Get a Crash Course in Production Sound from 'Parenthood' Mixer Nicholas Allen
Getting good quality sound on-set can sometimes feel like an impossibility, especially on lower budget productions. While the sound mixer can often go underappreciated on many of these productions, their job, if done correctly, is right up there with the 1st AC (or focus-puller). If your movie is not in focus it’s going to distract the audience, and at the same time, bad audio will be even more distracting. SoundWorks Collection has profiled professional sound people from all across Hollywood, and today we’ve got a video that goes in-depth with Nicholas Allen, who is the sound mixer on NBC’s Parenthood.
If you’ve got bad sound on set, there are only so many ways that you can fix it in post. The best way to avoid that possible time and added cost in post-production is to get the sound right in the first place. As Nicholas says, “If you get it at the time, you don’t have to worry about getting it later.” I really like the way he talks about getting sound on set, and working to be a part of the production. Sound people don’t get nearly the credit they deserve when they do their job right, and I’ve been on a few productions where people don’t really understand what the sound mixer is trying to do, so they feel that person is getting in the way.
Like Nicholas, whenever I have the time and the resources I like to put mics on everyone regardless of whether they are currently on camera. This ensures that you’ve got extra audio to play with in post, and very often if the actor’s performance is similar, you might be able to lay in that off-camera dialogue over short bits of on-camera dialogue. Anything you can do to get good sound on set and avoid having to ADR in post will end up saving time and money, and for lower budget productions, both of those are in short supply.
What do you think? Do you know good sound mixers with a musical background? Have you tried to learn the sound mixer’s job as much as possible so that you understand what they are trying to do on set?