Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sound Advice from the BBC academicians

The news is all over their channels today - audiences don't like TV soundtracks when they can't hear the words for the music.   There is a remarkably low-key and sensible foreword from the new bloke in charge of BBC-1, Danny Cohen, to a useful set of videos on what we must now apparently call the BBC college of production (or is that a Faculty within the Academy?).

I've had a jolly time watching a couple of these videos, jerky though the playback is on my broadband connection (of which more another time).    I'm feeling generous today, so I'll commend the one giving advice to one-person bands or self-shooters in the unfortunate BBC parlance.   It begins with the now obligatory picking-the-camera-bag-off-the-shelf sequence, and the advice is somewhat obvious, but they mean well and presumably there are people who need to be told this.   But how did they get the job in the first place, I ask snarkily...

In other areas, raise a cheer for the video celebrating that rarest of beasts, the Dubbing Mixer.   I was especially pleased to see, just in the closing frames, the tea-tray with, I think, choc hob-nobs, in view on the mixing desk.   As any old-style film editor or director (guilty as charged) knows, the whole point of booking a dubbing theatre, especially the grand ones in Soho, was to gorge on tea, coffee and chocolate biscuits while sitting on a comfy sofa watching someone else do all the work.   The only quibbles I have with the redoubtable Mr Foulgham ( a dubbing mixer of renown and talent) is the use of the phrase 'voice-over' to describe a scripted narration of commentary. (Narration is the correct term - voice-over according to this pedant and many before me is to be confined to use of sync sound over cutaway pictures).  

And a second point;  moving and fitting though the high wire walker film is, surely we should declare a moratorium on the use of Erik Satie as background music?   Taking it further, any editor knows there's an army of desperate music writers and performers out there, aching to write for TV.    Maybe we should have a moratorium on all re-use of recorded 'commercial' music in TV backgrounds.  Now that would take me back to my starting days...