Last night's dialogue recording on Cormorant Close went really well, with none of the audio problems I had feared. We started with several takes with all the cast speaking into a single mic, as if it was a radio play. This worked really well to get the dynamics of the scene and the rhythms of the individual lines into context, and helped the actors work together effectively. Over the course of the evening, we changed the interpretation several times, and ended up with something much more edgy, and with more implied dark undertones.
As the evening went on, the actors also learnt to give each other a little space at the end of each line, so as to make it easier for me to pick out the individual bits later. (They also learned to stop moving their heads around so much, which kept the levels constant!) We then did a few pickups of individual lines with one actor at the mic, to catch those few lines where they did run together, but not as many as I'd expected.
Of course, the great advantage of recording this way is that the ambience, tone, and mic sound is identical for everyone: I don't suffer from one person sounding a bit tinnier, or having a different reverb, which is pretty well inevitable when you record over the Net or in several different sessions in different places with different kit.
Today's job is to go through everything I recorded, catalogue the lines into individual files, and pick out the best takes of each one. I'm hoping that's going to be relatively easy - there's one great take of the first half, and one great take of the second half, so I'll use the lines from those takes as far as possible, and then hunt down the pickups for the rest.
Using real actors instead of recording all the lines myself is an absolute pleasure. Working on a film becomes a totally different experience. Hearing my script come to life is fun, especially when the cast deliver an interpretation I wasn't expecting. Even if I don't go with their way of saying the line, it forces me to think about other ways of seeing the scene. (I'll blog later about some more aspects of voice recording and how to get the performance you want. Then Ricky can tell me why I'm doing it all wrong.) It's also left me re-thinking about how to shoot some bits; during the session, everyone came up with a lot of ideas about the characters and how we should view them, and I'm now considering how to bring those out in the camerawork and choreography.