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-   -   Post-production dialog "sweetening"? (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/all-things-audio/48988-post-production-dialog-sweetening.html)

Jason J. Gullickson August 8th, 2005 06:19 AM

Post-production dialog "sweetening"?
We're wrapping up a film for a short competition and I have a question about what can be done to improve the dialog audio.

There are only four lines in the piece, and it was shot outside so we decided to ADR the dialog. We are in a hurry (deadline is approaching) and there's no budget for this one so we're working with what we have on-hand.

We used Final Cut Express's Voiceover Tool to record the dialog using an inexpensive clip-on (lavalere) mic (bear in mind that the final output for this will be a Flash video file, so overall quality doesn't need to be THX or anything...). Overall we're very happy with the quality and sync, but in one particular passage, it has that "dubbed" sound.

I started experimenting with the audio tools in FCE (various EQ's, revererbs, etc.) but since we're in a time crunch I thought I'd see if anyone had any suggestions or thoughts on where to start. Since we don't have a budget we'll need to come up with something using the tools we have (FCE, Soundtrack, GarageBand).

It's a comedy piece so it's not the end of the world if it's a little "cheesy", but if I can improve the sound before we run out of time I'd like to give it a shot.

Bob Costa August 8th, 2005 11:44 AM

Did you get some "white noise" on location? You can use that to mix with your studio ADR to help it some. Background noise is subtle, but important. Other than that, my first thought would be that you might try some GENTLE reverb. BWTFDIK ?

Jason J. Gullickson August 8th, 2005 01:53 PM


Originally Posted by Bob Costa
Did you get some "white noise" on location?

Yes, but that's the subject of another thread :)

The background noise made a world of difference and for the most part the dialog settles in nicely, but there is this one troublesome line and I can't figure out why it seems so unnatural. It would make more sense if they all sounded bad...

I'm going to watch the piece using a couple of different sound systems tonight and see if that makes a difference. I'm wondering if there is something I can do with stereo (phase, etc.) to make it less fake...

Jonathan Putnam August 8th, 2005 02:42 PM

If you can post a clip of the offending line (perhaps alongside one of the lines that worked well) I may be able to offer advice. There are a few reasons it may sound unnatural. Here's a couple:
1. Not properly synced--even a slight mistiming could throw off the illusion of natural sound. If this is the case, a little finessing on the timeline could fix it.
2. EQ -- you didnt mention whether all four lines were in the same location. it could be that the unnatural line is not EQed to the environment its set in (e.g. a bathroom will need reverb)

Jason J. Gullickson August 9th, 2005 06:15 AM

Thanks for the offer to help Jonathan! I will contact you off-list since part of the competition rules include no distrubution during the duration of the contest.

As far as location and EQ go, all of the dialog was recorded in the exact same location however all but the offending shot are extreme close-ups, so maybe all the sound is the same but since the actor is further from the camera the brain senses that something is wrong?

Bob Costa August 10th, 2005 05:07 AM

Get a friend to come listen/watch. Even a non-pro may be able to help you figure out why it sounds "off". Just a second set of ears & eyes is often a good answer.

Jason J. Gullickson August 10th, 2005 06:17 AM


Originally Posted by Bob Costa
Get a friend to come listen/watch. Even a non-pro may be able to help you figure out why it sounds "off". Just a second set of ears & eyes is often a good answer.

I've tried that three times now and no one else notices the problem...laymen! ;)

...maybe I'm just being too critical of the sound.

Jose di Cani August 12th, 2005 01:09 PM

I don't understand why you guys wanna do a ADR and at the same time risk doing it good or better (no knowledge). If your original vocal recordings are bad, don't use them. People can't stand unhearable dialogs. Remember...video and audio must be top notch. So do an ADR using VST/direct x plugins. YOu can use thse effect plugins with almost everey audio program out there. YOu even have free audio plugins (google for them or look in www.krv-vst.com). YOu need to take the perfect voice-over, change the EQ, add chorus or reverb or whatever effects that is similar to the natural ambience effect found in your original room or space you recorded your video. Compare and keep on editing. Add backnoise as well to make it more natural. Keep that as low as possible. MAke a loop out of it if you can. Good luck

Jack Smith August 13th, 2005 09:34 PM

You said that the offending scene is the only different one.That it is a wider shot maybe.I think you had your own answer in that the brain will read this scene different and if the audio doesnt read that additional distance and/or movement if there is any, it wont be right.Try to give it some distance with a little echo, a little lower volume level and if the audio is too clean ,muddy it up a bit.If there is movement you may have to add a little(very little) pan.
Have someone talk to you at very close range then have them repeat this at a distance and see what you notice as different. This is agood exercise anyway.

Jason J. Gullickson August 15th, 2005 07:33 AM


Originally Posted by Jose di Cani
I don't understand why you guys wanna do a ADR and at the same time risk doing it good or better (no knowledge).


I'm not sure what you're saying exactly but the reason we're doing ADR is because we couldn't use sound on-location, it was a city street corner with way too much background noise and a windy day as well (we just don't have the microphone for this job).

This is the first time we've had to use ADR and we figured it was a good time to learn since we'll need it later on larger, more "serious" projects. The in-studio dialog we ended up with is what we have to go with due to time constraints on everyone involved, and like I said above it's not bad, it's just not "perfect".

...but thanks for the encouragement...

I think the problem is the fact that all but the problematic shot are close-ups, and the problem shot is a bit wider. I ended up having to submit it as-is (due to the deadline) but if we make it past round one I'll give it some more tweaking.

Thanks again everyone for your help!

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