TV Timecard and Sound Report Writer apps

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Sound Reports on your iPhone

So this little bit is about an app that I've been working on, Sound Report Writer.  It's currently available on the App Store for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, but should soon be available for in the Android Marketplace soon.  You can visit the full site here for a thorough video walk-through, but I figured I'd give you a down and dirty version of what I hope to accomplish with this app, and why.

The DSLR and RED craze have kinda brought a new breed of sound mixers to the table.  The set conditions are what a corporate mixer might encounter, but they require a WHOLE lot more technical expertise to make things go smoothly all the way through post-production.  Sound-for-video mixers that traditionally go straight to camera are being turned into sound-for-film mixers; providing double system for these cameras that have less-than-desirable audio quality and features.  With sync sound comes sound reports, a necessary tool for organization of audio files that are delivered to post.  And so, Sound Report Writer was born.

School portraits or corporate interview?
Admittedly, I'm a little late to the game from an ideal launch standpoint.  I much rather would've had this tool 2 or 3 years ago for myself when the RED One was real popular and before the DSLR craze.  However, it took all that time for me to realize that this was really needed.  Now that it's here, I'm a satisfied user myself.  Being able to leave home knowing that I'm not forgetting any printed out reports, or even scrap paper, is nice.  I always have my handy dandy app everywhere I go, whether I like it or not.

The whole idea behind SRW was to make a simple, one-trick pony.  I was just tired of jotting stuff down on paper or in my Notes in my phone in an unorganized fashion.  It doesn't do everything under the sun, but that's the idea.  MovieSlate from PureBlend Software is a great app if you're looking for something that's a jack-of-all-trades.  It'll do camera logs, visual slate, and sound reports through it's various in-app purchases.  I didn't want to complicate the process of creating a sound report, which honestly is the most valuable part of MovieSlate.  As far as I know, there aren't any other apps that create sound reports.  Having said all this, I've never used MovieSlate, so it may be easier than I give it credit.  With Sound Report Writer, it's hard to complicate the process.  At the end of the day, just hit the PDF button and you can do whatever you want.  Send it to iBooks, print to a network printer, open in another app, e-mail it, or just preview it.  Nothing more, nothing less.

Basically, Sound Report Writer allows you to create, edit, and distribute a comprehensive PDF sound report that can be archived, printed, or shared directly from your mobile device.  Creating projects, or even different days for the same project, is a breeze.  Fill out some essential information, pull up your contact info from your Contacts, and you're ready to start.  You should first make sure your fields and settings are how you'd like them in the 'Settings' menu.  Currently you can elect to use filenames and timecode, but you don't have to if you don't want to.  A list of popular pre-defined fields are active by default, but you can select and deselect which ones you'd like to use, as well as reorder and create custom fields.  Once your settings are correct and all your project info is created, you're ready to create a new scene and take.

If you are using the filename feature, the filenames will be automatically generated as the scene and take names, followed by the extension you entered into the project info.  For each take, you are able to generate any notes you may want, enter up to 16 tracks, assign to the left or right channel, and select if the take is circled, a wild track, or is a false take.  Once you've created the take, the start timecode that is generated from the device's internal clock is automatically stamped.  For most projects, this is good enough for logging and such.  If you have the time and option, set the camera's timecode or clock to match your device's and you'll be in pretty good shape for most tasks.  With any app, you aren't going to get frame accurate start and stop numbers because there's no way to tether an iPhone to a recorder...yet.

While Sound Report Writer was designed for small shoots with minimal crew and setup, it's since been adopted by many feature mixers and has been graciously accepted and approved by several post houses. Some post houses have never even gotten sound reports from their mixers!  Tweaks are constantly being made to satisfy all different types of shows and methods in different countries.  Now it's quick, easy and intuitive to take a couple notes and spit out a slick piece of non-paper that makes everybody happy.

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