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Old December 19th, 2004, 07:55 AM   #1
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Regulation of dialogues in movies

Being a newbie in audio editing i have a few questions of concern.

1) During a shoot where the actors exchange dialogue, the microphone has a different placement with each new shot, hence a different relationship to the actors voice and the locations' noise floor etc. What techniques do the professionals use in POST to overcome the different levels of undesirable frequency hums and background noise.

2) Watching several movies i have noticed that there is a continous background hiss throughout the movie of a very low constant level. Do they introduce this intentionally ? so that the viewers dont notice where the dialogues end. For example i have seen many promos of movies on the dv community where as soon as the actor finishes his/her dialogue. U hear a total drop of audio level (hiss, background ambience) which is abrupt and not pleasing for the listner. How do they (In hollywood) achieve a beautiful sound blend throughtout the movie mixing dialogues of the same scene and then the next scene and so on into a cohesive whole.
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Old December 19th, 2004, 09:48 AM   #2
 
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First, Hollywood films generally use a much higher quality recording process than are used in most DV productions.
Second, depending on the sort of film, most everything is ADR'd where dialog is replaced from set by rerecording voices in the studio.
Next, a lot of work is done in post. A LOT of work, to clean up the voices using noise reduction, compression, EQ, widening in some cases, and anything else that can be done to get a specific sort of sound. I've worked on Steven Seagal's voice and he likes it to be fairly thick and dusky, so we use tube EQ's(emulators) to get what he wants.
Source/location/or generated noise is often laid under an entire film as well to give it a level of consistency. Black holes of silence are indeed a bad thing, so either noise is inserted to fill it up, or M&E is inserted to do the same.
After all the elements are processed and put in place with the film, the entire project is mixed. This takes a long time, sometimes a month or so.
But, that's what everyone here is striving for, and that's why you'll see lots of discussion on this sort of subject here.
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Old December 20th, 2004, 12:57 AM   #3
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To keep the sound consistent and avoid total silence in smaller productions, just record a minute or so of audio at every location, and make sure you get everybody on set as silent as possible. Then you can lay this under your dialogue later to keep it consistent. These recordings go by a lot of names....room tone, ambient noise, wild sound, etc...If you are recording these ambient sounds directly into your miniDV camera, put the mic on front of the lens somewhere so when you review the tape it is obvious where your ambient audio is.

(off topic) BTW - Spot, I just got "Vegas 5: Editing Workshop". It is an invaluable reference and tool. I already used some of the loops to create a sweet soundtrack on my last student film.
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Old December 22nd, 2004, 01:02 PM   #4
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I posted this before in anothter post. Noise is important. I said it eralier and I will say it again. PEople love low-noise mics, but AGAIN.....in film you don't need that much excellence. Noise is good, natural and the best way to go. I don't understand why directors put so much emphasis on sound. Why not have the best mic placement within the set. The rest is peanuts. YOu don't need that much voice-overs in a movie. In a dialogue between 2 people, use 1 mic only. If the guy moves, move along and remeber where the mic was first. If the other non-moving guy speaks. MOve the mic there. It depends on the shot as well. If you take an over-the-shoulder-shot from the moving man, you will do fine with the changed mic position. That is naturall and done in tons of movies. Don't be that perfect. The script is more important than audio really.

IF you got 2 mics, things are easy. One for each actor. DOne! Later in post production you only need to fix minor flaws such as:

- EQ ( see my other post)
- background unwanted noise
- compression
- tube emulators
- other effects such as reverb or chorus to emphasize certain rooms.
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Old December 22nd, 2004, 01:24 PM   #5
 
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Jose,
Just for curiosity, how many films have you recorded for?
I'd like to believe it was so easy, but having been part of several films both big and small, I've never seen it so easy. I must be working too hard.
And in film, you certainly need excellence. Particularly when it's gonna go back to DVD for a re-release. If you didn't capture the audio correctly, you'll have nothing to remix the DVD for home resale.
"The script is more important than audio?" Please clarify that.
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Old December 22nd, 2004, 10:43 PM   #6
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Douglas is "Spot" on!

