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Old July 1st, 2008, 04:13 AM   #1
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Sound Fx yes/no?

I posted a reply in Per Johan's thread in UWOL challenge forum but I thing that we should continue here.

This is what I wrote

“I got the same problem when I'm viewing UW films. Fish don't make any sound when they swim, but in every BBC/AP/DC they got this "force sound" when a fish passes. I tried to make up sounds during a production but I don't have the technique to produce them. It’s a tough nut to crack, fake sound for the viewer or as natural as possible?”

What do you think?

Do “we” need to continue this fake-sound-thing or should we produce film with as less fake sound and sound Fx as possible. For me it become silly when I hear all the fish sounds in big productions, sure it can bring the shot more to live but is it really necessary? I have only produces one “big” (not really big but it’s my first +15 min documentary with real VO and pro soundtrack that I have produces al by my self) film and in that one I worked with music instead of SFx and tried to bring the shots alive in that way.

So, what do you think…


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Old July 1st, 2008, 02:37 PM   #2
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Here's a excerpt of my original thread in the uwolchallenge-forum:
Quote:
It's funny in a way, but when you look at BBC, Animal Planet or Discovery nature films, there's alway a lot of sound from the different animals/birds seen. This is often "fake" sound done in a studio afterwards. The reality is often much more silent than you could think of watcing the films. I was laughing when I watched BBC's Planet earth and watched the scene about the musk ox. They had put on a roar as it was from a Lion, it has nothing to do with any musk-ox that I have heard anyway!
I think they do this "fake sounds" to make the film more interesting for the viewers to watch. But for me this is being to good to be true and it often reduce the quality of the film!
My point to this was; if filmmakers are over-doing the sound fx too much particilarly in wildlife-documentaries, even if you presents stunning and beautiful pictures, the doc. falls apart (at least for me) if sound used can't be done by a specific animal/bird presented. Ref. my quote where BBC used a roar when showing up musk-ox. I'm very familiar with musk-ox for several years. I have been filming those species for several hundred of hours and I have never, heard any sound like that coming out of it, never!
I'm very interested in others opinion on this subject if any! To me a doc. should be as truthfulness as possible. I think it's a big mistake and a dangerous path if docs are going in this direction regarding sound fx.
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Old July 1st, 2008, 04:26 PM   #3
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To play devil's advocate

Most of us have never seen nor heard the majority of the animals/wildlife depicted. Is it our "jobs" as filmmakers to portray the real outdoors or is it to entertain the viewer?

Without the ability to capture location sound or the natural sounds of the animals present it would be a really quiet move. Without the addition of sound or sound effects the perceived correctness of the film is destroyed. Why use music, it evokes an emotional reaction, but is certainly not there when we filmed.

For added sound to work it must be done effectively. Naturally if we hear a lions roar out of a buffalo something is amiss. But how about the soft creeping of a whitetail deer as it roams the leaf littered forest floor? Guaranteed most of you have never heard it but you can imagine the sound. Ever hear a squirrel bark, porpoise blow. None of those will ever be captured by the casual filmmaker, but they are there none the less.
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Old July 1st, 2008, 04:28 PM   #4
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If you look up the wild screen web site “Wild film History”
in some of the interviews the film makers touch on the frustrations they encounter with the decision makers, and how the final production should be like.
Also some of the creatures used in those impossible to get shots are trained animals, birds, and even fish have been used, all very clever but.
Here is an old article
From the Independent news paper
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/m...0/ai_n14171383
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Old July 1st, 2008, 04:41 PM   #5
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Markus, you've touched on one of the great conundrums for wildlife filmmakers. I do a lot of work with sand tiger sharks and if you get too close they flick their tales and produce a loud and noticeble "whoomph" sound as they accelerate away. So that sound is useful and accurate. On the flip side our viewers are used to hollywood productions with great sound effects. Ever hear a real gunshot? It's not nearly as robust as the gun shots in movies.

