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Why do so many audio professionals prefer dry audio when it comes to Foley?

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ryan elder
Why do so many audio professionals prefer dry audio when it comes to Foley?
on Jul 29, 2018 at 3:51:43 am

Basically in my experience working with the audio professionals, they prefer to record all the Foley in a studio, and then want to add the room reverb and filters later in post. But I feel this creates a lot more work in post-production.

For example, if there is a scene that was shot in a bathroom, why record the sound effects in the studio, and then make it sound like a bathroom in post. Why not record the foley sound effects in a real bathroom and get that reverb in the recording? Saves a lot of time in post.

Or if someone is listening to a radio in a scene, they want to record the actor on the radio, in a studio, and then make them sound like they are on the radio later. Why not just record it through a real radio speaker?

Things like that I feel could save a lot of work and money in post-production, but the audio professionals seem to want to create more time and money in post production.

It's like if a DP wanted to shoot a whole movie greenscreened, and then add the locations in post. It's just less work to shoot at the locations and get it right while shooting.

So why isn't this same belief shared by many, when it comes to audio?


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Eric Toline
Re: Why do so many audio professionals prefer dry audio when it comes to Foley?
on Jul 30, 2018 at 2:06:54 am

Really? I'm somewhat surprised a question like that is being asked. Because you can't unring the bell. Adding audio efx in post gives you the opportunity to try different sounds at different levels that might work better without stepping on the tracks. Things change between shoot day and post for many reasons and being able to make the change with no effort is why there's post. In the feature film world the post budget is enough for you to retire on.

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


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ryan elder
Re: Why do so many audio professionals prefer dry audio when it comes to Foley?
on Jul 30, 2018 at 2:22:05 am

Okay thanks, but what I don't understand is, if you do it right while recording in the first place, why does the bell have to be unrung? Why not just do it right in the first place while recording? What do you by stepping on the tracks? All you are doing is recording Foley at the same locations to match. I wouldn't call that stepping on the tracks, but rather creating the tracks the right way.


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Richard Crowley
Re: Why do so many audio professionals prefer dry audio when it comes to Foley?
on Jul 30, 2018 at 5:31:56 am

[ryan elder] "if you do it right while recording in the first place, why does the bell have to be unrung?"
Because it is impossible to "do it right while recording in the first place". You don't know how the mix will need to be when everything is put together. Unless you are doing some super simple and trivial. It just can't be done in the Real World.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Recording audio without metering and monitoring is exactly like framing and focusing without looking at the viewfinder.


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ryan elder
Re: Why do so many audio professionals prefer dry audio when it comes to Foley?
on Jul 30, 2018 at 11:36:34 am

Oh okay. Cause I have been recording the foley in the same locations to get the same reverb, and I asked people if it sounded like it was recorded in a different room and they said it all sounded like the same room and they could not tell the difference.


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Simon Billington
Re: Why do so many audio professionals prefer dry audio when it comes to Foley?
on Aug 11, 2018 at 1:37:49 pm

Yeah basically it’s all about leaving your creative options open.

Why do editors like to do their cuts in their NLE as opposed to doing it in-camera?? Same reason, creative freedom. What if you mistimed the edit, what if it was a bad scene, what if the decision was made later in the film that certain scene should take place at night instead??

When you record a sound, you also record it’s wnvironment, but that environment might be too ambient (echoey) to work well for the scene. Can’t really change it after the fact. You have a little control but not a lot. You may not see it, but getting the sound’s tonality right, it’s volume level and overall ambience, is the key to selling the right emotion.

It’s actually more critical than you know to get the sound right as bad sound stands out right away. Bad footage, more than often, looks like a stylistic choice and people will accept it more. Sound isn’t as forgiving. Bad sound equals a bad film.

Besides capturing a sound “dry” means it can be used over and over in other contexts too, in other films. Like stock footage, it can be added to a library available to use at a later date.


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ryan elder
Re: Why do so many audio professionals prefer dry audio when it comes to Foley?
on Aug 11, 2018 at 5:33:08 pm

Oh okay, it's just that cinematographers take that risk all the time, where they will shoot all the actors on the set in the camera.

They don't just say let's shoot the actors in front of a green screen, so we have more options in post. They actually make the decision to kill two birds with one stone while shooting, so I thought if DPs are comfortable doing that, why aren't audio professionals?

But don't you find it more work in post to have to do all that extra mixing rather than making the decisions while recording it in the actual environments? I just feel that if DPs can make that decision and live with it, without all these extra options in post, why can't audio professionals?