Sorry to disagree Jose, but...

I've worked on MANY major motion pictures, television series and hundreds of commercials...all film and under every condition imaginable.

Camera crews always loved breaking the mixer's chops, throwing out little pieces of wisdom like, "when was the last time you HEARD a good movie?"

In the "old" days it was probably closer to the truth, but, with the advent of today's sophisticated sound sytems, both in theaters and at home, audio is a HUGE part of the movie.

If you've ever been on a professional set, you'd realize just how painstaking the job of the sound department is. (Jeez, I can't believe I'm defending the sound department, must be getting soft in my old age!)

Microphone placement is crucial for good sound. You need the right aspect as it relates to your camera angle and lens coverage. In a perfect world this would not be a problem. In the real world there are many factors that sometimes limit the boom man. Some of these include but are not limited to set height restrictions, light placement that would create boom/mic shadows, ambient noise that cannot be controlled, etc. If you've ever sat in on dailies and heard the live recordings, I think you'd change your tune a little bit.

As for perfection, as professionals, we should all strive for it and not give it a half-assed effort hoping we can play the music louder to cover our mistakes.

As for the script, it isn't worth the paper it's printed on if no one can hear the dialogue.

Anyway, what the hell do I know? I'm just a camera puke!

RB
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Old December 23rd, 2004, 12:08 AM   #7
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If you want to read a truly great letter written by sound people for camera people, go to my website and click on the Location Recording link and then click on The Letter link.

You will learn more from that letter about why film sound can be great than you will spending 6 weeks, 24/7 on any online service.

Sure it's about the mics. It's also about every other piece of gear in the chain AND it's also about the people who make decisions about how to use the gear.

Read The Letter and get better.

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Old December 23rd, 2004, 03:58 AM   #8
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hey guys thankyou for this valuable information. It really did help me alot in understanding the different aspects of audio that one has to consider while shooting, and the process undergoing in post for audio enhancment.
Recently i was watching a movie "THE CLEARING". There is one scene between "Robert Redford" and "Willem Dafoe"
where they exchange dialogue just above a water stream. Keeping in mind all the considerations, how did they
blend the water stream sound while editing the dialogues. Apparently watching the deleted scenes it seems that
they captured the ambient sound with the dialogues as well and u could hear the different tone of water stream each
time the shot swtiches between actors. If someone could plz explain how were they able to pull this off, i would really
appreciate that.
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Old December 23rd, 2004, 04:35 AM   #9
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Ty,

Great Letter.
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Old December 23rd, 2004, 08:36 AM   #10
 
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Arooj,
Capuring ambient is one thing, but using it is another. As long as there is enough of a balance between the ambient and the dialog, it's likely that either the stream was recorded separately with no dialog and then laid in later, or a stock stream was inserted there in post. The stream mixed in with dialog from the actual shoot that you heard in outakes is not the finished stream audio.This is basically the same thing as catching room tone, only it's a stream.
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Old December 24th, 2004, 08:39 AM   #11
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Re: Regulation of dialogues in movies

<<<-- Originally posted by Arooj Azam : Being a newbie in audio editing i have a few questions of concern.
2) Watching several movies i have noticed that there is a continous background hiss throughout the movie of a very low constant level. Do they introduce this intentionally ? so that the viewers dont notice where the dialogues end. For example i have seen many promos of movies on the dv community where as soon as the actor finishes his/her dialogue. U hear a total drop of audio level (hiss, background ambience) which is abrupt and not pleasing for the listner. How do they (In hollywood) achieve a beautiful sound blend throughtout the movie mixing dialogues of the same scene and then the next scene and so on into a cohesive whole. -->>>

When you say "watching movies", are you referring to being in a movies house or at home with a VCR. The optical track used in theaters really doesn't have that much high end in it.

The hiss you hear may be the residual noise of the sound system in the theater or the results of mass duplicated VHS tapes.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old December 24th, 2004, 11:18 AM   #12
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Just a quick question about ADR, how much of a dialogue of a modern film is replaced using this would you guys in the know say?

Cheers

Jon
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