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Old October 4th, 2004, 10:18 AM   #1
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What about the "Film Sound"?

There's so much (read TOO much) hype going on about achieving a film look using DV. But it seems like there's not that much concern about mimicing the film SOUND.

If you take a set of headphones and listen only to the audio tracks of a commercial film and a DV "film" side by side, you can usually pick out which one is the film and which one isn't. You know they say that 70% of your moviegoing experience is auditory. I've myself have always struggled to get that perfect sound.

So I'm wondering if anyone has any tips on getting a DV film to sound more like a real film? Specifically;

1. How to best "cut a hole" for dialog through a particularly intense piece of music and sound effects. In films, even when all hell is breaking loose and the 150 piece orchestra is booming, you can still hear the dialog pretty clearly. I've tried various forms of compression, riding gain, etc., with little luck.

2. How to get a good "punch" from an explosion on the subwoofers. Is there a good source of sub data for things like this or is it just a matter of taking the explosion sfx and boosting the sub range? To me, that always just seems to muddy up the sound.

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Old October 4th, 2004, 11:22 AM   #2
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Re: What about the "Film Sound"?

<<<-- Originally posted by Rob Henegar : There's so much (read TOO much) hype going on about achieving a film look using DV. But it seems like there's not that much concern about mimicing the film SOUND.

If you take a set of headphones and listen only to the audio tracks of a commercial film and a DV "film" side by side, you can usually pick out which one is the film and which one isn't. You know they say that 70% of your moviegoing experience is auditory. I've myself have always struggled to get that perfect sound.

So I'm wondering if anyone has any tips on getting a DV film to sound more like a real film? Specifically;

1. How to best "cut a hole" for dialog through a particularly intense piece of music and sound effects. In films, even when all hell is breaking loose and the 150 piece orchestra is booming, you can still hear the dialog pretty clearly. I've tried various forms of compression, riding gain, etc., with little luck.

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One way is to pan the background sounds to the left and right. Another is to use an equalizer to leave a frequency hole right in the middle of the speach frequencies. Douglas discussed this during his Acid seminar and Jay Rose discusses this in his excellent book on sound for DV.

Both or a combination of these techniques work very well.
-------------------------------

2. How to get a good "punch" from an explosion on the subwoofers. Is there a good source of sub data for things like this or is it just a matter of taking the explosion sfx and boosting the sub range? To me, that always just seems to muddy up the sound.
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Dunno
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Thanks -->>>
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Old October 4th, 2004, 01:33 PM   #3
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I guess it would start with the best mic for the particular job. Cutting through the noise and isolating the dialog. Read Jay Rose's article on mic patterns (click here)

Also read what Schoeps say about the rejection of off axis soundclick here

It has to start with clear dialog, sound effects or ambience and that's only goung to happen with a a good mic that was engineered for that particular situation.

For an example of axis resonse on the variois mics carefully listen to some of the clip here. Use good headphones through a decent sound card. Listen to the ambience vs the dialog. A mic like the Schoeps MK41 or Sennheiser MKH416 will cut right through the noise .
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Old October 4th, 2004, 03:27 PM   #4
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I assume mastering has a lot to do with it as well just like any commercial music album is mastered after final mixdown.
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Old October 4th, 2004, 03:52 PM   #5
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i am not sure but you had to remember that most big movies have the sound on the film (optical or magnetical sound ).
It means that probably the bandwith is very poor (under 8-10 kHz) when video with the digital 48Khz sampling bandwith (can)give perfectly clear sound. that is probably what make the difference. just try to cut over 10kHz and try again...
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Old October 4th, 2004, 05:37 PM   #6
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Thanks Bryan,

Of course having a thousand dollar plus mic would be great, but I don't have that kind of $$$.

