Amateurs: give much needed advice to the pros!

At best, you are a hobbyist or a dabbler, but probably you are just a spectator or consumer. And yet, you notice professionals of a certain field making the same, obvious, stupid mistakes, over and over again. You’re a relative nobody, and even you know better, so why don’t they? Tell us your examples!

I was going to put this in Cafe Society, because all my examples fit there, but I decided to keep it open to all professional work of high stature, but repeated offenses. Professional is more than just “for a living” - it should be the top strata of the field, if not celebrity level. High stature meaning, if you notice a common issue with camera work, it should be on a regular tv series and not your local cable access station or youtube webseries. If you notice an ongoing problem with architecture, it should be in well known structures, and not your neighborhood ranches.


  1. Sound editors - especially for television, where one’s sound system and acoustical environment doesn’t compensate - you don’t need to make decibel levels realistic. It’s totally OK, in fact, preferred, to not have to turn the sound all the way up to hear dialogue and then all the way back down to avoid hearing damage from explosions and car chases. Even a single order of greater magnitude is enough to get your point across.

  2. CGI - there’s just really no excuse for bad CGI. Low budget productions such as District 9 and Primeval manage to do decent CGI on a miniscule budget, including the hardest CGI to do, that of living creatures in broad daylight.

  3. Music production - Autotune is fine in limited contexts - if the genre is some sort of electronica where sounding like a robot is warranted. But it’s a special effect! It is not, repeat not, a way to improve singing. It’s not like there don’t already exist production techniques for that, that work wonderfully and sound great, such as double-tracking/overdubbing.

  4. Color matching - I see this problem all the time with any scene that combines images, whether through green screen or CGI. Often the isolated element for whatever reason has slightly brighter or more diffuse lighting, or for whatever cause, the darkest part of it is a dark gray rather than true black, whereas the background has a full range of luminosity. It’s a ridiculously easy thing to correct using the levels controls, to stretch the luminosity range to full black on the dark end. That dark gray just looks horribly artificial.

I have no idea why people getting paid much much more than me haven’t learned these simple 101 level skills, but I keep seeing it over and over. What things have you noticed?

Movie producers: I know, how about you start with a good script and THEN make the movie?

New Orleans Saints Coaching Staff: Stop running that fucking end around play that never works. You play in the NFL, not class A high school ball.

Sound…mixers? Engineers? Whoever: ENOUGH ALREADY WITH THE STOCK SOUND EFFECTS!!!

No one ever wants to heat the Wilheim Scream again…no, not even in a “self-referential, tongue-in-cheek” sort of way. You also don’t need that same damn stock “meow” just because a cat is on screen. I know there’s a cat,I can see it, no need for a meow! Especially when I can tell it’s been reused a million times, and I can see the cat’s mouth is closed!

Other sound effects that almost anyone can point out because of how over-used they’ve become:
Police “radio chatter” (I have Sim City to thank for that,)
Children laughing
Kookabura (sp?) (not as used as much as it was in the 30’s-70’s, it seems.)
Snack hiss
Cicada “rattle” (which has been used for everything from cicadas to spiders to scorpions to snakes to aliens)

" I’ve got Meryl and Jack as the parents, Robert Downey and Molly Ringwald as the unkempt drug-hounding children, Naomi Watts as the business partner, Norma Talmadge as the crotchety yet endearing woman down the block who grows poppies in the 1,200 acres behind her modest ranch, Dustin as the bland yet unnerving repair man. I got them ALL for only $ 88.2 Mil !!! Let’s make histooorrryyyyy !!! "

" Um. But what’s the movie about? "

" What? WHAT? What did you say? I’m sorry, did you just fall off of the Trailways from Topeka? About. ABOUT? Did Ishtar have a plot? Did Plan Nine From Outer Space have a plot? Please. Get me someone who knows how to make a fucking deal. "


I’ll jump on board with the sound effects rant.

Foley people, get out in the damn world and find some new sound effects.

For the love of god, even cartoonists know they can’t play those sounds straight up anymore.
My addition: people in one specialty who build things intended for use by another specialty, who CLAIM that they are experts in creating things for that second specialty.

Example One: Architects who design specific-use buildings that aren’t suited for their specific use. I’m not an architect, but shit guys - would it kill you to take some notes on what actually WORKS before you build your grand folly?

