Monday, November 14, 2005

Wassat? Eh? Say again?

It should be a great time to be in film and tv - setup costs are going through the floor - consumer level HD cameras, ridiculously simple editing software, funky editing hardware, more brilliant actors than we know what to do with, apple realising that people already download tv shows and making a viable business model for delivery based on that and to top it all off - increasingly sluggish tv networks*. Anyone who wants to tell a story should be able to write a script, get a camera and point it at some people and come up with something great.

Only one small problem. Sound. While it's possible to get great looking footage with a pretty cheap camera, it's really hard to get decent sound with anything less than ideal conditions and bloody expensive hardware. Oh, and good people doing the mic waving and mixing.

If you look at what's already out there you can hear the lack of decent sound in 9 out of 10 otherwise good short films. Do I have a solution? No. But if the new business types are to be believed, identifying a real problem is the first step toward making a successful business. Also, this would mean more and better films and tv shows for us all!

Good sound is so important in visual media. Counterintuitive perhaps, but that doesn't mean it's not true. Crappy visuals you can get away with. Crappy sound? Forget it. The most beautifully shot movie becomes unwatchable if you can't hear it properly. This applies to television and games too**.

So. Problem identified. Possible solutions? USB Memory Sticks with microphones? "Sure, but the quality of a mic that small can't be all that great," I hear you cry. To which I say: "Umm, well, if they can actually GET it onto the memory stick, won't that mean they're quite cheap?"
To which you reply "Ok. Yeah, I guess."
"Which would mean you could quote the propellorheads."
"You mean 'Very goood. You give me so much at one time. Yes, I do; I may have-'"
"No, no, no - the other one."
"'Now, presumably for something like that you'd need a very large number of microphones?'"
"Bingo! That's the one! And they'll be cheap and small and light, so you can stick them all over the scene"
"They'll be auto-camouflaging as well, will they?"
"Oh, shut up - we'll cover them with gaffer or something, that's not the point."
"No Khrob - the point is that a lot of shit audio recordings will still sound shit"
"Ah," says me, "but that's where the really clever software comes in."
"And you're going to write it, I suppose?"
"Hell no. I'm not that smrt. But since you seem to know so much about all this, perhaps you can tell me if it would be possible to cut out extraneous, well, noise, and get a decent recording quite cheaply"
"Ummm, I'll get back to you."

If anyone can play the other role in this little scene, just add some more dialogue down below in the Ye Olde Comments Secktion.

Another option (if the whole idea isn't fundamentally floored) would be a nice little radio usb hub that comes with a dozen small radio microphones, and pulls in the sound and processes it as you go... As long as it's cheap, and sounds good.

* who can good shows like Futurama and Family Guy, then wonder why DVD sales for same are so huge... It's not that we don't like the shows people! It's that we don't like waiting until You say it's ok to watch.

** admittedly, not so much for games, but you'd probably be surprised at the sound budgets for Black and White 2 or Halo, not to mention GTA - and it's only going to get worse/better*** from here.

*** you know, depending on whether you're paying to make it or consume it.

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