So we as filmmakers are left with reality which is sometimes not all that aurally interesting or spicing up the sound a bit for the viewer. Obviously, sound is a huge part of the viewing experience. On your underwater films you take out the sound of your breathing on camera don't you? I do. It gets really irritating very quickly listening to Darth Vader breathing throughout the piece. So if you take out a sound that's really there at the moment who is to say that adding sounds is all that bad. You've already changed reality.

In the end it's a case by case basis. I won't be doing most of the over the top sounds I hear in u/w films on Discovery, etc. but I probably will add some things to help create the environment that viewers expect to hear.
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Old July 2nd, 2008, 03:11 AM   #6
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Sound effects on documentaries are not usually anywhere near as bad as those on films that occasionally feature a "wild" animal. One of the worst I've seen was a jaguar wandering through woodland with funny snarling sounds that clearly didn't come from the beast in question, nor was its body language indicating anything to do with the attack that the music was building up to.

On a more practical note, I remember a bit of advice that said - listen to the sound you've recorded, copy it (artificially), then ditch the original. That way you get a clean sound-track. Obviously, it helps if the subject is making some sound that you can hear!

One day, perhaps I'll find time to try this technique. til then, I'll just have to put up with the sounds I recorded in the field.
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Old July 2nd, 2008, 06:27 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick L. Allen View Post
Markus, you've touched on one of the great conundrums for wildlife filmmakers. I do a lot of work with sand tiger sharks and if you get too close they flick their tales and produce a loud and noticeble "whoomph" sound as they accelerate away. So that sound is useful and accurate.
Absolutely, it is some sound created under water too, but not when a school of fish passes. For example I done a lot of shallow water filming and when the wave hit the sand bed it create sound or the clicking sound of coral, but I don’t like when al this “wooshing” and “bubbling” sound is used al over the place.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick L. Allen View Post
So we as filmmakers are left with reality which is sometimes not all that aurally interesting or spicing up the sound a bit for the viewer. Obviously, sound is a huge part of the viewing experience. On your underwater films you take out the sound of your breathing on camera don't you? I do. It gets really irritating very quickly listening to Darth Vader breathing throughout the piece. So if you take out a sound that's really there at the moment who is to say that adding sounds is all that bad. You've already changed reality.
I don’t have and UW mic on my camera now so today I don’t take it way, but I used to do it. But I put the sound in if I’m filming a diver ‘cause if his bubbles. True about changing reality, but we (I do) are trying to capture reality as it is with out us, so taking the breathing sound away if it’s no diver in the frame or even not in the whole film is better that adding “woooosh” when a pike swim away. Sound absolutely enhance the viewers experience, but is it to the good? Maybe it is, I was just interested in your ideas about it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick L. Allen View Post
In the end it's a case by case basis. I won't be doing most of the over the top sounds I hear in u/w films on Discovery, etc. but I probably will add some things to help create the environment that viewers expect to hear.
I think your right, but the problem, the way I se it, is when you show a UW film and the viewer have watched “blue Planet” they could/would say “Hey way is your film so quiet?” Has Discovery (or other big production companies) created something we need to follow, just to keep the audience interested?

Using music is also a way of change reality and adding things that’s not there and you can give the audience a feeling that you want them to have… I don’t know what’s right, I just reflected over an issue that is hard to dissolve.
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Old July 2nd, 2008, 01:10 PM   #8
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Is adding natural sounds when filming outdoors, when the scene caught on film, just happened to be a quiet moment, the same thing?

I know that I will be doing just that, in an upcoming clip I taped a few weeks ago.

How about taking away a sound, eg, my oldest daughter netting a fish, and her two excited siblings wanting to see it. It takes away from that moment, if you take away their excitement, and adding in something less,, well, exciting.

I guess I won't be asking them to be quiet, so often when dad is taping, and they are with me, but just to tone it down a bit.

Natural sound, yes, adding in artificial sound, if it is from the same environment, shot on the same day and same location- sure why not.
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Old July 3rd, 2008, 11:45 AM   #9
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Adding ambient sound recorded around the same time as the footage is normal practice. I have plenty of video taken while other people where shooting with stills cameras, though it sounds more like guns going off! I keep recording in the expectation of getting twenty or so seconds of natural sounds at some time.

