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FCPX – Bust the Myths! Workshop

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fcpx-bustthemyths

FCPX – Bust the Myths! Workshop
21st October 2016, 7pm
Brewery@MCL
65 Ubi Road 1, Oxley Bizhub #02-81/2 (Lobby 6), S(408729)

FCPX sucks! FCPX is iMovie Pro! It is time to put all the false accusations to rest. FCPX has made all the wrong impressions and it is time to set the record straight. Brewery is proud to present an upcoming workshop “FCPX – Bust the Myths!” For those still on FCP7 (and other “traditional” competitor platforms *Wink wink*), learn why FCPX is the most forward looking video editing software available now.

Yeewei, Ani and Chi-kong, all 3 professional users of FCPX will showcase and present workflows on FCPX that will help you transition from FCP7 and teach your how to deliver materials to other platforms like Protools and Resolve.

COLOR GRADING WITH TANGENT RIPPLE ON FCPX!
Our good friends from Media Village will be bringing over the Tangent Ripple to showcase color grading with Color Finale plugin on FCPX. They will also have a few sets for purchase on that day!
Tangent Ripple

Topics covered
– From 7 to X
– Data management – where are my bins and sequences?
– Maximizing creativity
– Why is the magnetic timeline so awesome?
– Delivering to Protools and Resolve
– Hardware optimization
– Color grading with a tangent panel on FCPX
– Effects handling

So RSVP by indicating your interest to attend or email us at contactus@mochachailab.com so we can prepare snacks and drinks on that day!

Facebook Event URL
https://www.facebook.com/events/1816249041954779/

The sound behind Boo Junfeng’s “Apprentice” – an interview with Tingli Lim

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Boo Junfeng has done it again.

Following his debut feature film “Sandcastle” which made its mark in Cannes International Critics’ Week back in 2010, the local filmmaking wunderkind’s latest endeavour “Apprentice” has found its way back to the French film festival, having premiered on 16 May to much acclaim.

Apprentice-Poster.ai
The film explores Singapore’s harsh death penalty laws through the complex relationship between two men working in a prison — a young correctional officer and its retiring chief executioner — riddled with hidden agendas, conflicting motivations and a haunted past, all while raising hard questions about morality and mortality surrounding the noose.

Not your usual capital punishment film, “Apprentice” spends a considerable amount of effort trying to reconcile the points of view from both the world of the executioners and the families of the executed. It offers a grave but intimate, and somewhat perverse, look into death row and the people it leaves behind.

 


The Singaporean film — which has been been described by critics as “thematically complex” and “ambitious “ — brings together filmmaking talents across the globe, including British-trained Director of Photography Benoit Soler and French composer Alexander Zekke, to name a few.

In fact, our very own Tingli Lim was responsible for providing the film’s soundtrack; one of the projects she worked on in the UK before joining Mocha Chai Laboratories as our Director of Sound.

In the following interview, we chat with Tingli on her role as the film’s Supervising Sound Editor, as well as her creative process, inspirations and challenges that helped shape the film sonically.

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Hi Tingli! Tell us bit more about your role and work process in the film.

I was the Supervising Sound Editor of “Apprentice“. I discussed sound ideas and concepts with Junfeng and, together with the sound team, helped realise his vision for the film using sound. The entire audio post production took a year to complete due to recuts. The initial blueprints for the sound design were done a year before the project commenced using test shoot materials.


You’ve worked with Junfeng in the past, including his award-winning feature film Sandcastle which also premiered in Cannes in 2010. What were your expectations heading into this project?

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I took on the job before reading the script as I’ve always loved working with Junfeng. He’s such a diligent director and his attention to detail is incredible. When we first discussed the idea, I had a feeling it was going to be his boldest work to date. The subject matter was highly contentious but as always, he managed to handle it with such sensitivity both on and off screen.


The film was shot primarily in Singapore and Australia, edited in Singapore and Thailand and the composers and yourself were based in France and the UK. How did you overcome the challenges that stemmed from having to working together on different continents?

Technology has made it rather easy to work remotely from one another. As I was living in the UK at that time, I asked to be put in touch with the sound recordist, Justin Loh, so he could help record some of the more unique sounds on set. James Page, the production designer, had built the working gallows from scratch so Justin had to record the trapdoor, levers and anything that was unique to the film which would be hard to recreate.

