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Techniques to make voice dialogue sound better

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Max Huggett
Techniques to make voice dialogue sound better
on Jul 29, 2009 at 7:17:45 am

Hi guys

I'm a noob and i'm here to ask for advice.

I have shot and am editing a 7 hour instructional DVD series, shot in a wharehouse type space.

I used 3 cameras, a lapel mic with xlr input into my main camera, and a stationary boom mic with xlr input into camera 2.

The 7 hours are purely talking and demonstrating techniques. My edit has seen me add an intro and credits and frequent graphics with audio stings. The audio levels are quite normal, however there are times, the talent talks into the mic as he is demonstrating and clips the levels. I new this would happen - as did he, so i am not too fussed if there is nothing i can do to fix that.....

But what i want to know is, what should i do/can i do, with my audio to make it sound better. I would not know where to start or what kind of things i can do with it.

There are alot of times though that an echo is present, which is from the empty wharehouse space. Can this be fixed? Also, there are times where a circular saw and a compressor can be heard in the background. Can this be fixed/removed also.

I have both soundtrack and soundbooth...but have never opened up any of them.:-(

Thanks alot
Max


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Peter Groom
Re: Techniques to make voice dialogue sound better
on Jul 29, 2009 at 2:37:31 pm

Im afraid your solutions are in the past.

1) Recording in a large ambient space like a ware house resulting in reverb / echo. Dont.

2) External noises such as your circular saw.! Stop until the bg noise can be controlled.

Im afraid if you read posts on this forum, this "removal" of unwanted audio and ambience is one of the most common asked posts. In a nutshell you cant do much about it. You could try applying an eq filter to see if decreasing the Lf will "lessen" the ambience. using more of the closer personal mic will surely lessen the reverb as it only picks up in a smaller area around the capsule.

There are removal tools like izotope rx that I like as they lessen external noise considerably, but are quite pricey. Depends how bad your problem is and how much you want it lessening (not gone) as to if youll shell out for isotope. (http://www.izotope.com)
Peter

Dubbing mixer

Peter


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Max Huggett
Re: Techniques to make voice dialogue sound better
on Jul 29, 2009 at 11:28:56 pm

Thank you for your reply.

There was nothing i could do about where the recording was being done and the fact that a circular saw can be heard in the background on a number of occassions, again, we where aware that the business next door needed to work also.

Regardless of this, the point of my post was to ask for techniques that would allow me to sweeten the audio. I do not have the faintest idea of what is possible to do with audio and make the dialogue sound better. If you could enlighten me as to some of your magical techniques, i would be forever greatful.

Basically i have cut in FCP, a multicam sequence and lay down my master audio on tracks 1 & 2, which, in places, has also been cut and trimmed (so its not one continuous track). On tracks 3 & 4, i have some music stings etc. What is the best way to work with this type of project.

Thanks alot.
Max


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Peter Groom
Re: Techniques to make voice dialogue sound better
on Jul 30, 2009 at 7:05:57 am

I full realise the circumstances, but faced with those problems I would NOT have proceeded without rectifying them. But its easy to be wise in hindsight,

As i said in my reply
You could try applying an eq filter to see if decreasing the Lf will "lessen" the ambience. using more of the closer personal mic will surely lessen the reverb as it only picks up in a smaller area around the capsule.

There are removal tools like izotope rx that I like as they lessen external noise considerably, but are quite pricey. Depends how bad your problem is and how much you want it lessening (not gone) as to if youll shell out for isotope. (http://www.izotope.com)
Peter

But do be aware that the audio is basically broken with these external factors. In Tv the whole lot would be ADR'd (dialogue re recorded to picture sync.

Audio is a bit like a ming vase dropped down the stairs. No amount of superglue can get it back to mint condition. Only a new vase.

peter



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Max Huggett
Re: Techniques to make voice dialogue sound better
on Jul 31, 2009 at 5:06:17 am

Hi Peter

Im sorry if i am being a pain and not understanding you properly, but i realise there is nothing i can do with the elements presented ie. echo and circular saw. Its no longer a problem and we can live with it.

I am after general techniques audio professionals apply to audio to enhance a voice/dialouge.

I work as a compositor and if someone asked me for a general tip to make video look better, i would tell them to look at crunching the black level, enhance the saturation a little....maybe do some overlay techinques etc...to get rid of the dull original look.

These similar techniques i am after for audio. If using an equaliser filter as you have described, will do that, then I thank you for your suggestion, i will give it a go, but there surely must be a couple more filters i can play with to make my audio better than the orginal. Or if you know of a any sites that can tell me these things, i'd be happy to look them up and read. I can't seem to find too much here on the cow.

Thank you for your patience with me.

Max


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Greg Curda
Re: Techniques to make voice dialogue sound better
on Jul 31, 2009 at 12:02:52 pm

Hi Max,

The essential problem here, is there is no standard set of tricks to "enhance" sound. What is it about the sound you don't like? Why does it need enhancing?

Like you, we use tools to fix problem areas and rarely enhance things for the sake of enhancing. We need to hear things first to see if there is really a problem or not. Picture is something that you generally want to notice. Sound is something that you don't want to notice. It must flow and be natural, so your attention is not taken away from picture.

That being said, let's go back to basics. You should not use both boom and lav together. You must pick the one that sounds best and only use that.

If you choose the boom, you may, as Peter suggested, want to decrease the low end a little to get rid of rumble, and possibly lessen the reverb effect of the room. Try a high pass filter, 24dB/octave, at 80Hz.

If you choose the lav, it might have less low end already, maybe not enough, and it might sound a little "bright". You may need to lessen the high end in that case (try a low pass filter, 18dB/octave at 8 or 9KHz). If too "tinny", you might need to put some lows back in.

A bit of compression might help smooth the track out, but there are many dangers here. Overcompression might make the backgrounds "pump" as the processor kicks in and out. Also you might tend to lose high end as you compress. You can experiment with the ratio (maybe start at 5:1) and the threshold (maybe start at -12dB). Be aware that your volume levels will change as you experiment.

These are off the cuff ideas and certainly not standard procedures. They may or may not help. Sound is an incredibly complex area with results measured in a very subjective way.

Let us know how you fare...


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Max Huggett
Re: Techniques to make voice dialogue sound better
on Aug 1, 2009 at 4:09:07 am

Thank you very much for your reply Greg.

My lav mic is the best out of the two and it does sound good.

"What is it about the sound you don't like? Why does it need enhancing?" Well thats the thing, i don't know. I do not know whats wrong with it and what needs enhancing, hence why i am here. I was hoping there were a few techniques that you audio pros use when exporting a simple dialogue for DVD. Its like shooting with film or HD. An average person would expect the quality of the picture to be perfect, yet we know that it still needs to be graded a little before it goes out.

I will give your suggestions a go and report back.

Have a great day.
Max


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Greg Curda
Re: Techniques to make voice dialogue sound better
on Aug 2, 2009 at 4:09:22 am

Hi Max,

Unfortunately, there are no standard finishing techniques in sound. Our lives would be much easier if there were. Each project is different.

The essential thing is that the dialogue must be smooth and clearly understandable. If it is fighting music, lower the music. The final dialogue product depends on the clarity and sonic balance of the original recording. All enhancements are based on that, and believe me there can be a huge difference in the originals, even take to take. Generally, ant tricks we have learned are based on either common problems, stylistic considerations, or client aesthetics.

In a different post, Peter Groom suggested a milder compression scheme than did I for dialogue: 6dB @ 3:1... Try that first as often, less is more...


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