I Dub Thee, Temp

Today is the first day of our temp dub. For all you non-movie-industry-types, a temp dub is a kind of mini-mixdown of the movie’s soundtrack at its current state.

The last thing that is done on a movie prior to sending it out to the lab to make lots and lots of copies for distribution to theaters is the final dub where all the various sound elements—dialog, adr, sound effects, backgrounds, foley and music—are mixed together in the presentation that you hear in the theater. The final dub on your typical Hollywood film usually takes 4 to 6 weeks to complete. (This includes a process called predubbing. I’ll explain that in more detail at some point in the future.)

Before a movie goes to the final dub, there are usually 2 or 3 temp dubs during the 2 months or so of sound editorial that usually last 3 to 5 days each. Often these temp dubs are done to get a mixed track that can be played against the current picture cut for an audience test screening, also known as a “preview”.

Obviously much less time is spent on a temp dub than on the final dub. Temps can definitely be described as “down and dirty”. For sound editors a temp dub always represents a delicate balance between providing enough material to give a good indication of the direction the dialog editing and sound design is going, and providing too much, making it impossible to mix it all in the alloted time.

Plus there is often a time crunch just to get all the material prepared for the temp. Usually a sound crew will have two or three weeks to cut the sound for the first temp. That means two or three weeks between seeing the movie for the very first time and having a rough cut done and on a dub stage for a temp.

During the temp dub, the mixers will create stems—usually four of them: dialog, effects 1, effects 2, and music. These are typically 8 track mixdowns of the appropriate sounds, the dialog stem includes the ADR and Group ADR, the effects 1 stem includes all hard effects and sound design, the effects 2 stem is usually backgrounds and foley, etc. These stems are then mixed together to make the printmaster that is screened with the picture in a theater.

After the first temp, the time allotted to prepare for the next one decreases. Usually a week for the second and then a few days for the third. This is because most of the work is simply conforming the stems from the first temp to the new picture and then adding in the material to fill the holes.

Of course during this whole process the picture keeps changing as the director, the picture editor, the producers, and the studio all give opinions on what should be in or out of the film. “That entire scene is too long and isn’t necessary for the story, let’s cut it.” Or “The actress is pretty good in take 4 but I think there is even more emotional impact in take 6.” Or “Let’s try putting the meeting between the characters in the restaurant before the party scene.” And on and on and on. So of course the sound crew is continually trying to stay up to date. And those conforms take time away from straight up editing.

It can be quite an involved process.

Party With Pierogis

Yesterday was my friend’s 30th birthday and in celebration her husband rented out the patio behind Warszawa, a Polish restaurant in Santa Monica. I’ve never had “fancy” pierogis before. I born outside of Detroit and lived there through my early childhood years, and I went to college in Chicago. I have had plenty of Polish influence and cuisine in my life over the years but this is the first time I have encountered the trendy, hipster Polish spot. It was very nice.

In fact they were nice enough to allow David to bring in CDs to play for the event and they even had a large screen and a projector so episodes of the Linda Carter “Wonder Woman” TV show played throughout much of the night.

I caught up with my friend Jim who I haven’t seen in probably a year—we usually see each other at parties that David throws since he and Jim went to school together. I knew that Jim worked for several years with the writers on “Crossing Jordan”. That show is shot on the Universal lot and I knew that they had their editing rooms on the second floor of the building I was in when our editorial was set up there. What I didn’t realize was that all the offices for “Crossing Jordan” were up there. In the couple of months that I was in that building, walking in and out of the same front doors, I never once ran into Jim. Now I wish I had gone up to check out their offices.

The good news is that Jim has just this week started a new job as a full-fledged writer on “The Dead Zone”. I was so glad about hear that. I know that he was working for years hoping that someone would eventually give him the chance and now he finally has it.

Hub Heavy

Is there a legitimate reason why USB hubs can weigh a few ounces but their power supplies need to be made out of 5 pounds of lead? Can anyone answer me this? My cellphone power supply–charger is small and light. The little white square that Apple ships with its iPods is very portable. For some reason I cannot fathom this does not seem to be possible for USB hubs.


