Some advice please
A friend(director} asked me to do him a big favor and help out by doing the audio of his 45 minute Indi short.
I am a VFX artist and have no real background in audio.
He knows that and said..do the best you can.
Ok, so here are the questions I keep asking myself...over and over.
1. when mixing a vocal track with ambient quite noise, do you generally mix the two with the same sterio phase?
For example, the vocals center and ambient sounds, wide left & right
or do you just mix them all together?
2. some clips have a major diffenece in background noise(hiss) and when put together, you hear a major jump in hiss. (EVEN THOUGH THE db levels are good.)
Should I :
remove all hiss by a noise removal plugin and then add quite noise on top of them (risking subtle sounds like footsteps & cloths rattling to disappear)
Or do I try to blend the hiss of both clips by frequency altering?
thanks a bunch,
Does "doing audio" mean mixing the sound tracks in post-production? Or does it mean capturing the sound during shooting? (Or both?) From the context of you questions you seem to be asking about post-produciton mixing some dialog that wasn't recorded very cleanly.(?)
"when mixing a vocal track with ambient quite noise".
Does that mean that you are taking a clean dialog track and mixing it with noise SFX to create the audio that goes with the visual shots? Or are you asking about mixing dialog tracks that were recorded with location (or equipment?) noise embedded?
"do you generally mix the two with the same sterio phase? For example, the vocals center and ambient sounds, wide left & right or do you just mix them all together?"
Sounds like you are asking about how to pan (position Left-Right) the various tracks. Dialog is generally recorded mono (and as clean as possible) so that any special effects can be added in post-production editing in a clean and controlled environment. The general answer is that dialog and background, SFX, etc. are mixed for levels, and panned (L-R) for whatever you want the final sound track to sound like.
If you have a significant noise (hiss) problem then it is not clear how the "db levels are good"? Sounds like at some point the "db levels" were NOT good and somebody just cranked the track up, noise and all.
I would certainly try to reduce as much noise from the dialog tracks as possible. With filtering, gating, etc. And then try to cover up the remaining problems with background noise, music, etc.
You might want to clarify your question. Are you asking how to mitigate poorly recorded location dialog tracks? Or are you asking general questions about mixing dialog and SFX together?
Hello Lou and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.
Given you've told your friend your abilities do not include audio, he's an idiot for asking you to do work you're not prepared to do. (I say this with all due respect.)
Even if all tracks were clean and well done, you'd have you hands full. I'd give him the "Captain, I'm a VFX artist not a sound designer/engineer" answer if you hope to preserve your relationship.
A unique way to gauge his expectations is to look at his home, his significant other and his car. If all three are a shambles, you might get away with it. Then again, he might just be overly picky about sound and this may be a suicide mission. Have you ticked him of lately?
With all due humor.
PS: really, don't take the job.
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Thanks for the quick response,
Ok, Ill try to be a lttle less ambigious.
1st, the film is an NYU INDI. The Director is well aware that I have no history with sound, however he is royally screwed because his sound editor is in Prauge for 2 months. SO it's has to be me or him. Trust me, you want me to do it :)
Now, Most of the film was shot in doors with a boom mike set 80% left and a wireless mic 80% right.
the wirless had a lot of interfernce (static, pops)
and the boom picked up a lot of echo.
This is what was handed to me. :)~
I used Adobe Audition to remove what I could and blend the two sides to make 1 half way decent wav.
but the hiss or camera hum, don't match between (some) clips.
I also have 30 seconds of quite noise in each room, before they started shooting. So I use that to mix over it.
I don't have really good speakers so I am using a sony MDR-7506
headphones. When I play it on my ext speakers I hear COMPLETLY different sound than thru the Headphones. So I am mixing with them on
Is this recomended?
The only way I am trying to mix correctly is by listening to Pro movies. I inserted a movie ( Jaws, then Ironman) I then watched the phase anaylsis in Audition. I looked to see how it reacted to quite backgrounds then vocals.
So that's why I asked, "where to mix the ambient sounds"
" Most of the film was shot in doors with a boom mike set 80% left and a wireless mic 80% right."
If that means what I think it means, then you are well and truly screwed. I don't know of any good way of recovering anything decent from that colossal debacle. Every dialog track is effectively polluted with 20% of the WRONG mike.
