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Techniques for Independent Production
The challenges of creating Digital Cinema and other narrative forms.


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Old November 7th, 2006, 03:38 PM   #16
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you seem very experienced and professional.........

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Marchesseault
The reasons I believe in ADR are thus:

Drunks in the vicinity
Computer noise
Sporadic traffic (especially when the location is supposed to be remote)
Mopeds (thousands of them in Hawaii)
Hogs (the kind with V-twin motors and no muffler)
Airplanes flying overhead
Mic in the shot
Sneezes
Time setting up the recording on-location while the crew waits
Crewmember noise ruining the take
Cell phones going off during a take
Someone ringing the doorbell during a take
Noisy neighbors
No A/C allowed in a room full of people and lights on a Summer day
Dogs barking
Bad saxophone players on the beach (really, I'm not kidding)
Loud surf noise drowning out the dialog
MIC IN THE SHOT!
And the worst of them all...MIC IN THE SHOT that nobody noticed during the actor's best performance of the day and now we have to throw it out even though we thought we had the perfect performance on tape and struck the set.

It seems impossible to completely avoid ADR, so I consider it a necessary skill that must be developed in every filmmaker. Since I find it relatively easy to get right, I want to take advantage of ADR on the set. Now, I will be happy with any good audio I gather, but I won't waste time and takes if the inevitable audio interruptions occur.

I don't want the worst of both worlds. I won't make everyone crazy on the set expecting the impossible with audio then go crazy trying to avoid ADR when editing and finally begrudge it when it is inevitable. My thinking is to plan for ADR and make up a bunch of time on the set (every minute wasted on-set is multiplyed by the people involved) and in the editing bay. I refuse to waste a good take because there was a noise in the background. I refuse to ever again make a dozen crew and actors wait for 5 minutes while a noisy weirdo in the neighborhood meanders away.

Once ADR is assumed, many other things become easier. Since ADR is unavoidable, we may as well make it part of our skill set and take advantage of it on-set.

I'm not trolling or trying to start flames, but you may have detected that I have had a lot of anger involving location audio. I only hope to keep others from having the same experiences.

so I have a (probably stupid) question.......if you can record the dialog and at the same time the background WITHOUT dialog, but in phase, what would happen if you invert phase on onetrack and mix with the background volume the same in both?
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Old November 7th, 2006, 05:02 PM   #17
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That is essentially what shotgun mics do, but at the mic instead of in the recording. Shotguns are a bit like multiple mics out of phase. I believe the problem comes with different frequencies phasing in an unrelated manner. Therefore, low frequencies can be sent back to a shotgun mic if the room has a lot of reflective surfaces.

Here is a great video by Ty Ford about different mic types:

http://homepage.mac.com/tyreeford/.P...al%20VIdeo.mp4

He has a list of things that audio people want on set:

http://home.comcast.net/%7Etyreeford/GoodSound.html

"The letter" is a list of things to do to get good audio on set as well as an explanation why audio is best done on location. Unfortunately, the sheer lenght of the list helps explain why ADR (redubbing) is sometimes the best solution. If you have a skilled audio person that is dedicated to only getting audio, it is a great thing for your production. If you are doing micro-budget stuff with a small crew and uncontrollable locations, ADR will probably be cheaper.

I am not a dedicated audio guy, but I strongly believe in good audio for any production. Perhaps trying ADR for one of your productions is a good exercise in learning about audio. Everyone should try some "studio" style recording to learn about clean sound recording. Make your own sound booth and use some quality headphones to experiment with recording. I think you will like the results.

Here is Ty Ford's homepage:

http://home.comcast.net/~tyreeford/

*****************

I missed the posts from Seun and Glenn...

I agree that rotoscoping out a mic in the shot may be a solution, but the time for rotoscoping needs to be weighed against ADR. I don't know how much time it takes to do ADR per minute of film, but we did ADR on the main character's voice of a 22-minute dialog-heavy movie in one evening. None of us had ever done ADR before. It only required myself and the actor to be present instead of the whole crew. The actor's audio was ruined by loud computer noise. We doubled the quality of the whole production in one evening while sitting in comfortable chairs. I did not use a special sound booth, but the close proximity of the mic kept the audio clean. I did foley for some of the sounds and that went very quickly.

