Professional Standards

Current rates for all my services can be found on my Rate Sheet.

Work Day

I work on a 12 hour day.  If a shoot goes longer than 12 hours, I charge overtime as listed on my rate sheet, billed in ½ hour increments.  I generally let one-time overages slide, but a shoot that regularly plans to go over 12 hours should budget for additional overtime.

For short term shoots (generally, a single-interview scenario), I offer a ½ day rate for 4 hour days or less.  Overtime on a ½ day is billed until the full day rate is reached.

Methods of Payment

In order of preference:

  • Interac e-Transfer
  • Cheque
  • Wire Transfer
  • Credit Card (Visa, Mastercard, Amex, etc. via Square, 5% surcharge for credit card payments)

Payment Terms

Like any other business, I charge 5% GST on all invoices (except international clients, who are responsible for remitting their own GST).  I do not charge PST.

Payments are due 30 days after my invoice is sent.

All invoices are sent by e-mail.

Low Budget Rates

I offer special rates to members of DOC BC and DOC Canada, which are listed on my Rate Sheet.

I have a special interest in arty documentaries so if you have a good one, your odds of negotiating a discount improve.  My policies on discounts are capricious and arbitrary.  They depend on how much I like you, how much I like your project, how busy I am, and what I had for breakfast this morning.

For cause-based projects, I look for the ability to effect change — it’s not enough just to have a good cause (there are lots of good causes).

I do not offer discounts to projects that have distribution or broadcasters in place.

Details of my equipment can be found on my Tech Specs page.

Standard Kit

Generally speaking, I include all the equipment I own in my standard kit with the exception of my P.A. system and my non-sound equipment.  This is a very fully featured kit that is more than enough for most doc work.  The basic kit specs are:

  • Boom
  • 4 x wireless lavs
  • 2 x wireless camera hops
  • Multitrack recorder
  • 2 x wireless headsets
  • Timecode sync

At least one week of advance notice must be given for complex shoots with additional or specific equipment needs.  Bear in mind that if I can’t handle your shoot with my existing equipment alone, you will probably need to add a boom op as an additional crew member.  Shoots with medium or large crews, five or more characters, or three or more cameras are generally too much for a one person sound department.

Non-Sound Gear

I maintain a small interview kit for out-of-town crews who need cameras or lighting while they are here.  The kit is humble, but so is the price.  I only rent to crews that have already hired me to do sound.  Details are on my tech specs page.

Travel Kit

By request, I can condense my sound kit into three cases to keep air freight to a minimum.  This kit does not sacrifice any core capabilities, but it does severely reduce my ability to handle unusual situations and broken equipment, so any trips that require air travel should be discussed beforehand to ascertain what shooting situations can be expected and to make backup plans in case of critical equipment failure.

If space and weight is not a concern, my standard kit currently fits into five cases.

These are your options for getting your audio after I’ve recorded it.  My preference is always to transfer audio on site at the end of the day, but I offer several other options as well.

For clients that choose to record production audio to camera, I still deliver the contents of my recorder as a backup copy.

Transfer on Site

Producer must supply laptop.

Audio is transferred to producer’s laptop at the end of the shooting day, or, optionally, at the end of the week.  Audio is recorded on CF cards, and while I supply a USB 2.0 reader, producers may want to bring a CF reader with a different interface if they need it.

Digital Download

I will supply a digital download link within 24 hours of wrap, typically the same evening.  I run my own secure download server, so your audio never ends up in the cloud.  Audio is guaranteed to remain on the server for 30 days.  Producers may request a faster deletion if desired.

CF Card

Producer can take a CF card with all audio with them at the end of the day.  The card must be returned within two shooting days, or within 7 days of the end of the shoot.  Producer is responsible for all shipping costs of returning the card.  Producers will be charged for CF cards that go missing.

Sound Reports

I deliver all audio with a digital sound report that is automatically generated by my recorder.  This contains useful metadata:  Shot name, track labels, character names etc, but only contains comments on an as-able basis.  Frequently, documentary shoots move to fast to provide full commented documentation for every shot.  Producers that require detailed, in-depth sound reporting should request a boom op to allow me the time to create in-depth reporting.

Note that when primary production audio is recorded to camera, the audio reports may not capture every camera recording, as the reports come from my backup recorder, not from camera.

Archive Retrieval

I archive everything I shoot permanently, so if anything goes wrong with the audio in the edit, I can always re-send you the original production audio files.  I charge a small fee when retrievals are needed more than 30 days after wrap.

This is what I need from you to do my job effectively on set.

Technical Information

I need a variety of technical information before I show up on set to make sure I’m prepared for everything we are shooting, and to ensure that workflow in post flows smoothly.  Most important are a script / concept document, sync method, and number / type of cameras.

To collect this information, I require all producer to fill out a simple form with the production specs before the day of the shoot.  This ensures there is a written record of the project requirements, and makes sure nothing gets forgotten.