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Simon Billington
Re: Why do so many audio professionals prefer dry audio when it comes to Foley?
on Aug 13, 2018 at 11:23:54 am

Well for special effects they often do shoot actors in front of screens to keep their options open.

Often background noise and ambience is way too loud for captured sound effects to be of any use. The only way you can get a decent signal is to get a microphone much closer, but now it’s in shot!! You will need to mic their feet, their clothes, as well as the focus of the action along with the dialogue. Matters are made worse if the scene isn’t stationary. Can you imagine trying to record Tom Cruise’s feet as he’s running through the scene while being chased by a car?!? How would you keep up with him?? How could you get a good recording with the sound of that car or other ambient noises.

So even if you wanted to get the sound on set it can be a logistical nightmare.

What can happen though is in between shots, if there is time, some audio guys can get samples of certain things while still in the environment. Especially if the DP is grabbing some close up shots for inserts. You can get the mic closer and get s better recording.

You’d still have to do feet and clothes in post though. Along with other miscellaneous sounds.


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ryan elder
Re: Why do so many audio professionals prefer dry audio when it comes to Foley?
on Aug 13, 2018 at 11:40:28 am

No I don't mean record all of the sound effects while shooting the actors. What I mean is after shooting the actors is done in a location, why not just record all of the foley and sound effects in the same location, to get the same room reverb?

Because for some reason a lot of audio professionals prefer to record in a studio environment and then try to make it sound like the same location instead of recording in the same location in the first place. And that's just a lot of extra work in post. So why do it that way?


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Simon Billington
Re: Why do so many audio professionals prefer dry audio when it comes to Foley?
on Aug 13, 2018 at 11:46:21 am

Sometimes it is done. It takes time to do though. So you may not get enough time before shots to address it.

But that’s okay, it’s more efficient for the sound guy to do it on his own time, while not paying for everyone else to wait for him. Naturally, the only time the sound guy gets to do this is in the post production phase.


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ryan elder
Re: Why do so many audio professionals prefer dry audio when it comes to Foley?
on Aug 13, 2018 at 10:38:18 pm

Yeah but for some reason the sound people want to do this in studio, and this costs me more money cause then I have to pay the post production audio engineer to make something that was recorded in a studio, sound like it was recorded in a different type of room.

For example, I shot a short film with a scene in the bathroom. I needed to record Foley and sound effects, such as for the actors washing their hands, and paper towel and all that.

Now instead of doing this in a studio with a sink and paper towel, I went to a different restroom in post, and got these sounds while in the actual restroom in order to get reverb that sounded like a restroom.

This was much faster than recording in a studio, and then using computer effects to make it sound like a restroom. I asked viewers opinions and they said it sounded the same and could not tell the difference in the sound effects being recorded in a different restroom compared to the actor's dialogue.

So this is what I mean. Why not use actual locations to get reverb, rather than creating computer generated reverb in post, which costs more time and more money?


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Bruce Watson
Re: Why do so many audio professionals prefer dry audio when it comes to Foley?
on Aug 13, 2018 at 3:05:17 pm

[ryan elder] "They don't just say let's shoot the actors in front of a green screen, so we have more options in post. They actually make the decision to kill two birds with one stone while shooting, so I thought if DPs are comfortable doing that, why aren't audio professionals?

But don't you find it more work in post to have to do all that extra mixing rather than making the decisions while recording it in the actual environments? I just feel that if DPs can make that decision and live with it, without all these extra options in post, why can't audio professionals?"


Because the "actual environments" are hardly ever what the sound designer wants. Because the sound of the actual environments hardly ever supports the visuals.

For example, say you shoot on an actual movie set. The set is a room, but two sides and half the roof are off for camera, dialog sound boom, and light access. The building this movie set is in is cavernous. Say it's half the size of a football field. But the video shot in it depicts a small hotel room.

If you record anything other than dialog here (and the dialog is recorded as dry as possible), you get first reflections that are far longer than the small room shown in the video would generate. So you get "big room sound" when looking at a "small room" on the screen. Which doesn't work. It doesn't support the visual. In fact, it distracts from the visual. And it can't reasonably be fixed in post, even with all the nice new de-reverb plug-ins you can dig up.

So movie sound people try to record everything "dry". The sound designer takes all the dialog, Foley, sound effects, etc. and stacks them (sometimes hundreds of layers of different sounds) up for the shot. He/she spends time getting the levels right for each layer, works to get each individual sound positioned just right compared to all the other sounds (that hinge squeak has to lag the door knob turning sound by just the right amount to "sell it"). Usually each sound is EQed individually to make them blend as they should. Then the sound designer can add just the right kind and amount of reverb to make the entire clip's sound package support what is seen on the screen. In the case above, that's a "small room" reverb to make it match the "small room" seen on the screen.

