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Mere Haule Dost: The Sync Sound Story

That's me Jamie & now you know what I do :)

That’s me Jamie & now you know what I do :)

I was working on another Short film in Tenkasi when I received a mail from Nitin, the director. He introduced himself and told me about his project. I was excited and responded to him. However, he wanted to check my previous work. This made me very apprehensive as I had just started off as a freelance location sound recordist. I had very few projects under my belt and most of them were still in post production. So all I could do was suggest to Nitin that he talk to directors who I worked with. I was confident that they would give a positive report. Surprisingly, Nitin agreed and he made a few calls and in a couple of days I was in.

Sync sound, as it is called in India is a very little known thing. I keep getting asked by friends about what I do. I tell them that I record dialogue and ambience in films and make sure that they are clear and sound good. They then ask me why can’t the film be dubbed in a studio. Why put in so much effort to record dialog on the set. Doesn’t it waste a lot of time?

Well, sync sound does take a bit more time and a lot more discipline on the set than a dubbed film. However, it does save so much time in post production. The benefit of sync sound is that it sounds so real and thus better. You can ‘hear’ the actors emotions. It becomes a difficult task even for seasoned actors to dub emotional scenes. Also the actors don’t have to enact the scene all over again after the film shoot. It is difficult to get additional dates from actors for dubbing. Also the postproduction process is simplified and takes lesser sound effects and folly to make the film sound good.

Back to my Mere Haule Dost story. I packed my equipment and stuff and headed to Hyderabad. This was the first time I would be working with such a large crew and seeing the number of people and equipment all around, my heart began to race. There were at least 10 guys to handle lights, a couple of camera assistants, directors, assistant directors and such a huge cast! Earlier I have worked with a maximum cast of 5. And this situation was really unnerving. However, I got introduced to the cast and crew and got to work immediately.

Fortunately, the location where we were shooting was calm and quiet. However, it wasn’t smooth sailing from there. The first day of shoot with two cameras and so many Lights meant that I would have to squeeze in some small corner and handle the boom mic. This first scene we shot had all the 5 friends in the frame. I was given a stool to stand on, with the boom extending all the way and carrying the recorder and equipment on my shoulders. It wasn’t an easy task. I also wanted to impress Nitin. So I took up the daunting challenge, standing on the stool till we finished the take.

Anyhow, things got better as I got acquainted with some of the technicians who would gladly hold the boom mic for me. But, I wasn’t satisfied. They would do it their way and wouldn’t listen to my advice. They would just say that they have done it for other films shoots and they know how to do it. So, I decided to handle the boom mic myself. In a couple of days, I built a rapport with everyone on the set and everyone supported me to get good sound. Ankur Raina, the cinematographer was very supportive. He would make sure that I was comfortable and was getting a good output. Pramida made sure that we rested well and we were fed well. Nitin gave me the liberty to do another take, if required, just to get better sound! What more can a Sync sound recordist ask for?!

The main problem we faced in Hyderabad was the sound of cars reversing since we were shooting at a residential colony. It seemed like all the cars there had this “tu tu tu” reverse horn. It was so annoying to call a cut every few minutes because someone close-by was taking their car out of the driveway. At times we also had crows cawing madly, dogs barking endlessly and vendors selling their wares loudly!

There was this scene we were shooting in the night at a farmhouse away from the city. It was a very silent place. However, once in awhile dogs would start barking or some other noise would disrupt the shoot. We were running out of time and I had to call a cut time and time again. In all, I called a cut 8 times for the same shot. Everyone was getting mad at me and I was frustrated. Nitin was getting restless and he said that he needs the shot done as soon as possible. I knew he was under a lot of pressure to finish the scheduled shoot before dawn. Though it was hectic that day, we managed to complete the shoot in time. Even in the middle of all the chaos and pressure, it was a fun and a memorable day.

Indian Cities are very crowded and very noisy. Shooting films here is a very challenging task. Shooting films with sync sound is a Herculean task. Controlling and silencing the crowd become a gigantic task. I faced this during this shoot. We had to shoot at a garage on the street. The street was noisy and bystanders would stare at the camera and speak loudly over the phone calling theirs friends saying there is a shoot going on! A crowd began forming and we had to resort to ADR (dubbing) for that scene. Extremely loud horns, Altered bike silencers and heavily loaded trucks and busses all add to the pandemonium.

Well, such situations are a part of filmmaking, aren’t they? It’s all excitement, hectic, fun, insane, draining but at the end of it all.. satisfying!

Mere Haule Dost has been a great movie to work for! It was a huge learning curve for me. I am hoping that the audience will love it and support us. Signing off wishing our team all the best!

-Jamie D’Silva

Note- You can also check out Pramida Posanipalli’s notes on producing Mere Haule Dost here

By: Admin
Posted: May 30, 2013, 11:46 am


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