from editing to sound spotting to home!

I'm happy to report that I'm finally back in the smoggy heart of LA LA land after nearly a month up in Vancouver for editing. I've been catching up on my life (and my mail) and happily taking a little bit of a break after weeks of 14+ hour days/nights. The insides of my eyelids missed me. :-)

But never fear! I'm fully recovered... so let the updates continue!

As you may have guessed from my previous editing post, I absolutely love the editing process. There are those people who go insane after staring at second-by-second (or shorter) snippets of a project - but I am not one of those people. I really had a great time and learned a lot. And what happens after editing, you ask? Well, let me tell you... Once an episode has been approved by the network, it's considered "locked," which means that no more picture changes are made to it after that point. But there's still much more work to be done before it's ready to go to air.

The next part of the process is called sound spotting. In sound spotting, you go to a sound studio and sit in a room with a group of sound and music experts including the post-production supervisor, the music supervisor, music editor, composer, sound designer, etc. Our intrepid network executive was also part of the process and joined us by phone. So, with all these people sitting in chairs, on couches, or leaning next to the door frame, you put the "locked" episode into the DVD player and watch it scene by scene. At the end of each scene, you stop the DVD and everyone talks about what's needed for that scene in terms of sound or music.

Which brings us to something you may not know... most of the sounds you hear in a movie or television show are actually added after the fact. For example, if you're watching your favorite crime show and the good guy shoots the bad guy, the shotgun sound is an effect put in by the sound designer. Same with car crashes, doorbells, steaming teapots, and birds chirping overhead (unless you're lucky enough to be filming somewhere where the birds chirp on cue). Music, obviously, is also added later - as is (less obviously) music that the characters listen to as they kick up their heels on a dance floor or drive in their car.

[On a sidenote, shooting dancing sequences is particularly weird if the scene you're filming has dialogue because since the sound folks need to record the dialogue, you can't actually play any music for dancing - so everyone's moving around in silence to whatever beat is going on in their head!]

Speaking of music (and then I promise we'll get back to the sound spot), here's another thing you may not know... There are actually different categories of music that you'll hear in a movie or tv show. "Source" music is what the character listens to through a radio, CD player, department store speaker system, etc. "Score" is what plays over a scene that gives the scene some sort of emotional oomph, like the symphonic swell when the hero conquers the villain or the squeaky/eerie music when the girl in the nightgown goes down into the basement to check out a sound and you're yelling at the TV that she's an idiot and should go back up and call 911 (which she can't do because the phone lines have been cut, of course). There's also what the music folks lovingly call "scource," which is when music that you'd expect to be "source" actually plays as "score." So, the next time you're watching two long-lost lovers run toward each other on a beach as some Coldplay anthem makes goosebumps on your arms, you can stand up and announce proudly: Scource! (Of course, your friends will hate you for ruining the moment, but here's hoping they're a forgiving bunch).

Anyhow, so all of this ties into the sound spot because after watching scene, we'd discuss what kind of music would be most appropriate (score or source), what sort of sound effects might be necessary, and - in one of the strangest parts of the post-production process - how much "walla" might be required for the background. Yes, folks, "walla" is an actual thing that people do. People who are trained in the art of "walla" sit around in a room talking, and then that sound is taken and put into the show so that it sounds like the background actors (in a restaurant, for example, or a cafe) were talking when you shot the scene. Like music, sound effects, etc. "walla" adds a layer and a texture - and you'd definitely notice it if it were missing.

You'll never watch anything the same way again, will you?

Welcome to my world. :-) Anyhow, so that's sound spotting. Watching the episode scene by scene, giving notes and taking notes, and doing that for all six episodes. And then, once the sound spotting was done last Friday, I came home! Woo hoo!

And here I am now... but it's not done yet! We're now focused on the specifics of music and sound choices, which means: receiving lots of CDs from our music supervisor with sample song choices for certain scenes; watching quicktime files of specific scenes with sounds put in; and, soon, watching quicktimes with our composer's creations in them. It's really amazing to see it all coming together so well. It really looks and sounds great.

I can't wait for you all to see it...


Anonymous Janice said...

Gosh, I had no idea so much was involved! I did know about sound effects being "created" and added after the fact, however I had no clue about the music, much less "walla."
Who knew???
I'm glad you're home safe and sound, and that you're giving us more insight into the making of "your baby." :-)
Take care, everyone!

2:46 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Hi Michelle,

I had a giggle reading your blog...about the love making scene! I just got word that Exes and ohs is interested in using one of my songs 'Joan' for an episode. The episode hasn't been 'locked' in yet...geez learned so much about your world through your blog. I hope you're loving Vancouver (my home)...if you stay long enoug, I promise the sun will come out.

All my best wishes on your adventure,
Paula Toledo

7:59 AM  

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