I'm just sayin' that sound is way different than video. DPs work way differently than sound pros. Different jobs require different work flows. This should not surprise you.


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Simon Billington
Re: Why do so many audio professionals prefer dry audio when it comes to Foley?
on Aug 14, 2018 at 1:40:52 am

The bathroom is one scene. Try a whole movie.

What if the acoustics didn’t match visually with what’s on screen?? It would have destroyed the scene and you’d have to do it again. There is a very real chance of that, you got lucky in a way. How many bathrooms are you prepared to try before you get it right??

This is obviously something you couldn’t have done on set either. Can’t be recording bathroom Foley while recording dialogue. The rest of the team aren’t going to wait for you to do it as well. Imagine 50 scenes in a movie where everyone is standing around half an hour while you get your effects. The cost would be 50 x 30min x everyone there x how much they are getting paid. That is a lot of money to pay everyone else for just one person to do their job. It is extremely non-cost effective. You cost more money doing it that way.

It doesn’t matter where you go, you could run around to all these locations in your own time to get the sound, but you’re at the mercy of the environment. Try recording someone’s steps crossing the street or pushing the crossing light button. You are going to pick up so much background noise. Whatever you get is going to be unusable. There will be all the sounds of cars and people that aren’t in the movie, much of it louder than your steps or crossing light. It just wouldn’t work

What about your 50 other scenes?? How are you going to record that speedy car chase or the sound of war?? Then there is the choreography. You have to see what’s happening on the screen so you can time your actions with the picture. So you have to drag this equipment around with you to many locations and set up, wait for your environment to be quite enough to record and do multiple takes, pack up and repeat this process for 50 more scenes. Hard to use while you’re moving too.

How many takes did you get because you’d have to record it for every take because you don’t know which take you’re going to go with. Each take will be slightly different.

Think about it, Foley has been around for 80 years or something. Hollywood is extremely good at coming up with ways to add to believability of a film, while counting their coins. If there was a more cost effective way they’d be doing it.

While it may seem more work up front, once you pull apart a movie and go around catering for every single scene, and all the difficulties you have with each scene, you will find it’s much more cost effective to bring everything to the studio where it’s much, much easier to choreograph and record. Rather than running around to many locations to get the sound, that may not match with what’s on screen. Just push the button and change the reverb type on a device or software plugin instead if running around and recording it again.

It may seem like it’s more work, but it’s faster, cheaper and easier to do it this way in almost every situation.


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ryan elder
Re: Why do so many audio professionals prefer dry audio when it comes to Foley?
on Aug 14, 2018 at 2:05:43 am

Okay thanks. I don't mean for everyone to wait on set for the sound person to do it. What I mean is after the scene is done, and the actors can go home, then have the audio people stick around and record the sound effects.

As for going to another location to get a similar reverb, I have had much more success with that then trying to recreate the same reverb with computer effects cause the computer effects sound somewhat synthetic and artificial compare to the real thing, at least they do to me.


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Simon Billington
Re: Why do so many audio professionals prefer dry audio when it comes to Foley?
on Aug 14, 2018 at 11:56:46 am

That comes down to experience and what you use. I can very easily dial in a convincing sound and reverb quite quickly. Much more quickly than. it would take me to go out and sample it in a different space. When you watch TV and film, nothing sounds synthetic there... unless its intentional. That's because they're very good at what they do too.

On the whole, the industry will always choose the most quick and cost effective way of doing something. No-one wants to spend more for less. So if the industry on the whole is doing it in the studios and not running around to locations and doing it everything there it will be because it isn't quick and it isn't cost effective, unlike doing it in the studios.

Its very easy to. look at one scene and see how easy it might be, but if you look at the wealth of sound possibilities and scenes within a production, how much the requirements vary from moment to moment, how the spaces and parameters vary, it would tell a different story. It's actually quite astronomical.


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ryan elder
Re: Why do so many audio professionals prefer dry audio when it comes to Foley?
on Aug 19, 2018 at 9:56:05 pm

Oh okay that makes sense. I guess it's also partly me and my views as I always prefer practical effects, over computer effects, and I am biased that way, and will always try to achieve as much practical as I can, but I think I am biased that way.


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Peter Groom
Re: Why do so many audio professionals prefer dry audio when it comes to Foley?
on Aug 21, 2018 at 1:57:47 pm

Re: Why do so many audio professionals prefer dry audio when it comes to Foley?

same reason that tea manufacturers don't add sugar to the tea leaves in the factory. Its best to add later to taste.
peter

Post Production Dubbing Mixer


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