Whomever recorded the sound that way should be expelled from film school and should be advised to take up some completely different (non-technical, non-creative) line of work.
"I used Adobe Audition to remove what I could and blend the two sides to make 1 half way decent wav."
My automatic response would be the opposite. To take ONLY one or the other track (whichever one is better for the shot).
"but the hiss or camera hum, don't match between (some) clips."
That is a different problem. Some of it might be mitigated with noise reduction. Adobe Audition has a pretty good way of sampling the noise profile, and then subtracting it from the track. However if you crank it up too high, it will do bad things to the desirable sound (dialog or whatever). And again, using only ONE track (either the lav or the boom) may help there, also.
[Richard Crowley] "If that means what I think it means, then you are well and truly screwed. I don't know of any good way of recovering anything decent from that colossal debacle. Every dialog track is effectively polluted with 20% of the WRONG mike.
Whomever recorded the sound that way should be expelled from film school and should be advised to take up some completely different (non-technical, non-creative) line of work."
---or taught how to do it properly before he/she works again.
Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
As Richard said, this is truely a terrible position to be in.
Here's the only advice I can give you. It's a lot of work and that sucks, but there you are.
Grab a bunch of paper and create a "score" for the entire film. That's a timeline indicating second by second the flow of the entire movie.
I make these when necessary by drawing horizontal lines on a sheet of paper with a drawing program and labeling it with 0000-0059 numbers spaced evenly along the line - so the first line represents the first minute of the movie - second by second. Then drop down and make a line for the second minute 100-159. And the third, all the way to line 1159-1200 of a two hour movie. (use as many sheets as necessary.)
Then listen to the WHOLE movie listening to only ONE ear of your headphones - either the RIGHT or the LEFT track - SOLO - with nothing else to be heard. (doesn't matter which track)
Use magic markers to mark EVERY line of dialog in your new timeline as to whether it's Good (green magic marker?) so-so (yellow magic marker) or poor (red MM.) working ABOVE the timeline.
Then start over and do the same to the OTHER track (other earphone) - using different colored magic markers in the space BELOW the line.
At the end of this tedious and annoying process you'll have determined one thing as clearly as possible.
Whether you have MORE usable material on the mostly boom track or on the mostly lav track.
Whichever it turns out to be. Next go and do your best to cut the ENTIRE movie with that track. The point is that you want a soundtrack that's as CONSISTENT as possible throughout the whole movie, even if you're suffering spots where you have crappy results because your new DOMINANT track is flawed.
Then go back and attack all the places where this dominant track REALLY sucks by using the other track to patch things as best you can.
It's going to be a LOT of tedious work. And in the end you'll NEVER be really satisfied. But it's the best you can do.
Take heart that even if the boom ends up being the DOMINANT track and it sounds roomy and less than ideal, the human brain adjusts pretty quickly to the sound of things, and if you have visual clues like lip movement and story progress to help them, the audience will get conditioned to the sounds pretty rapidly - AS LONG AS IT ISN"T CHANGING EVERY 10 SECONDS - which is what you risk by trying to bounce around between one recording track and the other.
My 2 cents.
Good luck. and let us know how it goes.
Lou, all good advice form above and I would add a few thoughts -
Let the video edit go to completion until it is FINAL. Get a signed statement from the director or promise of his first born, something, to assure you that the "picture is locked". Then, and only then, do you begin cleaning and sweetening your dialog tracks. As stated above, mix the dialog in mono, don't even think about panning from dead center.
If you have access to Pro Tools and can afford to spend around $500, invest in the DV Toolkit or Production toolkit and use it to edit. You will need to have the rough audio tracks, along with the lock picture, exported as an OMF to be able to open in Pro Tools. There you can cut out, rubber band, or crossfade the clips to get the best results. Adobe Audition might work, but I don't think you can import OMFs, which keeps the tracks separate but still in sync.
After you get a good dialog track, then you can come back and add room ambience and effects on a different track. I will also tell you that much of the dialog you hear in feature films and broadcast commercials is ADR, which is to say it's recorded after the fact in a controlled environment while "lipsyncing" to the playback.
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If your project is associated with NYU, then you may have access to one of the most state-of-the-art sound facilities on the planet, the James Dolan Recording/Teaching Complex at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Music and Performing Arts Professions. And, hopefully, people who know how to use it. Just a thought.
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