May 2016 - MochaChai Laboratories

8 Common Mistakes a Film Producer Makes

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No film that’s worth two hoots was made without a good producer. They steer the film from beginning to completion and beyond – from bringing together the entire creative team and hustling for a peachy budget in pre-production to making sure everything that’s earmarked “we’ll fix it in post” actually gets fixed in post.

Take away the producer from the equation, and you’ll probably end up with a budget that no one who can do basic math would approve, a madhouse for a set, locations with no permits, a crew with two left feet and a director in dire need of therapy. Oh, and good luck finding a post-production house that specializes in miracles.

Suffice to say, we have the utmost respect for producers. Working with a producer who gets it can make all the difference in post-production – be it in time, labour or money spent.

But even the best fall down sometimes. Here are 8 common mistakes a producer makes – and how to fix them… and we don’t mean in post.


1. Not organizing a pre-production meeting

Sure, you’ve assembled your dream team. The script’s a winner. Your director had his third coffee. Everyone’s in their place and ready to go. Who needs a pre-production meeting when the stars are aligned in your favour? Well, you do.

Most common issues faced in post can actually be resolved before production begins simply by setting up a meeting with all the key personnel. We’re talking DOP, Location Sound Recordist, Data Wrangler, Editor, Sound Designer, Composer, Production Designer, Art Director, Costume Designer and Colourist at the very least. Issues like framerate, workflow and schedule can easily be mapped out before it gets too late.

What’s more, with all these great minds in one room (and perhaps a bottle of whisky to get those creative juices flowing) you can turn a boring briefing into a brainstorm session for ideas to enhance the film.


2. Not hiring a Post-Production Supervisor 

There are about a million and one things that could go wrong in a production, and even the best producer may not have the technical know-how to solve every one of them.

Having a Post-Production Supervisor on your team would take the technical problems out of your hands, leaving you with more headspace to deal with everything else.

Need to shoot in 4K but don’t know how to handle the huge file sizes? No problem. Conversion from film to TV without the ugly strobing? Piece of cake. Need to ensure sync across double system recording? With a little bit of planning (see point 1), you’d be guaranteed a smooth ride ahead.


3. Not hiring a boom operator

A boom operator is an indispensable asset to every shoot. Sadly, as our cameras get smaller, so does the size of the crew, and the boom operator often gets left out of the hiring mix.

Having a boom operator on set can make or break a recording. Not only does the boom mic offer the most natural sound, having a 2-person team can also help the Location Sound Mixer bring out the best of the audio source – from being able to focus on his/her mix to resolving any noisy problems on set such as adjusting bad mic placement, padding clunky heels, and the list goes on.

Besides, if anything goes wrong with the wireless mics, there’ll always be the backup boom track to fall back on, saving you plenty of money and cringe-worthy moments from bad ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement).

Hey, if you want that ‘Hollywood sound’, you’ve got to start investing in it.


4. Under-budgeting for post-production

There’s an old saying that goes something like “Fast, good or cheap. Pick two.” Well, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Taking your raw footages and developing them in post-production isn’t as simple as slapping on an Instagram filter. It takes time to explore the full potential of the rushes – from finding the exact expression that the character needs to shaping every scene sonically. What’s more, every time you play the “we’ll fix it in post” card, bear in mind that while we certainly can, it’s going to cost you.

Still not convinced? What if we told you there’s a correlation between the Best Film and Best Editing, both nominees and winners, at the Academy Awards? With enough time and for the right price, you may be one step closer to that golden statuette.


5. Changing the edit after locking picture

Do any of these file names look familiar to you? Locked Cut, Locked Cut 2, Final Locked Cut, FINAL FINAL LOCKED PLEASE NO MORE CHANGES CUT.

While it’s crucial to get the right edit, changing it after the next process has started — be it Sound Post, VFX or Colour Grading — unleashes the dominos from hell, resulting in a chain of technical nightmares waiting to happen. Not only will picture and sound most likely go out of sync, you’ll end up with different people working on different cuts – all of which will take a whole lot of time and money to resolve.

If you’re out of options and really have to change the cut, then hopefully you’d have hired a Post-Production Supervisor (see point 4) to plan the best recut workflow.


6. Starting the subtitling process too late

It’s no secret that subtitling is the most underrated function on screen, but wrongly translated or badly timed subtitles can easily ruin the entire film viewing experience.

Starting the subtitling process in the offline edit can ensure any mistakes to be spotted throughout the approval process, allowing less margin for error. Given that we work in a multi-racial industry, it also allows all key personnel to understand the story rather than work through the film blind.


7. Not asking enough questions

Working in a technology driven industry is never easy. After CD and PG, the abbreviations can get pretty intimidating – think AIFF, DCI, DCP, MPEG, OMF and the list goes on. No one expects everyone to know them all — although a Post-Production Supervisor would (see point 2) — so don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Any craftsman would be thrilled to have someone else taking an interest in his/her craft, and would be more than happy to share a tip or two with you. Besides, it never hurts to know more about everyone’s roles when you’ve got an entire production to manage.


