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I am going to be doing post-audio for a short film that is about 3 minutes long and the director told me I will only have two days to do it. Is this a reasonable time to get a short film done because I'm just starting out and have about 6 months of experience. One of the main things I am worried about is that the quality will suffer.

I feel like I am between a rock and a hard place; On one hand, I am new and I wan’t to get a lot of work to gain experience so I keep accepting these things with extremely tight time contracts. On the other hand, I always work extremely hard on every and quality is my number one concern.

The project is a short drama piece inside of a diner in a small town set in the late 1950’s. I already started recording and mixing the ambience. I have a walla, plates, people eating, traffic outside, birds outside, and a church bell that is close by the diner after doing some research.

I like to record all the sfx, ambience, and foley myself. I will also have to edit the dialogue and mix the short. So, my question is... Is it reasonable to get a short film done in two days? If not, how long should it be and how could I stretch out a few more days to get it done.

  • As I doubt there is much budget, just say yes & get on with it, or say no. I've done score for shorts in 2 days; one initial guess, one tweak… & they managed to re-edit the $%^& movie overnight, forcing me to re-time everything:P – Tetsujin Dec 5 '14 at 21:22
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It is a tight turnaround but could still be a good learning experience for you if your new to all this. If it's all one location and you've already started collecting sounds, I'd say go for it. There is almost never the amount of time you would like to have so it could help you learn how to make it sound good and fast. I would concentrate on getting a good dialog edit, if you have that then your mix will go so much quicker.

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Whether it's reasonable or not depends on the film really; three minutes of Saving Private Ryan style warfare will take longer than three minutes of two people sitting round a table chatting.

Coaxmw is spot on saying there is almost never the amount of time you would like. I'm not saying its a good thing, but in that situation often the first things to compromise on are recording custom ambiances and effects. Recording Foley is usually more time efficient than trying to edit from a library and it sounds better.

I would not take a job on though if I knew I couldn't do it well. Perhaps you can get someone on to help though?

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Um, I would strongly suggest against it, to be frank... It is possible to do as such, but the creativity and overall quality will suffer. As you said, it's not a simple mix-work or just foley, it's the entire soundtrack (minus the music, I guess judging by your post). When I did a theatrical mix for 2-3 minute promos for upcoming movies a while ago it took 2 days just for the mix and nothing else (it was a pretty heavy patch-work to dig into). If you're inexperienced, you will need more time though to get to know the material and figure it out. Especially dialogue editing can be very time consuming if it's not perfectly recorded.

How long that's reasonable differs from project to project, but assuming this is a pretty straight forward drama or similar, with not too much true design to take care of, I'd normally need about 5 days and up for 3 minutes of everything except music, provided the sync dialogue and music isn't a mess. As you said you had only done this for six months so far, I'd say you would do yourself a favour demanding at least 7 days, which leaves you some time to think things over as you go, something that's extremely valuable when one hasn't had the time to work up one's routines yet! Or just going on routine is plain boring ;-) Historically, I've done 3-minute shorts that had very heavy designs taking at least 2 weeks or more to do, which has included heavy interconnecting layering, several hundred tracks, and busses, all with different perspective and selective acoustical placements, but I've also had gigs where I had to invent entirely new previously unheard sounds and soundscapes, mainly for surreal projects though, and such things can sometimes (if permitted to) take A LOT of time to build from scratch, especially when it's actually used as an active part to tell a story, and you get to work closely with the director. Also, a good reason to not wanting to do everything in too short time - hearing fatigue. What you think you hear when about to call it a day is rarely what you'll hear the morning after, and sometimes (not very rare either, to that), things that felt like a very good idea at the time when focusing completely on one part, can prove pretty horrendous when you get perspective on it, meaning there are several reasons you want several days to do stuff and get them right! The brain works best when getting to process new ideas :-)

If I may ask, what type of project is it?

  • The project is a short drama piece inside of a diner in a small town set in the late 1950’s. I already started recording and mixing the ambience. I have a walla, plates, people eating, traffic outside, birds outside, and a church bell that is close by the diner after doing some research. – Luke Farroh Dec 6 '14 at 18:01
  • One of the main things I am worried about is that the quality will suffer. I feel like I am between a rock and a hard place; On one hand, I am new and I wan’t to get a lot of work to gain experience so I keep accepting these things with extremely tight time contracts. On the other hand, I always work extremely hard on every and quality is my number one concern. – Luke Farroh Dec 6 '14 at 18:03

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