In this time of “every piece of audio software that I own needs a unique USB dongle to run”, my USB ports are very valuable. I just picked up a new 7-port hub from Belkin that is quite slick. It has two ports on top which are perfect for dongles. Plus the hole in the middle allows easy stacking. But I swear to god, that power supply weighs as much as my PowerBook. It’s not something I’d want to throw in my bag with will my other laptop goodies.

Several years ago I picked up a great little 3-port hub from Dr. Bott. It’s perfect for laptops. But it is only 3-ports and even though it’s pretty good about getting many USB devices to work off it, since it isn’t self-powered it doesn’t support everything.

There has to be something better out there.

Beneath The Radar

I couldn’t get to my website for about 20 minutes this morning. Pair.com, my hosting company, now has this up on their status page:

Beginning around 8:30am today, a steadily increasing flooding attack began against a customer site. This attack temporarily affected approximately two-thirds of our hosted sites until a reconfiguration was made to separate that traffic from other customer traffic. At this time, only the targeted site is being affected. We will continue to work with our upstream providers and adjust our network filters in order to adapt to this attack, which is by far the largest we have ever seen.

My site is back up so I must not be the one hackers are so anxious to take down. The small blessings of not being very popular. 😉

Moving Day

Today I’m saying ‘goodbye’ to Universal Studios. The show that was giving us space (not the show I’m working on right now) had an audience test screening last week and now it’s hunkering down for some additional shooting and lots of editing. They’re putting the sound crew on hiatus for several months.

Friday afternoon we ran around packing up rooms, breaking down Pro Tools systems, and rolling everything into two rooms that are being kept on the show so that things can be expanded quickly once it starts up again. This morning we’re moving a couple of systems over to a new location in Burbank. Actually we were going to be setting up shop there in two weeks anyway since there’s a little Disney project starting up then. But we had to find space for two weeks so my show can get through a temp dub and a test screening. We’re taking over some temporary rooms until the main ones are ready on Sept. 27.

The good news for me is that I’ll have a 5 minute commute to work.

Hello Kaiju!

Last night Cameron, Dana, Jesse and I experienced something extraordinary. We learned the true meaning of fear. We learned that “Danger Can Happen”. We went to the Avalon in Hollywood for the Los Angeles premiere of “Kaiju Big Battel”. I think Xeni Jardin described it best when she referred to it as part Japanese Monster Movie, part Mexican Wrestling Match, part Indie Rock Concert.

09_08_04_1958.thumb.jpg 09_08_04_2002.thumb.jpg 09_08_04_2005.thumb.jpg

The floor of the Avalon which normally holds hundreds of rock fans was dominated by a square wresting ring surrounded by a chain-link fence—the Danger Cage. Unlike your average wrestling-fare, the floor the of the Danger Cage was covered with small buildings, ready to be stomped on by giant monsters.

A little after 8pm the opening act started—a band called Darkness My Love. They weren’t bad. A couple of their slower tunes had rhythms simultaneously pounded out on guitar, bass and drums while the lead guitar warbled in reverb-drenched spacey-ness, just the way I like it.

Of course we were really there to see guys running around in foam-rubber monster suits, pounding on each other and destroying the model city. We weren’t disappointed.

09_08_04_2006.thumb.jpg 09_08_04_2102.thumb.jpg 09_08_04_2113.thumb.jpg

Since I’ve watched a lot of Godzilla movies and “Ultra-Man” TV shows in my day, I get the whole “Japanese Monster” thing. This one’s a giant sea anemone mutated by nuclear fallout hell-bent on destroying Tokyo and that one was a brave astronaut accidentally killed in a tragic alien encounter but brought back to life and given super-powers and cool suit by the same alien. I was also a regular viewer of WWF back when Hulk Hogan was good and wrestling stars like Junkyard Dog, Iron Sheik, Randy “Macho Man” Savage, or pretty much anyone who showed up in a Cindy Lauper video tussled in the ring. So this event was full of things I loved as a kid.

