DJ: What do you take along to the dubbing studio in the way of pre-recorded sound?
NL: In this particular instance they had all the music and all the voices and edits of the shows that had already been done. They must have spent the first day or so recording sound effects because they had endless effects available. Then they were just going through it bit-by-bit dropping in sound effects and things like that. The Spitting Image stuff was fantastic but because of the difficulty of operating puppet mouths to fit the dialogue exactly there were some fine adjustments being made. They were backing-up the words to fit in with the picture and if the mouth opened a bit too long they were making the word last longer using the digital dubbing facility.
DJ: Does that change the pitch of the voice? NL: No, it automatically keeps it in constant pitch.
DJ: Your animation included lip-sync. Did you transfer it to magnetic film to track read it?
NL: Because we were shooting on video we actually recorded the sound on U-matic with a time-code lock and used that for our track break-down. The time-codes keep it frame accurate and you can shuttle the tape backwards and forwards to find a given word at a given frame in just the same way you would use a pic-sync. It didn’t seem worth transfering it to mag-track since it was all going to end up on tape. If it had been for a commercial we would have used a mag¬track. These series are not full animation, often we are using lust eight different lip positions – but it works.
DJ: Do you think video recording will take over in the future?
NL: The area we work in is regarded by the film industry as special effects; it is shot in single frame rather than live action so it must be special effects; I think the whole future of special effects is going to lie with all forms of digital computer storage, on both the sound side and the vision. I can’t see it happening any other way. Apart from feature film production everything is made for television and that is by far the biggest market. The process of shooting on film, only to transfer it at some subsequent stage to videotape has always been valid, but these days is becoming increasingly less so. In the whole field of post production digital is making inroads with systems like Paintbox and Harry. There are so many wonderful tools at peoples disposal that it is better to stay video all the way. An issue at the moment is whether to store the programme material on one-inch C format video tape or on D2 which is a new digital system. The digital seems to be winning through. There is hard disc storage as well. They are great tools.