Monday, September 8, 2008
I recently had the opportunity to view the instructional DVD Sound for Film and Television by Barry Green, Art Jimmerson and Matt Gettemeier. The DVD came with good reviews from colleagues and rave reviews on some forums, and particularly at DVXuser, where the makers of the DVD are frequent posters and/or moderators.
This could be interpreted as a negative in the sense that there may be a bias at that particular forum. However, I will state that having anyone with notable expertise posting on community forums with any regularity is an overwhelming positive for the filmmaking community and especially for those trying to learn their craft. On many occasions, I have come across helpful Q&A sessions in the forums with the answers provided by Barry Green or his colleagues.
That said, when looking at the utility of this DVD, I would have to look at the characteristics of the viewer, their needs, and their level of expertise with respect to sound design and boom technique, etc.
First off, this DVD is very well put-together. Barry Green and company do an excellent job of keeping things moving along and making the subject matter interesting with colorful and creative examples. Not too often will an educational DVD put this kind of thought toward keeping you entertained, and it works well for subject matter that would be considered dry by many. The producers go above and beyond by writing and filming scenes that illustrate their principles in quirky and humorous ways, and it is a credit to their effort that viewers will not have a difficult time getting through this DVD.
While I found the DVD extremely entertaining for its genre, I believe that it is ideally suited for the following user: An aspiring filmmaker or film school graduate who has had little experience or training in proper sound design and recording.
This does not mean that other users won't benefit from the DVD. Even a seasoned professional will probably find it to be a relatively enjoyable couple of hours that reinforces some of their basic and intermediate knowledge. But who really needs this DVD is the director or producer who considers sound to be an annoying hurdle and necessary evil. The director who would prefer to ignore sound altogether if he or she could. The director who still records scenes using the camera's on-board microphone or who doesn't care if his boom operator has the boom mic pointed horizontally from a distance at the talent.
Green, Jimmerson and Gettemeier do a good job of driving home the basics and how to avoid beginner pitfalls that leave many first and second films irredeemable due to fatally flawed audio. They provide some basic rules to follow and while they may seem really basic, many people aren't following them (and many of these people should know better).
I see it regularly when I work, especially when I am around indie productions. Barry Green and company do an excellent job of really hammering in the principles of "Sound 101" and if you aren't already sure whether you know and follow these basic principles in your filmmaking, then you are likely to benefit from their tutelage.
As a minor note, a few of their references to microphone brands may be slightly dated, as models and relative prices change. The Oktava MK012, for example, has gone up significantly in relative price to the other models as North American currencies have slumped in comparison to those enjoyed by the Russian manufacturer. But such details will not detract from the universality of the principles in the DVD.
For your convenience, here are the IMDB profiles / resumes of BARRY GREEN and MATT GETTEMEIER.
If you want to learn more about the DVD, you can also take a look at its profile on Amazon.