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Old March 19th, 2014, 09:18 PM   #1
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stereo vs mono

I'm an audio newbie. I am working on a video where there is an interview/conversation between two people. It's basically, one person asks a short question and the other answers for like 5-10min. Do I keep this in stereo or do I make it mono?
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Old March 19th, 2014, 09:46 PM   #2
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Re: stereo vs mono

There are other factors that would influence any responses. Such as...
1) How are you micing the interviewer and the subject? A mic on each of them (hopefully)?
Clip-on lav mics? Boom mic(s)?
2) Outdoors? Indoors/quiet? Indoors/noisy? Indoors/reverberant?
3) Is this live or "live to tape" (i.e. no post-production)? Or will you be editing the piece before use?

Making several assumptions in the absence of these kinds of details...
I (and likely many others here) would prefer to use separate mics on the interviewer and on the subject.
We would prefer to record each mic to a separate audio channel (you can call it "stereo" if you wish, but it is really just "2- channel").
That would give the best flexibility for mixing and accommodating variations in the recorded tracks.

Whether to RELEASE it as "stereo" or "mono" depends on even more details about what will be done with the video. Tradition (and with very good reasons, not just arbitrary) has had all the "dialog" ultimately mixed in mono, and then separate tracks for music, sound effects, etc.

Sorry this turned out to be a mini-lecture. You probably had only a specific scenario in mind. But since we don't know what that is, we can't really give you the cut-and-dried response you would probably wish for.
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Old March 19th, 2014, 10:09 PM   #3
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Re: stereo vs mono

Hi Kathy

I think most of us would use a mono lav on channel one and a mono lav on channel 2 each of course attached to the subjects.

All you do in post is switch channels for each person talking and make the track a mono track so it's a bit of left and a bit of right. When most NLE's have mono tracks it still feeds both speakers for audio so your would never have the audio coming out of the left speaker with the right dead while the first person is talking and vice versa. I guess you could call it "pseudo stereo" as both speakers get the signal. If you were also mixing music or ambience on extra tracks they would do much the same thing if they were mono tracks.

Chris
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Old March 19th, 2014, 10:17 PM   #4
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Re: stereo vs mono

It probably does't matter in the least. If you use two cameras, make sure they are set the same. When you edit it together, make sue you hear the audio track in both ears and not one person in one and the other person in the other. That's sure fired noob territory.

If I did it, I would record each person onto a stereo recording which is nothing more than a two channel recording. Then when editing, I would separate the two audio tracks and adjust the pan so it's in the center (neither left nor right).

Yes, I think it's horrible when you have a narrator or person pop up in a production and only come in one speaker. YMMV
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Old March 20th, 2014, 03:43 AM   #5
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Re: stereo vs mono

If you were trying to be realistic in a two shot to create realism, then a slight left right split helps, especially if they talk over each other, but in an interview both people dead centre is best, especially if your picture framing is also symmetrical with the head in in centre.
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Old March 20th, 2014, 04:36 AM   #6
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Re: stereo vs mono

People often get confused between 'Stereo' and 'Split tracks'......

Stereo - both tracks are very similar in contents with subtle phase and timing differences (like music)

Split Tracks - are in fact that...2 tracks recorded at the same time but with different content (like separate mics of an interview)

Dialogue going between speakers in a final product is tiresome and often confusing for the viewer.
Spoken voice is placed 'centre' ALWAYS....
In interviews of 2 shots are interspersed with single shots / reverse angle shots and cutaways if the sound is moved it becomes VERY disjointed.
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Old March 20th, 2014, 05:48 AM   #7
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Re: stereo vs mono

Thanks so much everyone. Sorry, I assumed a lot of things as I thought they were obvious. So let me clarify.

All is shot indoors. Each person is miced separately (lavs). Each voice is on a separate channel. They do not speak at the same time. I have always been putting voice in the center until someone asked me why I do that! I didn't have an explanation other that it sounds better to me. So then I thought that I am doing it wrong hence this question here.
Anyway, what I gather is that I should be putting both voices in the center, just silence the channel of the person who is not speaking, which is what I've been doing.

Thanks for clarifying this for me.
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Old March 20th, 2014, 07:46 AM   #8
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Re: stereo vs mono

Yes, you have been doing it correctly.

This is referred to by some as "checkerboard editing", because the resulting audio segments on the timeline look like a checkerboard as each subjects' audio cuts from one to the other on two pan centered audio tracks. Using two tracks allows easy manipulation of each subjects' different audio levels, EQ etc.

The goal of course is to eliminate the off-mic bleed from one subject into the other subject's mic, as well as not doubling your ambient noise. It's also important not to leave a gap between segments where the ambient sound goes silent. Extra bits of recorded room ambient sound can be used to fix some problems, as well as stretch any gaps or cover edit points that aren't totally clean.

Which NLE are you using?

The workflow and shortcuts to make this as easy as possible are different for each software editor.
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Old March 20th, 2014, 07:51 AM   #9
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Re: stereo vs mono

The person questioning the centering of the voice sounds (pardon the pun) inexperienced and perhaps just returned from dumpster diving in the trash bin of discarded ideas. Because those ideas aren't used, I find these kind of people think they've invented something new when in fact it's old and a bad idea.

Moving audio left/right distracts the viewer and consumes cognitive load (fight or flight) reacting each time it changes. This takes attention and cognition away from the message and results in mental fatigue.

Generally speaking panning sound is useful when you need the effect to help the viewer understand the proximity of the source (aka a car going left to right). More subtly, it's used in music mixes to mimic the L/R balance of what you would have heard if you were there in dead center (aka the low notes may have a slight bias to the left and highs to the right to mimic you performing at the piano or violins on the left and bass on the right to mimic what an orchestra conductor hears .... ).
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Old March 20th, 2014, 08:33 AM   #10
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Re: stereo vs mono

Thank you every one. This helps me a lot and I am glad I've been doing it right this whole time.
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Old March 20th, 2014, 08:41 AM   #11
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Re: stereo vs mono

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kathy Smith View Post
I'm an audio newbie. I am working on a video where there is an interview/conversation between two people. It's basically, one person asks a short question and the other answers for like 5-10min. Do I keep this in stereo or do I make it mono?
Hey Kathy,
Sounds like you have it under control. The answer kind of depends on how you are distributing the piece and what you are trying to achieve. For general distribution Mono centered for voices is safer than stereo which sometimes is not played back correctly. If someone ends up with an incorrectly summed stereo signal you could end up with very poor sound on playback. Or they only can hear one channel and miss out on content.
If you are doing something fancier you can play with stereo imaging but you should always check the mix in the way you are going to display the video.
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Old March 20th, 2014, 02:19 PM   #12
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Re: stereo vs mono

I always think of it in terms of how the viewer relates to the sound/image

If the image as viewed is smaller than you are and the speakers are close together, left/right is sort of irrelevant and stereo can be annoying. If you have to turn your head a bit to look at one of the speakers (human and audio!) and turn the other way for the other one, like at the movies, stereo would sound natural. Otherwise best avoided.

Just the way it seems to me.
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