All posts in the category "Discussions"

Web applications and cloud computing to facilitate organization, sharing, and exchanging files in remote post production

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

This article will address the topic of Web-based applications that can be efficient tools to organize and manage team work, particularly in audio and sound related environments, but also for remote postproduction in general.

Throughout the course of a production, there are many aspects that are not directly related to the job at hand. For example: organization, data management, task allocation, backups, scheduling, and the exchanging of files are all very important tasks that rarely receive the attention they deserve. In recent years I have incorporated several new ways to improve communication and data management between collaborators of a sound project, as there are many new resources out there aimed at boosting productivity and communication in remote work environments. Although these tools will never replace human contact, they do enhance the fluidity of the process and augment certain elements of collaboration in new and interesting ways. I plan on continuing to integrate these tools to better exploit their full potential and I encourage their widespread adoption by other teammates and members of the audio community.

The overall objective is to simplify the process of project supervision and execution for all the steps between task & responsibility allocation up through the final delivery. This desire for simplification and improvement comes in response to existing organizational and efficacy related hindrances that we have encountered thus far. One way we have achieved improvements in these department is by centralizing information via shared cloud resources in order to minimize the need for direct exchanges of information, schedules, documents, and files between team members. These modifications to our workflow increase flexibility as a team in our collective ability to quickly respond to changing needs, demands, deadlines and budget considerations.

The challenge lies not only in discovering the tools that are available, but also in collectively trying them out, and finally choosing and agreeing on a selected list of the Web (and otherwise) applications that best suit both our needs and the needs of our customers. I am always open to trying out new solutions that can improve the flow of audiovisual production, though I do prefer applications that are polyvalent and versatile. Please feel free to post your recommendations for other efficient collaboration/organizational tools in the comments below. It is by experimenting with various prospects that we will eventually arrive at and agree upon specific solutions that best fit our respective workflows. As a kick off, here are a few that I am trying out right now.

Asana: a project and task manager

I had the opportunity to implement Asana during the last season of work. It proved to be a useful platform for assigning tasks to specific team members, and for following their progress and confirming accomplishment. It allows us, amongst many other things, to keep track of tasks and to-do lists as well as being a good communication platform for team members. Features like email reminders and project updates allow the team members to stay informed with completed and incompleted tasks of a particular project. Asana is free for 15 collaborators and less. A Smart Phone and Wifi Device App makes it portable and enables instant access to consult and to modify any parameter of a given projects.


Dropbox, a reliable storage solution with many possibilities

  • Automatic synchronization and simple sharing properties and presentation of who is co-sharing folders
  • Ability to share sessions between Pro Tools users

Very useful for sending, storing, synchronizing, and sharing files via the public link. I updated my account from the basic to the 100 Gig package. When I work on a project, I can now have a Protools session (along with related audio files) on Dropbox, which I can then share with my teammates. We can collaborate remotely on the same session (just not at the same time). There is a lot of potential in improving the editing workflow using Dropbox, and I look forward to integrating it more and more in the future.


WeTransfer: a simple file sharing application with a download link in an email

  • Email confirmation of receipt
  • File size limit to 2 Gig.

WeTransfer has been reliable, fast, direct. When the user sends the file, the application will then takes care of multiple steps all at once (faster, better, cheaper! Yes it is possible):

  • Direct uploading the file to WeTransfer
  • Sending the recipient a notification email with a note from the sender
  • the recipient accesses a direct download link
  • the application sends a confirmation when the file has been downloaded by the recipient to complete the exchange


Google Docs/Drive

  • sharing and editing multiple types of files and multi-user setup

When organizing a recording session with several sound recordists, we can set up a shared folder in Google Drive in which we put all important documents and data concerning a recording session, such as location, pictures, maps, sounds, videos, activity descriptions in reference to time, and equipment used, such as which microphones were in use and their perspectives or orientation. These comments are modifiable and accessible by anyone, anywhere, at any time, and are very useful in organizing and managing the metadata afterwards. We encountered a few times with file size limits of documents and spreadsheets in Google Drive which has forced us to split our documents in multiple sets.


Google Apps

There are many ways to share photos, calendars, contacts, sounds, files, and documents using Google Apps. Searching, translating, scheduling, chatting, sending, alerting and file sharing are amongst the list of features you benefit from Google Apps.


