How to navigate + interpret this blog

This post explains how to navigate and interpret this blog, and provides some useful links.

The video of Descent is available below via Youtube.

A stereo .wav of the audio track can be downloaded here –


Markers please note

It is easiest to navigate this blog via the pages tabs.

Each post ends with a summary of the relevant learning outcomes it attempts to address with reference to marking criteria document.

Learning outcomes are numbered as per the original synopsis and overview of the project post, and the sections or paragraphs of any given post which address a specific learning outcome are annotated throughout.

All posts which address a specific outcome can be accessed using the wordpress tag for that learning outcome. All these tags are available at the bottom of this and the original synopsis and overview post.




DESCENT – Sound Design + Feedback Process

(Outcomes – IN1, GR1, GR4, PER1)

In my capacity as the supervisor for OG Productions managing the film Descent, I’d solicited a list of ideas from the films director about the audio dimension within a week of agreeing the services we would be providing for the film. These were perfunctory in terms of specific links to the film, as would be expected as this stage since no script or storyboard had been completed, but were detailed in terms of reference points from other films. There was also a list of potential choices of diegetic source music tracks for a song playing from a radio at some point in the potential script, as a reference point. At first glance many of these were highly unlikely to be clearable in the context of the film as the film-makers were keeping their options open and requested we clear any material required for the soundtrack for use at film-festivals and for online use in portfolio. [IN1]

Upon arrival of a script and storyboard for Descent some weeks later, the audio team read through the script together in round-table fashion. I’d insisted on this process for OG Audio’s three longer films as it was obvious that our collaborative approach to work could very easily have translated into creative isolation for the supervisors responsible for the less ‘desirable’ films (for example, as some scripts appeared stronger than others, or because of genre preferences for the team) in the pre-production stages. In the case of Descent the ideas session gave rise to two different directions for music for the film, a minimalist approach from Matt and a much more aggressive underscore heavy idea from Alice though with plenty of crossover in terms of pallette and timbre between the two – I felt Alice’s choices were likely better for the film initially. Potential recurrent motifs and key scenes for audio were isolated and a scratch sound-plan with an overview of these ideas created. [IN1 + GR1 + GR4]

Set Recce + Audio Script Meet

I was keen to solicit as much feedback as possible throughout the process of liason with the film group, so this plan was then cross-referenced with the director on a page by page basis at the set-recce and meeting pictured above, enabling me to tweak the plan more to their liking with almost everybody involved in the production present. For example, my preference for a relatively music heavy film was overturned as the director clearly preferred the subtler, more minimal approach to the music design as we described it, and as such I asked Matt to provide the score and music for the film. The meeting also yielded useful discussion on several overall balance issues within the sound design of the piece, such as how far we should be ‘borrowing’ from horror and thriller genres influencing the piece, tropes which were initially suggested by the original reference material provided by the director – It’s more thriller than horror, but only just. [GR4]

This session basically concluded formal pre-production on sound design, though some later correspondence and a second meeting were required to finalise specific elements and introduce a late addition to a scene suggested by the director in the form of an inner monologue which wasn’t present in the script, and which required specific recording time. This became one of several bones of contention in the sound design throughout, the other being scene 3’s radio music cue.

This process enabled me to piece together a master document of specific devices and the general audio arc drawn from the rough sound plan formed the basis for any team members working on the audio for the film in post, and which can be referred to by the director throughout the production.

However, no battle-plan survives contact with production and elements of this sound-script were dropped or changed in reference to the pictures as they arrived, and as the film moved into post I kept up the informal opportunities for the director to feedback on our work as they would often pop in for a listen whilst we were working on the piece. I concluded the feedback process with one more formal meet with the production team post picture-lock and after dialogue editing, foley and composition were complete but prior to mixing, roughly a week before deadline. I also requested our formal feedback at this time by way of the online feedback form I constructed for our use – The responses for Descent can be seen here – which was universally positive, best summed up in the response to an open question which I’ve lifted as a testimonial ‘…the team are extremely professional and skilled at what they do, they have the ability to transform a simple idea into something exceptional.’ [IN1]

