I leave the sound design for 6 days to another designer and I get back and I am shocked at how everything I had put my heart and soul into has been destroyed and disarranged and I get 10 minutes to see it before it's finally laid back and sent out into the world and I am disgusted by it. Every little detail I put into it seems like it has been knocked down from it's pedestal. For instance, footsteps were not where they were supposed to be - seconds out of sync with when they happen on the screen... Simple things like that which are no-brainers, but now my name is on this.

There are also things that were changed in the sound that I don't agree with and again, this has my name on it.

Am I overreacting on this? It's just one music video but it's an important one and most likely will be seen by millions of people.

Anyway... I feel like I just watched my puppy walk out into freeway traffic and there is nothing I can do about saving him.

What would you do in a situation like this? I feel like punching a wall.

  • I punched a wall two weeks ago for entirely different reasons and it doesn't help things one bit. What works for me in these moments is to hammer drums, and I guess heavily distorted guitar would work too depending on your instrument. It's like creative punching... Jun 2, 2011 at 9:17
  • Careful though, I broke a bone in my hand doing that when I was a kid. Stick with the drums. Or maybe you could beat up the guy @Si Charles is talking about down there, he sounds like a bad person/soundguy.
    – g.a.harry
    Jun 2, 2011 at 10:39
  • @g.aharry that makes the 2 of us. I had a hairline in my wrist and my pinky doing that! hahaha...
    – user6513
    Jun 2, 2011 at 14:09
  • Me too. Right hand or left? I lost a highjump competition in grade 7 or something. Never did that again.
    – g.a.harry
    Jun 2, 2011 at 21:11
  • I've broken my knuckles so many times on fridge doors from my burger-flipping days (the ones six years ago, not my current night job). Jun 2, 2011 at 21:54

8 Answers 8


the nature of collaborative work means that (often) your work will go through other people's hands before venturing out into the world.

IMO the key is to surround yourself with people that you trust. People that will make you sound better, not worse.

Clearly easier said than done, but that's the goal anyway.

In the interim don't stress about the things that you can't control, and then work tirelessly on the things that you can control.

As a side note - back in my poker playing days I'd call what you're probably doing now "tilt"

All good poker players know that tilt is bad for your game. When you're tilting you're allowing your emotions to obscure your judgement. It makes you play badly, and bad play means lost money in poker. Tilting is passing on objectively good decisions for feel good emotional short term losing ones.

Same is true in anything.

If you're ever worried your emotions are negatively affecting your work, try studying buddhism. Alternatively, look up Tommy Angelo - the poker tiltless guy. Great mindset stuff that I actually use constantly.

Here's a link to a good Tommy Angelo story that illustrates what tilt can do to you.

  • 1
    @Rene, Awesome. How do you do that? You must teach me the art of Few-Words-Fu.
    – g.a.harry
    Jun 2, 2011 at 3:38
  • you say that as I'm editing to double the length of the thing. lol :)
    – Rene
    Jun 2, 2011 at 3:39
  • That's OK, you're allowed. Oh, and if I may, I would recommend existentialism over Buddhism. Buddhism involves a lot more guilt than you'd expect.
    – g.a.harry
    Jun 2, 2011 at 10:35

Thats gotta be tough, live and learn.

DONT punch any walls though. I broke my hand once by doing that and if you do it at your parent's house they might ground you.


Are you clear on which issues are technical faults and which are creative decisions? Other than in rare circumstances footsteps out of sync are a technical fault and in the film QC world would be rejected by distributors, so you are doing the producer a favour to identify those & fix them.... creative decisions that you disagree with are a different kettle of fish...

  • agreed that film QC would help resolve (or avert) many of these kinds of issues. Music videos OTOH are typically still pretty wild west - especially now that the primary distribution mechanism is ye olde internet.
    – Rene
    Jun 2, 2011 at 22:15

I wouldn't say you're overreacting or being over sensitive. It's natural to feel betrayed that anything has been changed, even if it ends up being better (though that's a slightly different thing). I get like that all the time.

More important is what you do about it. In this case it sounds like there's literally nothing you can do. So I'd say just take it in stride, and if anyone asks you about it just shrug and say, "I know, it annoys me too." You could ask to have your name taken off it, and I know that's been done more than a few times by a lot of people, but it's not exactly a great note on which to end a project. It just makes everyone feel shitty.

