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Old January 6th, 2007, 02:31 PM   #1
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Foley for driving / car chase

Does anybody here have experience doing audio for driving and car chase scenes? If so, I'd like to know what does and doesn't work well.

It's easy enough to paste in some screeching tires for an occasional shot, but when there is sustained driving with varying camera POV, the problem is more complex. Note that much of our scene was done over a greenscreen, and the on-camera audio of the live shots was generally too noisy to create the focussed sound that the audience expects to hear.

The two methods that make sense to me are:

1) Make a list of the scenes from the final edit including duration, POV and action, and make direct recordings that we can mostly just drop in, or

2) Record some general sounds and process them to fit. For instance, I have a sampler that would allow me to use the expression and pitch controls to "drive" the car's RPM up and down.

In any case we would take steps to record at a shorter distance than was really shot, and we would likely not drive at speed with an external mic to avoid wind noise.

Or maybe somebody can recommend a nice, cheap sound effects library...
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Old January 7th, 2007, 08:47 PM   #2
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No responses? Oh well...

We ended up pulling a couple of cars out into the driveway away from buildings to avoid unwanted ambiance, pointed a shotgun mic at the engine, and later at the exhaust, and then went through a script that reflects the main on-screen activities. We will need to loop the steady state stuff, but that's okay.

The exhaust sounded MUCH better than the engine. Engines have too much chatter, squeak and whir. The exhaust is much more appealing sound wise.

(BTW, man who run after car become exhausted, but man who run in front of car get tired. :) )

I haven't sliced and diced the recordings yet, but we captured them and gave a quick listen. It's clear that I'll need to apply massive EQ. First, I will need a layer of bass boost and mid-scoop to make it sound cool. The second EQ layer will be to color it for different camera perspectives.

Hopefully, the custom recordings will do the trick. I can always write some aggressive chase music and push the mix, if the recordings stink. ;)
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Old January 7th, 2007, 09:40 PM   #3
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I came running when I heard the noise! LOL. I think you're on the right track, maybe lower the pitch or slow it a tad for the bigger car, and doubling up the tracks, the second lot 5-6 frames back might help.

Check the movie Bullitt, the pony motor growl makes the chase scenes, especially after McQueen loses it to save a cyclist. His restart is a gem, all analogue too....worth checking out.
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Old January 8th, 2007, 04:22 PM   #4
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Thanks Allan,

Doubling the tracks is a great idea. I'll try that. Lowering the pitch should work well also. It'll give the EQ a bit more to work with.

We recorded two different cars, so I should be able to give each one its own character.

And, yeah, Bullit rocks. I should add it to my collection.

BTW, the audio is for an online film called Colonel Crush 3: The Sword in the Stone - OF ACTION! Check out the Trailer, including my original score, at http://colonelcrush.com
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Old January 9th, 2007, 05:48 AM   #5
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Great site Jon, all the good things are there and I like your music. Got the red carpet back from the cleaners yet? Good luck to CC 3 and crew.
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Old January 11th, 2007, 04:44 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Fairhurst
Thanks Allan,

Doubling the tracks is a great idea. I'll try that. Lowering the pitch should work well also. It'll give the EQ a bit more to work with.

We recorded two different cars, so I should be able to give each one its own character.

And, yeah, Bullit rocks. I should add it to my collection.

BTW, the audio is for an online film called Colonel Crush 3: The Sword in the Stone - OF ACTION! Check out the Trailer, including my original score, at http://colonelcrush.com
John-

I'd really avoid pitch shifting for such a central and major FX as rpm changes. Save for some very slight stuff in fast edits, it's a pretty lo-fi (and not "charming" lo-fi).

I actually have a Hollywood Edge Car Chase Set here on my desk. I'll sell it to you if you want. It's 5 discs. All for building car chase scenes.

Write me.
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Old January 11th, 2007, 04:48 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Fairhurst
Does anybody here have experience doing audio for driving and car chase scenes? If so, I'd like to know what does and doesn't work well.

It's easy enough to paste in some screeching tires for an occasional shot, but when there is sustained driving with varying camera POV, the problem is more complex. Note that much of our scene was done over a greenscreen, and the on-camera audio of the live shots was generally too noisy to create the focussed sound that the audience expects to hear.

The two methods that make sense to me are:

1) Make a list of the scenes from the final edit including duration, POV and action, and make direct recordings that we can mostly just drop in, or

2) Record some general sounds and process them to fit. For instance, I have a sampler that would allow me to use the expression and pitch controls to "drive" the car's RPM up and down.

In any case we would take steps to record at a shorter distance than was really shot, and we would likely not drive at speed with an external mic to avoid wind noise.

Or maybe somebody can recommend a nice, cheap sound effects library...
Oh, also..in the future if you want to record a car chase:

Get a multi track recorder..attach 2 PZMS (or more) to it and tape one PZM under the hood near the engine block and one near whatever tires do the driving (front or rear). Obviously, give both mics a nice thick gaff taped layer of sound invisible foam.
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Old January 12th, 2007, 03:04 PM   #8
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Thanks for the tips! I've e-mailed you about the Hollywood Edge sounds...
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Old February 14th, 2007, 01:31 AM   #9
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Okay, here's how it worked out...

I didn't use any sound effects for the main driving sounds. I recorded two cars in an open area using an AT815b shotgun. We set the mic about four feet from the exhaust, offset from the line of fire, so we didn't get any splatter, or DC air motion noise. We just recorded into the camera.

I kinda, sorta ran through a script with the gas pedal, and we chopped up the audio and used it as loops and one-shots.

For processing I had to EQ it WAY down as it sounded more like noisy fans than rumbly cars. I EQ'd it with a big 80 Hz peak and everything over about 4k shelved way, way down. I added some low midrange bumps as well - at different frequencies for each car to give unique signatures.

I then set up multiple audio tracks, and varied the EQ boost on each so I could do interior, exterior, near and far sounds. One of the keys was to tweak the volume and pans for each shot.

Anyway you can see and hear the final car chase here:
http://colonelcrush.com/movie/index/00030301#3

To see the film from the start go here:
http://colonelcrush.com/movie/index/00030101#3

BTW, the music is all original. The car chase music was 100 times the work of the car sounds - and, personally, I think it makes the scene.

FWIW, we shot this with a GS500 camera and used a 12x12 drywall green screen in our barn/studio. Keying was done with Vegas' built-in chroma keyer.

Enjoy!
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