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Old May 27th, 2003, 10:30 AM   #1
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sound setup for a feature?

I'm gonna be starting a low budget feature using an XL1s(pal) in a few months (maybe a litte more). Now should I simply run the mics (which I haven't got yet) into the ma200 and record the sound on the tape or is it a better idea to say, record seperately on a DAT and try to sync it later in post? Is the xl1s sound quality high enough? As you can tell I'm not real familiar with the audio aspects of shooting DV (or anything for that matter) but I can't afford to pay a sound guy for the shoot. I'm going with PAL for the 25fps aspect and the companies I looked at for film transer mention a 3-4% difference in sound but say they maintain pitch. How's that possible? Any suggestions on affordable mics would be of great help too.

Thanks in advance:)
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Old May 27th, 2003, 11:09 AM   #2
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Just a suggestion, if you cannot pay a sound guy for a feature film, don't bother to shoot it. Unless you want to ADR the whole thing. The reason for this is that if you have bad sound, your movie is going to be percieved as bad no matter how good the story, picture etc. is.

You just simply have to have someone that adjusts the rec levels during the scenes via mixer or on the DAT. Also, go with a DAT, it has way more dynamic range. The onboard camera sound can squeeze by if it's only going to be shown on TV but not in the theaters.

As for microphone if you can, use a Sennheiser 416, if you cannot afford that the Sennheiser ME-67 is ok, but don't expect great sound, well, it's still better than most though.

3 to 4% of difference is not enough to notice so that is why it works.

Sorry for being so harsh, but almost ALL low budget movies have BAD sound and it's the most common mistake new filmmakers make. The audience needs to hear what the actors are saying, or they just walk out.
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Old May 27th, 2003, 11:41 AM   #3
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Please be harsh. I need all good advice I can get. I'll have to see what I can do for a sound guy. There's probably someone in my area who might be willing to work for free. All the actors are friends from the Actors Studio (I have a friend who goes there and has many friends willing to work for free in the summer). I've directed plays but never a movie. So you're saying you need someone who can be mixing on the spot, while filming, to get satisfactory results? I can't just setup mics then play with the levels in post if they're unsatisfactory?
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Old May 27th, 2003, 12:13 PM   #4
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You are exactly right, you can't just put up a microphone, you will have so much background noise, unless you are in a studio, that it will "drown" the dialog, and it cannot be fixed in post. Sound is way more unforgiving than picture, you go over the limit and the sound is gone, nothing to work with so to speak.

Use a boom and a guy who have done at least a short or something since there is a technique involved in how to get the best possible sound. The shotgun mic must be as close to the talent as possible and since these mics are HIGHLY directional, you also have to aim it at the actor who speaks.

My suggestion is that you try and find some information about production sound, it's not that hard, but you have to familiraise yourself with the basics at least so that you can double check whether the sound guy is doing ok or not. You can always ADR it, but in that case talk to the actors first if they accept or not, it's a very slow process.

Sorry, don't have any good sound links for this.

What kind of movie is it? And what kind of locations will you be shooting at?
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Old May 27th, 2003, 01:19 PM   #5
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The movie is mostly drama. It's dialog driven and the locations are mostly a bar (I have one we can use after hours), and apartments, all pretty controlled environments. I do intend though to do a fair deal of shooting outdoors. Mostly wilderness areas so background noise will be wind at most (desert in western California) and the coast in Northern California (ocean noise might be an issue). I'm trying to avoid public places just for those reasons. I'm writing the screenplay (almost done) so I'm making sure there is no dialog in the few unvoidable public places.
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Old May 27th, 2003, 09:34 PM   #6
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Sounds cool, yeah the ocean is a big problem, it overpowers any mic out there, you will almost have to ADR it in post. You will also notice that no matter where you are going to shoot, you are going to have wierd background noises, like refrigerators, air conditioning units (turn these off during takes), cars whizzing by outside etc. If outside, aeroplanes, dog barking etc. Since it is a dialog driven film, definitely use a soundguy, you will have enough problems in post anyway.

