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Old August 6th, 2008, 10:32 PM   #1
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Matching Dialogue TWO Actors

hi guys,

just wondering when splitting dialogue, what equalization settings are usually used to match between two actors, say one actor is on mic while the other is off?

Second, before going into the mix, is compression always a necessity for dialogue? how about a limiter?

thanks
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Old August 6th, 2008, 10:53 PM   #2
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you don't use an off mic actor if you can help it. if you mean matching an off mic actor to the same actor when they are on mic... good luck. lots of time and effort. realistically its better to meet in the middle and bring other takes towards a middle sound then to try to fix one bad thing to match the good.

as for compression in the mix, that is so totally up to
1. who is mixing
2. personal taste
3. if there are real extremes in levels
4. intended mix level and dynamic range - a flatter more compressed mix for TV, a less compressed mix for theatrical

techinically just keyframing a word or two down is compression, just done manually.
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Old August 6th, 2008, 10:56 PM   #3
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thanks for the reply steve, i dont mean one actor is completely off mic, just the timbre is different. Do sound editors usually just listen while adjusting equalization?
Why does one apply more compression to a TV mix vs theatrical?
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Old August 7th, 2008, 01:01 AM   #4
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well I am not sure what you mean then about eq'ing 2 actors. they aren't supposed to be the same. do you mean matching between scenes ?

as for compression the short answer is

the average TV is 2-4" speakers that only put out a couple watts. not much fidelity there. a little speaker as found in most TV's even today has very little dynamic range. therefore if you don't compress your mix, it will cause the speaker to distort. another aspect is that people don't have the volume up that much. figure on average, talking level. having screams really be loud, and whispers really low would cause the average viewer to be up and down on the volume compensating.

in a theater, the speakers have more powerful amps driving them, and they are capable of reproducing a much wider dynamic range. in a theater, loud sounds are expected to be louder by a significant amount, on a TV, no so.

thats a really short explanation
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Old August 7th, 2008, 02:03 AM   #5
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Two actors dialogue

With two actors speaking, one of them off camera, it really depends on whether the director is shooting the old conventional way (wide shot + close ups) or a less rehearsed style. If the first way is adopted, then provided there are no overlaps, that is both actors speaking at the same time, you can leave the off camera dialogue and concentrate on the featured actor. However....,watch out for background noise: maybe there is a source of noise in one direction and not the other which, when the two angles are cut together, will be up and down. You must also trust the editor: sometimes the sound on the wide shot will be quite airy and if a lazy editor just uses the wide shot sound when cutting to the wide instead of continuing the closeup sound (and carefully matching the sync) it can sound very horrible. All this is predicated upon your shooting in a reasonably quiet environment, ideally a sound stage. OK, very, very few of us get that luxury now so we have to listen for passing traffic, aircraft etc etc. But you can still shoot the old classic way if you are careful and listen beyond the dialogue into the background.

If a more fluid style is being used, then you've got to make sure that everything is usable. Radiomics may be the answer here, despite all the drawbacks of clothes rustle etc. Another way is to plant mics...say a shot in which one actor is standing another sitting, a concealed mic will get the person in the chair or at the desk while the boom gets the person standing. Drawback: camera must hit same spot on each take, or hidden mic becomes revealed. Same applies for when an actor moves away from the other for a short while. Don't be afraid to plant mics wherever you can: use clamps to suspend them, hide them in plant pots.

If you are stuck with having to use one mic on a pole, sometimes it pays to use a cardioid mic instead of a more directional one. Its angle of acceptance will give you more of a chance, but if you are swinging away like billy-oh to grab the dialogue, you must have some sort of foam gag on, the motion of the mic through the air is just like having it outside in the wind.

In the end it may be necessary to say to the director: "I can't do it, we must change the shot unless you want to ADR it." It is better to endure the flak at that time than to turn in a third rate bit of sound which will lead to severe character assassination later on. It's more honest and gives the director a chance to weigh up the options.

As for equalising while shooting, I think that the advice I would give is, apart from a judicious use of bass cut, leave as much as you can to post production. They are listening on big speakers and can play around with it. It is easier to add equalisation than to take it away if you regret it!

Last edited by Nick Flowers; August 7th, 2008 at 02:43 AM.
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Old August 7th, 2008, 07:12 AM   #6
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Nicely put, Nick.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old August 7th, 2008, 11:21 AM   #7
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Cheers, Ty.

I hope to tread the line between teaching my grandma to suck eggs (Grand-matriarchal ovo-suction) and being incomprehensible. Also, I am aware of different practices in different countries and I hope that I don't suggest something that would be OK in Britain which would be a solecism elsewhere. Like the practice I once observed of offering the director (Herbert Ross) some Ex-Lax chocolate as he was proposing to shoot the next day, a Saturday, upon which an important football match was being played. It worked.
Nick F.
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Old August 7th, 2008, 11:41 PM   #8
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hmm, i do like the technique in which we can use dialogue from say a close up take and let the sound run over the master shot too.
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