Frequently Asked Questions:
What makes Curley Sound my best option for Production Sound recording?
Communication is a big part of what we do. Whether you are in with the latest technological jargon, or you don't know sound from a hole in the ground, we can speak your language. We will work with you to get the best possible on location recording that each location and scenario allows. We have years of experience on hundreds of productions in locations around the world. We own and operate top of the line equipment designed to bring you easy to work with recordings.
What kind of Equipment do you use?
We have all kinds of gear suitable for working with all kinds of productions. We have the ability to work with traditional filmed productions from 8mm through IMAX 70mm film, video from consumer level products to the next generation HD, P2, 24P, 4K, RED, Genesis, Epic, Alexa, and more. We also have worked with several new media projects, live to tape, live to internet (Webcasting) and live to air productions, music videos, live concert recording, and more! For an interactive look at the equipment we have available, please click here
My Camera has audio inputs, and a firewire port. We can just plug and play, right?
In short, yes.
The long answer is along the lines of "How good do you want it?" The advent of recording to camera began with field news gathering in the late 1960's with the CP16 film camera, which included an audio to mag stripe option. This allowed news editors to have reporters reporting in the field with sound, and still have that famous "Film at eleven" tag in their promos. When video cameras carried this tradition on, now known as ENG, it was for the production of news, and the ever tightening schedule of live broadcast. This quickly became a feature of convenience for editors. The concept of synchronizing picture and sound became an unheard-of step in news editing. The studio film industry stayed with the "Double System" approach through present day, by and large, as they realize that there are several advantages, and time is on their side, and this double system is how we prefer to work.
The reasons why are that, first, the cameras are designed primarily for image capturing. The vast majority of the electronics and processing are devoted to this, and the money is also spent on quality image circuitry. Sound gets what is left over on these cameras, and the results are unpredictable across brands and models. The equipment we own, operate and maintain, is dedicated to gathering high quality audio, and that's it. The use of this equipment ensures proper processing sync and recording every time.
Second, the concept of Double System recording opens up options to the sound and camera crew that are difficult when recording directly to camera. Long steadicam shots, or extensive camera movement becomes difficult when you're trying to dance with a sound mixer who is tied to your camera.
Another advantage is multi-track recording. most cameras only feature two audio inputs. Multitrack recording allows the post production mixer to isolate tracks that are wanted, and eliminate tracks that would interfere with the dialogue. In a two track scenario, the track would be much more difficult to work with later. Indie filmmakers have been wooed into the plug and play filmmaking sales pitch of the camera makers, but are often left wondering why the sound is so hard to work with after the fact. This is where we come in and make it as easy of a process as possible without sacrificing quality. Besides, with hard disk recording, and time code readily available, the tracks can be pulled off of a master file directly into the editors timeline, and sync is click-and-drag easy as well, no matter what your post workflow is. When it comes to hard numbers, double system works best every time. Almost all of the audio capable cameras on the market today feature 16 bit digital audio, which is CD-Quality. Our machines are capable of High Definition 24 bit recording at sample rates up to 192,000/second which surpasses the specs needed for DTS surround, and more advanced processing with minimal processing artifacts or digital noise.
My film is definitely going to win at Sundance. Will you work on it for free?
We support creative expression, and we want you to succeed in your career. No one can guarantee that your product is going to succeed financially, but with enough determination, talent, and hard work, you will succeed, in time. We, however, move from production to production, and do not gain financially from the success of your film. We make our living doing this on a freelance basis, and have the experience and equipment to make Curley Sound a highly valuable commodity. Our purpose is to provide a high quality recording with maximum efficiency to save you money, and increase your ROI. The techniques and equipment involved in this are the result of years of education, experience, and over $100,000 invested in the highly specialized equipment we use and maintain. If you hire us, we will dedicate 100% of our effort into making your film sound as good as possible, but we expect to be compensated for what we are providing you.
Panavision gave me a $500,000 camera for free, will you give me free equipment?
Many camera rental houses are international corporations with very high ticket clients such as FOX, SONY, WB, Universal, and Paramount studios. These clients pay top dollar for the equipment they rent, and occasionally these shops have more cameras than they can rent out. In the interest of building new relationships, they occasionally give out free camera packages, with the hope of gaining a return paying customer next time. We are a small, family owned operation, and our ability to get paid for our services and significant overhead determines our ability to feed our families, and keep a roof over our heads.
Why is your equipment separate in your rate?
Equipment is listed, and billed separately for several reasons. First, rentals are taxed differently than labor, so the IRS has a vested interest in knowing how our income is generated. Second, this equipment is highly specialized, and is an expensive overhead for our business. The equipment depreciates in value, maintenance is costly, and keeping on the edge of professional audio technology is far from cheap. We currently have over $70,000 invested in our equipment, with much more to come. We will do our best to work within your budget to provide the right equipment for the job, but if extra equipment is needed then we will work with you to minimize the expense to the production.