Reflecting on this process, it was a good example of a creative collaboration between this audio team, and the director and her team. Ideas, approaches and plans were constantly being tabled, revised, filtered and discarded and the design input was spread roughly as evenly as the workload. The music decision was the main learning aspect for me, since having two composers working on the project in preproduction enabled me to present to vastly distinct approaches to the project in the early stages in some detail, thus prompting the director to a stronger vision of her musical requirements. [PER1]

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Process of liasing with director about sound design requirements during pre and post production – Professional practice, Process Management,

  • [IN1] To successfully manage the provision of service by the business for the film Descent with regard the assignment of resources, specialisms and working time, liason with the director, editor and producer on a practical and creative level, and communication of information on their needs and requirements for the piece, in order to appraise the efficacy of the collaborative approach to working on the piece – (Supervisor and Company Officer)
  • [GR4] To conceive, compose, source and / or produce music to client specifications that synergistically supports the other components of their films.

Driving the collective creative process – Process Management

  • [GR1] To professionally operate as a small to medium size company (or other recognisable business entity) in the audio production / post-production field might.

Reflection on learning – Individual reflection on learning and team role.

  • [PER1]  To develop a better understanding of the pros and cons of business structures, processes, regulations and agreements which might enable film audio producers to collaborate on multiple projects.


RESEARCH – Deciding My Rates + How Much OG Was Worth

(Outcomes – PER1, 2, 4, GR1)

As part of this final term project I decided to fix a set of rates for work which I intend to use as guidance for my actual rate-card post-university. This also enabled me to convert the work I carried out on the project this semester into an approximate monetary figure.

I asked Grant Bridgeman for a copy of his rate-card to use as a basis for this though as a multi-award winning location recordist and post-sound bod, Grant is already well established and hence so my own rates would be relatively low. I’m also going to dispense with equipment hire costs etc (though these are furnished in detail on Grant’s rate card) for the purposes of this calculation, since I’m interested in the labour aspect of the equation here, really, and am considering the situation as though I am charging the time back to a central body (so, if Omni-Gaffer were a limited company, for example). [PER2]

Grant’s rates are in line with BECTU’s, the entertainment sectors trade union, which I have also studied and as such I’ve pitched at slightly above the trainee rate therein:

Daily Rate

Sound Recordist rate is £150 per day, up to 10 hours, additional hours charged at £25 per hour or part thereof.

Weekly On Set Rate                                                                    

5 Day Week, 10 Hour Day – £750

Post Production Rates

Daily Rate, 10 Hour day (inc studio) £150

Hourly Rates (inc studio) £15 per hour

Post production rates here are the rates a studio I work for charges for recording and producing bands at present.

Next to convert the Omni-Gaffer project into monetary terms using these rates, we first need to know what amount of time the project consumed and how many of these hours are realistically chargable. I’m thinking of myself as invoicing a central body (like a limited company) for my time here, in reality any financial rewards for a project like this in the real world would be split up according to the OG Audio agreement.

My calculations since February 1st of the hours I invested in this project are below:

Total Hours Worked – 244
Total Admin / Meets – 67
Total Creative – 123
Total Location – 52
Total Other – 2 [PER4]

Only location and creative work (which encompasses everything taking place in the studio for post work, essentially) are directly chargeable, as admin and ancillary work would be expected to be built into the hourly charges for the services. As such, we can break down the chargeable costs as follows –

1 x 5 day week of 10 hour days on-set = £750
2 x additional hours on set at £25p/h = £50
12 x 10 hour days of studio time = £1800
3 x additional studio hours @ £15 = £45

This would bring my invoice total at the rates above to £2645 which can be divided by the creative and location hours (123+52=175) to give the hourly figure of £15.10p/h, as per the rate care. However, when divided by the actual number of hours the project has consumed (including the administrative time etc), this equates to £10.84p/h. This would also be subject to income taxes etc, depending how my personal business was set up.

In reflection on these figures, it is easy to demonstrate that administrative tasks eat away at profit in an enterprise such as this which begs the question – did the increase in organisation and administration justify working collectively in this way? If we assume that the income from the five projects would be enough to cover this invoicing-for-hours-worked approach for a moment, the boon becomes the fact that working with my colleagues in this way has enabled us to complete multiple projects at all (I could not physically have invested more time in this project during the period) which in effect multiplies the income potential in return for a relatively modest increase in administrative and organisational time. [PER1]



Researching industry rates of pay – Research

  • [PER2] To develop a better understanding of the wording and content of contracts, rates and rate cards offered in the film audio field.