I don't know why people have such an aversion to trying ADR, but it really isn't that difficult and is a great solution to the audio issues micro-budget productions experience. It doesn't require expensive mics and a dedicated, experienced audio person. At least try it once. You can video yourself and experiment with ADR without anyone else working with you. Then, when it is time for you to re-record actors, you will already know the technique.

Last edited by Marcus Marchesseault; November 7th, 2006 at 05:45 PM.
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Old November 8th, 2006, 05:11 AM   #18
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Marcus,

it's a cultural thing as much as anything else. Some audiences are much more tolerant of dubbing than others. In Europe (Especially Italy, Germany and Spain) for example, dubbing was the norm, if not the actual rule for a long time. In the UK and the States, whenever possible live audio was the aspiration whenever possible, because in Hollywood they had the resources to build proper soundstages, and in the UK there is a tradition of documentary realism, and also, and I think importantly, we weren't seeing dubbed versions of Hollywood films, so poor dubbing in Local films would show up in comparison.

In Turkey they use to dub Hollywood films, usually pretty appallingly, and Turkish films had similarly bad sound quality. In the Nineties, Turkish cinemas installed digital surround sound systems and had to use the original English languages tracks and started subtitling the films. Then, the poor quality of local sound production was thrown in sharp relief, and in recent years, Turkish film sound tracks have improved dramatically. In addition there is more of a move towards recording direct sound for local TV dramas and Feature films whereas once ALL such shows (even though recorded on sound stages) would have been dubbed without a second thought.

Hence, in a lot of places, ADR is seen as an admission of failure, as an aesthetic weakness. Yes it can be done really well, and I've used it on my productions. But first choice for me is always direct sync sound, even as I know it's a cultural thing.

Basically though I agree with you - good, or even mediocre ADR is preferable to bad location sound.
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Old November 8th, 2006, 03:16 PM   #19
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Dylan,

I'm not including dubbing to other languages in my recommendation to do ADR.

For same-language productions, I think it is a function of your resources and set conditions. Add a wind machine and uncontrollable traffic and the biggest-budget production still can't get good location sound. There are tricks around many problems that a good sound person will use, but sound engineers are not cheap. The thousands of dollars that are spent on microphones to do the job right can be substituted for one decent mic and a quiet room.

"Basically though I agree with you - good, or even mediocre ADR is preferable to bad location sound."

I think what I'm getting at is that I know the budget level of many people on this forum and ADR fits into that picture. It also is an absolutely necessary skill if you ever have a shoot with uncontrollable noise. Since people can't get away from it, the skill should be developed and the technique used when appropriate. We may not have the budget, but we probably have the time to try improving our skills as editors and shooters.

ADR is a technique that must be used on occaision, so you may as well develop the skill and use it whenever it benefits the production. Heck, toying around with your mic and camera is the fun part of all this work! :)
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Old November 8th, 2006, 03:53 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Marchesseault
I think what I'm getting at is that I know the budget level of many people on this forum and ADR fits into that picture. It also is an absolutely necessary skill if you ever have a shoot with uncontrollable noise. Since people can't get away from it, the skill should be developed and the technique used when appropriate. We may not have the budget, but we probably have the time to try improving our skills as editors and shooters.
You must be talking about people like me! I shot a scene in an ethnic market with noisy fridges, and I knew I was not going to get good location sound. I found a nice mic with which to dub. Now where do I record? I have no studio. What kind of a room would be best?
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Old November 9th, 2006, 01:53 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emre Safak
You must be talking about people like me! I shot a scene in an ethnic market with noisy fridges, and I knew I was not going to get good location sound. I found a nice mic with which to dub. Now where do I record? I have no studio. What kind of a room would be best?
Minimizing reflections and reverb is your goal when choosing a room to record in. You want your ADR to be as flat as possible so you can match it to the situations of the room later using effects (unless you can somehow create a room with the exact acoustic properties of your location -- but that's usually out of the question).