However, I'm not quite sure yet what to do with a clip of a swallow singing its heart out, and then the photographer next to me trying to get "that shot" of the bird with its beak wide open while in full flow. Maybe do some "beak-synching" of sounds?
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Old July 4th, 2008, 08:00 AM   #10
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Foley Artists?

Many large-budget nature productions have the equivalent of Foley artists to come up with imaginary animal or bird sounds to fill-in for those they can't capture on scene. They also mix film or video clips of the wrong species into them, in many cases not even knowing that they're making the errors. In one classic western movie, they used shots of 7 different raptor species, to portray what was supposed to be a single Turkey Vulture. I've heard vultures in commercials or movies, giving out squawks and shrieks, when in fact, they make almost no vocalizations. I was once asked to review an advanced screening of a western movie, featuring numerous wild animals, so the producers could re-edit it for technical accuracy. I came up with a list of a dozen serious mistakes. One of them was using canned clips of 4 different bear species, including at least 8 different individuals, to portray one Grizzly. It was about a cowboy who had captured and saddle-broken an "angry and powerful bull buffalo", to ride instead of a horse. The poor buffalo they used, had been castrated at an early age and was the equivalent of a steer in a pasture, in appearance and temperment. In the final version that was set for release, they hadn't corrected a single one of the errors. I demanded that they remove my name from the credits as an advisor. They said there was no problem, as they'd already decided to take my name off, because they were annoyed by all my criticisms.

This sort of thing is so endemic to the film industry, that it has to be tolerated in the shows you watch, that are made by other people, but you don't have to take these shortcuts yourself. If your production is good quality otherwise, most viewers probably won't even notice the realistic silences, when no natural sound could have existed.

Listen to the dubbed birdies sing, on CBS golf coverage------that sometimes live in areas thousands of miles from the courses.

Last edited by J. Stephen McDonald; July 5th, 2008 at 01:42 AM.
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Old July 4th, 2008, 09:49 AM   #11
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I second Stephen Mc Donald's comment. It can really be annoying to hear American birds singing in the background of a European documentary. But my favorite is the swooshing and wooshing (not to mention the exploding) that always occurs in battles in outer space where there can be no sound.
But what about the time lag with distance. The sound of a bull elk bugling a quarter of a mile away cannot arrive with the sight, but in video presentations, it always does. To leave it "natural" would be confusing, but it might be more dramatic.
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Old July 5th, 2008, 04:12 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Stephen McDonald View Post
......... In the final version that was set for release, they hadn't corrected a single one of the errors. I demanded that they remove my name from the credits as an advisor. They said there was no problem, as they'd already decided to take my name off, because they were annoyed by all my criticisms.

This sort of thing is so endemic to the film industry, that it has to be tolerated in the shows you watch, that are made by other people, but you don't have to take these shortcuts yourself. If your production is good quality otherwise, most viewers probably won't even notice the realistic silences, when no natural sound could have existed.

Listen to the dubbed birdies sing, on CBS golf coverage------that sometimes live in areas thousands of miles from the courses.
You're dead right Steve.
Sadly BBC has gone the same way, worst on documentaries where the commentator is whispering against classical music or shouting over a steam engine; but nature programmes are also suffering from "I'm whispering on telly so as not to scare the gorillas or cheetah cubs or blue tits while I'm going to enormous lengths to show you this." On fast sport (particularly hurling in Ireland) telly suffers from the commentators failure to see and describe what's happening and boring us with statistics or gossip instead.

It's a pain in the arse and like other pains in the arse it will have to be slowly "mocked to death". Each generation produces a new crop of whipper-snappers who think, NO, feel that life is elsewhere unless ears and eyes are being assaulted with crap, audio and video. Like junk food and "obselete" medicines, it's big big industry; huge budgets are wasted making sure we don't learn to distinguish good quality of life from the ads.

In the meantime we can all help by following Steve's example "This sort of thing is so endemic to the film industry, that it has to be tolerated in the shows you watch, that are made by other people, but you don't have to take these shortcuts yourself."
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