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Advantages of using a professional audio post-house

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Mark Miller
Advantages of using a professional audio post-house
on Jan 2, 2015 at 4:03:53 pm

Hi everyone, I'm currently working as an editor on a news magazine type show and we were thinking about outsourcing audio mixing to a dedicated audio facility, but I'm not sure if it is necessary or not.

Our audio consists of in studio interviews, ambient noise on b-roll, music, and the occasional on location interview that needs the audio cleaned up.

The show I worked on before this was a docureality series and the audio was sent out to be mixed but was coming from all kinds of sources and had a more cinematic feel to it.

I'm not sure what the advantages are on a news magazine show that the audio is typically recorded in a more controlled environment and not on the fly like an on location docureality series.

Thanks!

-Mark


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Ty Ford
Re: Advantages of using a professional audio post-house
on Jan 3, 2015 at 2:32:38 pm

Hello Mark and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

The answer is….it depends. :)

How much are quick turnaround times a factor?

How much work needs to be done (how bad is the audio)?

How much better can it be?

How much work is there in one show?

How much does it cost?

I had a local production company call me about fixing some problem clips. They put them on their server with proxy quality video. I downloaded them and brought each clip into Pro Tools where I have my restoration plugins.

There were different problems on different clips. They were typically shooting with a boom and a lav, split track to a camera. A few clips were totally unusable because they were feeding line level into a mic level input. The audio was very distorted. RX3 Advanced can help, but it has its limitations.

Other problems were easier. Boom on one person, lav on another and the sound differences were too obvious. In some of those cases, I had to dirty up one track a little and clean up the other one, then checkerboard the tracks and mix them to a 2Track mono mix so they'd sound right.

Getting levels right from one mic to another was also part of the fix, as was playing with the noise reduction without it sounding underwater and some EQ to make the most out of the audio.

They were so happy after hearing the first few clips I did for them that they sent me about 40 files, each from 20 to 50 seconds long. I fixed the audio tracks and post them back on my dropbox account, then send them an email. I think I spent about 10-15 minutes on each clip.

I wasn't able to get some of them as good as I might have gotten had I been there to record it in the first place, but they were improved and mixed, except for the 2-3 that were horribly distorted. I was able to get them on my schedule and turn them around most of the time within 24 hours. Sometimes, within hours; depending on how many they sent and how much work needed to be done.

That's one way to work. I'm sure there are others.

Best way to approach this is to try different people and see how the schedules and chemistry works out.

A line from Scotty (Startrek) comes to mind, "Captain, I'm doing the best that I can, but I'm only an engineer. I'm giving you all that she's got!!!" :)

Regards,

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader

PS: if you'd like quotes, please reach out offline - tyford@tyford.com

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


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Mark Miller
Re: Advantages of using a professional audio post-house
on Jan 5, 2015 at 3:03:29 pm

Hi Ty, thanks for such a thorough response!

You make some really good points.

Right now we really aren't finishing projects with a lot of extra time and there are changes always being made up to the last second.

We really don't have any audio that is terrible. The in studio stuff is always good, it's just the on location quality that isn't always the best, but we've had some success using Adobe Audition's effects to clean that up.

I feel like if we can get on a little more predictable schedule that it could help, but time constraints and budget might outweigh the benefits right now.

Thanks again, Ty!

-Mark


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Ty Ford
Re: Advantages of using a professional audio post-house
on Jan 5, 2015 at 3:23:48 pm

Mark,

Right. It's usually about time on your situation.

Audio sweetening is the last element thought about and the first to be left behind. :)

Maybe trying harder in the field will help.

Sometimes the location audio person gets bullied by the DP or producer into not getting what they really want. It's a team effort and if that's out of balance, you get what you get.

Maybe ask your audio person how he/she feels about what goes on. Maybe they are not as experienced as they could be, or maybe they just don't get the support they should from the other team members.

I've been hired on shoots where there's a definite "attitude about the audio." It hasn't happened in a while and it makes me wonder if I was exuding something in the past that I don't anymore, or if I've just worked my way past that stuff. It could also be that the DPs I was working with then were clueless about audio and a little too fragile about their own craft.

Good tools make a huge difference. A Sennheiser ME66 is no match for a CMC641 Schoeps. Good headphones like the Sony MDR7506 allow the audio person to actually hear what's going on. Lesser headphones or earbuds simply don't allow the operator to hear obvious problems that they could address, had they heard them.

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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Peter Groom
Re: Advantages of using a professional audio post-house
on Jan 6, 2015 at 4:05:22 pm

Same reason as youd use a professional in any other walk of life.
Unless youre really good or can spend a lot of time on it, it wont be as good as a pro can get it.
Peter

Post Production Dubbing Mixer


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