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Old July 29th, 2012, 08:00 PM   #1
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Workflow: Record at lower level with low noise recorder then boost in post?

After making due with a $100 cheapo recorder, I just splurged and got a used sound devices 702.

I'm curious if others tend to record at lower levels with higher quality equipment... I usually try to get dialog peaks tickling just above -12dBFS, and the content mostly above -20dBFS.

But it occurs to me that I could effectively make better use of the 702's bandwidth by recording at a lower level, say 8db lower: dialog tickling -20dbFS, and mostly above -28dBFS. That way there would be even less concern over the occasional actor's loud noise clipping.

However, since I don't do the editing myself, I'd have to communicate to the editing team that although these levels might look low, they should be fine since this is a better recorder. Unless I'm doing all the sound for this production, this might be a non-starter... the editor is often not even picked out at the time I record sound, so the "playing telephone" communication issues of trying to get any important info to the editor's attention are difficult, as you tell the assistant director who tells the producer or director, who finds an editor, who ends up saying something like "The sound recordist said there are issues with the levels", and I end up looking bad for something that's actually a win.

So do you record dialog at lower levels on higher quality equipment? How do you communicate this to whoever will be doing post editing?

Last edited by Tom Morrow; July 30th, 2012 at 05:13 AM.
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Old July 29th, 2012, 11:27 PM   #2
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Re: Workflow: Record at lower level with low noise recorder then boost in post?

Assuming your using SD pre amps too, SD gear has very good limiters...and metering, so, recording at a low levels may is not necessarily better.. Peaking at -16dBFS is low and you could possibly receive calls from post 'complaining about it. If you need that much headroom, record a 24bit which I normally do anyway unless requested otherwise.
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Old July 29th, 2012, 11:42 PM   #3
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Re: Workflow: Record at lower level with low noise recorder then boost in post?

Agreeing with Rick 100%. The challenge is not only to do good work as a soundie, it's to be perceived as doing good work as a soundie. A big part of that is meeting and exceeding expectations of others, as well as your own.

If you are working on a project where the sources are really peaky, then you have a reason to tell post that it was recorded lower than they might otherwise expect. But to regularly deliver media that differs from common industry expectations is to open yourself to all sorts of perceptions and criticisms of your work and professionalism. That they might be wrong doesn't matter if they don't see it that way!

And do record in 24-bit and use good limiters! If you have concerns about a particular read, listen to playback before moving on.
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Old July 30th, 2012, 02:06 AM   #4
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Re: Workflow: Record at lower level with low noise recorder then boost in post?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seth Bloombaum View Post
Agreeing with Rick 100%. The challenge is not only to do good work as a soundie, it's to be perceived as doing good work as a soundie. A big part of that is meeting and exceeding expectations of others, as well as your own.
Along these ends, It can't be emphasized enough how important it is for the sound recordist to attend the blocking sessions and final rehearsals so that they know what to expect and to discuss the approach with the director, DP, and communicate all of that to the post production team.
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