24-Bit Dailies in a 16-Bit World

A Fit of Anger

DunceBill Cosby, Art Linkletter, and Mr. Rogers all had patience around children doing the dumbest things. I envy their ability to keep calm and carry on, in spite of watching yourthful bombs fall around their professional landscapes.

The semester is over; and technically I am no longer a teacher "on duty", so the antics of young filmmakers should not be raising my blood pressure. But sometimes our students just manage to pull sh*t that really makes me want to scream.

The weekend after Memorial Day, I receive a phone call late on Sunday afternoon from one of the student sound crews. These students are preparing for their first full shooting day (Monday) of their Thesis film: a major undertaking with a working budget of around 25 thousand dollars or so (more than that if you count the freebies provided by the university and outside sponsors).

So why am I upset? Was it getting a phone call from students on a weekend that was supposed to mark the beginning of the summer? Actually, NO. I encourage my students to call me when they have production problems or questions. I am one of those "addicted to teaching" types and still find myself putting in lots of (non-paid) time around the department.

What pissed me off to the boiling point was the content of the call. Turns out that the students were just now getting around to setting up their sound gear FOR THE FIRST TIME. Of course, Mr. Murphy guarantees that the gear will not work properly right out of the box, especially when the box has not been opened at the rental house when they picked up the equipment!

In all of the production courses that I teach, we spend an inordinate amount of time stressing the importance of the SOUND MIXER to personally order the gear, and to personally prep the gear at the rental house at least half a business day (working day) before the shoot. It is crucial that the MIXER have time to check and set up the sound package before leaving the rental facility. And to complete this thorough prep early enough in the day so that there is still ample time to deal with any related issues. Prep late in the day, and there may not be enough workday remaining to effect repairs or sub-rentals.

We cover this over and over and over again in class. It is even worth up to 40 percentage points on my tests!

So what do Dumb and Dumber do on this, their first BIG shoot?  On the Friday before their shoot (on Monday) the Mixer does not pick up the gear, but delegates someone else to swing by the rental house Friday afternoon and get it for her. Then it sits in a case until Sunday, when the Mixer decides that maybe she should set up the package and practice using it (since this is different equipment than the school provides).

Was the gear prepped while still at the rental house on Friday.... no. Friday nite? Nah. Even Saturday morning, when there is still a skeleton crew at their desks? Heaven forbid.

Yes, let us all wait until late Sunday afternoon, when all the faculty and Rental Houses are sure to be standing by, awaiting our call for help. Maybe the Rental Technician will even drive out to my house to answer questions about how to use the recorder! After all, we have the entire night before we have to be operational on the set the next morning.

Yeah, I am angry. I yearn for the olde days when people that irresponsible would have been eaten by the dinosaurs.


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