Magazine article American Cinematographer

"Film" as "Tape" Sound: New Reflections on the Old Battle

Magazine article American Cinematographer

"Film" as "Tape" Sound: New Reflections on the Old Battle

Article excerpt

Sound (as well as visuals) have the distinction of being an intricate array of optimums balanced by real-life compromises in order to get out the best quality product affordable. On COSMOS, we tried to devise a system that suited us optimally, and I think we hit upon a system that filled our needs brilliantly and made use of the best that both film and videotape have to offer (see Gerald Zellinger's article).

Getting to the heart of the matter, let me identify several of my notions about the advantages of film versus videotape sound post-production: (NOTE: Optimums for COSMOS are not necessarily applicable to other situations.)



CODE SYNC-Visuals edited on film with corresponding coded mag tracks are a boon to the sound editor. Head and tail trims, matching ambience fills, and overlaps are easily located and accomplished.

MASTER CODED MUSIC-AM of the music selections on COSMOS were transferee! in duplicate with matching code numbers. This code match allows for replacement of "stepped on" work copy mag tracks with utmost ease. Extending of head and tail sections for music overlaps is also easily accomplished.

SPOT SOUND EFFECTS EDITING-Editing of spot sound effects where sync is crucial is done easier on film.

SCRAPING-Most sound editors will agree that one of the finesse attributes of editing on film is that it is easy to scrape out oxide on the mag to eliminate pops, and abrupt entrances and exits of sound. This is very difficult to do in videotape sweetening.

PHYSICAL MANIPULATION-There is nothing like actually handling film in an artistic formulation of sound track elements. Many editors and assistants find the lack of "feel" in videotape formats to be disconcerting for sound editing. It's true, it is easier to adjust a frame of film than a frame of videotape.


MECHANICAL-Film is basically a mechanical and non-state-of-the-art process for organizing sound modulations.

TRIMS-There is an essentially "dirty" quality about having to keep track of sound trims. First of all, physical edits are always subject to being heard, except in the case of the perfect splice. secondly, the process of track building is a timeconsuming and mechanical process in these days of electronic accuracy. …

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