In the grinder of a daily soap

Half a year of fulltime-employment working on one of Germany’s biggest daily soaps has come to an end, and I have to say I’m somewhat relieved :-)

My main motivation to take on this job was the assumption that one has to be hell for leather to survive. I was right about that one, at least if you have some professional honour and a minimum standard of quality one doesn’t want to undermine.

Working on a daily soap is a challenge on it’s own. The schedule is really tight, and that it is every single f****** day, regardless of how good or bad the production sound of the episode is, if someone made some major updates on your computer at work and you have to get everything working again in the morning, directors who decide not to show up for editing so you get your next episode 6 hours late or whatever setbacks you can imagine.

In my first weeks I had to do significant overtime every day. But after about three weeks time I had internalized the whole workflow and every important shortcut so work began to feel comfortable in this regard. This is where another kind of struggle came in – how do I survive this assembly-line without losing my creativity, my interest in my work – and my mind?

When all you do is roughly editing the production sound, then paste mostly precast atmos, adding the absolutely necessary amount of soundeffects (telephones, doorbells and if you’re lucky there’s even a flashback giving room for some crazy sounds) and finally doing a premix of dialogue, atmos and sfx, all this for one episode per day, there’s not much room to flourish. But indeed there still is, one just has to find the spot (though knowing I would have to survive “only” six months also helped…).

For me with my deep love for Foleys and also voice-acting, that was the route to take. Whenever a scene offered it and I could find the time, I’d go into the cabin and record some Foleys. Only occasionally and normally only for a single sound, but still the goody of the day for me. I’m proud to say that some sounds worked their way into the internal standard library, like the squeaks I made for the japanese beckoning cat which appears regularly.

Since there were quite rarely outstanding incidents calling for Foleys (though I’d happily have done Foleys for the whole episodes had there been time and money for it) the more reliable and thus more intriguing thing to do was voice-acting. I’d do every voice-from-TV-or-radio-within-the-series or announcement I could get. Some of them where worked into the backgrounds (the recent Christmas fair was quite inviting for some Berliner Schnauze from the candy stand), others got cancelled in the mix like the announcement of todays special menue (K√∂nigsberger Klopse the way Grandpa liked them) in the hospital. The most memorable one, which hasn’t even been aired yet, is probably that of a woman in labour heard from the delivery room. The editor said she had to hold her belly while working on that scene :D

After all the job was what I expected it to be. I’m even better now at organizing my work and prioritizing stuff. So thank you, Grundy UFA, for pressuring me so hard :-)

But I do prefer the jobs where details can thrive and now I’m happy to be out there on my freelancing own again, hoping that 2013 will bring many projects in desperate need of loving soundworks to me.

Best wishes to y’all for your coming year as well!