Case Study: A Direct To Camera Commercial
Sound For A One Talent & Single Camera Commercial for Ranpak
As was the case on this production, it’s always nice when I get to work with my friends over at Black Valve, who produced, directed, and shot this video.
From the perspective of the sound department, this was a pretty simple commercial featuring one talent & being a scripted single camera shoot. Black Valve’s choice to shoot it at Creative House Studios made a big impact in the quality of the final audio. Their cyc studio is fortunately surprisingly dry (compared to other cyc studios) considering its a 3 walled cyclorama floor to ceiling. This is predominantly due to use of acoustic absorption on the ceiling & walls, as well as the ceiling not being parallel to the floor. They also have double walls isolating them from the outside world, so fortunately background noise isn’t an issue there.
Recording The Dialog
On a production like this, very clean dialog is a necessity. This is only achieved though through having quality gear with a very low noise floor & transparent sound. High quality recordings start at the source, all the way through the signal chain, it’s only as good as its weakest stage. It’s typical to record both boom & lavalier mics in this kind of scenario, and in this case a Schoeps CMC641 & DPA 6060 through Lectrosonics wireless both into a Sound Devices 664 mixer/recorder. While the boom sounded far superior to the lavalier and was all that was used for the mix, having a redundant source on the talent acts as a safety net in case a sudden change in blocking requires them to walk in or move off the boom’s position.
Audio & Camera Sync
Anytime you record audio separately from the camera (Also known as Double System), it needs to be synchronized in post-production. This however starts during production, implementing Timecode being one of the best & most cost effective ways to align audio & video in post. It’s worth noting timecode isn’t truly sync but metadate used for alignment, and while probably not necessary for a shoot like this, by implementing Genlock & Wordclock alongside Timecode, you can achieve true sync. You can deep dive into sync with this video.
Outside of the sound recordist, it’s very typical for people like end clients, agency people, producer, director, etc may need an IFB headset allowing them to listen in on sound being recorded. On this specific shoot that included our director, a representative from the creative agency, and two people from the end client.
As with any shoot, there are a number of factors that go into what the end cost will be, which can be subdivided into labor & equipment rentals.
When budgeting for a shoot, equipment needed is one of the biggest factors. The base equipment package (Recorder, 1 Boom, 2 Wireless, & Hardline feed to camera) covers all the recording needs for this, but in addition to that they also rented a Sync Box, & 4 IFB headsets.
Base Equipment Package @ $350/day
1 Sync Box @ $50/day
4 IFB headsets @ $50/day for the first (1 TX & 1 RX) & $25/additional RX/day
Equipment Total: $525/day
Since this shoot didn’t push into overtime and was only a single day shoot, it’s about as straightforward as it gets. My labor rate is $700/10 hour day.
Equipment Total: $525
Labor Total: $700