.

Monday, September 3rd


Love's Labor Day Lost:

I don't know if I can cope with this--it's now been two evenings in a row that I haven't been in the studio doing soundtracks. Yesterday, I ended up not having any studio time scheduled at all, but today at least I could put in the day on the project.

except, of course, that the other objects in the mysterious government warehouse weren't labeled "The Adventures of Smelly the Skunk."

It's for a good cause, though--tonight's the premiere of Busted ], one of the new series that Bruce Marshall is doing the sound editing on for Animal Planet, so there's a bit of a shindig for the production team planned for after the broadcast. Watching these shows with animal performers getting edited gives me a new appreciation for working with human performers. I've never been in an animal-free shoot that even got close to Take 265, but it certainly felt like the scene with the stunt poodle took a couple zillion takes to get the desired performance. At least they're shooting video and not film, or they'd quickly end up with a basement like Carl Hunsacker's, which is decorated with floor-to-ceiling racks of decades of Wild Kingdom's original footage. (His basement reminds me a little of the closing scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, except, of course, that the other objects in the mysterious government warehouse weren't labeled "The Adventures of Smelly the Skunk."

At least I don't think they were, but I guess we didn't get to see those up close enough to be entirely sure about that.

... though, now that I think about it, opening the long-sealed case that held the remains of Smelly the Skunk might have had similar effects to the Nazi's opening the aforementioned ark.

But that still leaves me having to come up with something productive to get done for the next few hours when I won't be in a session or asleep. 'Spose I could go clean the kitchen; that's gotten pretty scary itself over the last several weeks of only being home long enough at a stretch to mess it up.

... or there's the question of why my Emulex fibre channel host adapters aren't passing IP traffic on the Windows 2000 boxes. Hmmmm...decisions, decisions....

Sunday, September 2nd


Three Quotes from Master Mark:

Finally got to see a copy of August's Kingsize Magazine, a UK publication somewhat like Maxim here in the states. (They don't have a website--something that's downright weird in this day and age--so I have to come up with some way to describe it that doesn't involve the inclusion of an URL.) I'd had an exchange with writer Toby Manning not so many weeks ago, when he was looking to track down a modern-day Ninja Master to interview--and, naturally, who else could come to mind but Master Mark Steven Grove, the man behind Warrior Quest International? [ ] (whew! they have an URL)

It might be off the stands in the UK now, but in the states, it just went up in music stores and magazine shops. Mark's article is on pages 82-85, in case you were wondering.

So September's definitely shaping up to be Mark media month, with his picture also appearing on the cover of the Fall 2001 Colorado Free University class schedule and this week's Westword [ ] has a cool article comparing several martial arts disciplines taught in the area, including Mark's style of the Ninja and Samurai arts and combat for stage and screen.

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