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Old October 1st, 2015, 07:38 AM   #1
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Documentary Auido

Over the summer I've filmed 6 experts for a talking heads historical documentary. Auido isn't one of my strengths so before filming I took advice from peeps on here and this was my set final up;

Rode NTG-2 over head mic into zoom H4N set to stereo and wav. As a back up I also used squid lav mic into zoom H1 also wav. I was also advised to record 2 full min or room to loop in the back round so all of the auido had a more consistent feel.

I have all my DSLR footage and audio synced and I have made a stab at a first cut. Before go any further I wanted to work out the best work flow.

My audio defiantly need some work. The 6 different interviews where held in 3 different locations so auido differs slightly from location to location. 5 of the 6 were recorded in large rooms with very high ceilings and there is an echo. Its not terrible but it is audible. And before any one say it...I do know you should collect auido correctly to begin with to avoid any post production but its was unavoidable and we done what we could to dampen the echo. One of the 6 was recorded in a proper sound proofed room and there is obviously a hugh difference between this and the rest.

I'm using FCP to edit and will be working in soundtrack pro. Do I get my auido right before I do any more work on cutting or do I work on it once I have my final cut? I know very little in Soundtrack pro should I just outsource this work to an expert? I do want it to be the very best it can be and it may take me forever to perfect it since I have little to no experience in this package.

I had a first look at how different clips would work together and at the moment it looks very choppy. I have no experience in editing this type of footage or auido. I just feel at the moment its not great..If anyone has any advice on cutting talking heads together please jump in! I've had a look online but can find any advice/tutorial that would helping.
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Old October 1st, 2015, 11:10 AM   #2
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Re: Documentary Auido

- Usually, audio post is dealt with when the picture is 'locked'. No sense spending time on something that's not going to be used.
- Two minutes of room tone is excessive, and difficult to get on many sets with even a medium sized crew. I'm usually happy to get 30-45 sec., and only a second or two is needed now and then to fill in a silent space or two and it can be looped. 'Atmosphere' OTOH, is different and applied as a continuous BG bed in a scene.
- Rooms and folks sound different, I don't concern myself much with them unless there's it's excessively live or there's too much extraneous noise. Even car pass-bys are OK, if you can see them in the picture and still understand the dialog. Total isolation disconnects the person from the picture IMO
I know very little about Soundtrack pro and FCP has limited audio tools.
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Old October 1st, 2015, 01:14 PM   #3
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Re: Documentary Auido

Ana,

If this a documentary you hope to achieve something with it is time to pay someone for help. Even if everyone on this forum jumped in and did their best to help you we could not do it well enough. To "make it the best it can be" takes experience and talent.

These days there is home recording studios all over the place. Finding the right person might take a little effort but there is someone there that can do it if you want to avoid the high hourly rates of a big studio.

Speaking of hourly.....all of you edits would have to be finished first so you only give the sound mixer the footage he/she needs to work on.

Kind Regards,

Steve
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Old October 1st, 2015, 02:12 PM   #4
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Re: Documentary Auido

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ana Conlon View Post
I had a first look at how different clips would work together and at the moment it looks very choppy.
As Mr. Reineke and Mr. Digges have said, you would typically want to do the "picture edit" first. It would be a waste of time to try to do anything to audio that will not be used.

It is not clear what you mean by "it looks very choppy". If you meant literally "looks" then it sounds like your picture edit is not done yet, and you shouldn't worry about the audio yet.

But if you really meant "it SOUNDS very choppy" and you are done with the picture edit, then that is where the audio editing and sweetening begin.

Feel free to post samples of what you are talking about since verbal descriptions are practically useless for this kind of discussion.
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Old October 10th, 2015, 03:23 AM   #5
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Re: Documentary Auido

Thanks for all the replies.

Rick

I probably only need a second or two of audio to fill tiny gaps. Now that I understand the workflow better I have started the picture edit and I'm leaving tiny gaps between speakers as it sounds right and I assume this is where I use my room to fill. While some of the rooms have a little echo none had any outside noise like traffic etc. Itís pretty clean in that sense.