Exposition on hours worked – Contribution

  • [PER4] To contribute extensively to multiple film productions.

Interpretation of contribution through hourly rate and reflection on interaction with group collaboration – Individual reflection on learning and team role.

  • [PER1]  To develop a better understanding of the pros and cons of business structures, processes, regulations and agreements which might enable film audio producers to collaborate on multiple projects.
  • [GR1] To professionally operate as a small to medium size company (or other recognisable business entity) in the audio production / post-production field might.

RESEARCH – Contracts + OG Productions

(Outcomes – GR1, PER1,2)

A contract is based on an exchange of promises.” (

This post details research into contracts and the related agreement between the participants in the Omni-Gaffer film audio project.

In the real world, the agreement between our group would be a business agreement and it is good practice to represent business agreements in the form of a written contract. I have conducted some research into potential contracts which may serve as a template for the one governing our work here, and will go on to discuss the terms and conditions of hypothetical renumeration for the project as well as outlining some of the potential reasons the Omni-Gaffer project is a little more complicated than a standard client – customer relationship. [GR1]

As per my post on intellectual property, I have tended to consider the work we have done for Omni-Gaffer’s clients this term as either services or creative, the distinction being that creative work gives rise to new intellectual property’s such as music compositions as opposed to location audio recording which does not. The copyrights that arise with the creation of these IP’s reside with the creator and must be specifically assigned in order for copies of the works they refer to to be made. This process of assignment can also be applied to revenues created by the works, and it is when this is taken into account that the process of renumerating the group members who comprise Omni-Gaffer becomes more complex.

Dealing first with services such as location audio, we envisioned that Omni-Gaffer would simply split the proceeds of ‘straightforward’ work like location audio equally between the group members. For example, if the location audio service for one film nets Omni-Gaffer £500, then each group member will receive £100 regardless of how much work they did. We chose this agreement for the sake of simplicity in this project and it essentially runs on the trust that none of the people involved are going to deliberately avoid the work in order to, effectively, increase their slice of the pie. Whilst this is fine in the context of a group of people carrying out a uni project who’ve already worked together for the best part of three years, in reality I feel that a better approach to this kind of work would be to simply invoice our hours on set at an agreed day-rate to Omni-Gaffer, as this would reward those who did more or less of the location audio work on the five films accordingly.

The same is largely true of the post-production work – foley, editing and the like – and we also agreed to split reward equally whilst keeping track of the (rough) percentages of work we carried out on each film. This step then enables us to discuss our relative worth to the project, and would further enable us to agree if any particular member of the group had let the side down in terms of the work carried out. A contractual stipulation to the effect that a majority of the group can alter the percentage of renumeration at the end of the project could then be incorporated into a hypothetical contract, though I suspect this would be difficult to actually enforce.

The situation becomes more complex when new IP’s and copyrights being created in the course of the work. These potentially have a longer income tail, and copyrights reside with the original author unless specifically assigned in writing. This complicates the situation in two ways – firstly, a song which is composed for a film without payment (as opposed to one which is composed for a payment which is considered to be the property of the film-maker because it is commissioned) could later make money if used, for example, in another context. Since the Omni-Gaffer group has effectively enabled the creation of this song, a claim by those parties could be made for any future royalties. We dealt with this by agreeing that each composer would agree a percentage of all revenue from any song composed for OG projects be paid to the collective, and thus split equally between the partners. This issue of assignment also speaks to another issue which would need to be addressed, since the five parties who make up Omni-Gaffer also need the ability to agree to assign usage rights for music compositions to the film-makers to whom they are providing the services. I would suggest that a written agreement between the composer and OG also enable this process to take place as required, subject to a suitable system of checks and balances (ie, one member of the group can’t agree to things without the others say so). [PER1,2]

