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Professional "Film" Sound With Dialogue

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Ben Hilton
Professional "Film" Sound With Dialogue
on Feb 10, 2017 at 11:38:36 am

Hello all,
I have a question about audio. How is the "Film" audio texture accomplished? I don't know how to describe it, but it is the special texture that you hear mainly on voices in feature films and some short films. Here is a link do a DJI short film that has this sound:






It is not just a "Good sound" like professionally mixed songs, it is a special sound, kind of vintage.

Is this accomplished in post mixing or mastering? Or certain kinds of microphones, pre-amps etc.?

Thanks!


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Eric Toline
Re: Professional "Film" Sound With Dialogue
on Feb 10, 2017 at 1:41:04 pm

It's a combination of starting with good clean tracks either a boom & or wireless systems and then post does their magic in matching levels, applying EQ, compression, limiting, noise reduction as required. Bad audio will disengage an audience from the story faster than anything else.

"I push the RECORD button and hope for the best"


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Ty Ford
Re: Professional "Film" Sound With Dialogue
on Feb 11, 2017 at 4:48:17 pm

Hello Ben and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

Thanks for posting. That looks like a nice little film.

Yes, as Eric says, it's a combination of many things in production and in postproduction.

This piece is well shot and the sound was recorded well. I found myself wondering if the side shots of the car on the road with the field in the background was shot with the car on a process trailer so the cars actual engine was not running.

I'm guessing the boom mic was a Schoeps CMC641.

Nice job!

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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Ben Hilton
Re: Professional "Film" Sound With Dialogue
on Feb 12, 2017 at 4:08:31 am

Thank you both for taking the time to respond.

I understand the basics of on-set recording, and mixing and mastering audio for films. (I have been recording and mixing audio for short films and promotional pieces for four years.) Most of my audio has been recorded with either hidden Sennheiser G3s, and or mixed with a boomed Sennheiser ME66. And while I can get my dialogue sounding really "good" in post, I can't seem to get that "feel" I was talking about in my first post.

Here is an example of dialogue with that "feel" I am talking about:






And an example of a "well" mixed dialogue without that "feel":






I am sorry I am not able to convey what I am talking about better, I guess it is hard to describe something if you don't know exactly what it is.

Thank you!


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Ty Ford
Re: Professional "Film" Sound With Dialogue
on Feb 12, 2017 at 9:26:50 am

Hi Ben,

G3s with ME 2 lavs and ME66 boom mics are probably the most obvious culprits. The ME2 lav is not as smooth as the MKE-2. The ME66 short shotgun is a student grade mic. The Sennheiser MKH 40 is much smoother. I suggest you rent these to discover the difference.

What mixer are you using?

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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Ben Hilton
Re: Professional "Film" Sound With Dialogue
on Feb 13, 2017 at 10:55:57 am

Thank you for the suggestions, I will look into those microphones. I record almost all my audio straight into a Zoom H5n; with the XLR extension module. This gives me four XLR inputs and physical knobs for adjusting all my inputs.


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Bruce Watson
Re: Professional "Film" Sound With Dialogue
on Feb 12, 2017 at 10:04:47 pm

And while I can get my dialogue sounding really "good" in post, I can't seem to get that "feel" I was talking about in my first post.

I suspect that the main difference between the two examples falls under the category of sound design. The "good" one clearly had a bigger budget as national commercials almost always do. You don't normally hear this level of sound design in TV shows until you hit the Netflix level of content, which are more Hollywood level than network TV sitcom level.

Jay Rose has a couple of books out that you might find interesting, IDK. First is his Producing Great Sound for Film and Video. Next is his Audio Postproduction for Film and Video. Both are excellent reads and come highly recommended.

As Mr. Ford suggests, you might want to upgrade your equipment a bit. Not that that will make a huge difference by itself, but it will make sufficient difference that when you go through sufficient post production steps you'll end up with a better product. Said a different way, if you start with better capture, your dialog will be able to withstand the rigors of post better, and end up sounding nicer. Enough to reach your goal? You are the only one who can answer that.


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Ben Hilton
Re: Professional "Film" Sound With Dialogue
on Feb 13, 2017 at 11:01:51 am

Thank you for your suggestions, very helpful. I will probably pick up one of those books when I get a chance.


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Tom Prigge
Re: Professional "Film" Sound With Dialogue
on Feb 17, 2017 at 1:49:38 pm

Was the dialogue recorded on location or done afterwards? I ask because the film's claim to fame is that it was shot entirely with a drone. Wouldn't the drone make a lot of noise? I defer to those of you with much more expertise than I have, but it just seems to me that the drone would be really loud.


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Ty Ford
Re: Professional "Film" Sound With Dialogue
on Feb 17, 2017 at 2:42:58 pm

Hi Tom,

Good point!, but the camera/copter was not flying at all times. Here's an explanation.







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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Richard Herd
Re: Professional "Film" Sound With Dialogue
on Feb 17, 2017 at 6:46:28 pm

I came over here researching 5.1 system signal flow, but thought I might give my 2 cents here.

That "feel" you're talking about is truly the mastering stage. To get mastering at very high quality requires hardware, and "hardware" is a misnomer because it's not necessarily digital-computer stuff, but analog: tubes! Google, for example, "audio mastering equipment" and behold. OMG. There is no ceiling to the price.

A couple of years ago, I toured the studio of the guy who masters top 40 albums. He was kind enough to let me look at his rack, which was roughly 4 feet high and full of compressors, limiters, eqs, and then I asked him about "this one," and he explained in glorious detail why he purchased that particular piece of equipment: the tubes were of a certain quality, the coils did a particular thing to the mid range....to be honest, it was another level altogether. The takeaway I was left with is this: That special "feel" is created during the mastering through an analog FX loop (a special sauce that mastering engineers geek-out on) and then when the master is "set," it is digitized and laid back to the deliverable -- which was my first real paying job in this industry. I was the "video guy" for a grammy award winning studio and the engineer simply sent me the files and I laid back to tape--where I was under strict orders not to touch the sound file in any way.

IMO, here, the starting place is researching and investing in a mastering studio that includes a rack of analog, tube-driven mastering equipment that (properly gain staged) loops into your I/O and into your NLE.

Compressors, EQs, Sidechaining, Dynamics --- all of those are actual analog pieces of equipment in the FX loop of a live mixing console and NOT the software-based equivalents inside of the non-linear editing software. Without question, that is the difference you're hearing. Kudos to you for being able to hear it :)


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Ben Hilton
Re: Professional "Film" Sound With Dialogue
on Feb 26, 2017 at 6:06:56 am

Very interesting, thank you for your input.


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Chris Wright
Re: Professional "Film" Sound With Dialogue
on Feb 24, 2017 at 5:28:59 pm

In production, this is what I do. I record with Sennheiser MKH 416(or other expensive senn mic as appropiate) at distance close as I can for good sound. XLR all the way to expensive foztex field recorder(as cheaper recorders wreck the sound of good mics)

In post, after basic harball equalizing, I use adobe audition, furthur smoothing out the sound by use effect - studio reverb at 100-200hz at bare minimum settings and lower the 16k. raise 192kz and 1120 hz for voice. finally use multiband compression so that the audience doesn't get a heart attack when there's a sudden increase in volume.

I get cinema quality sound this way.


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Ben Hilton
Re: Professional "Film" Sound With Dialogue
on Feb 26, 2017 at 6:08:53 am

Thank you for the detailed information on your workflow. Very helpful. Do you have a Vimeo channel or someplace I could see your work for some examples of your final audio?


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