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Understandably, the vast majority of the chat on here is almost exclusively about SD. It's sometimes difficult, as an audio-centric person, to remember that the images we work with are actually made by someone. Even more difficult to remember is that the painstaking detail and care with which we treat our sounds is matched in equal measure on the part of the video editor.

It's in our nature to want to separate, categorize, box up our ideas into neat little packages to make things easier to deal with. He's an audio guy, and that girl does video, and never the twain shall meet. When I think about it, I've never met an editor in the flesh before. This seems wrong to me.

We as sound people are dependent on picture people, and though they're loath to admit it, picture people are dependent on us. Doesn't it make sense then to wrap up those dependencies into one box? Shouldn't a Sound Designer also be a Picture Editor? Wouldn't it help one's sound designing immensely to be able to watch a cut and feel the rhythm, to know exactly why the pictures move the way they do?

I feel like my own sound design has really been lacking this element. The picture has always been something almost to work against not with, if you take my meaning. Something given, put forward, stimulus to which I am supposed to respond. Pavlovian Sound Design. This is exacerbated by the fact that we are always the very last in line, the unconsidered "oh f*ck" afterthought.

Wouldn't a great way to integrate ourselves better into the process be to learn, understand, and be able to edit film/video so that we do our jobs even better? I know it doesn't work perfectly, but this old saying came to mind:

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll eat for a lifetime.

Thoughts?

  • You're so good at plagiarism. socialsounddesign.com/questions/5840/… – Utopia Feb 16 '12 at 2:36
  • And you know I'm just kidding. – Utopia Feb 16 '12 at 2:37
  • I guess it's a good thing I'll be studying Picture Editing at film school, at first I thought it would nice to do but not fun since I'd have to learn it if I want learn sound editing/mixing, cause at my school when choosing what specialization I've only got Post Production which covers all the different audio-visual aspects.. – Stephen Saldanha Feb 16 '12 at 5:20
  • @utopia Great minds think alike. – g.a.harry Feb 19 '12 at 17:23
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Great Question!

Not so long ago I've asked a question on this site about rhythm in Sound Design. Tim Prebble advised me to read a book about rhythm in picture editing to learn more about it, and while reading I've learned a lot more about Sound Design then only rhythm.

Another book I can advice is "In the blink of an eye" by Walter Murch. He is of course a legend in both Sound Design and picture editing, and this small book gives you a great feeling 'what it's all about'.

In my experience there are two ways to work well WITH the picture edit instead of against it. The first and best one is to take time and sit next to the editor and director while they're cutting the movie. Not all the time of course but just enough to get sound ideas in the picture and to understand what way they're trying to tell the story. The second way is to take a lot of time for getting the film edit to the sound post production. About a month ago, the director, editor and me took two days to completely discuss every cut and the essence of every scene before I got the picture'latch' (I think lock is the wrong word because sometimes you have to get back to the picture edit). This was for a 15 minute movie. And when I started the sound edit, I hung up all the notes I made durning the conversations and new exactly where to start and what to do.

When I get stuck, ore change big things 'picture edit things' like musical or voice over timing. The first one I call and send a quick bounce is the picture editor, just to see if he agrees with the rhythmical changes I've made.

I think the Sound Designer and Picture Editor should be two minds in one body to get the best out of the story and feeling of the movie.

  • What about 1 mind in 2 bodies? Then there would be fewer arguments! – Roger Middenway Feb 14 '12 at 13:01
  • haha true that. But you can't put the expertise of two minds in one right? Arguments are good as long as they help to get the movie to a next level I guess. – Taco Drijfhout Feb 14 '12 at 15:37
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This is interesting post and is something I have been thinking about a lot recently. I work in games which doesn't have the same 'clear' production processes (or any clear process at all come to that) as linear media but ironically alot of the requirements that we have are shared with our linear media counterparts, and actually alot of the content we produce here at Remedy is actually linear media, and pretty much all of it is done in house. Anyway to get to the point - I agree with you that knowing how to edit picture, teaches how picture editors think, and what their priorities are. Because we actually have no post production phase in our pipeline the audio is being developed at the same time as the picture is being cut so sometimes our sound effects are the stimulus for how the picture is cut and the flow of the scene. Close cooperation between the sound and the picture, especially the picture cut is how to create greatness.

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I'd be more interested in teaming with or having a close contact with the picture editor. I understand that it can be impossible in a project where audio is outsourced, you're working to a "locked" picture and you have no ways or time to reach the picture editor(s).

It's surely a problem with the post production process where audio is expected to work after the picture editors or e.g. animators have done their job, whereas it would make a lot more sense for those two to work simultaneously and also take turns in which one leads the process (picture editors can edit and animators can animate FOR the sound just as sound can be made for the picture). Edit: Although ultimately audio should be present from the very early idea stages as well, so the use of audio is made an integral part of the whole production, not just a final polish or unavoidable necessity.

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A couple of years ago I went out and bought a DSLR and started shooting and editing.

It's been a very rewarding experience and has greatly enhanced my perspective wrt sound design.

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A year ago I decided to transfer from Music and Audio Production course at the University onto Professional Sound and Video Production Degree. It was the best decision of my life! I know now what it means to be multiskilled and how much it helps to get behind the camera once in a while. It changes the perception of image, puts into perspective the sound design, visual effects design and other elements of the whole picture (like colour, lighting, mood and all the elements that we, sound people, take for granted). If I can advice anything (after all I graduate next year!) I'd say that the more we know about video, the more we know about sound design.

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