Secondly, a song which is composed for a film may be the product of a collaboration which is based on relatively vague discussions or directions from multiple parties (as opposed to “I wrote the drums, you wrote the guitars,”. An example of this exists in Immort’s street scene – I suggested to the composer during an impromptu discussion that he include an arpeggiated synth line in the track, to give it a more 90’s vibe. I could therefore argue that I ‘wrote’ an aspect of the piece, and am entitled to a share of any future profits it generates. This requires an agreement between whichever parties created the song, and is something that would need to be arrived at and agreed in writing between these parties outside of the Omni-Gaffer collective, like the one displayed here which is used by our tutor for this project in his day to day business. In the case of the song in Immort, I do not consider my own contribution to have been worthy of any claim to the composers work and I’m not aware of any collaborations of this type which took place during the project, and which would have required a formal writer’s agreement. [PER 1,2]

Another key concept in contract law of interest here is that of consideration – 

In contract law consideration is concerned with the bargain of the contract…Each party to a contract must be both a promisor and a promisee. They must each receive a benefit and each suffer a detriment. This benefit or detriment is referred to as consideration…Consideration must be something of value in the eyes of the law,” (

Since no money is changing hands in the context of this project, it is necessary to define exactly what the consideration upon which a contract in the academic context is based. On the one hand, we are promising our labour on the projects in question to the film-makers, but the ‘currency’ being traded between the five parties comprising OG is a little more obscure. We’ve variously discussed a solution to be academic marks, and / or the rights to utilise the finished products as portfolio pieces in the future. Both of these are fraught with complications, but logically the fairly democratic and even-handed structure we’ve settled on would best suit the latter – Those who put in a share of effort on the films get to exhibit as portfolio the ones with which they may have had less to do with the production of in the future. [PER 1,2]

There is much more to say here, but in the interest of word count I must digress here. Whilst our contractual positions may be fairly complex, they are nothing compared to some of the contracts we’ve received from the film-makers, who appear to simply hand out anything they’re given by their tutors without even a cursory inspection. Examples can be found in supporting material, but one example appeared as we approached deadline in the form of a document which was extremely heavy on the legalese, and which requested that we supply masters of our audio on DAT and audio tape suggesting it was somewhat out of date. An overhaul of the LSM contract archive is probably in order.

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Breakdown of potential contractual issues with Omni-Gaffer project – Professional practice

  • [GR1] To professionally operate as a small to medium size company (or other recognisable business entity) in the audio production / post-production field might.

Research into examples and contract law – Research

  • [PER1]  To develop a better understanding of the pros and cons of business structures, processes, regulations and agreements which might enable film audio producers to collaborate on multiple projects.
  • [PER2] To develop a better understanding of the wording and content of contracts, rates and rate cards offered in the film audio field.


RESEARCH – Intellectual Property + Omni-Gaffer

(Addresses outcomes – GR1, GR2, PER1)

Approaching the work as a larger group this term requires us to consider the potential real-world management of such activity. As such, I will briefly discuss our decisions for splitting up of credit in the context of Omni-Gaffer Productions (which I cover in more detail in my post about contracts here) provide an overview of some issues with intellectual property we’ve researched, and discuss the possible business structures we might use to enable our work.

Five parties constitute Omni-Gaffer Productions, and it’s the agreement between these five parties to work together on the film projects at hand which really brings that business into being. Obviously, no money is changing hands for the work, but credit will be due for work in the academic context and it’s this which drove us to formalise our collaboration in this way. We hoped that doing so would enable us to carry out more ambitious work (by providing more comprehensive services to a larger number of films this term), in that researching and operating something akin to a formal business structure would go some way to breaking down a situation we’ve identified at university as something akin to silo mentality found in corporate literature:

Silo mentality is an attitude found in some organizations that occurs when several departments or groups do not want to share information or knowledge with other individuals in the same company. A silo mentality reduces efficiency…‘ ( – emphasis in original) [GR1 + GR2]

In the case of creative work at university, it is more the sharing of labour (rather than knowledge specifically, though the latter tends to follow) which is avoided because students do not see the value of collaborating outside of their small groups within the context of their own disciplines, usually because they believe they will receive no formal academic credit for doing so and, obversely, are often hostile to the implicit idea that others will be unfairly rewarded for work they themselves have not carried out. As such, we were interested in making sure formal rewards would be shared between the parties to the Omni-Gaffer Productions workload in the hope that this would incentivise closer collaboration and increase our efficiency as a team.