Vimeo: a Public and private Video Player

  • Easy to share videos


Skype conversations, with free long distance

  • Possibility for ADR and projections

In many occasions, Skype really is a way to share video conversation. I recall one conversation with a film director making a final cut on the picture edit while watching, on Skype, the mixing studio screen with final mix sound.


Soundcloud, an audio sharing platform that provides multiple interfaces

I use it to share sounds with others. Further, the sounds can be embedded on web sites
Visit my Soundcloud Profile to explore my shared sounds and Demos of my SFX sound collections!


Evernote: a catalog of notebooks, it can include all sorts of file types such as sounds and images

  • Library of all information
  • Possibility to share notebooks with Premium account
  • The web clipper is a good way to store all web based information

Evernote offers several ways to create notes. It is possible to write, record, photograph, send an email and even use the web clipper from a web browser. When using a portable device with a GPS chip, It also integrates many functions of localization. When connected to the Internet, it gives access to the entire library of notebooks, a valuable source of information at my fingertips.


Feedly: an RSS subscription notifier, to stay informed with selective news

Using RSS feeds allows me to stay informed without having to actively seek out new information on subjects I’m interested in. I get a notice everytime a site I follow has updated. Feedly also has a nice user interface that integrates well with Smart Phones and Devices.


Of course, there are many other solutions that can provide similar services out there, so help me add to my list, by contributing with your suggestions. It is important to collectively adopt these new powerful tools, as their strengths are only realized in a collaborative setting. It is essential to test them out and to include them in our workflow on a regular basis. I believe that there is room for improvement in nearly all aspects of a production, and by pushing for the integration and uptake of these new tools we will continually refine our working habits. But it is only once we endorse these new solutions that we can then benefit for every other sound adventure ahead.

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Sound recording on the set of the film Louis Cyr

Monday, September 9th, 2013


We really benefit from getting involved early in the production process of a film. A good place to start is by reading and analyzing the script in order to evaluate the sound budget in regards to the different fields of sound postproduction: Dialogue, Foley, Sound Effects, and eventually Mix. It is also a good time to evaluate the specific needs a project will have in terms of requested sound. One of my latest films is about a French Canadian, Louis Cyr, who became the strongest man of the world in 1892! As much of his story involves him performing his strength in front of audiences around the world, the film has many scenes involving crowds. For these, I suggested being on set during six of the shooting days as a second sound recording team. These days on the set were very valuable and a great learning experience, both as a sound recordist and for the steps ahead in postproduction.

It was an occasion to meet with Simon Poudrette and Norman Bernard, respectively sound recordist (mixer) and boom operator. They were very generous in welcoming us (my assistant sound designer Paul Col and I), helping us to improve our recording habits. Although it is quite obvious that a location sound recordist and a sound designer should meet prior to and during the shoot (to unite their efforts by discussing the script, field information, and potential difficulties, as well as sharing valuable information about location sound recording strategies), there are often a lot of things that prevent this from happening. I put my energy in the opposite direction, this time with success!

Continue reading to listen to multiple stereophonic microphone comparison!

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M/S STEREO RECORDING TECHNIQUE IN SOUND PRODUCTION AND POSTPRODUCTION

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Given that M/S stereophonic recording theories and practices have existed for over fifty years, many people are still reluctant about its regular use during production or post production, especially during the sound editing and mixing stages. Recent improvements in post-production softwares, along with an increase in computing DSP power, facilitate the integration of this type of recording technique throughout the entire work process.

For some background, the Mid-Side (or M/S) recording technique is a coincident miking technique developed by Alan Blumlein, which captures sound from a fixed point in space using two microphones. It provides a natural stereo image that can be easily adjusted or modified after the recording process. There are several plug-ins that allow you to modify the reproduction of sound in space; amongst them the Waves plug-in S1 (stereo imager) and M/S decoder (MS Matrix), which are commonly used by many studios and professionals. Based on similar matrixing  theories are ambisonic recording techniques, which were popularized by the Soundfield microphones and more recently the Double M/S, proposed by Schoeps, arise from the same mathematical theories about the sphere.

One of the most recognized assets of the M/S technique is its versatility and ease of capture. It can be used as a mono cardioid microphone (M) pointed towards the source. During shooting, it can serve as a primary or secondary boom, and for wild recordings it is suitable for recording sound effects, voices, or even music given the circumstances. For ambience recordings it can give a natural stereo image. Due to the extreme proximity between the two microphones, phase problems are avoided, such as those commonly caused by differences in space and angles between the microphones. One down side of this technique is a less defined stereo separation when compared to other stereophonic recording techniques that have greater spacing between microphones, such as AB or ORTF.

