Got a note in email this morning confirming that the master tapes had successfully made their way to
Crawford Communications in Atlanta, Georgia.
I needed to get some tapes converted from NTSC to PAL, and Crawford uses the
Snell and Wilcox "Alchemist" convertor,
which is pretty much the gold standard for NTSC-to-PAL format
conversion. As far as I know, there's not anybody in Colorado who does broadcast-quality work in
PAL format, and Crawford had given me the best quote on the job, so off to Georgia it was.
In this particular case, I've been putting together the materials for the Thailand release of
Dragon and the Hawk and they use the PAL TV standard out there. As you
probably know, they also have their own language out there, so they needed the movie soundtrack
in an "M&E" ("music and effects") mix. If you're not familiar with creating an M&E mix,
you basically have to go through the movie mixing all the music and sound effects--but no dialog
That's a little more complex than you might think at first. For one thing, you have to decide what
to do about "effects" that involve words: sounds over an intercom, a radio playing in the background,
and general background conversations and crowd noises. Usually when you loop a background effects
track, it's not going to have a lot of distinct words, but once in a while it does, so you may want to shift
your loop a little here and there just to push any English words a little further into the background. Then
you have to decide what to do about something like playing back an answering machine where you have
alternating beeps and voices.
| ...Imagine that some terrible alien disruptor ray was had been used to wreak havok on your favorite
But that part is relatively simple. The slightly more complex part is when you've got sound effects that
are part of the original location sound and are mixed with the dialog. A classic example is when two people
are talking as one of them is getting into or out of a car and closes the door. You need to snip out the
dialog, but leave the closing of the car door. Often, that means locating a suitable "car door closing"
sound from somewhere else, and sticking it in when you cut out the dialog track for that moment. The same
kind of thing can happen when you've got other general background sounds and room noises that were
captured with the dialog and you need to fit them (or reasonable replacements) in where you've chopped
out the words.
What I hadn't been ready for--though not for any better reason than that I simply hadn't thought that far--was
that the Thailand distributors wanted M&E mixes of the trailer as well. A lot of distributors
will just want to make their own promotional stuff, so this isn't always an issue, but in this case, they
did want to create Thai versions of the US promotional material. Fanfare Productions, who had built the
original trailer, shut down when Guy Bianchini moved back to the east coast to take over his father's business,
and I had never gotten copies of the original session files. And thus began the grand adventures of
Mark Derryberry kindly sifting through
what they could scare up of Fanfare's old backup tapes. (Three cheers and twice that many thanks for
George and Mark!)
After retrieving the session file backups and loading them onto the editing systems of the always
amazing and godlike
Bruce C. Marshall over at the
Digital Media Center, we found that when pulling the session files up in the his newer version of
Protools, the loop edits had, for want of a better term, collapsed, so that a single copy of the
entirety of any of the music files was inserted into the mix, even if it should have been just a piece
of a sound file being looped from point A to point B. All very weird, and it resulted in all sorts of
extraneous musical elements appearing in the mix and anything that should have been looped was
Imagine that some terrible alien disruptor ray was had been used to wreak havok on your favorite
sweater. This was kind of like that, except in audio form and, as far as I know, no aliens were
involved. (It's hard to be absolutely sure, but I have no idea why aliens would want to mess with
my sound files. But, then, I don't understand why they'd want to bother with cows or cornfields
either, so you just never know about these things.)
After sorting out the extraneous sounds and effects, and relooping the loops, we did eventually
reconstruct the trailer in both regular and M&E form. After all was edited and done, I think it
took longer to do that than it had taken to do the M&E mix of the entire movie. I sure hope
the Thai audiences appreciate it.
I still had a few more tweaks to do to the video after that, but on Wednesday everything was ready to
wing its way off to the land of peaches and get PALified. Whew!
So now I'm looking forward to seeing the final versions of the movie and posters in Thai. I'm
certainly wondering what I sound like in Thai. I'll let you know how it turns out.