The Chinese Gardens
The Chinese Gardens, a film by award winning filmmaker Valerie Soe, examines the lost Chinese community in Port Townsend, Washington, through the use of vivid images, interviews, and sound. After production wrapped, I was brought on board to help find a way to sync the production audio, which was recorded on a Sound Devices 552, to the DSLR audio. And since no timecode was generated or shared during production, PluralEyes for Final Cut Pro came in to play here and worked wonders syncing up the Sound Devices audio to the DSLR audio.
… BUT, apparently, there is a known delay with audio being recorded on DSLRs. The video on DSLRs is recorded roughly 2 frames after the audio. For a full discussion on Creative Cow, go HERE. Essentially, what that meant is that I had to nudge all the regions in the OMF over 2 frames to sync up properly.
Because PluralEyes strips the original file name from the audio, I was unable to use the Field Production Workflow in Pro Tools, which is used to assemble the original production dialogue. This is no big thing as many projects are like this.
Luckily, my good friend Geoff Price was able to help cut the ambiences and sound effects for this show. He did a phenomenal job as his work really brought the entire film to life. We have a solidified workflow and template that we work off of for cutting ambiences and sound effects so tracks were already laid out and mapped accordingly as if it was ready to mix. This saved a lot of prep work prior to doing the final mix. We like a lot of ambience or “BG” layers. I think the more the better so we have options if Valerie didn’t like them come final mixing time. We had dedicated tracks for the surrounds that I bled into the fronts a tad bit.
I, on the other hand, wrangled the dialogue, which was recorded beautifully. One lav and one boom were used during production. I defaulted to the boom, as usual. There were minor sibilance problems and occasional clicks/snats/pops in the dialogue track that iZotope fixed just fine. I don’t remember having to manually draw a single waveform out, which is good
We final mixed this show at Polarity Post Production in their new 7.1 Theater although we mixed in the 5.1 format as anything more channels would be unnecessary. For faders, I luckily had one Euphonix MC Control and MC Mix linked though I primarily used MC Control. Pro Tools 10 was the DAW of choice throughout the entire show, and it really helped out during the final mix. It was much much much faster to use clip-gain than it is to write fader automation, especially when leveling out syllables in the dialogue track. Prior to the final mix, there were two rounds of temp mixes that I did, which saved a lot of time during the final since most of the levels were nearly set. The nice part about this film is that there’s hardly any dialogue so this gave me the ability to mix the ambiences with the music at a much louder level. Ironically, Geoff’s ambiences seemed as if they were apart of the score! Nothing really interfered.
This is definitely a great documentary, and Valerie’s docs are always a joy to work on!