What do you charge for Expendables and travel?
We charge competitive rates for:
Ultralife 9V and Energizer AA Lithium batteries. This is our preferred brand.
Paper, cloth and specialty medical tapes for use with body mics
Printed Sound Reports
Travel over 50 miles round trip at $0.55/mile
Business Class Air travel and excess baggage or cargo fees, as well as hotel and per diem costs (1/2 Day rate is applied for non-working distant locations days)
Why do you want an insurance certificate?
Filmmaking is frequently a risky endeavour. There are dozens of workers moving big, heavy, awkward items around all the time. Huge lights, and high power electricity are only a few of the many dangers to our large investment in top of the line audio equipment. If this equipment is destroyed, weather it's an accident, or negligence, it still affects our ability to maintain our livelyhood. Actors drop wireless mics in the sink, lights fall on sound carts, people lose comteks, things get stolen. It's why the camera and lighting shops want a certificate too!
Our location is right next to an airport! Can you help?
Well, there are lots of factors in play here, and the Tech Sout is a critical part of dealing with this. First, you have to look at the creative side of the production. If your scenes are taking place before the 1940's, then the liklihood of jets being around, much less heard, is nil. This will mean that any and all noise must be shot around, or removed from the sound track in post. This is not cheap at all! There is no way for a microphone to "not hear" a certain noise, such as a passing plane, bus or booming car stereo. There are specialized microphones, and techniques for reducing the amount of noise one might hear in relation to the dialogue spoken on screen. This is known as the signal to noise ratio. We specialize in increasing the Signal to Noise Ratio to at least a workable minimum in poor conditions, and to negligable in the best conditions. There will always be some sort of offensive noise in any location, so it is important to involve your production sound mixer in production meetings, tech scouts, wardrobe and costume creation, as well as during lighting and rehearsals to help us maximise our efforts to reduce unwanted noise. Sometimes it's easy, and sometimes it's very difficult. We try to be ready for everything, but it's also the productions responsibility to itself to communicate with us to help prevent problems rather than deal with them. Ultimately the resulting costs to fix these problems fall on the production, and we do our best to minimize them. Sometimes this means spending some money ahead of time that will save you later. Communication is most important in this endeavour.
You guys do an awful lot of sitting around. What are we paying you for?
Our expertise comes in the form of preventing problems, and providing the most efficient fixes to unforseen problems which might arise on set. While your lighting and rigging crew are on set, we might not look like we are working, but we are observing the lighting, and camera shots, to make sure the boom will be able to get all of the dialog in that shot. We are going over scripts to get cues right. We are listening to things that might need to be turned off, or things that get turned on that might need relocating or baffeling. We are discussing with the production about what is coming up, and when and where we might be moving to next. We are working to stay on top of what is going on to prevent problems before they arise. Besides, there are other productions with different needs that are extremely labor intensive for sound crews. We have run thousands of feet of cable in rafters of buildings, operated dozens of wireless mics for Docs and reality shows, you never know what you're going to encounter in this business. The efficiency of our operation, and the product we provide is designed to cost the production a minimum of production down time, a minimum of post production headaches, and provide a maximum of creative freedom in post. Since time is money in production, and especially in post, we help you maximise your time in both scenarios, this is the marked value of our service.
What can my production do to help you help me?
Glad you asked! A major factor in the quality of a good production audio track is in the preparation of the entire production as a whole, and within each individual scene as well. The sooner production and post-production sound can be hired, and looped into the pre-production process, the better chance we will have at preparing completely for the production. We will benefit from speaking with the director, and cinematographer before hand. Production meetings, script readthroughs, and tech scouts give us a chance to see what might be coming, and open a dialogue with key crewmembers about things that might cause sound issues on set before they happen. Securing a post production facility before production begins will give us the opportunity to consult with the dailies, and/or transfer people, the editor, and post audio people to ensure that we are giving them a product that will easily integrate into their workflow. There is much more that each department can do, and this is spelled out quite extensively in "The Letter" which is a document written by a conglomerate of top level production and post sound people on exactly this subject. Click Here to read it.
Rehearsing? I want to shoot right now!
That's fine. We will accomodate any shooting style, but this also puts the entire cast and crew in a tough position. Shooting without a rehearsal can occasionally generate a real and original performance from your talent, with more genuine reactions. That's all great, except that you can't hear the dialogue because the boom operator didn't know they were going to speak there, and the shot is out of focus because the camera dept. didn't have focus marks. The time spent rehearsing provides the crew the information they need to get it right when it counts, on the first take, and every take where film is being spent. The same is true for Digital production, even though "tape is cheap" it's what is on the tape that counts! If you are planning on doing a "Verite" style of shooting, then it is important to have a production meeting before hand to discuss how to best handle the situation.