Blog: HD Movie 'Closing Escrow' Is Complete

Last fall and winter, producers of the yet-to-be-released motion picture "Closing Escrow" blogged for HD Notebook on the HD film's pre-production, shooting and post-production activities. The SAG Modified Low Budget Feature was filmed and produced in Los Angeles. Here is the final post-production entry from the film's director, Armen Kaprelian:

"Well, 'Closing Escrow' the Movie is finally finished. Conformed, color-corrected and mixed. The final leg of the process was the audio mix, which was performed by Wild Woods. These guys really know their stuff. I didn't want the audio to become too perfect or stylized because I wanted to maintain that documentary feeling. Derek Luff and Ryan Owens of Wild Woods understood that. These guys have won a few Emmys for their audio work on nearly every major network Reality TV show ('Survivor,' 'Apprentice,' 'Fear Factor,' etc.).

"What I learned was that there is a lot of mixing and editing that goes into that 'non-mixed/non-edited' feel. Since we had shot 'Closing Escrow' with a quasi-reality TV workflow, I felt this was the right company to go with.

"The process started with me exporting an OMF of the entire film, along with a QuickTime output. These files were then married together in their Pro Tools system. An important thing to remember is that OMF files do not honor your audio edits from your offline. You will have to redo them all in Pro Tools. But, that offline audio mix is still important because the sound editor will use it as a reference track from the QuickTime file.

"I sat in with Wild Woods Supervising Sound Editor Ryan Owens on a 'spotting session', which is where we viewed the entire QuickTime file. Wherever there was an issue, Ryan would make a note. We'd stop and attempt a quick edit in the OMF. The point of this process was to simply see if an edit was possible. If it were, Ryan would note the TC for the future. If not, we'd need to go back to the discreet channels from our DA-88s, or even consider ADR. About 95 percent of the work was manageable with what we had.

"I was surprised at how painless the process was. This was due, in part, to Wild Woods expertise, but also because my audio guy in the field, Seth Gilbert, had done a fantastic job. The spotting session took about four hours and really put my mind at ease.

"I left Wild Woods alone to do their thing for about a week and a half. When they were finished, I put my Director hat back on to do the mix approval with Ryan and the Re-Recording mixer, Tim Brown. What I heard was magic. All the phasing and pops/hits that we'd become desensitized to had been eliminated. It was like watching a brand new film.

"I also heard the FX for the first time. A simple layer of crickets to enhance night scenes or sprinklers in the morning added a lot of depth. Not to mention their interpretation of the sound a 'bag of bunnies makes when hitting the ground.' (You need to see the film to understand that one). I was pleasantly surprised to see 8-10 new jokes emerge with their FX work.

"After tweaking a few scenes here and there, we were ready to print. They gave me a DA-88 with the 5.1 reflected in tracks 1-6, and a stereo LT/RT mix on 7-8. We laid that back to our D5 master at HTV and wallah! ... a finished master ready to go.

"I've heard some people argue that sound is more important than picture. When you think about it, bad picture with good sound is tolerable, even considered artistic at times. I'm now a big believer in that because if you take it one step further, great sound can take a good film and make it great. That's what the guys at Wild Woods did for 'Closing Escrow.' They are very talented on a technical level--but equally impressive with their gentle creativity within the tone and framework of the story."

~ Armen Kaprelian