In parts 1 & 2 of this extended series - Audio Post Production Workflows, Conor Mackey covered what he does as an assistant editor does and how he prepares the edited sequences to hand onto the Dialog, FXs, Foley and Music editors so then can work their magic. We now move onto the first of these roles - dialog editing and Michele Ciment-Woods whose recent work has included Inspector George Gently Fleming and The Mill. Michele explains….
What Does A Dialog Editor Do?
When people ask me what I do for a living and I tell them “dialogue editing for film and television” I often get a very quizzical look. It’s a skill that’s often not recognised, outside our industry, because it is something people should not notice when they are watching a television program or film. The end product by a dialogue editor should be unnoticed. Let me explain…
My main responsibility as a dialogue editor is the sound that was recorded during the shoot. I have to take the audio, smooth it out, clean it by removing hits and bumps that cannot be seen, look for alternate recordings from other takes and if that is not possible, resort to ADR. It has to sound seamless as if it was all recorded clean and perfect on the day of the shoot helping the picture edit seem as if it was filmed in that sequence without several takes to make the scene whole and fluid.
What Do I Get?
I start working on the dialogues as soon as the picture editor has hopefully, but not always, finished editing the picture which is married to the sound. I receive a QuickTime of the locked picture, all the sound rushes from the shoot (which will give alternate takes for possible fixes), AAFs, EDLs for possible conform, a shooting script, sound sheets and a cast list (so I know who the actors are playing the characters). These elements are often provided to me straight from the cutting room onto my hard drive or transferred to an FTP where I can download everything except the sound rushes (this is usually a massive file and is best to get it directly from the cutting room).
First Things First
The first thing I do is watch the QuickTime of the film or television program and quickly assess what ADR may be needed and where alternate takes may be needed. I make notes so that when I meet with the director and picture editor I am already familiar with the show. At this initial meeting we also discuss possible additional lines that may be needed for ADR, problematic audio issues, and, of course, crowd.
Click on the image for a larger versionTo start editing, I prepare the session in Pro Tools, I am currently using PT 10 HD. It is important to check with the rerecording mixer (sometimes called the dubbing mixer) before starting to see how they want the session to be set up and laid out, so they understand the track lay when he/she finally gets to mix it all together. Every rerecording mixer works differently and has certain setup requirements. At the end of the day, my track lay has to work for the mixer - they are ultimately my client. What I provide the mixer is integral to getting the mix to work.
In part 2, we will look in more detail at setting the session up, how to identify what will need ADR and how to prepare for the ADR session, and what can be saved to reduce the need for ADR.