Call Sheet

I require a call sheet, e-mail, or phone call with details about the shooting schedule and location before 6PM at the latest on the day before the shoot.  If I don’t hear from you by 6PM, you can expect a polite call asking for details.

Meals

I am a vegetarian.  When you are planning on set meals, I would like the veggie option.

Insurance

I do not require insurance from small shoots that last four days or less.  However, for productions that have it, “The Documentary Sound Guy” should be named as additionally insured (your insurance agent can provide a generic letter to do this).  I will supply a complete gear list with replacement values on request.

For shoots lasting five days or more, insurance is a requirement, and productions that cannot name me as additionally insured will be charged a fee to cover the cost of insurance.

I offer several different techniques for synchronization, depending on your needs and preferences.  If you have any doubts about what kind of sync you need, please arrange to have me speak to your editor or post supervisor, as they will be the ones directly affected by the sync method we choose.

Unless otherwise requested, my default choice is Timecode (sync box + slate).  Where possible, I also provide a scratch track.

Timecode (sync box + slate)

Requires that all cameras have a timecode input.  The most reliable, comprehensive option.

Every camera gets a wireless sync box that inputs timecode from my audio recorder into camera.  Additionally, a timecode slate is used so there is a visual indication of what the timecode was when the slate was clapped.

On request, I can run timecode to an audio track if a camera lacks a timecode input, but I require sign-off from post — the process of syncing via a timecode audio track is a bit cumbersome, and may be unfamiliar to some editors.

Usually, I will also add an audio scratch track as a backup sync option and for ease of screening dailies.

Timecode (sync box only)

Requires that all cameras have a timecode input.  Best option for small crews that want to move fast without the interruption of slating.

Every camera gets a wireless sync box that inputs timecode from my audio recorder into camera.  Usually, I will also add an audio scratch track as a backup sync option and for ease of screening dailies.

Timecode (slate only)

Generally only used when shooting on film.

This technique requires diligence as every shot MUST be slated.  A dedicated 2nd AC who is responsible for slating is recommended.

Shoots that use this method must consult with post to confirm what frame-rate is expected:  Frequently, 30FPS timecode is required even on shoots that film at 24FPS.

Audio Scratch Track (wireless camera hop)

Best option when cameras don’t have timecode input.

Every camera gets a wireless receiver that records my “mix” track to one of the camera audio inputs.  This track is used to synchronize with the rest of the tracks from my audio recorder using a utility like PluralEyes or similar functionality built into most editing programs.

I do not monitor the camera recording, and it may be subject to wireless interference or dropouts.  It is not intended for use as the final production audio.  However, frequently, it is of high enough quality that it can be used in production if none of the iso tracks are needed.

This technique works well for dialogue and interviews, but it does not work well with ambience or B-Roll tracks.  If synchronized B-Roll audio is desired, I strongly recommend using one of the timecode options or running hard-wired production audio to camera.

Production Audio to Camera

Audio is run hard-wired to camera via a cable snake.  Note that this means I have to be tethered to camera, making this a poor choice for run and gun scenarios.

This is the option you want if you intend to edit right out of the camera, without a sync step in post.  Another common scenario is when the cameraperson is rolling without announcing shots (e.g. in a live context) and it’s absolutely essential that an audio track is captured for every camera roll (with common start/stop points).

In this setup, I monitor the audio that is recorded to camera via the camera’s headphone jack, and I consider the camera tracks to be my primary deliverable.  I will frequently record using my bag recorder as well, but I consider this backup audio, and not every camera roll will necessarily have a corresponding audio roll.

I record two tracks to camera, typically a solo boom on channel 1, and a mix of all lavs on channel 2.

Slate Only (no timecode)

A visual slate (with no timecode) is the only sync reference for each shot.  Generally a poor choice, but sometimes necessary when using DSLRs or Mirrorless still cameras with no audio input, or if the addition of a wireless receiver on the camera body is too cumbersome.

Often, on-board audio may be used to sync using PluralEyes, but this is unreliable and should be not be counted on.

As with the Timecode (slate only) option, diligence is required to ensure that every shot is slated.

Wild / No Sync

The only real reason to do this is to record ambience or foley effects for the post edit.

Playback Sync (timecode)

This technique transmits timecode from a playback source (an mp3 song or a scratch track for ADR) to all the cameras, so that the timecode on all cameras can be synchronized with the playback source.  Most commonly used for producing music videos or musicals.

Note that because the source track always uses the same timecode base, you will end up with multiple clips that share overlapping timecode.  This can be used to create a false “multi-cam” clip where multiple takes are combined into a single multi-clip.

Playback Sync (scratch track)

This is a less complex alternative to syncing playback with timecode, where the source recording is recorded to camera as an audio track.  The clips can then be synced using PluralEyes or similar functionality.  Good for simple music shoots, especially when post isn’t familiar with timecode workflows with playback.