And accordingly I had a great time. However I never went to an actual wrestling event when I was little and I realized that now I would much prefer to sit down with the heavily-edited and synchronized to music DVD, than stand in a sweltering rock club watching it live for 3 hours.

Things like the new kaiju hero Super Wrong! coming out, dancing to “Yatta!” and then getting immediately beaten in the fight or the drunken Hell Monkey falling all over himself were pretty damn funny. But the thing that was great was whenever one monster landed some “ouch that must of hurt” move on another—jumping off the top of the cage onto an opponent, punching the other so hard that they did a backflip and things like that. Unfortunately those great moves don’t happen all the time and that’s where for me the DVD would be better.

Hero At Large

It’s very hot today. And very muggy too. We’ve been having this heat wave in Los Angeles and it hasn’t been pleasant. I work all day long in a well air-conditioned building. So well air-conditioned that I often have a sweatshirt with me. To step from that 68°F indoor temperature to 100+°F outdoors is rather shocking.

I hopped into our cart to drive down to the ATM to get some cash for a little event I’m attending tonight. (More on that tomorrow.) Plus I figured it would be a nice change from the vending machines to see what refreshing drinks they were offering at the Universal’s convenience store. Even sitting on my butt, clipping along in our cart I was sweating. It’s so hot out.

The ATM and the store were uneventful but the real fun was on the way back to our building. One corner of the studio lot ins next to the lines for the Jurassic Park water ride in the theme park. Years ago a worked in a building near there and it was infuriating because that stupid John Williams theme would be in your head all day long. I came around the corner and passed by the line of tourists standing under the misters waiting to get soaked by the ride. At this point the road slopes down and passes between a sound stage on the left and back of several theme park stores and restaurants on the right. It’s enough of a slope that you can feel the governor kick in and slow down the golf cart.

Even above the rattle of our puttering car I was could hear the wine of several engines. Suddenly four of the most colorfully garish ATVs I have ever seen turned the corner and started toward me. And riding those ATVs, decked head-to-toe in spandex during this lovely warmth, was Spider-Man, Green Goblin, Storm and Wolverine. I quickly dug in my pocket for my cellphone so I could snap a picture as I passed. Unfortunately the jouncing of the cart caused me to accidently hit the “Discard” button instead of “Store” and I lost it.

It was truly a classic sight. I only wish I could have shared it.

Another Week, Another Lounge

Once again I find myself sitting in the customer service lounge of Robertson Honda working on my computer. When I took my car in nearly two weeks ago for a check-up, there was one thing they couldn’t complete without special-ordering a part.

I’ve had this recurring problem with my CR-V where the engine light comes and goes. When it first happened I looked it up in the owner’s manual and found that it means there’s a problem with the emissions system—usually it is no longer sealed. When I brought the car in they told me that it’s usually because the gas cap isn’t on tight enough. But they checked it out and found that the cap didn’t seal properly and so they replaced it.

That was a year ago and it continues to be a problem. I might go months without an engine light and then one day it’s on. I’ll get out, turn the gas cap tighter and sometimes the light goes out. But sometimes it doesn’t. And if it stays on, the next time I start my car it might be out. It’s very random.

Well I explained this all to them again when I brought my car in this last time and they checked it out and decided that the gas tube that runs from the outside of my car down to the tank is malformed and that caps are not fitting properly because of it. They ordered the new part. It’s now in and so I sit here waiting for my ride to Universal so I can go to work.

Since I’ve spent so many hours in these chairs I can definitely say that Robertson Honda has fairly comfortable chairs in their lounge. 😉

Me And LBC

I spent the day down in Long Beach enjoying good-natured political arguments, BBQ chicken and a 60″ HDTV with my aunt and uncle. I can’t believe how hot it was down there—easily in the 90s. That’s very strange, especially for this time of year. I took some pretty pictures out the window on the drive home as the sun was sinking low in the sky.