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Shooting video with someone whispering

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Mark Crews
Shooting video with someone whispering
on Apr 13, 2018 at 7:02:00 pm

What is the best practice for micing someone who is whispering on camera? Any post tricks for bringing up the levels without the noise getting to high or sounding like they are underwater running noise filters?
Thank you!
Mark Crews

Do or Do Not, There is No Try....Yoda


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Ty Ford
Re: Shooting video with someone whispering
on Apr 13, 2018 at 7:20:24 pm

Hello Mark and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

I think the best approach might be to direct talent to use a "stage whisper." A stage whisper is a technique used in theater in which the talent speaks in a hushed or breathy tone without going to a full whisper. Not every talent can do this.

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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Bruce Watson
Re: Shooting video with someone whispering
on Apr 13, 2018 at 8:11:18 pm

[Mark Crews] "What is the best practice for micing someone who is whispering on camera?"

An interesting question, one that I'm not sure I know the answer to. However, there's some logic to say that you mic whispers the same as you would normal dialog. So set your recording levels so that you're recording normal dialog (setting the recorder to try to capture their "normal dialog" voice at around -10 to -12 dBFS peaks). What you'll then get when they whisper is well below that, no question. But that's not necessarily a bad thing at all, because you don't have to increase the gain in post any more than you would for normal dialog. If you boost the whispers up to the level of normal dialog, the whispers just sound weird. So you keep the relationship to normal dialog more or less the same as it was when you recorded it. This has the added advantage that it keeps the noise levels of the room tone more or less constant as well.

As Ty says, a stage whisper is good too if your talent knows how. But micing as normal for normal dialog should still work. That said, it's theoretical for me; I've never needed to record anyone whispering. Clearly, YMMV.


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Mark Crews
Re: Shooting video with someone whispering
on Apr 13, 2018 at 8:14:07 pm

Thanks, my client wants the whispers to be as loud as the normal dialogue, which is giving me lots of issues.

Do or Do Not, There is No Try....Yoda


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Eric Toline
Re: Shooting video with someone whispering
on Apr 14, 2018 at 1:00:05 am

Your client has unrealistic expectations.

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


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Dan Gelter
Re: Shooting video with someone whispering
on Apr 15, 2018 at 10:48:48 am

Very well possible. It's done many times in films..
Look for the quietest background possible (maybe work work at night), use a shotgun or hyper cardioid mic, put it as close as possible to the mouth. I would advise a close up shot, or medium at most.
Use a quiet mic pre. Raise gain. Then in post, remove background noise.. Also work on lip movements, plosives, and breaths, because they can easily sound too loud. Use a tool like Izotope RX for post work.


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Bill Davis
Re: Shooting video with someone whispering
on Apr 16, 2018 at 3:48:56 pm

A whisper is a really low amplitude signal.

To record them well, you'll need a really low overall noise floor to match. And you seldom get that in field recording situations.

Personally, I'd go ahead and do the best you can in the field - but expect to loop the sound in post.

The ADR session would be in a proper vocal booth treated to remove virtually all extraneous noise like HVAC, line hum or the like.

Once you have a perfectly clean recording, you can boost or compress the VO as needed.

But again, having a pristine noise floor is the key.

My 2 cents.

Creator of XinTwo - http://www.xintwo.com
The shortest path to FCP X mastery.


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Matt Davis
Re: Shooting video with someone whispering
on Apr 16, 2018 at 8:54:46 pm

Bill has the right idea here, I think. Especially if they need to be ON CAMERA as they whisper. You don't have much choice. Be sure to record some room tone (sound on set with no one talking or doing anything) to add to your ADR mix though.


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Peter Groom
Re: Shooting video with someone whispering
on Apr 18, 2018 at 8:46:20 am

Id definitely recommend the ADR approach to get the best signal to noise ratio, and use a hq studio mic.
This is how its done in the film industry. Field sound is your guide/template/ edit track only.
Peter

Post Production Dubbing Mixer


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Bill Parsons
Re: Shooting video with someone whispering
on Apr 18, 2018 at 4:15:05 pm

I video dance and have a regular need to capture spoken sound, including whispers. In the theater, I strap a mixer on the tripod that takes input from a shotgun mic mounted on the camera, for angle of sound. The mixer provides significant gain allowing me to pick up a pin dropping on the stage from 100 feet away.

I use a lapel mic for some occasions, capturing into a Zoom recorder running 80% and 100% in the 2 channels. I overlay this on the video in post processing, adjusting levels as necessary (or possible).

For a recent dance video, I placed the Zoom on the floor where the dancers would be sitting/crawling and whispering. This worked very well. In fact the only problem was one of diction. Much of the time, their "speech" was not clearly understandable. I don't have any suggestions for this particular problem. 😉

Money seems to solve these needs.


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