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    Retired Moderator J.R. Hudson's Avatar
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    Sep 2003
    San Diego, CA
    Roomy Noise is a gnarly culprit on this subject matter; so yes, blankies and getting that mic as close as humanly possible is prudent and of course using the correct levels.

    I too cringe and notice this immediately. Maybe it is because everyone is always shooting on these 'Sets' that are either empty apartments or basement rooms or offices lacking any set design whatsoever . Not only does set design look aesthetically appealing, but it also absorbs SOUND.

    Of course if it calls for an empty room, unless shooting on a sound stage, you gotta be real careful.

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    Senior Member MrFluffy's Avatar
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    Sep 2008
    Norfolk, UK
    Not that im an expert, but a few things to remember.
    1. Dont use an on camera mic to record your dialog, use a seperate mic with a long cable, or better a seperate high quality sound recorder. If you have the mic on the camera then the actual signal level you get will be low, so you have to turn up the record levels, and that introduces hiss. It also has the effect of reducing the relative levels of the desired signal to the unwanted reflected signals and room tone. Getting the mic close gives a good signal and reduces the refelected sound and echo.
    2. Get the mic in as close as humanly possible and set the level right
    3. dont put the mic against a wall or ceiling as the relections of the sound will be noticable.
    4. Dont try to remove hiss using a noise reducer, it makes the dialog sound like the aliens are eating it. Get the sound right the first time, or record it again. This goes hand in hand with not using an on camera mic.

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    Steak Knife Member David G. Smith's Avatar
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    Jul 2005
    Detroit MI
    This is a great thread. I am a camera dude, for the most part, but I have also done a good bit of editing, including two feature length fictional narrative films, and the importance of good production audio can not be stressed enough. One of the best, low budget ways, to do this is to take the time on set to get clean wild tracks of as much of the production dialogue as you can. Actually set up a couple of takes, just for sound and get your mic in close to record as clean a track as you can. These can be a life saver when cutting together a piece. While these wild tracks may not exactly match the production dialogue, but, if they are recorded just after the original pic/sound takes, on the same set, they may sound better than any dialogue done as ADR latter in post. Yeah, sync may be a problem if you try to exactly match lip movement on long takes (more than a few seconds),, with a wild track, but with proper coverage, wild tracks should not be a problem to edit around. Also make sure that each wild track is properly slated (verbally at the head of the track) and logged in the production audio logs and labeled in the file name. If your film is more action oriented, instead of a dialogue heavy talking heads drama, then getting wild tracks should be a routine part of your production process. Wild tracks should not be reserved for dialogue only. It is a good idea to also get as much location specific foley type effects recorded during production, as wild tracks, as you can. If you have any props or set pieces that make noise, such as a motorcycle/car, doors, guns that are loaded or cocked, beeping electronic devices, ect, then it would be wise to get them recorded during production. These sounds may need to be modified or replaced with manufactured sound effects latter, but at least you will have them and don't have to start from scratch when editing your sound track.

    One last little trick I have done is a nod to the power of the digital world we work in. If you are setting up a static shot of an actor(s) in a medium or long shot, against a static back ground and it is hard to get your boom mic close enough to not be in the shot (and you are not using lavs), there is nothing from keeping you from having the mic in the shot, close to get a clean audio track, then removing the mic from the shot in post. The way that I have done this is to set up the shot, and make sure that the camera/tripod is locked down and won't move during the shot, start the camera roll, have the mic come into the shot to record the audio, run the scene, then when the scene is over, have the mic pulled from the shot. After the mic is out of the shot, I shoot 20 to 30 seconds more to have a clean background plate to use in post. In post, I just put a hard matte that covers the mic, and replace it with video of the back ground shot without the mic in it, looped to the length of the scene. Now this simple method only works with locked down shots, with a static back ground, but I have done it a few times and it helped to get good production audio on difficult shots. I have actually replaced a boom operator standing near a table where the actors were performing, shot in long shot. That made for some pretty funny dailies, when we reviewed the footage at the end of the day. Of course everyone forgot about it when I corrected the footage in post.
    "The enemy of art is the absence of limitations"
    -Orson Wells.

