The importance of a good sound mix!

My new narrative feature, BROKEN SIDE OF TIME, which premieres on Friday, June 28th at VisionFest in NYC (at the TriBeCa Cinema at 9:30PM), was my first film where I discovered the sheer joy and beauty of shooting with DSLRs.  In this case the Nikon D7000 and a bunch of old manual prime lenses.  It was also the first time I was in charge of recording my own sound…separately.  For that I had purchased a Zoom H4N.  A great little recorder.  I used my Audio Technica AT897 microphone, the same mic which recorded all of the COLOR ME OBSESSED sound, quite beautifully, I might add.  But after just a few hours of filming, we realized the mic was giving us truly low levels.  Not unusable.  But lower than they should have been.  After doing some overnight research, we discovered this very popular mic (along with a model by Rode) was mostly incompatible with the H4N.  I had a Sennheiser overnighted from B&H, and we moved on.

I bring this up because I was truly always worried about the scenes recorded with that old mic.  Specifically an 18 minute scene between Lynn Mancinelli’s Dolce and Audria Ayer’s Viral, which was honestly the main set piece in the film.  The sound was passable at best.  Really quiet in a not-so-quiet location.

Lynn Mancinelli and Audria Ayers in BROKEN SOUND OF TIME with Matt Gundy behind the boards at DuArt Film & Video

Lynn Mancinelli and Audria Ayers in BROKEN SOUND OF TIME with Matt Gundy behind the boards at DuArt Film & Video

Heading into the film’s sound mix last week, that scene was the one which worried me most.  I knew DuArt’s Matt Gundy was brilliant behind the boards.  He had mixed every one of my films since YOU ARE ALONE in 2005.  This would be my sixth feature mixed by Gundy.  But could he really work miracles?  Could all those notch filters and the infamous HissMaster 2000 give him god-like powers?

The answer, in a word, yes.  As much as I liked BROKEN SIDE OF TIME going into the mix, because of Matt Gundy’s ability to add plug-in-Woolite to all the background noise, and gently scub away the drek, watching the film now, I fucking love it.  Matt Gundy saved my film.  It sounds as clean and full as anything playing in the multiplex.  He added sound effects as subtle as a breath.  He mixed certain songs to sound as if they were coming from juke boxes, or even better, from juke boxes in another room.  He took out squeaks in the noisiest mattress every filmed.  He turned by $15,000 feature into a million dollar movie.

That is the difference a sound mix can make.

If you make a film, don’t scrimp on sound, and don’t forget the mix.  It can make the difference between sounding like a bad YouTube video, as so many mumblecore movies do, and a film that deserves an Oscar nom for best sound editing.

Matt Gundy is BROKEN SIDE OF TIME’s hero.  He has my eternal gratitude.


1 Comment

Filed under editing, filmmaking, sound mixing

One response to “The importance of a good sound mix!

  1. nice article, my friend. I was kinda curious about the H4N myself. I, too, am a DSLR Filmmaker, my background is in Audio Production, sound design and anything that has to do with Music, I am trying to build the confidence to shoot my first film.

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