Adding a close M/S pair during a shoot can be used to add detail to busy scenes, or if recorded from a distance, can enhance the atmosphere surrounding the action. These ambience tracks can later be used as a part of your sound library for the project. I benefited from this recently, which I describe in my article about the film War Witch.

During sound editing, we can also dig into the source recordings from alternate takes to boost and enlarge ambiences or crowd atmospheres.

There is often confusion about what to do with the M/S recordings during the editing stage. To clear this up, they should be separated into two categories: dialogue and sound effects. This choice should reflect their expected functions in the final mix. If using your M/S pair as secondary on-location dialogue boom the tracks should be grouped and sorted with the primary dialogue recordings, whereas if your M/S pair is capturing atmospheres (without voices) the tracks should be handled by the sound effects editor, and later treated as a sound effect by the mixer. If used as a sound effect, the M/S tracks will more likely be processed and mixed in stereo, or even surround. Though be sure not to duplicate the sounds into both categories, because if synced by both the dialogue editor and the sound effects editor, phase problems will occur from having duplicate tracks.


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Invited by NexT International Film Festival in Bucarest as a sound designer

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Life is full of surprises:

BUCAREST

A short film by Serge Marcotte, The Greens, for which I did sound design, was selected by a film festival in Romania (Bucarest, March 2012). This festival differs from others in that it welcomes both filmmakers and sound designers. On the thirty films in competition, about half were represented by the director or the sound designer, or both. Screenings, meetings, seminars with themes, group meals were on the menu!   Cultural exchange guaranteed!

How come this invitation for sound designers?

As a tribute to a pair of young Romanian director-sound designer, who tragically perished together in a car accident, the “Next Cultural Society” created the Next International Film Festival.  The creative approach of Andre Toncu, the sound designer of the Romanian duo, now serves as an inspiration for all generations of filmmakers and sound designers, a wish that he had made during his lifetime.  What a powerful example of the importance of sound in the film process. I would love not to have to convince anyone of that.

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Web Echoes 2: Sound Design, technical challenge, … innovation

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

It is still very hard for me to conciliate sound design and web design at the same time. I finished to work on War Witch at the beginning of February, so I am writing a series of posts that will lead to new collections. Stay tuned! A lot of new ahead!

As an appetizer, here are my Web Echoes…

Steve Papagiannis, a supervising sound editor from the Los Angeles area, started Stavrosound blog about six months ago. So far, his articles are oriented towards dialog editing and it’s particularities like crackles or even more dreaming ideas like this.  Very cool!

One Stop Digital, Excellent technical resource for Pro Tools users, published this post that talks about programs that conform sound to picture.  More possibilities.

Another blog about Sound Design is azimutaudio.  He takes the time to review few SFX libraries.

This post from irrationalgames.com has an super article about gun recording.

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Web Echoes 1: Impulse Response, Pro Tools functions and workflow

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Internet plays an important role in my creative, technical and learning process. It is also a great source of motivation, particularly when I discovered Sound Designer’s blogs and Independent SFX Libraries and their makers, few years ago. Since then, I improved my surfing skills by using RSS feeds to centralize information in an aggregator daily. Collecting, marking, saving and later following the flow of specialized news that come automatically in my computer without loosing any time searching. Every week, I discover new sites, blogs, SFX boutiques, opinions products, tutorials on a wide range of subjects… The content is accessible and contribute to my reflections and learning about sound. I would like to share a few of particular interest in this Web Echoes 1, an ongoing News Report that I instigate today, as a way to share content and help to grow collectively and individually! This one is more technically oriented towards Impulse Response, Pro Tools functions and workflow, conforming and sound metadata!

1. Brought by Designing Sounds last week, from the team at ArenaNet, they did a recording session in a never completed Nuclear Power Plant, recording tones and all sorts of incredible sounds. Wow! I am very impressed! This presentation video is instructive for our ears as an authentic document for future constructions. I look forward to see more. Impulse Response in progress…

2- This post from Ian Palmer’s Post-Production Sound Blog talks about working from home. It confirms a reality that will increase over time. Technology gives us solutions to work remotely and gain flexibility and efficiency. Ian is starting SFX collections as well, here is the link.

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