Thursday, 23 January 2014

Of Shark and Man Update - Sound Design Has Begun!

 The almighty task begins...David Lawrie hard at work

Today was a bit of a milestone in the production for Of Shark and Man, in fact, so was Tuesday because on Tuesday, the final clips went into the timeline of the first edit, in simple terms, for the first time ever, I can watch the film start to finish without any gaps! Pick up shots were filmed last week (thanks for your help Olli!) and I received the small handful of stock clips I need to accompany a small part of the film we simply couldn't shoot in Fiji (thanks Duncan and Jillian!) All this means that "editing" now makes way for the part of post production I really enjoy the most, making that edit come alive!

So, back to today, well, today saw the first day of active work on the sound design of the film.

What is Sound Design I hear you ask? "Sound Design" is the process of creating what the film sounds like, from ambient, environmental sounds, to recreating incidental sounds which can't be recorded in the moment, mixing the films audio, cleaning everything up so it hits that "broadcast" standard and as I said above, ensuring what you see is augmented and brought to life by what you hear.

The Sound Design is enormously important in a film but is something which in modern times has been largely ignored, or at least treated as an afterthought by factual "documentary" based film-makers, of course there are sounds and sound effects but the artistry in creating an audio landscape which tells a story in itself seems to be a rare commodity in factual film, outside of the BBC and the theatrical IMAX releases of course. It's not a criticism that it's not there, it's just not really seen as a necessity outside of the fictional realm which is fine but from the outset, I always wanted Of Shark and Man to have a ridiculously ambitious and detailed audio identity, it would be another aspect of ensuring this entire project is as good as it deserves to be and if your film looks great, sounds great and has a great story, then you stand a much better chance of it being a success but primarily, the motivation has been to approach the crafting of the film in the traditional sense in that it should be treated lovingly, respected and allowed to grow, almost organically into the film it deserves to be. I appreciate how pretentious and wanky that sounds but it is what it is, the art of film-making, like music, fine art, architecture, cuisine etc is a craft which deserves to be respected.

I recommend you take ten minutes to watch this brilliant little look at the sound design on "Monsters University" as it gives an insight into the kind of sound design I am talking about, layer upon layer of sound that fills the areas around the viewer to create the world in which I am asking you to join me, the idea being a truly immersive experience that is not just a visual feast but one which envelops all your senses.

The idea is create the kind of sound design that the big budget productions have, there's no point setting your sights low after all and given my almost OCD level of obsession for every single tiny little detail, that is a huge task and not a task I can do to the level I want so, enter the incredibly talented David Lawrie. David is a professional musician, artist and producer with a serious level of ability in this field and I am absolutely delighted to have him on board.

We spent most of today going through the concepts for the sound design I have in my head, some of which are very specific and quite avant garde and what really gave me a buzz was that he is on exactly the same page, even making some sounds on the spot for me which I had tried my best to articulate, but far exceeded what I had in mind. I am of the belief that every texture of each sound has to have a reason for being what it is, it must be descriptive and emotive but mustn't become overbearing. The art of sound design is complex and distinct in that it relies on the obsessive attention to every detail in each shot and the themes of the film, not only that, but also the underlying sub-text and depth that creates the subconscious bind between film-maker and audience.

I'm starting to sound like a bit of a chin stroker I'm aware of that but I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's really important to me that all of you who watch the film get the absolute maximum bang for your buck and to feel like you are right there with me on this journey every step of the way. The single thing which lets low budget films down more than anything, is bad sound. Muffled voice overs, badly edited audio tracks and no environmental ambiance. The sound on the cut as is, is already pretty good but with David on board, I know it's going to go through the roof quality-wise.

I'm not going to give away any secrets or any conceptual elements but the sound design will be featured in detail in the "making of" documentary so you will get a really in-depth and detailed look at the process. What I heard today though makes me confident it is going to be pretty incredible. You will get your first glimpse into the completed sound design and look of the film when the official trailer is released sometime in the next couple of months.

