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Old September 14th, 2005, 07:02 PM   #1
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Recording sound in a house with hardwood floors

i completed production of my first short film back in April of this year. For a first film it was a huge success and I learned a lot from the project. One part of the film that really needed to be re-shot was a scene that took place in the dining room of an older home with hardwood floors. The sound was terrible -- the actors' dialog had a noticeable echo and when they walked through the room, their footsteps were obnoxious.

Barring the obvious (never shooting in a room with hardwood floors), is there a set of techniques that can be used to capture the actor's dialog and avoid the echo and loud footsteps associated with the action taking place in such a 'loud' room?

(For those that would like to see the finished footage (no pun intended) in question, you can download the .MOV by going to the project site here: http://www.ruckerworks.com/film/acupofjoe/ )
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Old September 14th, 2005, 07:39 PM   #2
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1. Try booming upwards, towards the ceiling, that can get rid of some of the bass.
2. If you're not using all the walls, hang some blankets, or stack furniture & equipment so it creates an uneven surface. Parallel flat walls are a major cause of unwanted reflections, square rooms are especially susceptible to this.
3. Carpeting especially with some heavy rubber mats can lessen the bass sound and foot steps.
4. Cheap uneven foam pinned/glued to the walls and ceilings can also lessen the higher frequency sounds reflecting around the room.

A couple of things to make it less expensive.
- only treat the wall/ceiling that's behind/in front of your talent.
- don't completely deaden the room, a little live sound is still good for recording
- and of course, use the low pass filter on your mic if it has one
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Old September 17th, 2005, 12:51 PM   #3
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There's already lots of voice-over in the piece. Why not do this scene with voice-over i.e. have the actors speak their lines while watching the video for lip synch? Be sure to record some background in the room (with no one present) and mix that in with the new voice recordings.
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Old September 17th, 2005, 12:58 PM   #4
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Actually, the only voice-over in the piece is the main character's inner dialog. The other two actor's lines were recorded on location. I think that this particular scene, without reshooting it in a different location, will just have to stay the [terrible-sounding] way it is -- and I'll learn from the experience and not choose rooms with hardwoods again (and if I do, I'll take the advice of looping the dialog after the fact).

<sigh>
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Old September 17th, 2005, 03:33 PM   #5
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It's amazing how much sound blankets can accomplish, so long as the DP doesn't need a really wide shot that shows the floor. Hope you didn't use a shotgun in there. It would sound terrible no matter what else you did. With a good hypercardiod, you can get somewhat decent sound in a room with hardwood floors even without blankets provided you can get the mic close enough, by the way.
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Old September 17th, 2005, 03:38 PM   #6
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You could also try wireless lavs with easy to hide B6 elements, as well as foot foam on the soles of shoes. As others have said, cover every hard surface that you can with something softer. This includes the ceiling (unless you've got a Citizen Kane remake going). You can do this with a bedsheet and 8 thumbtacks. Allow it to drape down about 12 to 18 inches from the ceiling and watch out for hot lights.
Depending on the emotion of the scene you can have the actors simply speak a little softer.
You can do ADR, but it is extremely time consuming to do a good enough job to hide it. With typical dv-project resources allow about 2 or 3 hours per 30 seconds if you want it to be uncatchable by the audience.
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