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Best methods to edit with headphones

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Lauren DeFilippo
Best methods to edit with headphones
on Jan 11, 2010 at 5:54:56 pm

Hi all,

I work for a documentary production company that is considering moving to a space in which the editor will have to wear headphones. Working off of Avid Media Composer, is this realistic? Screenings in the office with the director will still be regular, so I'm wondering if differences in mixing with and without headphones will make this setup difficult or be too time-consuming. I'd appreciate any advice on the best setup/methods and would love to hear about past experiences on editing with headphones. Thanks!


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Scott Sheriff
Re: Best methods to edit with headphones
on Jan 12, 2010 at 4:09:58 am

Lauren
I don't think this is the ideal situation. Headphones, while an ideal tool for recording field audio, are far from the best for mixing and never give a 'real world sound', that is the sound the audience hears. Also I think you will find wearing headphones continually extremely fatiguing, which won't do your editing skills much good.
Ideally, (for stereo 2 channel) you should be listening to your work on purpose built audio monitors placed at head level (when seated at the edit/mixing position), equal distance from each other, and yourself, forming an equal sided triangle of around 5 feet on each side.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Best methods to edit with headphones
on Jan 12, 2010 at 4:05:59 pm

I knew an editor once, they stuck her editing setup in an auxiliary boiler room/ air handler room. She had to use Bose noise cancelling headphones just to work. One of the issues with cutting to phones is, the phones first should be calibrated to some known level, or it is like editing with a monitor where the contrast and brightness are all out of whack; your end product may only look "right" on that one wrong monitor. And sound "right" only in the headphones.

Headphones also give you more of the elements that are lost in a regular room without headphones, so your mix will seem "off" as far as the base and treble and EQ.


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Lauren DeFilippo
Re: Best methods to edit with headphones
on Jan 12, 2010 at 10:12:12 pm

Thanks for the input so far. So, it sounds like a pretty bad idea overall...


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Dan Archer
Re: Best methods to edit with headphones
on Jan 12, 2010 at 11:40:44 pm

I agree whole heartedly. This is a BAD idea. As for the above mentioned problems you can develope bad ear infections from the sweaty conditions of constant headphone use. Not to mention clotheslining yourself ( done it ) when getting up and forgetting you have them on. IMHO if they are serious about these docs, they should be doing final mix in n audio sweet. Thats the best way you prep it they mix it< Its what they do.

A cut is a cut & a dissolve is a disolve, and not just anybody with a system is a pro.


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Ed Cilley
Re: Best methods to edit with headphones
on Jan 13, 2010 at 6:22:12 pm

Lauren,

One more thought. I heard a presentation from an editor who cut a concert of a well known artist. He was working in a room with two Avid's set-up next to each other and, of course, audio was an issue. One editor would turn up the volume and the other would try to compete. One finally settled for headphones the majority of the time. The difference here is that he had a track to edit to and did very little adjusting of the audio.

My point is, if you are forced to work in a less than ideal situation, make the most of it. Wear the headphones when you have to, listen through speakers/monitors when possible, and jump into the screening room when ever you can to listen to your mix. And as mentioned above, sweetening should be done elsewhere - not in headphones.

Hope that helps.

Ed


Avid and FCP Preditor
_________________________________________________
Anything worth doing at all, is worth doing well.
- Philip Dormer Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield


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Nicholas Bierzonski
Re: Best methods to edit with headphones
on Jan 13, 2010 at 8:28:06 pm

Hi Lauren!

Google Near Field Monitoring for more info!

-Nicholas Bierzonski
Senior Editor/DVD Author/Java Boy
http://www.finalfocusvideo.com




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Shane Ross
Re: Best methods to edit with headphones
on Jan 14, 2010 at 9:32:42 am

I work at a company that has 4 editors and two assistants in one big room that used to be a conference room. They all use headphones. When the producer needs to see a cut, he listens on the speakers. I'm lucky, being the online guy I have my own bay.

I can't stand editing with headphones. I had to when I edited from home and went late. But then I always went back to adjust the audio the next day.

Ugh.

That companies decision was a poor one.



Shane



GETTING ORGANIZED WITH FINAL CUT PRO DVD...don't miss it.
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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grinner hester
Re: Best methods to edit with headphones
on Jan 14, 2010 at 3:06:27 pm

I am deaf in one ear so headphones are a great handicap, no pun intended.
When looking at space to edit in, one should first start looking at places where ya can actually edit in. Going in with limitations in mind is laying down on a burning bed then pretending to wonder why feeling burned.