Just so you know, the Hollywood movies use ADR between 85 to 95% in a movie, that's why it sounds so clean. The movies in europe don't use much ADR so those movies sound different and have a higher noise floor, but it works so it's not that bad, just make sure to get as good sound as possible on the set, it will save you lots of headaches later.
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Old May 28th, 2003, 09:12 AM   #7
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Luckily the scenes I plan to shoot in California are going to have really no speaking parts but the imagery of two spots in particular I want (I lived there for a few years) are kind of intrinsic to the story. I know everyone always says don't try to shoot wide outdoor shots with DV but I think it looked alright in "Dancer in the Dark" when there was some wide shots. I'm not worried if it looks like DV (flat). We're planning on just flying out for a week, me and another actor, staying at a friends house and getting the shots. In fact, if I did want good ocean noise and good forest ambient sound (birds and such) to use in post what kind of mic would I want to use? Obviously not a directional one used for dialog right?
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Old May 28th, 2003, 10:34 AM   #8
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Actually you want to use the same shotgun mic, since that's the only way to get the sound with the minimum amount of "surround" noise, the Sennheiser 416 will do a great job but if you go even higher up in price it will be even better. Dialog and ambient sounds are very different, but birds and stuff have much stronger sound than dialog and that's why it will work even if you are far away from the subject.

I have actually never heard that one shouldn't use wide shots with DV, but one thing you should think about is to take those shots just after sunrise up until approx 9.00 am or after 6pm depending on the season. This way you will get shadows in a natural way and get a much more 3D feel than if you shot during the day when the sun blows out everything. You should only go for tighter shots during the day.
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Old May 28th, 2003, 11:04 AM   #9
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You're a great help Akos. Much thanks. I'm actually considering now pushing back trying to shoot this until later so I can drum up some more money for sound equipment and better plan out how I'm going to get that sound. I need to experiment a bit, I think, with the equipment so I may have to invest in it rather than just try to rent it and they may definetly take a little while. Everyone who is helping me is going to be around next summer anyway. I waited years to try to get something together. What's one more if it makes the end product that much better, right? This forum is the best!
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Old May 28th, 2003, 11:10 AM   #10
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Akos,

My experience is that movies in Europe are an even HIGHER percentage of ADR. Most plan on dubbing ALL dialogue in post, to the various languages tehy plan to distribute in. Some features are shot COMPLETELY without sound... and Foley'd and ADR'd in post.
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Old May 28th, 2003, 12:01 PM   #11
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if I can help it I'd like to do no dubbing in post. I don't know if it's true but it would seem like that would be even more trouble than trying to get decent sound in the first place. Plus I can't count on the actors having the time, there all working for free (so far).
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Old May 28th, 2003, 12:11 PM   #12
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Ian

Glad I could be of help, I think it's a very good decision to push back the movie, why throw away a perfectly good movie just because of bad sound, hope it works out.

Richard

Hmm, I know that italians dub it, "out of sync", maybe not anymore. I don't watch that much european movies. But I don't think they ADR the original release language, and that is what I'm talking about. (They use the on set recorded sound) Even if you do ADR in post they always take reference sound, never heard of a shoot that didn't have sound on the set. It would almost be impossibe for the actor to get same performance without any reference.

American movies are dubbed as well, but the ADR session is only used for the english language and they also have sound on the set. As far as I know one of the reasons europeans don't use that much ADR is because it's really expensive compared to their budgets.

When we are talking about dubbing, it's made in the country that the movie is released in. And they use the original language as a reference for performance and feeling.

Maybe I should update myself on the european sound market. Last time I checked, usually the sound is much worse than in the american movies.
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Old May 28th, 2003, 12:14 PM   #13
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Ian

Yes, try to get as good sound as possible on the set, it will never be as "clean" as in an ADR session, but since it's a low budget movie, I wouldn't expect / plan for ADR.
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Old July 22nd, 2003, 12:09 PM   #14
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Akos,

I'm in the same situation as Ian. Thanks for your help on this subject.
What does ADR stand for?
And if one should want to dub the dialogue in studio how is this accomplished?
My idea of it is that the actors watch the location tape and try to match their dialogue with the tape. Is that right?
How do the professionals do it?
Michael
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Old July 24th, 2003, 11:43 AM   #15
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BOOM Mic

I'm an idiot when it comes to audio what is a good boom mic?
Is a shotgun mic a boom mic? and is the Sennheiser ME66 a good mic (is it a shortgun or shotgun? Is there a difference?)
THanks and Help
Neil
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