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Data Rate Question

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Paul RayData Rate Question
by on Apr 26, 2012 at 8:00:13 pm

Hello,

I'm in post on a festival quality short film, and my sound guy has gone AWOL. He's given me low-res MP3's to work with, which have a date rate of 15.6 K/sec.

The plan was once I had a picture lock, he would mix and deliver the high quality files he recorded in the field.

Like I said, he's gone missing. He hasn't responded to phone calls or emails, and I have no idea how, or if, I'll ever get these high quality files from him.

My question is, are these MP3's he gave me good enough to move forward with? Will they sound decent in a theater? The main thing I need from these is dialog. I'm building the rest from scratch.

Side note, ADR is not a practical solution for me at this point. My budget is wiped out and I had actors from out of state.

Thanks for your help,

Paul


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Ty FordRe: Data Rate Question
by on Apr 26, 2012 at 8:55:15 pm

Hello Paul and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

15.6 kbps is pretty darn low, even in mono. Standard stereo mp3 files are 128 kbps.
Stereo 16-bit wave files are about 1550 kbps at 48 kHz, just to give you a comparison.

Do they sound skanky?

Regards,

Ty Ford


Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
Ty Ford Blog: Ty Ford's Blog


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Paul RayRe: Data Rate Question
by on Apr 26, 2012 at 10:09:21 pm

Hi Ty,

Thanks for your response.

I don't think they sound skanky, but that being said I have no idea what the originals sound like... I've been told that using audio of such low quality though will definitely sound bad in a theater setting, even though they may sound decent online or in FCP.

What do you think? Can I get away with this poor quality or do I need to hunt this sound guy down and get medieval on him?


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Richard CrowleyRe: Data Rate Question
by on Apr 26, 2012 at 11:24:50 pm

The problem is that it may sound OK to you during editing, but when it gets re-compressed (in the distribution codec), it could very easily come out really really horrid.

I would IMMEDIATELY make a test recording of a minute or two in the ultimate output format (DVD or whatever) and evaluate THAT final, distributed sound track to see whether the quality meets your standards. Don't hold your breath.

I would REALLY REALLY go after the sound guy to get the original files. Call his mother.


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Ty FordRe: Data Rate Question
by on Apr 26, 2012 at 11:29:23 pm

Tell you what Paul; send me a clip or two and If I think they sound skanky, I'll tell you.

Regards,

Ty Ford


Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
Ty Ford Blog: Ty Ford's Blog


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Angelo LorenzoRe: Data Rate Question
by on Apr 27, 2012 at 4:13:35 am

What is your deal memo with him? I've you've paid up to the point where he should hand over the files (I'd fire him from mixing at this point) then a letter threatening small claims court may have him change his tune.

15.6K a second is Kilobytes with a capital K? Works out to 124kbps (I assume it's really 128kbps and whatever program you're using is taking into account overhead or something).

It's not entirely ideal, but since it isn't sonically rich -- by that I mean it's dialog and not a music track -- you might be able to put a low and high pass filter on it and preserve it from further transcoding damage. Cutting under 40Hz and cutting above 18kHz should leave the dialog virtually untouched.


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Paul RayRe: Data Rate Question
by on Apr 28, 2012 at 11:15:18 pm

Wow, thanks for the help everyone! I'll definitely try these suggestions and see how they work out. Angelo, I did pay the guy in full at the end of the production. I took him at his word that he'd follow through on the job. Lesson learned. This is the LAST time I pay someone until the job is complete.

Ty, I will email you a file that I have. I REALLY appreciate your listening to this.

Thanks again comrades!

Paul


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Ty FordRe: Data Rate Question
by on Apr 29, 2012 at 12:18:03 am

Paul,

After adding a .mp3 to your file, iTunes was able to read it as a 128 kbps stereo mp3 file. I've heard lots worse. It may fly, but as someone mentioned, it'd be good to put it into a short mix and render that out to a DVD or whatever your final delivery format will be to check for compression artifacts.

Regards,

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader


Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
Ty Ford Blog: Ty Ford's Blog


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Paul RayRe: Data Rate Question
by on Apr 29, 2012 at 6:55:58 pm

Cool, thanks a million, Ty. I'll do a test DVD to see how it sounds.


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Paul RayRe: Data Rate Question
by on Apr 28, 2012 at 11:57:03 pm

Hi Angelo,

A few questions.

So, you're saying to use these band filters across the board as my last step before exporting? Or, to apply the filters to each individual clip of just the dialog in the timeline?

Also, I'm editing in FCP7, and using the audio filters included at the moment. I've set the frequencies, what does "Q" stand for, and what should I set it to?

I'm almost positive I will be hiring another sound guy to mix this project for me, but I'm just curious and would like to run some tests.

Thanks!


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Bill DavisRe: Data Rate Question
by on Apr 30, 2012 at 11:23:30 pm

[Paul Ray] "Also, I'm editing in FCP7, and using the audio filters included at the moment. I've set the frequencies, what does "Q" stand for, and what should I set it to? "

It's the setting that widens or narrows the range on each side of a chosen center frequency that a boost or cut acts on.

That's over-simplified - but it's a decent starting shorthand.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Connor


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Paul RayRe: Data Rate Question
by on May 2, 2012 at 9:08:01 pm

Cool, thanks.


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Angelo LorenzoRe: Data Rate Question
by on May 3, 2012 at 5:30:59 am

[Paul Ray] "So, you're saying to use these band filters across the board as my last step before exporting? Or, to apply the filters to each individual clip of just the dialog in the timeline?"

I'm not familiar with the mixing tools within FCP7 (I use Adobe almost exclusively) but I would add these band-pass effects to a sub-mix that contains all the dialog. Any music backing tracks are probably of higher quality and don't need the same treatment.

It's really a clean up step. Not only are you getting rid of frequency information that dialog really doesn't "live in", dialog-only passages will hold up better when re-compressed for DVD or web or what have you. If there are slight glassy high frequency artifacts, then a high-cut may really minimize or remove that and be virtually transparent in terms of how it affects your real audio.

For Q settings... whatever creates a reasonably steep cutoff. A larger number is steeper (smaller frequency transition range) so play with it.


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Paul RayRe: Data Rate Question
by on May 4, 2012 at 1:24:57 am

Fantastic... Thank you!


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