    "To me the great hope is... people that normally wouldn't be making movies will make them and suddenly some little fat girl in Ohio will be the new Mozart and will make a beautiful film using her father's camera-corder and the "Professionalism" of movie making will be destroyed forever and it will finally become an art form."
    -Francis Ford Coppola.

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    Senior Member jasonthewho's Avatar
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    Feb 2008
    Brooklyn, NY
    Good suggestions David.

    I agree with getting close audio tracks on set. That's the advantage of always shooting tight close-ups, even if you don't intend to use them. You can get the mic in as close as you want.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Raptor365 View Post
    May be my fault then. I just meant the roominess of the characters conversations themselves, not the background ambience that everyone else has been focusing on in this thread (as I've read it).

    Ambience is a concern but is secondary to the initial dialog quality imo. You'de have to admit, without the latter, the ambience doesn't add much weight at that point to the dialog, if it's already crap.

    It's an interesting subject. I know people know how it's done. We hear it everyday on T.V and in all films ofcourse and have come to expect that quality in dialog.

    The more tips the better. I'd be interested in hearing as well.
    ok, as we say "not well boomed"

    Quote Originally Posted by Herman Witkam View Post
    I don't know of any way either to make dialog less roomy. It just can't be done. ADR is the only way to go if it's too roomy. And then you may have to deal with actors with very little experience getting their lines synced right while doing a good performance, and you spend up editing the lines for hours and being dissatisfied...

    Otherwise, I'll say that shotgun mics aren't called shotgun mics for no reason. They have to be POINTED AT the actor
    Pointed at the actors.... one more raison to have a good boomer on set... And if possible 2 soundpeople... sometimes even 3, en when necessary even 4.

    Last edited by dre83; 11-18-2009 at 10:04 AM.

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    Senior Member Luis_'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Philadelphia/S. Jersey
    You guys have said it all. So the only thing I can say to those looking for help with sound is that when you start planning for your film and you select the camera or cameras, don't forget to select the mics and your recording method.

    Also decide what is going to record your sound whether the camera or other equipment.

    I'm not saying here that you should record with the built in camera mic, never that as it was mentioned here before.
    The reason I mention this is because sometimes I use my laptop with recording software like ProTools, Cubase, or which ever one I decide at the time.

    Sometimes I use an external mixer equipped with phantom power for the condenser mics and all and I plug the output of the mixer to the camera or to the audio interface on the laptop depending on the location and what is being recorded.

    Anyway, plan out if you think your going to need a shotgun mic and if so test it out before hand and check the results this way you can work on adjusting those details before shooting the real stuff.

    Because really when you think about it you put all your efforts into making a great flick and your excited that it's looking great and all, and the lighting is cool..... and that's cool, but does it also sound good? because for me if it doesn't, and I'm focusing all my efforts on the video side of it ending up with no good on the audio side then in my opinion I'm kind of just wasting my time.

    The way I see it is if I really care about my film then the sound will be just as important as having the correct lighting.

    For me it has to have an equal balance of both look good and sound good.

    Being a recording engineer in different music studios for about 10 years before I got into video about 4 years ago makes me anal about sound.
    I'm just happy I don't have to deal with any more trumpet players! but that's another topic

    The way I feel and how I do it is, if the sound is not planned out or not sounding good, then I just can't start the visual. It's just so much easier and worth it in post if you capture good. Even if it takes a few more takes.

    Also the reason I choose ProTools to record the audio most of the time is because I can add a "compressor", an "eq", a "gate", and what ever other plug-ins I need to the mic line input to get great results. Plug-ins make a big difference. I can boost the levels getting a dry solid sound eliminating that ambient dialogue sound.

    Now real quick before I forget about the tip that was mentioned earlier about having the mic in the shot for proximity purposes and then recording without the mic so that it can be masked out or what ever method you use, I have done this and it works pretty good but don't forget to turn off your OIS so that when your shot is locked down, there is no slight drift adjustments in the frame.

    I learned my lesson a little while ago with that, as well as shooting the other part without the mic in the scene right away with the same exact light, white balance setting, and before I turn off the camera to offload footage!
    Fixing this stuff in post is no joke and just a waste of time.

    Though the other guys pretty much covered most of it, I hope you can take a little something from these words,
    happy filmage!

    oh and one more tip! when you go shoot your stuff, don't forget your headphones! or you may end up getting kicked in the...
    Luis R Cosme

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