Once again I am reminded how lucky I am to have so many talented friends and people who believe in this project. When I started out all that time ago, I could never have imagined where this film would take me on my own creative journey and right now, I have never been more excited.

Western Australian Shark Cull Protests - Round 2!

Something I've not had the time to really go over much is the protests in Australia regarding the proposed Shark Cull in Western Australia so I wanted to give a quick heads up for the second round of protests which are taking place around Australia on February 1st. As usual, check through Facebook to find the one nearest you and go down to lend your support.

Seeing the numbers that attended the first lot of protests, I was actually blown away, it was incredible to see so many people turning out to support the sharks and the motion to try and get the government to halt its plans to waste $20million on a knee jerk reaction purely to be seen to be doing something.

From what I can gather, the protests were well organised, friendly, positive and welcoming, seeing people of all ages getting together to make a statement against killing sharks is absolutely wonderful so, to all the attendees and organisers, well done, you did a sterling job and best of luck in Round 2!

With that in mind, to anyone who attended or helped organise, please, please, please pay absolutely no mind to this, I actually find it quite appalling that it's being shared on Facebook by anybody other than the author, because no, you didn't "drop the ball" with your "crappy signs," you did something brilliant and it made world news so do what everybody else does and ignore what the author has to say, not just about this, but about anything, instead, feel positive about what you are doing and keep up the great work!

If the link won't work for you, here is the transcript, like I said though, please be warned, it's a load of bollocks...

"Western Australian shark cull protestors, why are you guys dropping the ball?

January 4, 2014 at 9:38pm
Hello everyone. I am VERY concerned about local efforts to slow or stop the white shark cull. Let me share with you why this is. Thanks. (BTW this message may upset some of my readers since many are working at stopping the cull. Please read ALL of it before you get annoyed. Also realize that this is not to diminish efforts being made. But it is to give you the tools to swiftly win this battle once and for all.)

I keep seeing images shared with me by friends and colleagues in Western Australia. And every time I see protests and demonstrations it's a huge mixed roller-coaster ride for me. Mixed because I am torn between the pride I feel in seeing these folks taking the time to gather and protest and draw media attention to the issue. But also a mix of disbelief, frustration, and anger at the fact that everyone keeps dropping the ball and missing the biggest opportunity that anyone could hope for to get the cull immediately shut down and repealed.

Now if you ask me why I would feel this way and what is this massive weapon that will instantly kill the cull, it's the legal high ground in a battle that should not even be taking place.

I can point the finger at Colin Barnett and decry his stupidity and idiocy at having tried this in the first place. But I am ABSOLUTELY mind blown at all of the heads of the counter movement who are not killing this cull with the most powerful tool possibly imaginable! What the heck is the matter with you folks???? Are you not comprehending the power you have?

From an outside perspective and a logic perspective it's such an easy fix. And from an inside perspective even more so! So why are you guys failing to do the simplest thing possible, which also happens to be the most effective thing possible, to shut the cull down?

Let me spell this out for everyone very clearly. If there is ANY part of this that does not sink in please let me know?


Now I want ever shark defender and especially Jeff Hansen and Ross Weir to really pay close attention. I am going to make this as simple as possible. I should not have to but apparently the message just seems to elude everyone. So here it is.

Colin Barnett has no legal ability to cull White sharks in Western Australia or in any other state in the nation. He cannot do this legally because there are 14 White shark conservation laws and conventions and treaties that are both National and International Laws and outweigh any jurisdiction that he has as a state leader to overrule these accords and laws!

Next thing; Colin Barnett plans to use drumlines. These draw sharks closer to bathers and beach goers, set sharks into a feeding/hunting/foraging mindset and INCREASE the danger of a bite incident. This violates the Public Safety laws of Western Australia and Mr. Barnett does not need to fully grasp that he is endangering the public. He needs only attempt something which can put the public in harm and he can be prosecuted under these statutes! Western Australia is one of 4 states in Australia that do not need knowledge of endangerment in order to prosecute for this criminal act.