Example Two: software people who build programs that don’t work for what they’re intended to do. If you are building, say, a parts catalog for sales, I think (and maybe I’m just picky) that part of the idea would be to search that catalog for parts to purchase, maybe even to be able to search by different methods, or to connect the sales module to the searching module so that people could look for a part, find it, then buy it. But no, I suppose it’s just silly of me to expect a bit of software to actually be designed to work for the purpose it was created for by someone who said they knew how to create things for that purpose.

Add: horse neigh.

It’s pretty much a given that if a horse is in a movie it gives a neigh as if to say, “in case you didn’t notice - I’m a horse.” However, horses are actually very quiet animals* (as one would expect of prey) that only neigh for good reasons. I used to live on a horse farm and if you can hear the horses, something’s wrong.
*Cows, by contrast are INCREDIBLY LOUD. When the neighbor farm would put out fresh hay, the frantic mooing would wake me up over a mile away. Cows going moo-moo-moo-moo actually sound exactly like a weed wacker or buzz saw.

Casting directors: silicone is evil, and there are a bajillion actresses out there with natural tits who will happily work for peanuts to get their break. Stop casting actresses with fake tits and actresses will stop getting fake tits.

Plan 9 from Outer Space did have a plot. I mean, it wasn’t a GOOD plot, but it was a plot.

Soccer players who can’t shoot with their “off” foot. Watching the Eurocup this summer, a guy is six yards from goal with an open shot…but it’s on his left foot, omg! Better cut the ball back to the right foot, exactly where the defender is. Idiot.

Movie directors: Stop with the shaky cam! And 3D is ok but we don’t want to pay more for it.

Microsoft: Stop coming up with UI standards and then breaking them in Office.

Foley/sound guys: Stop the eagle cry sound every time you show a desolate place.

Another sound effect: The cry of a hawk somewhere out there in the “air”. For Og’s sake, stop it with that particular noise! It makes me wince every time they trot it out.

Edit: Ninja’d!

Game designers. I realize, guys, that you need to keep the drooling masses from stepping on their dicks and overwriting their favorite saved games, so you need to make us go through the whole “escape, save, this file, yes, YES, dammit, escape” deal to save the game. Fine. I can deal with that.

HOWEVER. Having danced along with your dog & pony show to accomplish the above, if I want to exit the game within, say, the next few seconds, let me EXIT THE GAME. Do NOT say “Hey, if you exit now, all your game progress will be lost!” MORONS. I JUST SAVED. (Skyrim, I’m lookin’ at you…)

Police: if you really want to help out with some crime prevention, how about you get the fuck off the shoulder of the highway and get your asses into town?

More for the police: Hey - we’re about to make pretty big cuts to the department this year. Those new bike lanes downtown have caused enough confusion that I see at least 5 people disobey the “right-turn only lane” each and every day. How’s about you post a few officers at the major offending locations and reap the rewards? I bet they’d pull in $2,500/day with two cops - more than enough to fill that gap. At the very least, people would stop breaking the law.

I presume you mean ‘snake’ here, unless I’ve missed some hissing chocolate somewhere, but yes, enough with the bloody hissing- I’ve had pet snakes, I was brought up around snakes- I’ve only ever heard one snake hiss, because most species don’t actually make any noise, including most species commonly used in film.

On a related note, it’s been severely pissing me off when supposedly serious nature programs use appallingly fake sound effects- take this for example, from about 2 mins in. Really, how long has the BBC’s natural history department been doing this stuff, and they add fish breathing noises??? I mean, I know it’s an episode on fish, which means either there are no sounds, or you can barely hear them over the background sea noise, so you have to add artifical ones- but really, there is no need to use anything that obviously stupid.

The police are also tasked to enforce traffic laws and keep our roads safe. It’s no less important a task than preventing crime.

I’m an amateur deep sea diver* and my advice for the professionals is don’t breathe the water. I know it has oxygen in it but you will still drown.

*As in I’ve never deep sea dived before.

Porn directors: Pull back and show the whole woman! Extreme closeups just don’t do it.

Here’s some tips for DVD creators:

  • Put all the non-skippable warnings before the main menu, not after the Play option. When it’s before the main menu I can pop the disk in, come back 5 minutes later, hit play, and go right into the movie.

  • Don’t have long transitions between menus. When I press Play Movie, play the movie. Don’t have a 20-second transition where the menu folds up like a transformer.

  • On menu screens, just have silence or music on a loop. Do not have characters saying things like “Hey, you gonna watch the movie? Hey! Watch the movie!” There are a few kid DVDs I want to crush into sand because my kids leave the room after the movie is over and the menu audio is some inane blabber from the movie on a loop.