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Say you're working on audio to a CGI/animation project on a tight schedule. On top of all rendered images there's a layer of title graphics which also need their own sounds (now missing). Deadline is in three days, and the creative studio will take two days to send a locked video with everything included. Until then there are still temp animatics here and there, some graphics are missing, and the cut will definitely change, throwing sound effects work out of sync.

Most of the sound is there. (Same with music.) Sound is missing a few elements, final touch and polish.

Considering there's very little time left, would you sit and work on the remaining sound elements before receiving a final cut, and opt to reconform later? Or would you rather wait and potentially get involved in a blame game later? Maybe nag the video people to get the cut done at the cost of being irritating?

Please share your view.

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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

i would always reconform & never wait

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I am right now going through the same problem you are facing right now.

I have a short film that is needed by this Monday and the picture edit isn't done yet.

I did a lot of work on it (4 complete days) and I have even worldized the whole voice track which is a newscast playing over a TV and there are more lines the editor wants to place in (which I didn't have before i.e. I have to re-set up my worldizing again).

In retrospect, I think what I should have done is:

A) Pulled the backgrounds, spot effects I know I would need, and designed a rough palette of sounds to use when the picture is done.

B) Not worldized anything until it was locked (unless there is no chance of additional material being added)

C) Not synced any footsteps or anything perfectly yet.

Something that will make the changes easier is I requested from the editor an EDL for both the version I am working on now and the finished edit so I can conform using that which will be much easier (i.e. I will know exactly how many frames things shifted and what's a new shot, etc.) This may or may not help you because they are working on CGI shots..

I would ask the editor what shots are going to stay and for sure going to be in the edit and work on those until they are synced and perfect, and anything that might change wait for until the picture is locked - but start getting something ready for when that time comes.

And do make an effort to find out why you are getting it later. It makes it impossible to do your job and it sounds like the visual dept has already missed a few of their deadlines which pushes you back - and that's not ok in my book. Find out via whoever is appropriate (director, producer, etc.) and make sure it doesn't happen in the future if you're working with them again. It endangers your job and it shouldn't be like that, but things like this do happen unfortunately...

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It's a snafu really, if the visual dept miss a few interim deadlines, saying "we'll push ourselves to deliver on the final deadline", and pull a few all-nighters, then sound dept is dragged into a trap later - when the product is on the table, on time but not of quality? Of course to make things more complicated (and hence my question here), there are positive things such as the work usually being interesting, great and open-minded clients, high quality product, but just that one may pull their hair out in the process. Intriguing to see an unequivocal reconform vote so far. –  georgi Feb 19 '11 at 10:36
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I would also say work instead of wait. There is nothing worse than waiting, you'll just get in a bad mood, and when you get the material in 2 days, it will be tough to get on top of the situation. Try to get some fresh temp material from the CGI guys, just a little bit, so you can get a feel of what they are doing.

Reconforming is a normal part of the game, even though it can be annoying at times. I have had editors changing the edit in many films, and it has almost always made the film better.

Sometimes you will have to move your deadline too, if they suddenly come up with a new edit, or you may have to hire someone extra to reconform, if the schedule is tight.

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the question is about when there's enough material to work with, bringing sound work to about 85% of planned, and then vis dept are dragging on a few missing shots and a few parts of the vid will be recut for certain. It's a mix of whether reconforming is a bigger trap than editing to non-locked cut, and also whether we should exercise the "we can always reconform" view. Looks like any early discussion must include a mention of this and deadlines.. –  georgi Feb 19 '11 at 10:41
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