And then there is the Bycatch issue. Drumlines do not just catch sharks. They also catch Sea turtles (all 7 species worldwide are endangered or critically endangered and protected). This includes the 6 species found in Australian waters! Seals and Sea Lions, also afforded protection, Dolphins and Porpoises, again these animals have protection, Pilot whales, Rays, Dugongs, Non-target shark species, several of which have VERY strong protection. All told there are about 60 conservation laws violated by drumline use!

Signs that every image and picture of every event I have seen in which demonstrators and activists are holding for the News Media all implore the public to oppose the cull, or stop the cull, or support white sharks. But the problem with asking people to help fight the cull is that this presumes that the cull is a legitimate venture that Barnett can legally pull off, but is perhaps an unpopular idea.

None of it says to the public or (and more importantly) the News Media, that this cull is being done in violation of long standing and powerful Laws. No signs that explain to cameras, reporters, and the public that this is a CRIME and that if Barnett pushes it through he is looking at Prison time. Where are those signs??????

Why are you guys not just shutting the whole circus down?

With just that tiny bit of information this would all be over swiftly. I have said it nicely, I've shared the information with Politicians and Reporters, I've shared it with shark advocates, animal rights activists, and supporters, I've written about it, shared it in groups and NGOs. So let me ask everyone, why is this concept so darn difficult for everybody?

You want to stop the cull? Really?

Here's how you do it.

1. STOP holding signs that beg, ask, or attempt to garner sympathy. 

2. START holding up signs that expose this for what it is, ILLEGAL/CRIMINAL activity.

3. Familiarize yourself with Media and Politicians and SHARE THIS INFORMATION with them.

4. Publicly DEMAND that Barnett is investigated, arrested, and tried for these crimes!

Take the focus off of just the sharks and the morality/ethics of this situation, and shift it to where you have an open and shut case, the legality and Barnett's imminent imprisonment!!!!

THAT is how you win this pure and simple. It's so easy a child could do it. Which is why I am so annoyed that so many adults are not doing it. If I seem a bit harsh or critical in my little diatribe here, I am sorry, but it's intended to wake everyone up. If that means upsetting a few friends to get White sharks protected, and other species including beach goers protected, then that's the price of making sure that you guys start doing this correctly and stop half-assing it.

I love you folks in WA. I truly do. But I also love marine life. Those species are counting on you to do the obvious. So please put the crappy signs away, and pick up the big guns! Follow the 4 suggestions and I promise you, Barnett will quickly try to repeal the cull, or back off and escape this. EXPOSE HIM! Stop hiding him and his crime behind your silence!

You guys have voices! Please use them for the sharks. Think with your heads, not just your hearts!

Thanks everyone!

- Erik"

Like I said, nonsense...

This is really good, well said Christopher Neff!

I've been critical of Christopher Neff on this very blog in the past, indeed, I still hate the Erich Ritter invented "shark accident" nonsense which was the thing which brought him to my attention a couple of years back however, that aside, his paper at the time, regarding the politics of shark bites had some great stuff in it, he seems a nice fella and on top of all that, he's still the only person in the history of this blog to have the balls to discuss points raised herein, using his own name, in a public arena and I respect him for that, if only more people shared his candour.

Last week I saw a short piece written by Neff relating to the supposed increase in shark attacks/bites (not accidents, it's never an "accident") and it's really very good, especially this bit;

"Shark bites fall into a special statistical category known as “random, independent events”. This means that the likelihood that a shark bite will happen at a given time and place does not depend on when or where the last one happened. Just like a like a coin toss, if you get heads on the first time, you still only have a 50-50 chance of heads on the next flip.

Yet shark bites often do not look independent or random. Their nature makes them look like intent-based incidents. Any increase in frequency can also look like part of a new pattern, despite these events being independent, random and rare. As a result, the public understandably wants these vivid and frightening incidents stopped, and the government wants to diagnose a problem so it can come up with a solution."

You can read the full piece here.