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Old August 26th, 2011, 11:25 AM   #1
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Easiest way to match audio clips

I'm working on an educational video with some narration in it. Recently I had to re-record some of the narration due to changes by the client.

Problem is, first recording was done on-location, because the actor was on camera. Second time was done in a studio. So both recordings do not match. I've tried playing around with reverb and EQ settings in Premiere Pro but I can't quite get it perfectly matched. Is there either a stand-alone software, a plugin or anything else that could help me match the recordings. I'm thinking maybe just a software that would display the whole audio spectrum while I play the sound from Premiere would probably help me figure out which frequencies to tweak, but I don't know of such a program. Maybe Audition can do it, never quite played with it much, but I don't remember such feature.

I could probably leave it as is and nobody would notice, but it's not how I like to work on my productions.

Any suggestion is welcomed.
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Old August 26th, 2011, 12:30 PM   #2
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Re: Easiest way to match audio clips

Audition does have a spectral display, you can read about it here: Adobe Audition 3.0

But...IMHO, it wouldn't be a lot of help. What you need are your calibrated ears to tell you when you've got as close as you can. What you want to do is very subjective, I doubt there is an automatic way to alter the ambience of one sound to match another...
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Old August 26th, 2011, 01:04 PM   #3
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Re: Easiest way to match audio clips

Thanks for the tip regarding Audition. It's a start. I'm used to looking at scopes to alter the image, so I wanted to have a similar way of working audio (which is not my strong suit). I'll try it out to see if it can help me. Best though would obviously be a software or plugin that would intelligently reshape one clip based on the characteristics of an other but I've never heard of such feature (Pro Tools maybe? Not a Mac guy).
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Old August 26th, 2011, 01:13 PM   #4
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Re: Easiest way to match audio clips

You DID record a minute ot so of clean room tone for your location, right? Lay that in under your replacement dialog and that will go a long way in matching the two clips. Use the same mic for the new dialog as used for the original.

Since the client changed your content, how are you maintaining lip sync between the replacement script and the visuals of t he original speech? You may need to reshoot the whole thing. OTOH, if lip sync is not an issue it must be because your original is voice-over and the speaker doesn't appear on camera. Why record that on set at all? VO is more appropriate to capture in the studio than on location. Re-record the entire script in studio includintg the modifications so you don't have to match studio and location cuts.
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Old August 26th, 2011, 02:27 PM   #5
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Re: Easiest way to match audio clips

Steve, the narration was recorded on set simply because the video jumps back and forth between the on-camera actor and visuals with voice-over. But the re-recording was done in studio since it wasn't on-camera narration, with different mics (didn't have access to previous mics used since it was the soundman's). The studio did try to use a similar pattern mic for recording but to me the difference is noticeable.

I do have clean room tone, and there's music, which helps with the differences, but still, I find it very hard to adjust all the necessary frequencies just right to match the two mics used. There's a lot of parameters to fiddle with at the same time. If only there was a workflow to match audio like I would do with color correction and scopes.
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Old August 26th, 2011, 07:59 PM   #6
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Re: Easiest way to match audio clips

That makes it difficult. Different makes and models of microphone will each contribute a different timbre to the sound and that's not easy to adjust in post - it's the same phenomenon of undefinable 'something' that makes a Stradivarius violin sound different from student violin from the corner music store. It's very hard to make two mics from different manufacturers, or even two different models from the same manufacturer, sound the same with equalizing etc, especially when you're intercutting footage and the audience hears the sounds of each in close proximity to each other. They don't have to be the same physical mic but if your on-camera narration was shot with, say, a Senn 416, also using a 416 to record the dialog to be inserted over the cutaways is the best way to go. You may have more success doing ADR for the part that is on-camera, redoing ALL the sound in studiio and replacing the on-camera portion with studio recording plus room tone to establish the locale than you would trying to tweak after the fact. That presumes the presenter has the skill to record in sync to picture.

Make sure the client knows how much his failure to lock down the script before you shot it has cost his budget ... you ARE charging for the extra work to accomodate the changes arent you? Maybe he'll learn for the next time.
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Old August 27th, 2011, 02:47 AM   #7
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Re: Easiest way to match audio clips

This is classic case of why some projects need an audio dub and or more thought about how the audio is to be handled from start to finish, trying to sort this out in an edit suite is not the best solution.

It seems more than likely that the original voice recording was done on set to try and save time and money and now that the piece is edited extra voice over is required which now doesn't match.

I am always amused how people try to re-invent the production wheels that have been well defined for many years and then find that they get caught out as a production progresses, it then ends up spending more time trying to correct mistakes and it ends up being audio recovery rather than audio sweetening.

One other option is to re-record all the voice over with the same mic in the same studio so that at least it all matches and then you will have a fighting chance of completing the project to a reasonable level.

The other is to take it to a proper sound suite with decent monitoring and see if it can be matched better but that may end up costing even more than re-shooting the sound.
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Old August 27th, 2011, 11:31 AM   #8
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Re: Easiest way to match audio clips

STEVE: While I'm in agreement with what you're saying, the client would never agree to re-do the studio work for this simply because they'll never know the difference. I got it pretty close playing with EQ and reverberation already. Adding the room tone and music the difference is very subtle. It's there, but it's subtle. I also took extra steps to make sure the anticipated differences would be transparent when played back together, like pauses between the corrected and original audio and we also re-recorded a few lines before and after the corrections to transition better. Placement in the video was also taken into account. Judging by my previous experience with this client, I'd be shocked if they even noticed it at all. If they do, it'll be my pleasure to fix it the way they'd like at their own expense, but I doubt it gets to that point. I was doing this for the perfectionist in me much more than them, as I got it to an acceptable level already.

GARY: Of course it's about money, is there anything else? ;) Original budget included studio recording for off-camera narration. It also included a lot more visual and technical goodies. But that budget was not approved. Compromises were needed to lower it, this was one of them. It's true what you say about audio recovery, but I have to put myself in their shoes as well. This production is for internal use only and does not serve a marketing purpose. I adapt depending on the type of production and budget I need to work with.
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Old August 28th, 2011, 04:20 PM   #9
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Re: Easiest way to match audio clips

Yea right if I had a 1 for everytime a production says there is no or low budget but still expect a pro job, there are muppets here in the UK that expect to have their films shot on RED to cinema levels of production but then wonder why it just doesn't look the same as a blockbuster movie.

As I said too many people trying to re-invent wheels and pushing things too much rather than knowing the limitations and working within that, with poor planning and production techniques.

I had a friend who did a corporate recently that was shot on RED with decent production sound, he needed a pick-up of audio so used a $50 mic to do the sound, it cost him $150 for me to recover the audio and do an audio dub on the whole piece.
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Old August 30th, 2011, 10:23 AM   #10
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Re: Easiest way to match audio clips

When working on things like this, I find that occasional reality checks are helpful; i.e., playing it for someone who hasn't heard it a thousand times and been obsessing over it for the previous three days. Sometimes they don't even notice. Other times they look over at me right at the edit point (argh).
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