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What are your ideal specifications for location shooting?

If shooting on film, the location mixer will use a timecode 1/4" Nagra with a smart slate. The timecode is recorded on a dedicated timecode center channel, and this is used to conform and sync dailies in post.

We prefer analog media for dialogue origination because of the warmer, sweeter sound, though excellent results can also be achieved with timecode DAT or other digital media. There are two types of timecode to choose from in the US: dropframe or non-dropframe. Most people use non-drop code, but whichever one you choose, stick with it through your entire production. It is easy to confuse non-drop or dropframe code with the speed of the code, but always use 29.97 frames per second, which refers to the frame rate of NTSC video. DO NOT record location timecode at 24 frames per second as this will cause unbelievable headaches in post. 

If shooting on DV or any other highly portable video medium, please exercise care and caution in capturing your sound. DV's portability and ease of use make it great for changing setups and shooting spontaneously, however you don't want you audio (or picture, for that matter) to end up sounding like a home movie. You must have a dedicated sound mixer separate from your cameraman, or find a way to put your boom operator tightly in control of sound levels and monitoring. And give him authority on the set. An intelligent sound mixer will not only insist on minimizing background noise from air conditioning, refrigerators, and the like, but she will also seek to minimize the impact of sound effects on the set, especially those that occur over dialogue. 

The "traditional" way to begin the post sound process — at least over the last twenty years — is by supplying your friendly dialogue editor with an audio cut list. At Command Post, we use this list to "conform" the source dialogue tapes to picture. This is a process of loading all the 1/4" or DAT reels into the digital audio workstation.

If you are building your edit on Final Cut or AVID, dialogue or other tracks may be transported from picture edit to sound edit via the OMF format. However the audio from dailies that are loaded into the AVID may very well be compromised in some way. At the very least, it is possible that the dialogue came from Beta SP dailies, so right there you are losing a generation in audio quality. 

Can you believe that some people actually used to prepare sound elements on 16mm mag film? Yikes!  Even cutting audio on 35 mag is pretty much a part of history. But especially because of 16mm’s small size, picture and sound defects were especially noticeable. Dropouts, splices that pop or drop out, and inferior frequency response all contributed to 16 mag’s big problems.