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Old December 23rd, 2004, 06:16 AM   #1
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Help !! I know this sound can be fixed, but how?

Hi all,

I just finished a short being the writer,director,camera,grip, basically everything except boom operator and i have a few issues.

After reading Jay Rose's book "Great sound for Digital Video" i thought i was pretty clued in to the sound thing. However, amidst directing books, telling actors what to domlighting the set and helping out my boom operator (had never done it before) I completely forgot to playback my footage to see if by some small chance there were some audi glitches.

Well guess what? Yes there are BIG sound problems. Im not sure if its electrical noise 50hz hum or my mobile phone, but it is annoying to spend time and money on a project and you shoot yourself in the foot. The good news is that from reading Jay's book he says as long as the sound is at different frequencies (mostly higher) from the dialogue, you can use certain techniques to reduce if not eliminate this noise.

I have posted a clip of the sound (30 secs)

http://www.benzenworlds.com/dvinfo.html

and would be extremely greatful to anyone if could please chek it out and help me determine the best way i can fix this problem.

Cheers,
Ben Gurvich
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Old December 23rd, 2004, 08:57 AM   #2
 
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There are loads of problems with that audio.
First, you've got hum from something in the room, be it AC or just ambience. (I only could listen thru my laptop speaks, I was too lazy to grab my headphones.
Anyway, that noise by itself, could be easily zapped with noise reduction.
Unfortunately, the signal to noise is too close, and so it's going to take painstaking work to clean it up, because based on what I'm hearing, the boom op didn't get the mic close enough to the dialog to get a clean dialog, aside from the room ambience. It sounds like there is a lot of reflection, and a fair amount of distance between the actors and the microphonel. It can be cleaned up, just be prepared for either a lot of time, a lot of cost, or both. And even after it's cleaned up, it still won't be robust audio.
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Old December 23rd, 2004, 06:01 PM   #3
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Yes you were right about the boom being too far away,
Next time im definately hiring a pro sound person, even though its just a short its too much to risk.

Do you think id be better to ADR?

Cheers,
Ben
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Old December 24th, 2004, 12:56 AM   #4
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I don't hear any hum or really excessive background noise in the audio (I'm listening on headphones). What I do hear:

A- It would be nice if there was less echo/reverb... but it's not problematic. The voice does sound just a little weird/canned like you used a shotgun indoors.

B- Your real problem is that there's some sort of crackle in the sound. I have no idea where it comes from (defective mic or cable?). You should really try to figure it out... it's not normal.

At 16s in, there's a bunch of "hits" in the audio that's like excessive crackle. If you look at the waveform you can see a bunch of spikes.

You could go into sound forge (or similar audio editing program) and manually edit the waveform at those places.

Another thing you can do is to EQ off some of the crackle. Use a parametric EQ filter to sharply cutoff the high frequencies.

C- Some AC in the background. It doesn't overpower the audio... you can still hear the dialogue. It might be annoying if the b/g noise changes from cut to cut.

2- Here's my attempt at making the audio a little better.

The first uses just the plug-ins available in Vegas.
http://members.rogers.com/ioeoto/dvi...ttestvegas.mp3
parametric EQ X 2
smooth/enhance filter

The second uses Waves plug-ins and Sound Forge.
http://members.rogers.com/ioeoto/dvi...ttestwaves.mp3
linEQ X 2
smooth/enhance filter (vegas)
waves x-noise (I didn't try very hard with it)
the spikes at :16 were edited out manually in Sound Forge.
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Old December 24th, 2004, 08:27 AM   #5
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NICE JOB GLENN!!! That's a great save!

I agree with everyone. If there was someone on boom, they had it in their back pocket. This sounds more to me like you THOUGHT you were using the boom mic, but you really were using the on camera mic. The mic we hear has to be a good four feet (1+meter) away from the person speaking.

