Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Chapter #39

“ADR, Foley, Mix, M&E and Opticals”

THE $1,000,000 FEATURE

1. Producer $10,000-$16,000
2. Writer/Script $5,000-$10,000
3. Director $10,000-$15,000
4. Cast/Actors $6,000-$9,000 (+$25,000)
ABOVE-THE-LINE.........................................................$31,000-$50,000 (+$25,000)
5. Film Stock $20,000-$40,000
6. Film Lab I (Shoot) $15,000-$30,000
7. Camera $18,000-$36,000
8. Expendables $2,000-$5,000
9. Sound Equipment $6,000-$11,000
10. Sound Transfer $3,000-$5,000
11. Light/Grip $6,000-$24,000
12. Dolly $2,000-$3,000
13. DP $10,000-$15,000
14. PM & AD $14,500-$21,000
15. Production Designer $6,000-$8,500
16. Crew $23,000-$35,500
17. Art & Props $5,000-$9,000
18. Wardrobe & Makeup $3,000-$5,000
19. Permits $2,000-$6,000
20. Insurance $3,000-$10,000
21. Dailies $4,000-$6,000
22. FX/Stunts/Car $0-$0
23. Locations $2,000-$10,000
24. Office & Paperwork $1,500-$6,000
25. Publicity $2,000-$10,000
26. Food $6,000-$9,000
IN-THE-CAN............................................................ $148,500-$305,000
THE SHOOT (Total Above & Below)…..…………..… $179,500-$355,000
27. Film Edit $12,000-$18,500
28. Film Lab II (Edit) $2,000-$3,000
29. Sound Edit $7,500-$12,000
30. A.D.R. $2,000-$3,000
31. FOLEY $2,000-$3,000
32. Music/Score $5,000-$7,000
33. MIX (RE-RECORD) $5,000-$7,000
34. OPTICAL TRACK $2,000-$3,000_____
35. M&E $2,000-$3,000
THE EDIT................................................................... $39,500-$59,500
36. Titles
37.Negative Cutting
38. Lab III (Answer Print)
TOTAL PRODUCTION COSTS....................................................

The picture edit is done, the sound edit is done, the music score is done, now don’t get lazy. 98% of first-timers get antsy at this point and relax feeling they’re almost finished and get sloppy with the final post-production steps. Big mistake! Get lethargic now and your film will become bland and flat. The finish line is in sight and… (SECRET) Excellent sound isn’t recorded. It’s manufactured. And, achieving excellent sound entails making one deal to write five checks during post-production. Here’s how to make the best deal, keep the five checks small, and get the best quality sound for $13,000-$19,000.

First find a post-production sound facility (aka: mixing studio), which is a "one-stop shop" that includes an ADR-Foley room, a Sound Effects Library, and a Recording Studio. These facilities are typically run by a veteran musician who started the studio to record his own music, and as his equipment grew, he helped out on a short film, then an industrial, then a commercial, etc. Within a few years, he became an expert on film sound. You’ll rent his facility.

First, as always, check your local film directory. Next, ask your film lab, your film editor and your sound editor for referrals. When choosing a facility, after price and equipment, your next priority is, "Who is the chief mixer?" Make sure you’re comfortable with his capabilities and commitment to quality for your project.

Once you’ve identified your facility, you’ll negotiate a flat deal or write five checks for the following post-sound steps:

Bank check #1 is for two-three days of ADR (Automatic Dialogue Replacement) time. Your edited work print (Chapter 36) is projected in a small theater (ADR room) and the actor(s) return to match lines (aka: lip syncing) to their mouth movements. This enables you to capture clearer individual tracks of dialogue without any background noise. In some cases, voice actors (aka: loopers) create background dialogue and chatter that is used (“looping”) to fill up a scene with the sounds of a crowd.

Check #2 is for two-three days of Foley time. A Foley stage, which could be the ADR room, is stocked with hand props, different kinds of doors and "Foley pits." These pits, which ain’t actually pits, are 3-foot by 3-foot surfaces (cement, gravel, carpet, tile, linoleum, wood, dirt, grass, water, etc) upon which Foley artists (aka: walkers) walk to enhance the sound of every actor’s footsteps. Priority is to first recreate the footsteps, next secure clothes rustling sounds, then paper crinkling noises, then gather miscellaneous sounds like keys jiggling, doors opening, etc.

Check #3 pays for three to five days of studio time when the Chief Sound Mixer and your Sound Editor mix the 30-40 tracks (3-4 Dialogue tracks, 10-15 Effects tracks, 5-6 ADR tracks, 5-6 Foley tracks and 3-5 Music tracks) down to 3-tracks (M, E & V): the M track is for music, the E track is for sound effects and the V track is for voices. This is the re-recording session, and the film on which the 3 tracks are placed is called “3 Stripe” (aka: full coat).

Check #4 is for obtaining a separate M&E (music and sound effects) track on 3-Stripe, where the V stripe or track is left blank. The M&E track will be needed when selling your film around the world. In nations that don’t speak English, they will dub their own language in this track. There is more money from foreign sales for a film that can be dubbed than for a sub-titled film. Thus get a M&E track, which you store until foreign sales are made.

Check #5 is for converting your 3-Stripe sound into an Optical Sound Track. Eventually, you marry the sound-film onto the picture-film. But, you can’t simply put the 3-Stripe on the picture frame for it’ll blot out the image. A step is needed to get sound in the shape of a thin squiggly line (optical sound) that is placed on the picture film, but between the picture frames and the sprocket holes, without blocking the visual image.

Sound facilities rent by the hour and give discounts if you book a full day. A full day is ten hours. Strive for two to three days of ADR time (20-30 hours), two to three days of Foley time (20-30 hours) and five to seven days (50-70 hours) of mix time. Phone the local sound facilities and have them forward their rate cards for ADR ($150-$250/hour), Foley ($150-$250/hour) and mix ($250-$450/hour) time.

To get a great deal it is best to negotiate a flat rate. Let the facility manager know that you and your sound editor are ready to come in at any time. Tell him you’ll need 30 hours (10 hours/day) of ADR time, 30 hours of Foley time and 70 hours of mix time -- and all you have is $9,000. Pause. Stay silent. The facility manager will probably give you 20 hours (two days) of ADR, 20 hours (two days) of Foley, and 50 hours (five days) of mix for the $9,000.

This is an excellent deal. You rented the $150-$450/hour studio for approximately $100/hour. However, play it safe and budget $2,000-$3,000 for ADR, $2,000-$3,000 for Foley, $5,000-$7,000 for Re-recording , $2,000-$3,000 for an M&E track and $2,000-$3,000 for an Optical track, for a total of $13,000-$19,000.

Your total editing stage, which takes three months, is done at a cost of only $39,500-$59,500.

1. Select a facility with ADR and Foley capability.
2. Be sure that your cue sheets are prepared.