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Oliver Peters
Re: Best methods to edit with headphones
on Jan 14, 2010 at 5:13:45 pm

Editing with headphones is fine if you have to do it. The main thing is to get the best and most comfortable headphones available. AKGs are tops if you really have to wear headhones for an extended length of time. Aside from the obvious quality, my main reason for recommending these is the earcup size and the fit.

http://www.akg.com/personal/High_Definition,pcatid,114,_psmand,12.html

The one advantage of headphones, especially if you are editing dialogue, is that you will hear problems that you will totally miss on speakers. Things like poor audio edits, off-camera comments in the background and other noises.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Nicholas Bierzonski
Re: Best methods to edit with headphones
on Jan 14, 2010 at 7:24:41 pm

Here's my two cents...

When I was in college I used to edit with headphones all the time. This led to ear fatigue.

Now I only edit with headphones when requested by my boss or if I want to isolate a troublesome audio edit. (Recreating a word/Cleaning up Noise etc.)

Thankfully this doesn't happen often. If I must edit with headphones I happily do so, but when it comes to my final mix I always use my Near Field Monitoring setup in the suite.

We also have some cheap computer monitor speakers hooked up to our mixer so I can hear what the lowest common denominator sounds like, but in the end I trust my NFM setup.

On the other hand...just to play devil's advocate...

When is the last time someone watched a DVD in their living room with headphones on? Not to say that it doesn't happen. It just isn't the norm.

In my humble opinion professional headphones that block out the sound in the room should be used during the shoot to locate troublesome noises like air conditioners and refrigerators.

This eliminates time & money spent "Fixing it in post"

If you are in a less than ideal edit room with noises coloring your final mix
I think you should finish your final edit and mix in another suite clear of extra noise and distractions.

Plus when you screen rough cut versions for clients and independent producers will you share the headphones? One ear for each of you?

It doesn't seem practical. Does it?

What do you think?

-Nicholas Bierzonski
Senior Editor/DVD Author/Java Boy
http://www.finalfocusvideo.com




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Timothy J. Allen
Re: Best methods to edit with headphones
on Jan 15, 2010 at 12:55:05 am

I have to chime in with a strong "NO" when it comes to using headphones for full-time monitoring. Your ears/brain will compensate for the headphone's frequency range and for the sense of space that the headphones emulate and your mix will not be the same as it would be when you can hear the air being pushed around the room.

People tend to think that you hear with your ears. That's true, but it's really your whole body that acts as a conductor to bring sound waves to your brain. (Especially your skull and other bones.)

As I write this, I have some Sony MDR-V900HD headphones on - and I'm really enjoying hearing some details in music that I don't normally get to enjoy. But even though they sound great, I certainly wouldn't use them as my sole source for mixing. You don't want to get tricked into the sense that that's the way the viewers/listeners will hear it.

Headphones can really help you focus on details, but the tendency will then be to change levels and panning based on a false sense of detail. Big picture things... like phase canceling, or overall perception of loudness can even be more difficult to spot with headphones.

The reason high-end studios have engineers come in to "balance the room" isn't to make the audio sound "good" in an edit suite - it's to minimize the effects of the room and things in it that will influence or color your mix. The best environment gives you a flat "middle of the road" so that you don't end up with a mix that compensates for the inefficiencies and tonal bias of your mixing environment - and adds things that don't sound good in other environments.

All that said... there's a reason audio engineers try their final mixes out on cheap car stereos and $29 CD players (not as a substitute, but in addition to their high-end studio equipment). You want a mix that will sound *as good as it can* wherever it is played. So... yes, use headphones when you need to do "detail work", but make sure you have some air between you and some real near-field speakers for the majority of your work.





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grinner hester
Re: Best methods to edit with headphones
on Jan 15, 2010 at 1:31:46 am

troof
At the last major network that I staffed for, we'd edit using the nice studio monitors. When time for the final mix, all was routed to the mono 25" Curtis Mathis in the middle of the room. That's how ya know whatcha got. Nevr were levels not tweeked a bit while doing this. It always aided to the final product.

The only headphones in the building were in the cubicles of producers.

...and select janitors.



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