You have learned the first audio rule of video. LISTEN, LISTEN and after that LISTEN. And listening can't be done by just anyone because "anyone" may not have a clue as to what something should sound like and when to use what techniques to make it better.

The next time you go into production, think, "Hmmm, when shooting, I look though the camera eye piece to make sure I'm focused and the shot is properly composed...Guess I'd bloody well better listen to the sound as well.

Smiles,

Ty Ford
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Old December 24th, 2004, 12:21 PM   #6
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Thanks for the compliment Ty, I appreciate it.

2- Whoever was monitoring audio should've caught this mistake. It isn't hard to hear that the sound is crackly. It may be because your sound mixer didn't want to bring up the problem because everyone else on set would have to wait and go "Oh boy, another sound problem." (This kind of ties into "the letter" on Ty's site http://home.comcast.net/%7Etyreeford/GoodSound.html.)

It can get depressing if you're the sound guy as every time you speak it's usually bad news. Maybe as the director you should give encouragement to your sound people and occaisionally say things like "The audio sounds great to me... do you hear any problems?". This way (hopefully) the sound guy doesn't get depressed and will chime in with any concerns.

I was doing boom op and then field mixer for a shoot recently (I had little experience doing either) and I can see how it can get a little depressing for either position. Boom op can be especially bad because you get little credit for doing things right (looking for boom shadows, holding the mic in the right place and keeping it out of frame) and usually only get noticed when there's a problem. Boom op is a tough job on your muscles unless you're being lazy (which can happen if you get little encouragement).

If you have the money, you can also get comteks (like expensive walkie talkies) for the director and the boom op to monitor audio. An alternative is to run cable from your camera's headphone output. You are usually running cables anyways, so just use some gaffer tape (not duct tape unless you are ok with sticky residue on your cables) and tape cables together to make cable management easier.

On the mixer I was working with, it had a custom cable with 2 XLRs and a headphone cable all in one cable so you don't have to deal with three.

On the camera side, it plugged into another cable. The other cable is a breakout cable to 2XLRs and a headphone jack. This way you only had to unplug one connector if you wanted to unplug the field mixer.

On the breakout cable, the headphone cable had a female headphone jack (3.5mm/mini-jack) for the cameraperson's headphone and a male headphone jack that goes into the camera.

I haven't tried this myself, but you should be able to jury rig a similar setup which allows you, the director, to monitor audio. If you're looking at a field monitor for the video (which is ideal) then you could tape a headphone cable to the video cabling and plug in headphones at your end. One advantage of this is that you get to hear the sound that will end up in your movie, which is quite different from your ears hear. For example, on the shoot I volunteered on we were using Lectrosonics wireless systems (very sweet) and they were able to pick up subtle noises like the actors gulping, which you wouldn't hear on location. Knowing those sounds are there, you could tell your post audio people to leave them in for certain scenes to heighten the sense of awkwardness.
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Old December 25th, 2004, 10:16 PM   #7
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Exellent points!

Both my snakes have headphone returns. One has the extra jack for the camera op. I sometimes feed two cameras with the same stereo audio. The 442 has two transformer isolated outputs, each channel of which is independently switchable from mic, -10, line.

I'm never shy about poitningout bad sound. I DO check it out with the producer, "You want me to tell you when we have a problem or not? OK, you do, I assume you don't want to bust a take, or are you running low on time, tape or film? OK, when I hear planes, trucks wombats, etc. headed toward the shot, you want me to bust the take if you haven't called action yet?

And 10-12 other sorts of questions. That way, you know what's going on. And , if you do bust a take, tell 'em why immediately. "PLANE!", "Buzzard Belch!" but ou better be right.

Smiles,

Ty Ford
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Old December 26th, 2004, 07:26 AM   #8
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Thanks for the info, i will attempt some noise reduction and EQing in a sound editing program first, but the truth is ill probably just re record the sound, as there isnt that much dialog in the piece.

Cheers,
Ben
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