8. Sacrificing the creative process

Amidst all the logistical, financial and technical processes a producer has to manage, it is easy to lose sight of the end game – enhancing and preserving the creative process. Unfortunately, it isn’t uncommon for a producer to make creative sacrifices to a film for the sake of achieving targets; whether it is adopting cheaper solutions or taking shortcuts to make sure deadlines are met.

When faced with numerous constraints that can end up jeopardizing the creative process, a good producer needs to take a step back and remind themselves that at the end of the day, we are making a movie, and it is after all still a creative endeavour.


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The people behind the brand

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Welcome to our very first blog post!

We are the people behind Mocha Chai Laboratories, Singapore’s first fully integrated boutique digital film lab. To say we love what we do would be an understatement, and through this blog we hope to share a bit of our insight and passion with the people we do this for – you!

So kick back, butter up your popcorn and let us introduce you to our world on the other side of the silver screen.


If directors are the storytellers, we’re the ones responsible for immersing you in that story, pushing the boundaries of your sensorial limitations and bringing the story right to the edge of your seat.


A little introduction of what we do

We offer a wide range of digital cinema-related services aimed to enhance, complete and deliver with a ribbon on top – be it for a motion picture feature, trailer, commercial or any professional production.

Colour grading in progress with the latest DaVinci Resolve 12

Colour grading in progress with the latest DaVinci Resolve 12


Let’s put it this way: if directors are the storytellers, we’re the ones responsible for immersing you in that story, pushing the boundaries of your sensorial limitations and bringing the story right to the edge of your seat.


By filmmakers, for filmmakers

Mocha Chai Laboratories was founded in 2011 by Chai Yee Wei, a Singaporean filmmaker whose penchant for perfection led him to set up shop in his home ground as there weren’t many viable options at that time. With the rise of digital distribution, it wasn’t long before his humble start-up grew into the one-stop facility for top filmmakers from the US, Europe and Asia, handling international features and local projects, such as The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I, A Walk Among The TombstonesJobsThe Lady女朋友*男朋友Sadako 3D and Ah Boys To Men I & II.

Mocha Chai Laboratories - Portfolio

Today, Mocha Chai Laboratories prides itself in delivering world-class digital film services – hanging by its mantel a Dolby ATMOS certification, employing DCI-compliant solutions and constantly acquiring cutting-edge technology to deliver high quality content.


The people behind the brand

They say it’s the people who make the brand, and we couldn’t agree more. Get acquainted with our directors Yee Wei and Ting Li in this next segment, where we delve a little deeper beyond the day-to-day technicalities of their jobs.


Chai Yee Wei, Founder & Managing Director

The world is a crowded place, and we have to find a niche in order to stand out.

Chia Yee Wei, Founder & Managing Director of Mocha Chai Laboratories

A brief introduction of what you do

I set directions for my “generals” and “warriors”, making sure they have their tools and jobs – and then I get out of their way.

Your philosophy behind your work

I believe that setting up a post-production house that thinks and does things differently is crucial. The world is a crowded place, and we have to find a niche in order to stand out. To that end, my take on this is to simply be ourselves. I endeavour to bring together a team of people who not just demand the best from one another but also from themselves; it is through this approach that we inspire one another (and our clients) to bring out the best we’ve got to offer.

Your professional pet peeve

I can’t stand seeing computers or OS with updates/upgrades that are not applied. When I see that number above an icon indicating there are updates, I feel a strong urge to get the deed done — be it at home or in an Apple store — so the number will be gone. However I can’t do this at work as I may risk ongoing projects facing compatibility issues, and compatibility is key in our line of work. 

3 words to describe yourself

Practice makes perfect.


Lim Ting Li, Director of Sound

I believe that every story can be enhanced through sound. The potential is limitless and can change a scene tremendously.

Lim Ting Li, Director of Sound

A brief introduction of what you do

I create unique soundscapes for film and broadcast projects.

My day-to-day consists of editing dialogue to make everyone sound like they’re in the same space at the same time; performing foley for any kind of sound you can imagine – from heavy footsteps to squeamish sex sounds; sound designing to make that make-belief world a reality; and bringing all the elements together through audio mixing.

Your philosophy behind your work

I believe that every story can be enhanced through sound. The potential of off-screen sounds are limitless and can change a scene tremendously.

Take for example a scene of two people chatting in an office. While seemingly simple, there’s so much more I have to consider. How thin are the walls? Do we hear a chaotic or sterile office environment? Or one that’s relaxed with plenty of laughter? The sounds within its environment can add tension to a scene as easily as it can take the edge off it. It all depends on the intention of the scene.

Just as a director of photography would plan a list of shots for the scene, a sound designer should take into careful consideration every sound element and shape the scene sonically. That’s the approach to my work.

Your professional pet peeve

I need my cables to be out of sight; otherwise they’ve got to be arranged neatly. When I get busy, my desk starts to clutter up and I tend to be too focused to notice the mess. But once crunch time is over, I have to give the desk a good clean. It’s a little ritual I do between projects.

3 words to describe yourself

A filmmaking friend.


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