Thoughts on the Jen Ralston Interview with Jim Groom and Paul Bond
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How lucky we were to have instructors able to land such a great interview! I really like the honesty of Jen Ralston’s comments regarding how sound editing is under-appreciated and she saw a niche forming there when she was the only student being paid to work on student films. While directors and actors were more common in the labor pool, she was in demand. She certainly appears to have made the most of her opportunities and her editing credits reflect that.
It was fun to hear her describe their thinking and decisions not to “chase that” to make accents and speech more intelligible, and why they didn’t want to “dumb down” accents like Snoop’s for a broader audience understanding. They wanted the audience to have to work a little bit to keep pace. Good decision, I think, because it makes us all lean in a bit more to catch everything.
It sounded as if they worked with mostly native sounds from the environment. No slick camera-tracking dolly shots, instead they used static cameras, and they didn’t over-produce sounds, although some things were added to the backgrounds for sound, especially the heavy machinery sounds from the port scenes (Season 2).
She said that sometimes when dealing with a scene that’s too noisy, it’s good to add more noise. Noise from cars behind one actor, but not behind the other actor, so it requires a judgement call on whether you add the traffic noise to the other side of the conversation to keep it consistent for the listener. I hadn’t realized until she talked about it, that modern TV shows have wireless mics with high quality recordings that make the actors’ voices seem consistent all the time. Older shots and tech required camera wide shots which meant that sound was separated by distance, framing for the viewer a sense of how far away the audience was from the action because the sound “sounded” farther away.
I especially like her explanation of the strategy behind if you want something to sound quiet, you don’t make it quieter, you bring out details that the viewer could only hear if surrounding things were more quiet. If the viewer hears their OWN environmental sounds, then they think something is wrong and disconnect from the story.
This was a terrific and insightful interview into the world of a sound editor.