I wasn't really talking about cutting through noise to get the dialog, actually. Our dialog is recorded clean, crisp and clear on a quiet set. What I was talking about is during the mix, when you're trying to add in music and sfx in a particularly intense scene.
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Old October 7th, 2004, 04:09 PM   #7
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Mike put you in the right direction. Learn to cut unwanted frequencies in the music, amiance or foley track when dialog is going on.

Also, when you mix, mix to your dialog (like all rules this is subjective and not cast in stone - it's more of a guidline really). What happens is we mix the audio, say a musical score and we mix it loud, becuase, hey it sounds better loud. But then we add dialog on top of it and there is only so much headroom to play with. Then you lower the music and it doesn't sound good - but it does. If you played the mix louder as a whole you'll start to hear how it really sounds. I don't know if I was too clear on that....

Just as important, learn to place sounds in your mix using paning, reverb, delay, eq, etc. If you can sit infront of your monitors (speakers) and hear where every instrument is in your orchestra then they are well placed. Often times, when writing orchestral scores in a sequencer we have to adjust all the sounds to get them to sit right in the mix. Even when using a single audio file is this important. You might for example duplicate the track process them differently and pan them left and right with the dialog dead center (where you've also made a frequency hole).

What program are you using to mix in? (or is it all hardware based).

EDIT: For creating more of a punch in your sub you need to process the sound, not just increase the level. Experiment with some envelope filters and compression. You probably want a bigger attack and lesser sustain and decay. Just remember, your level can't go past 0.0 (cumulative) otherwise you're toast.
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Old October 8th, 2004, 04:37 AM   #8
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Poor quality audio will always be poor quality audio regardless of how much you treat it.

You don't need $1500 mics just decent ones used with care.
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Old October 8th, 2004, 06:28 AM   #9
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Matthew pretty much hit it on the head..

another thing to note is that most of the dialogue is run the HArmonic/Vocal Exciters to thicken the talents sound. Its also run through various compressions depending on the situation.

as mentioned "cutting a hole" can work, with aps like vegas, its quite easy to create a flowing moving envelope of moving frequencies to allow teh subtle fluctations of the frequencies, another way to do it if you dont have vgas or pro tools is with Hardware. Basically run a unit like a Yamaha O1v Digital desk connected thru midi and into a software sequencer. The sequencer will control the fluctuatng frequencies via midi to the desk. this of course is based on a routed audio source from your pc, into the mixer, back out into the PC

with sub bass, Dolby recommend a cutoff frequency for the low pass filter to be no lower than 120hz, which is thw film "standard".

you will notice that your film sound is alot tighter, alot more controlled and very precise as opposed to your dv film, simply because its been processed and has had its various sound sources compressed and remastered/remixed.
Most of the time, its then encoded to Dolby Digital which adds its own compression algorythm to the mix.

commercial movie studios have sound stages, effect units and dedicated engineers who manage and process this. Theyre using equipment worth millions of dollars compared to what your average DV Filmaker has. It all adds up..

to look at it in a different way, its like comparing a dvx100 to a panavision monster.. sure youll get good imaging results, but its just not going to be the same..
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Old October 8th, 2004, 08:37 AM   #10
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Can you guys in the know clarify a bit on the frequency issue... So when mixing your dialog you should roll off everything below 120hz? And then kill everything above 10khz?

Normally I find success in pulling down some of the midrange frequencies in dialog - seems to give dialog a more dramatic feel. Is that what's meant by a frequency hole?

I must say I've attempted to read Jay Rose's book before, but I found it bored me to tears when all I was looking for were nuggets. I don't really want to be a sound designer - I just want to be able to get by on the best I can do within a reasonable amount of time with a reasonable budget. I've found sweetening in Vegas to be a lifesaver for myself. And if I want that hollywood sound, there are projects that have money for that in which case I hire someone much smarter than myself in audio concerns.
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Old October 8th, 2004, 09:04 AM   #11
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Re: Re: What about the "Film Sound"?