However, I can pretty much guarantee that unless you mention it, no one will even notice that it was you; only 2 or 3 people ever get on-screen credits for music videos and you probably won't be one. And that's not to diminish you contribution in any way, it's just the nature of our game. Plus, you have an entire body of high quality work behind you to confirm the fact that this is not a regular thing and that there were mitigating circumstances.

Fret not. To quote the immortal Mr. Vonnegut, "So it goes."


I have a similar issue with location sound. Quite often i'm doing the sound for a television series and I always get the best sound possible on set, make sure that there is good close sound in the closeups and make sure the director knows to use this sound and not the sound from the VERY wide shot. Once my day on set is done I have nothing to do with the sound until the show is broadcast and i'm always shocked. They only ever take the sound from what ever shot they use so it's going from close to distant, reverbarant to clean all the time, it's horrible. They also try to add reverb to audio that doesn't need it so it ends up even worse. Oh, I forgot the also mention that there is another sound guy that does this show as well and he is awful, but they have got the credits wrong on a couple of occasions and my name has ended up on his episode. I was livid and basically said that I don't want my name on the credits. It's also not going on my CV!!

  • @Si - (I say this coming mostly from the post audio end) This would usually depend on whether the post audio crew is provided with the additional audio. If not, then hopefully the editor is smart enough (or has enough time) to use the better audio (which we get as an OMF). Personally, I tend to lean towards that it's typically the Editors fault or Time/Money's fault if I don't get the alternate audio. Even if I have to take an extra 20m to go search for the alternate audio, I'd rather use what sounds best and is most workable, then I will (if I have it). My name is going on that... Jun 2, 2011 at 8:14
  • Hi. The shoot is the 'run and gun' type with me sending 2 channels to the camera (1=boom and 2=radio/s) I tend to stick to boom as much as possible, it's a personal thing! The editor is generally the director and the cameraman as well, but they put no time into the edit and don't think about selecting the right sound etc, so whatever sound is on the shot is what they will use. There is no separate audio post.
    – Si Charles
    Jun 2, 2011 at 8:22

Did you hire the other designer to take your place, or was it a decision of the director? If it was the director's decision, talk to him, and let him know how you feel about his choice, and perhaps ask for your name to be removed from the credits as you feel nothing that you did made it into the final cut.

If it was your decision, bite the bullet and accept that you made a bad decision, then never work with the other designer again.

Finally, if it was the directors direction that changed all your edits, keep your mouth shut and politely decline to work with that director again. Feign diarrhea or something... no one ever questions that.

  • 1
    I had a situation recently where a colleague asked to have his name removed from a project. It did not go well, because such requests are remarkably insulting to clients. In the aftermath the client was very pleased with everything and we continue our relationship, but they really did not take well to having one of us coming to the conclusion that we did not contribute enough to warrant the credit. YMMV.
    – Rene
    Jun 2, 2011 at 22:23
  • Good to know. One would think that it would actually be appreciated, but I can see how a client would feel that way, especially if they paid the person. Jun 6, 2011 at 14:34

Sorry to hear this. I would discuss it with the producer though and ask for an explanation.

If its really that bad ask to be de-credited.


I'm glad that this topic exists. I had similar issue recently and it's good to know we're not alone. I think the mature answer is that it's natural to have strong emotional reactions, but although sucky in the short term, these events can help you and the team avoid issues in the future.

Recently I was delivering sound effects to the mixer for a radio play. The script was delayed and the post schedule was a matter of days. Plus there was a server outage, so when I uploaded all my sound effects and notified the mixer and producer via email that I had submitted my work, this wasn't recieved until days later. By then they ended up going with the temp effects, using none of the sounds that I'd stayed up late for on those nights.

So that really sucked. A lot. BUT luckily these people are good friends and it worked out for the best because it brought to the surface issues in our scheduling. A new schedule was made up that gave evryone maximum time to deliver their content and communication ha really opened up since. It was a new show so we were still figuring things out. I still am a little sad I didn't get to share my work on that episode, but I have been able too re-use that work on later episodes. Recent episodes have been great, so in a way we were probably lucky this happened early in the season.

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