Perfectly square rooms are usually bad, as are rooms which lengths and widths are in a ratio of 2:1 or 3:1. Fortunately, your average size 13x10 bedroom usually falls outside of these parameters. Mattresses and large volume, differentiated materials help cut down on low frequency noise, while high frequency reflection is best controlled by suspended blankets, or by creating multiple angular projections on the wall (in the way that egg crate foam does). Remove anything that vibrates, turn off the AC, and unplug your refrigerator. Also, don't use a room with dimmer switches on the lights.

For a small recording mic booth, sometimes a walk in closet is all that is needed, provided that its not perfectly square. Leave the clothes and all the junk in it (provided it doesn't vibrate) and that should help deaden the sound.
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Old November 10th, 2006, 06:57 AM   #22
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Like Matt said, you don't necessarily need a sound booth if you understand that your audio is only going to be 95% good when recorded in a bedroom. That last 5% costs BIG money and is worth it on many productions. On low-budget movies, clearly understandable audio without any weird background is what you need to achieve and can keep the audience happy for only a few dollars.

Put objects in your room that absorb sound and keep it from resonating. The resonance is caused by the parallel walls Matt mentioned. Couches and big soft recliners are often available in most homes. Throw some extra furniture in your recording room. If there is a closet in the room, open it so the clothing will act as an absorber. Hang a comforter/blanket on the wall. Sound guys sometimes use cheap moving blankets. Throw blankets all over your hard furniture.

Keep background sound sources muffled in some way. Put something dense and soft between the mic and any air vents. Don't have any line of sight between the mic and a noise.

Use quiet furniture for your talent to sit upon. A squeaky chair will drive you crazy when it is time to edit. Cover hard-surface table tops. Don't sit too close to the computer screen or it could cause a reflection.

Build a tabletop sound booth. Make a cube with it's insides covered with foam and put it behind the mic. It should be a cube with one side open so the sound will go in and be absorbed. Make it about two-feet square from thin plywood or cardboard.

Have the talent be quiet before and after a take for a couple of seconds so you can isolate the takes.

Turn off ceiling fans and the furnace, if possible.

Keep the mic at the right distance - too close and there will be a bass resonance/too far and you will start recording the room noise. I would guess about 4 inches to be a good starting point if you are using a vocal performance mic (cardioid) like the Shure SM58.

Most of these things are common sense once you are in a frame of mind to eliminate sound. Just sit in your room and start listening for noise sources. You will be surprised how noisy an industrialized society can be.

Don't click the mouse during a take! :)
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Old November 10th, 2006, 09:30 AM   #23
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I absolutely agree with everything Marcus said there except for the mic choice. The Shure is a good mic, but it has a close proxmity bass resonance that sounds somewhat unnatural. I personally believe in using large diaphram condensor mics, and a very affordable one is the MXL MXLV63M Condenser Studio Microphone. It's about $100 out of musicians friend (about the same price as the SM58) and people are always shocked when I show them at it sounds nearly as good as some of the $500-$800 shure condensors.

Alternatively you could use your field mic. This may be a good idea since you'll have the exact same acoustic properties as the field audio. However, I really wouldn't use a dyanmic mic to do ADR.
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Old November 10th, 2006, 05:30 PM   #24
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I should clarify that I used the SM58 as an example since it is what is laying around the world in similar quantities to leaves and stones. There are definitely better mics for ADR but I am not the expert with mic types.

Regardless of mic choice, every mic and person will have an ideal mic placement that is even more critical than the room or mic choice. Perhaps some sort of pop filter (pantyhose?) between mic and person is also in order?

Recording is all about mic placement and room noise. With ADR, you get to influence those variables tremendously.
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Old November 11th, 2006, 09:19 AM   #25
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Personally I planned to use an AT4040 for ADR and perhaps my AT4073a field mic. The AT4040 has its own stand. I might try to knock together a pop filter that clips onto it.

Thanks for the informative replies.
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