I have tended to break the work on the five films we’ve carried out into two categories – Services and Creative. Examples of services would be location audio, dub mixing, foley and editing, where creative would be compositional work. The key distinction between these is whether or not they entail the creation of intellectual property, such as the composition of a new musical work for the use of the film, and this creation of intellectual property problematises the situation we’ve developed somewhat when we transcribe it to the real world.

Basic first principles of intellectual property: ‘Intellectual property is something unique that you physically create. An idea alone is not intellectual property. For example, an idea for a book doesn’t count, but the words you’ve written do.’ and at the point a person creates, a copyright is also created- ‘Copyright protects your work and stops others from using it without your permission. You get copyright protection automatically…‘ (

With regards to music specifically, this gives rise to the potential for two types of renumeration for works in the form of mechanical and performance royalties. Mechanical royalties are payable on the copying or reproduction of a song or work, where performance royalties become payable when the work is aired in public, such as on television or the radio. These royalties are relevant to the university project because they can provide a longer tail of income (unlike services for which payment would generally be rendered upon completion) which should be properly accounted for if the collective has been involved in the production of the intellectual property (such as several songwriters collaborating on a song) as a future stream of income, and because the rights governing their use must be established in the specific context of each film and Omni-Gaffer Productions, and between the individual composer or composers and the collective body that is Omni-Gaffer Productions. [PER1]

I deal with these latter two specific agreements in another post, and will here concentrate on research carried out on the specifics of intellectual property as it relates to production by students in the context of a university course.

There was initially some question as to whether IP created by students would be controlled by the university, given the university’s role as facilitator and the argument that creation of IP is often facilitated by use of the university’s equipment, giving it as an entity some claim to proceeds generated from IP’s. We were referred to the university’s policy on  student IP which states ‘The University of Lincoln acknowledges that its students own the IP in materials that they create in the course of their studies with the University unless there is a written agreement to the contrary.’  but that …’Students enrolled with the University may be required to assign their IP to the University in a number of circumstances which will require them to complete and sign a Student Intellectual Property Rights Agreement.’  (University of Lincoln)

Furthermore, the wider policy on intellectual property states that ‘The product of work carried out with the benefit of the University environment (including facilities, resources, expertise and intellectual assets) constitutes Intellectual Property that should be owned, protected and used by the University for the benefit of the University specifically and for the benefit of society more generally.‘ (University of Lincoln).

Whilst this seems to be a case of the students retaining IP unless they sign it away, there is a conflict evident between the general policy claim and the student policy claim where IP can be considered the product of work carried out utilising university facilities and advice, and where ambiguity exists it’s usually a good idea to seek advice, which I did.

Barry Turner is a senior lecturer with a specialism in media law who, upon consultation, pointed out that these matters are ultimately rooted in the laws protecting consumers in the UK. He referred me to the Competition and Markets Authorities Guidance for Higher Educational Institutions, and in particular page 48:

“…In general, HE providers will not have an automatic statutory claim to intellectual property (IP) generated by students given that they are not employees, but many HE providers do set out rules about IP ownership in their IP policy/terms and conditions. Undergraduate students can generate significant IP products, for example in creative sectors this could include designs, artworks and writings.

5.33 A term that has the object or effect of changing the ownership of IPRs from the position that would exist under the general law is potentially unfair. Where IPRs are created by a student during their time studying and they would belong to them under the general law, the starting position should be that they retain the IPRs.

5.34 A blanket term that applies so that all students’ IPRs (for example, all written work, creations, inventions and discoveries) are assigned by students to the HE provider, regardless of the circumstances of study or the type of course, may be open to challenge as unfair under unfair terms legislation.

 The key distinction is between an employee and a consumer, though there is also a further question as the ability of the university to compel a student to sign away these rights which I will digress from tackling here, but sufficed to say LSM student IP’s have significant protection under law. [PER1]
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How and why OG exists – Professional practice

  • [GR1] To professionally operate as a small to medium size company (or other recognisable business entity) in the audio production / post-production field might.
  • [GR2] To organise and fulfil an operating strategy and schedule which deals with multiple productions simultaneously, and which maximises efficiency and minimises issues or risks to delivery.

Details of intellectual property situation at university and relevant laws – Research

  • [PER1]  To develop a better understanding of the pros and cons of business structures, processes, regulations and agreements which might enable film audio producers to collaborate on multiple projects.