When the first cut was locked, I was holidaying in Singapore so Junfeng and I spotted the film together with the editor, Natalie Soh, and discussed the sound ideas for the film. What resulted from the session was a set of clear time-coded notes that the sound editorial team, Maiken Hansen and myself, worked off. We also did some ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) and group loops with local talents before I headed back to the UK. What followed was a series of works in progress which I would send to Junfeng. He’d watch it and email me his time-coded notes. This way of working was very efficient and the time difference actually worked to our advantage as I’d end my work day as he starts his, so we pretty much woke up to new material or comments for each other. Needless to say, Skype and WhatsApp were our best friends.

The sound edit sessions were then passed onto the good hands of Warren Santiago, the re-recording mixer whom I’ve also previously worked with in “Sandcastle“. He did the final mix in Thailand and the result is what you hear in the cinemas today.


Talk us through your creative process in developing the film’s sound scape.

My sound design ideas usually stem from reacting to the visuals. Some people are great with visualising soundscapes without picture, but I’m not like that. Usually when I watch a first cut, I’ll start hearing the film in my head, jot down my notes and then get to work. The first viewing is always the most crucial for me as I come in completely fresh and I can get a good sense of what is missing sonically from each scene or what’s working well and needs to be retained.

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Conceptually, we wanted the film to be very psychological in nature as the prison is such a significant place for Aiman, who plays the young correctional officer, but it needed to be believable at the same time. The prison had to sound very high security so for most of the prison scenes, we introduced a security system that was filled with buzzes, beeps and hums. For example, whenever a gate is opened, it would keep buzzing until it’s shut. We then contrasted that with the archaic nature of the gallows block, where only locks and keys were used and hence had to sound creaky, heavy and old.


Short of visiting an actual working prison, what sources of inspiration did you draw from in establishing the sound elements of a prison?

A lot of the inspiration behind the sound came from Junfeng sharing his experiences having been to the actual prisons during his research. For example, he made a comment where he said that the holding cells of the death row prisoners felt very much like a nursing home and was very peaceful. So sonically, that was the direction we went with. Short of the buzzes and gates, the holding cell scenes were filled with airy and breezy sounds, with the occasional rustling leaves in trees. This was completely different from the rest of the prison.


The gallows managed to provide some of the film’s most haunting scenes in a setting that was otherwise visually muted, so there was an opportunity for sound to play a larger role in developing these scenes. In these instances, how did you use sound to create or amplify the atmosphere of the gallows?

The major scenes in the gallows consisted of long shots with very clever blocking shot by the Director of Photography, Benoit Soler. Hence, there was a need for the sound to move as well to keep it interesting.

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There was a ventilation fan by the window and we used that as a way of playing with the scene’s tension sonically. We created and layered many versions of this fan – a natural sounding one, a bass-y one and fast and slow variations, including one that sounded very much like a slow helicopter blade. We then rode these layers up and down in the premix, using the emotional arch of the characters as our cues. When it was tense, we brought up more of the slow and ominous fans so it’s like we’re hearing it as they’re experiencing and when everything headed back to normal, we hear the natural fan ventilation again. This, along with Matt Kelly’s subjective music scores, changed the scenes considerably.

In order to do all of these effectively, we completely replaced the dialogue for the gallows scenes with ADR and recreated them from scratch so we had full control of all the elements.


What were some of the challenges you faced in the audio post production process?

As the prison scenes were shot across different locations (a museum, a set, a corridor and an office) we faced 2 main challenges – to make them sound like they are in the same vicinity and to add life and activity to the otherwise silent locations.

APPRENTICE

We did lots of group loops with different groups of people in the recording studio and we’d give them roles and scenarios for them to play out. For example, one guy would play an officer shouting for “Master check” while two other guys would play the role of prisoners trying to wake a sleeping inmate. We then peppered these dialogues all around to give life to the location, and repeated this process for the office and canteen scenes.

The film also faced 2 recuts during audio post so there was the monumental task of reconforming the sound work to match the new cuts.


In your opinion, and without giving away too much, what is the most powerful scene in the film, and how did sound add to that?

I think the most powerful scene for sound has to be the opening. It starts on black as you hear the prison come to life. Interestingly, this was conceived at the very end of the post production process but has grown to be one of my favourite scenes now. I can’t say more without giving away too much, so people just have to catch it themselves to find out more.


In no more than 10 words, why should people watch Apprentice?

It is a powerful film that will set you thinking.

 


 

Apprentice” opens in Singapore on 30th June.

For more information, visit their Facebook page here.

Uncovering Dolby Atmos through the evolution of cinema sound

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Any respectable audiophile would be more than familiar with Dolby Atmos – the latest technology in cinematic history that allows filmmakers to place and navigate sounds anywhere in the theatre to a tee.

