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Repairing audio to ensure suitability for broadcast

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Rachel Miller
Repairing audio to ensure suitability for broadcast
on Sep 11, 2013 at 1:50:01 am

Hello,

I am in post on my first feature film-a documentary. Let me say that I have made a few production mistakes during filming. There were times because of the sporadic situation of filming interviews I didn't use a lav mic which resulted in a few of the interviews having a static sound. One of the interviews had very low audio. I don't know what miracle the sound editor perfomed but he salvaged that audio.

He's removed a lot of the static... and it's masked mostly by the music under it but when you compare it to audio with no issues like some President Obama footage I'm using you do hear the difference but it's not overwhelming. The editor is going to mix the sound afterwards but I am concerned that the audio won't be up to par for a broadcast release. Maybe my guy might not be advanced enough for the sound mixing.

Is there a software someone can recommend?

I can send a clip if you need to hear for yourself.

Thanks,

Rachel


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Richard Crowley
Re: Repairing audio to ensure suitability for broadcast
on Sep 11, 2013 at 5:05:40 am

The cost of the audio equipment and experienced crew for just ONE presidential appearance likely eclipses your entire audio budget. Of course there are ways of getting excellent audio quality on a tight budget, but not unless you have someone looking after audio who knows what they are doing. Low budget with low experience are a deadly combination.

There is no way we can tell from your verbal description whether the audio could be improved at all. It is quite possible that your editor already worked all the practical magic available to get where you are now. Did your editor tell you what was done to your audio tracks?

It also seems possible that your expectations may exceed the quality of the audio materials.


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Peter Groom
Re: Repairing audio to ensure suitability for broadcast
on Sep 11, 2013 at 6:58:23 am

Well theres a few things here

1) do you think its alright?
2) does your transmitting station / company / commissioning outlet agree with you. They may be different things.
3) Your sound editor may well have done a good job, but a sound editor is NOT a dubbing mixer. Im sure hes keen to have a go (who wouldnt, the mixing is the glamour bit.
Think of it like this.
A farmer plants, grows, cultivates his crop etc and makes the raw ingredients that are delivered to a kitchen. He doesnt make the award winning cake!
That said, your man may well be more than an editor (it was your word) in which case....
4) You will need to mix to delivery specs as laid down by your station
5) Make sure you adhere to loudness specs, as thats big in the US i hear, but really hasnt come in here in the uk yet.
Peter

Post Production Dubbing Mixer


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Rachel Miller
Re: Repairing audio to ensure suitability for broadcast
on Sep 11, 2013 at 4:01:19 pm

Thank you. I am willing to send a 2 minute clip if anyone is interested in hearing it, that way I can see if he is experienced enough to mix it.


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Richard Crowley
Re: Repairing audio to ensure suitability for broadcast
on Sep 11, 2013 at 8:45:30 pm

I fear that a 2 minute audio clip is not sufficient to make a judgement call on all the issues you are asking about. Much is subjective, requires comparison with other sound track elements, depends on your (and the broadcasters') expectations, how difficult it would be to go back and re-shoot properly, who the broadcaster is (cable-access or PBS or somewhere in-between?), how valuable (or irreproducable) the problem clips are, etc. etc.


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Rachel Miller
Re: Repairing audio to ensure suitability for broadcast
on Sep 11, 2013 at 9:44:07 pm

Let's just use PBS as an example. I wouldn't know their expectation until I've completed the film. Two of the most important interviews I won't be able to re-shoot. It's the foundation of the film but not the majority. Other parts of the film the sound is fine at least according to the editor who I do trust and I feel so though I'm not an audio professional like you guys.

When you say other "soundtrack elements" what does that mean?

The editor has already stopped me from using clips he deemed not technically viable.

I still don't mind just sending you the clip.

Thanks


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Richard Crowley
Re: Repairing audio to ensure suitability for broadcast
on Sep 11, 2013 at 11:30:32 pm

Well, to use PBS as an example, from what I understand and have read in their specs, it may be already doubtful by your own description. But then much depends on other facts not in evidence. For example if it were only a couple of 10-second "sound bites" with sub-standard audio quality and you use some clever music-under and sound effects, etc. you might be able to creatively work around it. But if you are talking about a 15-minute sit-down interview with crummy audio and is a key element of the production, you may have painted yourself into a corner.

When I said "other elements" I was referring to your own comparison between your questionable tracks and (for example) audio from a presidential appearance/press conference, etc.

Whether or not something is "acceptable" to some particular distribution outlet is pretty much up to them. Do you not have a way of asking them directly?

There are others here who are much more qualified than I am to consult on broadcast-program audio post-production mixing and sound design. But your question may be rather nebulous to allow them to offer any practical advice.


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Peter Groom
Re: Repairing audio to ensure suitability for broadcast
on Sep 12, 2013 at 9:39:53 am

Is it uploaded?
Peter

Post Production Dubbing Mixer


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