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All Things Audio
Everything Audio, from acquisition to postproduction.

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Old December 30th, 2003, 12:15 AM   #1
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Orlando, FL
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Your Audio Tools and Techniques

Well, we have a lot of individual posts on this forum where people discuss individual pieces of hardware or techniques and such that they use to get good dialog into their films. But I think it would be helpful if we had a thread where everyone who feels they have achieved very good theatrical sound jumped in and discussed briefly their process and tools used to achieve it.

In this case, by theatrical sound, I mean dialog that is most like, say, a professional film. Getting good location dialog audio can be really difficult, and all too often the dialog you collect can seem thin or echoey, etc. As opposed to interviews, generally boom mics are recommended for this and not lavs, but they also seem the hardest to get 'filmy' sound out of.

Tools, tips and tricks would be appreciated. In other words:

- What did you use to record? (i.e. mics, mixers, cams)
- How did you record it? (i.e. techniques)
- What did you do in post to make it happen? (i.e. software, ADR)
- Anything other wisdom to impart? Samples of your work online if you have any?
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Old January 1st, 2004, 10:59 AM   #2
RED Code Chef
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Holland
Posts: 12,514
Did you look into books on the subject? The audio world is not
my playing ground, so I can't recommend anything on this. But,
someone else might tune in with some book tips or other info.

Rob Lohman,
DV Info Wrangler & RED Code Chef

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Old January 1st, 2004, 01:22 PM   #3
Major Player
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Location: israel
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go to the . sound
group in google groups and start read
there are thousends of issius that you can memorize or buy abook
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Old January 2nd, 2004, 03:31 PM   #4
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Orlando, FL
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I was just trying to get real world cases about the folks in our community here. I know folks like Jay Rose have books on the subject - but I also know that many in this community don't necessarily have $10,000+ to spend on audio, but may still be doing very well for themselves as filmmakers, not just as videographers. Just wanted to get their process and experience out there.
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Old January 2nd, 2004, 04:01 PM   #5
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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I have only a basic working knowledge of sound, and most of what I know is based on what I've picked up from the sound guys I work with day after day, but the one thing I've seen happen on many low-budg films is that the mike is just too far away, or not even properly pointed at the person who is speaking. This seems very obvious but I think there may be an assumption that a "shotgun" mike will work just as well from 10 feet away as it will from five feet. In general, the boomperson needs to work with the camera operator to get the mike as close to the frame line as possible, and the mike needs to be pointed at the speaker's mouth. If two people are speaking, then the mike needs to be cued between them, which requires the boom operator to learn the lines.

I hope this doesn't sound condescending to our gentle readers, it's not meant that way at all.

My own sound package includes a Sennheiser 416, which is a nice all-purpose production workhorse. One of the reasons that film sound is so good is that the sound recordist or boom operator will select a different type of mike for any given scene or setup based on the type of room, distance to the actors etc. I based my decision by talking to a veteran recordist and asking him what he thought would be the best all-purpose affordable mike for a low-maintenance, low tech approach, which turned out to be the 416 (cost me $375 on eBay).

Other sound tricks that come to mind: laying down carpet out of the shot for boomy/echoey rooms to cut down on sound reflection; being anal about minimizing background noise (turning off refrigerators, computer hard drives etc) to get clean tracks; and keeping actors from overlapping their lines to make editing easier.
Charles Papert
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Old January 2nd, 2004, 07:23 PM   #6
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Location: Orlando, FL
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That's all great advice, thanks Charles. I definitely want to try the carpet thing as I think that's what plagues most locations. I do think you're right about being anal in general - I've worked as a boom operator on many DV shoots, and while the first few times I was timid - I learned quickly that you really have to not be afraid to hold things up a bit if it just doesn't sound right. The Editor will kiss you for it later.

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