With its 3D positional sound capabilities, Dolby Atmos joins the forefront of immersive media technologies — alongside HDR screens with Dolby Vision — that will drive the next generation of cinema and home theatre experiences.

Dolby AtmosImage credit: Dolby

Touted as the next generation surround format for the industry, Dolby Atmos is a virtual reality of sound that puts moviegoers in the heart of the action.

But as with most of today’s ground breaking advances, comes a long history of technologies and innovations that precede them. In that spirit, let us take a step back into the early days of cinema sound and chart the evolution that led to the breakthrough of Dolby Atmos.

 

The mono beginnings

Silent movies were never entirely silent; they were largely accompanied by sounds from a live orchestra to the noise of the projector. It was not until the release of Warner’s ‘The Jazz Singer’ in 1928 — the first feature-length motion picture with synchronised sound — that suggested the end of the silent films era.

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However, there was little advancement in the decades that followed and until the 1970s, almost all movies were in mono. With a single speaker placed behind the screen, the audio experience was flat at best.

 

Breaking new ground with stereo

Dolby Stereo then found its way into our cinemas in the mid 70s, which allowed for two channel soundtracks to be decoded to a dedicated dialogue track in the center of the screen, along with two additional speakers on the left and right and an additional surround channel. This gave a spread and sense of imaging inside the room that was never heard before.

With the potential of a richer sound, the possibilities of stereo was endless, and there was no greater example of the technology’s breakthrough than the 1977 release of ‘Star Wars‘ – an experience that attracted moviegoers by the thousands and forever changed the expectations for cinema sound.

Image credit: The New York Review of BooksOpening day of George Lucas’ Star Wars at Grauman’s Chinese theater, May 25, 1977

It didn’t take long for stereo to catch on with more hit movies that followed, such as ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind‘ (1977) and ‘Superman‘ (1978). By 1985, every film was in Dolby stereo.

 

The advent of surround sound

By the time the 1990s came along, it became clear that digital was the way to go.

Dolby Digital was hence developed, delivering 5.1 channels of cinema sound by splitting the room into half – left, center, right, left surround, right surround and subwoofer. This allowed the sound to have more sense of movement across the audience. ‘Batman Returns’ became the first movie to be released in this format in 1992.

Image credit: Dolby LaboratoriesImage credit: Dolby Laboratories

With the transition into digital cinema came the 7.1, where the rear surround speakers were split into left and right channels. This gave the sound even more definition, adding more dimension to the cinematic experience.

 

Redefining the cinematic sound experience

While logic would entail that the natural next step be to keep piling on the channels, it was also evident that the format’s potential for enhancements was coming to a standstill. Channel-based solutions allowed for basic movement of sound, but lacked the sensation and precision that content creators wanted.

To that end, Dolby Atmos was developed in a bold effort to lead the charge in redefining the cinematic sound experience. Touted as the next generation surround format for the industry, Dolby Atmos offers filmmakers the flexibility to place individual sounds anywhere in the cinema and move them around with precision. Simply put, it’s a virtual reality of sound that puts moviegoers in the heart of the action.

The fundamental shift from channels to object-based solutions allowed filmmakers to approach sound elements as dynamic objects travelling across the room. The sound can travel through each speaker placed around and above the audience as it moves across the cinema, in what’s called a pan-through array.

Image credit: Dolby LaboratoriesImage credit: Dolby Laboratories

By also placing speakers above the audience, the overhead surround adds an upper hemisphere of sound that moviegoers have never experienced before, creating a truly immersive feel of sound.

 

Coming to a Dolby Atmos cinema near you

It comes as no surprise that Dolby Atmos is quickly becoming the format du jour among filmmakers, with more than 100 titles from major Hollywood studios adopting the technology – most prominently in ‘Gravity’ (2013), which won seven Oscars, including awards for sound editing and sound mixing.

Image credit: Warner Bros.Image credit: Warner Bros.

In fact, most of the anticipated upcoming releases such as ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’, ‘Suicide Squad’ and ‘Wonder Woman’ will be available in Dolby Atmos. Here’s the full list to get you excited.

What’s more, you don’t have to go too far to experience the magic of Dolby Atmos, with Cathay Cineplex Jem and Golden Village VivoCity equipped with Dolby Atmos cinemas.

Alternatively, you’re more than welcome to drop by our studio for a demo in our very own Dolby Atmos certified dubbing theatre! Email us at contactus@mochachailab.com to set up an appointment.

 


 

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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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