Continuity in Sound Post Production

To sync or not to sync? That was the question.

When a cut dramatically changes the pace of a character’s movement or creates and stutter/delay in their forthcoming footstep, what does one do? Continue with the previously established rhythm and hope the viewer doesn’t notice or follow the sync to each hit point regardless of the continuity issue?

I posed this question to supervising sound editor and sound consultant Eddy Joseph, a guest and panel speaker at BAFTA’s Continuity in Film evening back in November.

This was an issue that I had encountered whilst working on a project at the time, it seemed an ideal opportunity to receive an experienced opinion on the matter. The subject was tacked in the brief Q&A at the event in terms of picture editing by Terry Rawlings, however I was curious as to the implications of continuity issues within Foley.

Eddy suggested I blend the old pace into the new, I guess as a house DJ would mix a faster BPM record into a slower one, then subtly increasing the speed back again. The first few steps are best served maintaining rhythm than achieving perfect sync… gradually adjusting to the new walking pace and not distracting from what is actually going on in the story.

It felt a huge relief to be unburdened of an almost obsessive desire to ensure every step and movement is perfectly in time. I recently worked as an assistant Foley editor on Anuvahood and put this blending of rhythm > sync into practice when editing the feet, I noticed a significant difference upon playback in terms of presenting the performance, even when listening/looking out for sync issues.

Has anyone/everyone else had this issue and come to the same conclusion?. Let me know your thoughts.

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7 responses to “Continuity in Sound Post Production

  1. Enos Desjardins

    This is an issue that everyone encounters when they begin editing sound for film. Funnily I’ve had this issue creeping in my mind today as I was doing the dialogue edit on my current project. Why don’t picture editors think of this is what I thought! Why don’t they cut to the footsteps and maintain a relatively constant “pace” because surely it looks visually wrong too when the walking pace is totally cut up!

    Anyways, cutting each step in perfect sync when there is a massive stutter in the middle of a walk will just sound wrong and will do the one thing sound should never do in a film and that is draw the audience’s attention to the process behind the making of the film…the errors in the film! So definitely it is about capturing the natural rhythm and pace of the character’s walk. It can speed up and back down but has to have some kind of evenness. Sometimes in order to maintain this smooth flo some of the sounds are out of sync or a footstep is missed. However as it has a humanly sounding pace the audience won’t be drawn to the character as they won’t notice this. Rarely will someone be focusing on someone’s feet as they watch a show! But if sound is cut wrong there attention WILL be drawn to the feet and they will wake from the dream that is a film!

  2. Simon Sherbourne

    Great post.

  3. Been here a few times too both doing Foley and as a Mixer. He’s right that you sometimes have to ignore sync for the sake of ensuring the overall rhythm feels right.

  4. Pingback: Tweets that mention Continuity in Sound Post Production | The Foley Diaries -- Topsy.com

  5. I asked David Humphries this same question yesterday. Briefly lose sync or mask it with a sound effect was his answer.

  6. Cheers for the love, cheers for the feedback, cheers for reading.

    Lou.

  7. I usually sacrifice sync to maintain the rhythm, or maybe reduce the footstep to a scuffle or crunch (depending on the surface). Also from the perspective of a mix, footsteps are usually ‘background’ information compared to the dialogue and score – unless it’s a CU of shoes/feet – so it might just not be missed.

    Also in real life we are so used to the sound of footsteps that we don’t pay attention to them unless attention is brought to them. And every footstep doesn’t have to make a sound (although I have come across directors who like a sound for every single thing that moved).

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