Steven

Its good to know I should be shopping around for help with the audio. I've put a heap of work into this and if I have to spend a little on getting the audio right then so be it. How far along should I bring the audio before I send it of for "sweetening"? At the moment itís only the talking heads. No atmosphere background music or effects. Should I have a look at these first and then send it off. If so where is there a good online resource for this? When I'm hiring help exactly what sort of professional using which software am I looking for? I wouldn't like to completely hand over the audio, as Iíd like to have some sort of input. I want to make sure I'm happy with the standard (control freak)

Richard

I guess when I said it looks choppy I really meant it sounds choppy. Its good to know sweetening can be done and I guess that's probably the choppiness I'm referring to. Now that I've properly got stuck in to editing as mentioned above I'm leaving tiny gaps between speakers just so the brain can digest the switch from speaker to speaker. I will be using images and footage over these gaps so itís no noticeable visually.

I do have one question when my experts starts a sentence there is sometimes a sharp intake of breath or when I have to cut some mid sentence its a sounds a bit close to the bone. Are these the kinds of things an audio expert can sweeten?
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Old October 10th, 2015, 10:35 AM   #6
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Re: Documentary Auido

"I do have one question when my experts starts a sentence there is sometimes a sharp intake of breath or when I have to cut some mid sentence its a sounds a bit close to the bone. Are these the kinds of things an audio expert can sweeten?"
Yes, a volume envelope and/or replacing with room tone or atmos. Waves makes a plug-in to automate attenuating breath sounds as well. YMMV depending on the audio.
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Old October 14th, 2015, 07:55 PM   #7
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Re: Documentary Auido

Hi Ana,

I can't really answer your question about how to find an audio pro very well. I do everything through word of mouth because I know so many people in the business. And you options and the variations are endless. One guy might just build a few pre sets and spend a couple of hours on it, another guy might put forty hours into it. I don't know what it needs and what resources are around you.

You just shot a documentary but you say your audio skills are rudimentary. Who taught you to shoot? Do they know an audio professional? Did you have any kind of a crew? Do they know someone? Do you know other videographers you can talk to?

If you go to an established recording studio in your area they can probably do it well. But that may be the most expensive option. Is there any one you know that can recommend someone with a home recording studio? Those guys are all over the place and not just in video circles, some of the best are in the musician circles.

Maybe someone here can chime in and give better advice than I. Sorry, but I do not have a good answer for you, the options you might end up with are very wide.

Kind Regards,

Steve
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Old October 14th, 2015, 10:54 PM   #8
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Re: Documentary Auido

Send me the track, I will take a look at it.

I disagree about fixing audio after all of the cuts, but I use Premiere and Audio Audition. Every cut causes a new track, so it is a lot harder to edit hundreds of small tracks when you could edit one big one. Sure, you are going to do some extra editing, and you will have to do more final editing, still less time after all the cuts. Your editing software may be different.

You might need a little help, but this is not rocket science. First rule, never delete after importing the audio track, only reduce or eliminate sound and use your well recorded 2 minutes where needed. This avoids the synch problem. Second, grade the sound, get rid of pops (silence them don't delete them) enhance the voice, add sound effects as needed. Mix it all down, and reedit the track and it should be an import and paste.

You are on the right track, even if you don't make audio a career, it helps to edit it once so you know how the process works and you can better direct audio recording in the future.
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Old October 19th, 2015, 02:42 AM   #9
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Re: Documentary Auido

Hi Tim

I'll organise a small snippet of all 5 different speakers and send it onto you today...all comments and expertise would be very welcome!

Unfortunatlly since this original post I did actually go ahead with editing so it is now a bunch of little clips going from speaker to speaker. As each speaker is consistently the same throughout their recording I did also originally think that it would have been best to edit these big individual long tracks first and then go back as you said and work on the fine tuning again later.

I think now because of sync issues it would be a nightmare to try and this now. However in fcp I have given each speaker a label so I may be able to isolate them and export each speaker to give them an over all treatment for the echo or enhance each voice etc.

I don't really have any pops or I don't think I do but then again i'm no expert in auido. So far I've done nothing with the auido apart from cut the track up. I have it down to 1 hour 40min so it will have to come down again. There are no sound effects in and I haven't bridged the gaps with my 2 min of silence it simply goes from speaker to speaker. So sound very choppy.

As software goes I would be using soundtrack pro...I never hear of auido heads using this software so maybe its not the best?

Anyway I'll send on what I have at the moment...thanks again for the advice!
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