When it comes to delivering Filled M&E’s, it always helps to plan from the start. But, if you are the sound crew or post team… when it comes to deliveries for a feature film, it all depends on the film. The budget, the size, the scope, the deliverables, the time allocated…
The term “filled” refers to a music and effects that has been created to match a film’s original mix with the original dialogue stem removed. M&E tracks are created for foreign dubbing. Because of this the sound team needs recreate all the ambience, room tone, and sounds heard in the dialogue track, without any dialogue. Foreign actors then re-record the dialog and this is then mixed with the filled M&E to create a complete foreign mix.
Let’s start with production, since you discuss that in your question.
During production things can get a bit out of control. The lower the budget and the tighter the time constraints, the more common the mistakes. These are the times you would want to grab a “wild line or eight…”. This is also the time you’re most likely to not have the time. Yes, it would be nice if you could stop production, grab the actors and the director and run off to a quiet spot away for the rest of the crew setting up for the next shot…. Most likely… ain’t gonna happen.
One of the most important aspects of good sound is simply good sound crew and planning. I’ll refrain from going down a rathole here and focus on the question at hand. For now, lets assume I just spent 30 minutes ranting about having the sound crew involved during pre-production, location scouting, and planning. We’ll also pretend I spent another 20 minutes on my constant soapbox battle about spending a reasonable portion of the allocated time budget of set preparation on SOUND.
Once your on set recording and the cast and crew are shooting, its too late to fix a lot of things, so you do the best you can.
Critical things I try to ensure my sound team does on set.
1. Hanging sound blankets off camera where necessary.
2. turning off things that go “buzz”
3. dealing with any generator noise issues.
4. Resolving pops, squeaks, and other sounds from set, cast and crew that we don’t want recorded.
5. Independent channels of recorded dialogue
6. mic’ing of all principle speaking cast for each scene
7. Boom positioning
8. monitoring for off set noises
9. when possible and practical .. and if necessary, dropping the occasional spot mic in a location off camera…
Now the really important ones for the post team.
1. Room tone! lost and lots of room tone!
2. Wild takes of specific sound we want. ( doors, switches, floor squeaks etc)
3. When we can…. Wild lines from actors
I love getting wild lines from actors… If you surf Gearslutz and DUC, as well as my blog on FIlmDoctors.com (and the free resources I have for download) you’ll see that I’ve rescued more than one scene by doing these. Sometimes you can get wild lines, or for that matter, even room tone…and sometimes it just isn’t going to happen.
The most important thing you can to to assure good sound on set is to make buddy buddy with the AD… so you can get the time to do all the items listed above.
When the dust settles, A lot of work goes into Filled M&Es, whether you do the work in production, in post, or both… All I can add at this point, is that if the delivery calls for filled M&E’s make sure that you talk to the production sound crew, and verify you have the materials you need to deliver a quality fully filled M&E… If you don’t better plan on a few late nights in the Foley pit and in edit to correct, replace, and create the world around the actors… Its’ always interesting to MUTE the dialogue stem and start rebuilding.