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Old November 28th, 2007, 03:20 PM   #1
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Building a totally imaginary soundscape

I'm shooting (mostly shot now) a zer0-budget short against green and filling the background with a CG death-valley-esque landscape.

In short, I'd like to get my dialog & foley to sound like it was recorded on a semi-arid mesa in hot, still air, with perhaps a distant echo off of other mesas.

We know we can't use the live audio: we shot in a school gymnasium. So all of our audio is to be recorded in a 15x15 foot basement with blanket-deadened walls. We've got decent (that is, semi-professional rock musician's) mics available. We're using Adobe CS2 (which includes Audition); I have access to Pro-tools but have never used it.

My guess (educated only by web research, and multiple searches on this site) is that I should try to get the deadest (if that's the right term for audio with no reverb) possible recording that I can, and digitally adjust that to get the final sound I want.

Can someone advise me as to how to get usable audio (not waste my time) in that room? (face the actor into the dead-est corner? away from it?)

How should the recording set-up difffer when I'm filling-in wide shots versus close-ups? (mouth-to-mic distance? should we shout more in the wide shots, and hush a bit for the tighter conversations?)

Can a PC's soundcard's mic input capture a "good enough" signal to post-process this way? Should I route the mic through an amp?

Since it's all for free, and I'm cutting corners, I realize I'll need to take some lumps...but if anyone is willing to talk about the pitfalls and how to get over them with the least damage, I'd very much appreciate it.

andy
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Old November 28th, 2007, 05:01 PM   #2
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Hint; If you want it to sound "outside", don't record inside.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old November 28th, 2007, 05:22 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Ty Ford View Post
Hint; If you want it to sound "outside", don't record inside.

Regards,

Ty Ford
What about using IR signatures in a decent sound app?

-gb-
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Old November 29th, 2007, 02:21 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Ty Ford View Post
Hint; If you want it to sound "outside", don't record inside.

Regards,

Ty Ford
The location of the film does not, and cannot, actually exist.
Even if it did, we could not get up there to even sample the response.
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Old November 29th, 2007, 02:25 PM   #5
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What about using IR signatures in a decent sound app?

-gb-
That's what I'm hoping to figure out. Recording in a basment, is it feasable to get a recording 'dry' enough to process that way? Should I just build an isolation chamber to get my raw audio? I'd like to get a feel for this before I commit a buch of people to showing up and working for beer.
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Old November 29th, 2007, 05:40 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Andrew J Morin View Post
That's what I'm hoping to figure out. Recording in a basment, is it feasable to get a recording 'dry' enough to process that way? Should I just build an isolation chamber to get my raw audio? I'd like to get a feel for this before I commit a buch of people to showing up and working for beer.
1. Not in any regular basement I know.

1a. an Iso bootth has a particular signature.

2. Dead is not the same as outside.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old November 29th, 2007, 06:36 PM   #7
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Ty is right that any indoor space will have a different sound than an outdoor space. However, all is not lost - as long as you dampen the bounce as much as possible and record close enough to keep any outside sounds as quiet as possible. Don't record so close that you get any P-pops though. I like to keep the mic at eye level, so the "P"s don't go straight into the mic.

And, yes, you will want a pre-amp or mixer between the mic and the soundcard.

I like the title of your thread. You are creating a space that should sound like people want it to sound, rather than the reality of the space.

You mention still air. Surprisingly, you will want some subtle wind noise to cue desolation. Silence will sound clinical by contrast. This will help cover some sins in recording as well.

EQ will be your best friend. Drop the low frequencies around 300Hz and below to pull down the fundamental and any proximity effect from the mic. Drop the highs a bit - more so when the camera is farther from the speaker.

Natural reflections will come from the floor and whatever is nearby. Play with the reverb pre-delay. Keep the tails very, very short. Keep the reverb levels very, very low.

I picture the characters almost having to shout over the silence. The subtle wind/rumble noise and EQ are the best tools for achieving this.

Again, don't make it sound like you are really there. Make it sound like you would imagine it would be to be there.
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Old November 29th, 2007, 07:19 PM   #8
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Do some test recording - see how it matches picture before you give away all that beer!
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Old November 30th, 2007, 08:22 AM   #9
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Thanks to you, Ty, Seth & (not least) Jon!

That is all advice I can use.

I think I'm ready to schedule my engineer for a test.
Perhaps I'll post a sample from that, but it'll probably be in January.

-andy
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