Copyright

Unless otherwise requested, I automatically assign copyright ownership of the sound I record to the producers who hire me.  I retain moral rights, which cannot legally be assigned, but I am happy to waive such rights when required.  These policies apply even when a formal copyright assignment is not signed.  I expect them as a normal part of doing business.

Confidentiality

Although I retain an archival copy of everything I record (feel free to come back to me if you need a backup!), these archives are kept secure and private, and will never be shared publicly or re-used for any other project.

Generally speaking, I do not treat the general content or concept of the projects I work on as strictly confidential.  I like to talk about the work I do, and I’ve had many wonderful experiences on set that I like to share.  If I work on a worthwhile project, I like to help spread the word.

If you require a higher level of secrecy, please request a Non-Disclosure Agreement, and I’ll be happy to keep it on the down low.

Publicity

I reserve the right to be public about who I work with and what projects I work on.  You and your project may end up mentioned on my résumé or website, especially if I had a good time working for you.

For unannounced projects, I’m happy to keep your project quiet until you announce it publicly, but I do not usually hide my involvement in projects after they become public knowledge.

Credit

If your project has credits, please credit me as “The Documentary Sound Guy” instead of crediting me by my given name.

Cross Promotion

For documentary projects only, I like to blog about my experience on set.  I’m proud of the documentaries I work on, and I like to help get the word out.  I will not blog about your project without asking, but I will ask, especially if I’m passionate about the subject matter.

If I do write about your project, I will do so within three days of wrap, so that the experience is fresh in my mind.  I do not publish immediately; when I publish is at the discretion of the producer — some producers like the exposure as the film is being shot, others prefer to wait to build buzz around the release date.

My only request when writing about your project is for the producer to help circulate the post to fans of the film when it is published.  This is part of what makes it worthwhile for me to write about the projects I work on:  Other filmmakers hear about The Documentary Sound Guy from the pieces I write.

I supply my own vehicle and generally expect to get myself and my gear to set under my own power.  With the exception of parking or long distance travel, I do not charge any vehicle fees.

Parking

If parking at set is not prearranged, I will find my own parking as close to set as possible.  Generally, I will prioritize free parking where possible, but especially in downtown Vancouver, free parking is not always possible.

When pay parking is necessary, I expect the producer to pay for it, and I will automatically add the expense to my invoice.  Producers who are unwilling to pay for parking should let me know in advance so that a parking plan can be made and unexpected expenses can be mitigated.

Long Distance Transportation

I do not charge for travel within Metro Vancouver.

For travel to locations east of Abbotsford or north of Lion’s Bay (roughly, 100km or 1 hour travel time from Vancouver), I charge a per km fee to cover the cost of gas and maintenance.

Crew Transportation / Gear Pickups

For small out of town productions that have already hired me to do sound, I offer myself as a driver with my vehicle for a reasonable fee so that the production doesn’t have to rent an additional vehicle.  This often makes sense for two or three person crews, as it means we travel together and simplifies logistics.  I can also pick up rental gear or shuttle crew to hotels or airports as long as it all happens on a shoot day where I already expect to be on set.

My vehicle is a regular hatchback sedan, so I can only fit one or two crew plus gear in addition to my own equipment, but for a low profile documentary shoot, it can work quite well.

In depth travel information can be found on my Travel page.

Travel Days

Travel days with no shooting are billed at 50%.  Travel days that include shooting are billed at the full day rate.

A travel day is any day when there is no shooting scheduled but I am required to be away from home or otherwise unable to accept work from other sources.  It may include time actually spent travelling, or it may simply be a day off in a remote location.

Transportation

All travel must be arranged and paid for by the producer.  If I am expected to bring my own vehicle, I charge a transportation fee per km as outlined in the Vehicle Expenses section.

For air travel, my equipment occupies five cases, plus one bag of personal luggage.  This can be condensed to three cases plus a personal bag if necessary, but producers should consult with me directly so we know in advance what risks are associated with leaving equipment behind (mainly, backup equipment and the ability to handle unusual situations).

Food

While travelling, producers must either supply or cover the cost of all meals.  This includes travel days.  Alternately, a reasonable per diem can be supplied for travel days.

Where possible, an effort must be made to supply vegetarian options — I am a vegetarian, and I get grumpy and / or hungry when non-meat options are not available.

Accommodation

It is the producer’s responsibility to arrange and pay for accommodation while travelling.  I do not book or pay for my own accommodation, even if the producer is willing to reimburse me after the fact.

I do not have any specific requirements for what type of accommodation I except I expect that my accommodation to meet the same standards as other key crew (DoP, Director, etc.)  If the director is camping, I’ll happily sleep in a tent.  If other crew are sharing rooms, that’s just fine with me — I just don’t want to be the odd man out.

Electricity

I require access to power so I can charge my equipment overnight.  For distant / remote locations without access to grid power, I may charge an additional fee to solve this problem if power cannot be provided in some way.