<<<-- Originally posted by Mike Rehmus : One way is to pan the background sounds to the left and right. -->>> -->>>

What does this statement actually mean? It sounds too simple and I don't understand how it can help isolate the dialog track.
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Old October 8th, 2004, 09:53 AM   #12
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<<<-- Originally posted by Mike Rehmus : One way is to pan the background sounds to the left and right. -->>> -->>>

I agree, that sounds too simple. How does one get a sense of the left/right separation ... sounding as if there's a "hole" in the middle? I've tried a slight delay between the left and right tracks, and that sounds great, until you listen to it on a mono television. Then you can hear the delay quite easily.

Is there a better way to get that "dead space" between the hard left and hard right channels?
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Old October 9th, 2004, 11:24 AM   #13
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What Mike is saying is to learn how to make space in your final Mix. (I'M EDITING THIS BECAUSE I ORIGINALLY ANSWERED THE WRONG QUESTIONS BUT JUST NOW REALIZED WHAT YOU WERE ASKING).

Yes it's simple and no it won't "work wonders", but getting good audio isn't about doing "something that fixes it all". It's about making a lot of small subtle changes that work together to achieve the sounds you want. I'm just trying to get you to think differently with regards to sound.

Let's assume we have a stereo mix. You have an orchestral track playing under a dialog scene. Let's say in your dialog you are panning the dialog slightly to mach the position of your characters (very, very slightly). You can offset each track so that you can apply processing to them separately so that the opposite side is still full(er) and the side where most of the dialog is occurring (for that character) is thinner. Bring the volume down on one side slightly while keeping the other the same. You can eq them differently. Let's say you have an explosion or an orchestral hit. played full volume, it's too much. so you dupe your tracks. On one channel you lower the explosion or hit (almost like adjusting opacity) on the other channel you use an envelope filter to give a big attack but then lower the sustain and decay settings. Will this create movie magic? No. But it will give you a little more space in the mix, a slightly different sound. Producing audio is like producing video, you are creating an illusion, except for audio it's an illusion for the ears. We tend to think that the best audio is the most realistic, well that's no more true for audio than it is for video. Foley sounds are a great example of that.

I would recomend anyone here getting a book called "The Art of Mixing: A Visual Guide to Recording, Engineering and Production" by David Gibson. While there are many great books on the subject, and some more technical and better than this one, its visual approach is very unique and I think would communicate the concepts to visual thinkers better than most others. It shows you through graphical illustrations, how to create space in a mix and how to place sounds in different parts of the stereo field. Check it out.

Matt
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Old October 9th, 2004, 11:33 AM   #14
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One other thing. Film scoring is an amazingly complex art form. All of us who compose love to score to picture because it's fun and challenging, but few do it really, really well. But there are more film scoring students today than ever before (when it wasn't even taught in school, because it was considered the illegitimate stepchild of composition).

Just like others in this thread have reccomended good mics on the GIGO (garbage in, garbage out) principle, a good score works the same way. The composer will write and orchestrate in a way that naturally leaves space for dialog. Of course this means that the composer has to have a finished (or relatively finished) film to score to.

Just something to think about.

Matt
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Old October 9th, 2004, 01:42 PM   #15
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<<<-- Originally posted by Giroud Francois : i am not sure but you had to remember that most big movies have the sound on the film (optical or magnetical sound ).
It means that probably the bandwith is very poor (under 8-10 kHz) when video with the digital 48Khz sampling bandwith (can)give perfectly clear sound. that is probably what make the difference. just try to cut over 10kHz and try again... -->>>

I'm not certain that the big movies have on-film sound anymore. I know the magnetic sound is almost gone as a good friend of mine produced the magnetic heads used in most of the movie projections systems around the world. Even got a technical Oscar for it. Their company is gone now because the demand for heads fell down a cliff.

The on-film sound was pretty bad even at its best. The current sound systems with their Dolby or THX stamps of approval are way beyond the wildest dreams of on-film sound.
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