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    Bad audio in films
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    Ive noticed.. or noticing more the bad sound in alot of the low budget films.. For example I was watching one called quantum apocalypse nd although the foley and fx seem ok. .the dialogue has alot of echo.. Any one have any "general" mistake they might have made in doing this...

    Terry


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    Senior Member henryqiu's Avatar
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    IMO the only "general" mistake is to release a film with bad sound. ;)
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    I agree completely.. but.. not being a sound guy.. can you give any idea why so many have that echo sound.. jsut seems to be something alot let go..


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    Senior Member henryqiu's Avatar
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    Basically, if a mic picks an audible amount of the same sound via reflective surfaces such as walls and hard floors, you'll have a good chance to feel the sound being echoed in the recorded audio.

    In film making, a shotgun mic is almost unavoidable. To save money and/or time, many people may very well choose to use a shotgun mic everywhere, just as many of us love to use a zoom lens everywhere for saving money/time. Unfortunately, a shotgun mic cannot be zoomed, and is not good at rejecting low-frequency sounds, including echos reflected from walls and floors. So, if they use a shotgun mic indoors, you'll have a very good chance to hear echoing sounds in their recorded dialogues.
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    that makes alot of sense.. thank you..


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    I also think many low end production skimp out on their sound crew, both during and post. This is the real issue.Someone that knows what they are doing will choose the right gear for the job... Here as a general rule you should use hyper indoors. This is good advise for people that don't know what they are doing. My general rule is to use your ears. This is good advise for people that want to know what their doing.
    Last edited by Mitch.Kear; 09-05-2011 at 03:50 AM.


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    thanks guys for the advice.. I'm trying to learn all that I can here..


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    There are lots of reasons for bad sound in indie films. I would say that the biggest two reasons are: mic too far away from the actor/speaker and wrong mic for the situation.

    Lots of folks think "just use a shotgun mic for dialogue", but that's often NOT the best choice -- particularly for interiors. The mic of choice for those situations is usually a hypercardioid mic.

    Use of interference-tube shotguns are often the cause of that hollow, boxy sound you hear in low-budget indie films. Some shotguns, like the Sanken CS-3, use a different principle to achieve directionality, so are not susceptible to the same sorts of problems.

    To get clean dialogue, the first and most important rule is to get the mic as close to the subject as possible. That means riding the frame-line with the mic and risking the occasional (hopefully rare ) dip into the frame. A lav mic on the subject can go a long way toward "solving" the problem of a reverberant room.

    I recently recorded a scene shot in a locker room: concrete walls, floor, ceiling and metal lockers. The room sounded like a train station with all the clatter and echo from normal movement and conversation! I used a hypercardioid boom mic and put lavaliere mics on the two actors who had lines. The results were clean and clear. The hypercardioid track had the faintest hint of room resonance, but was good and usable. The lavs sounded clean, with no hint of "locker room echo" at all.

    Get the mic close and use the right mic. That's the hot tip.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Hall View Post
    There are lots of reasons for bad sound in indie films.
    The biggest reason for bad sound is not thinking about sound in the first place - "if you can't see it, it's not important" seems to be the attitude. They don't budget for it, thinking that hiring a production sound mixer is an exorbitant expense, and assuming that having a mic in the general vicinity of the actors is enough. By the time most projects get into audio post it's much too late too fix things, and there is an insufficient budget for proper audio post, much less fixing improperly recorded production sound.
    Filmmaking is the art of being invisible; if anyone notices your work you haven't done your job right.

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    Much of this has been said, but you cannot generally blame bad sound on one thing or another. There are many factors that get botched in the production chain:

    Not hiring a proper sound mixer/boom op.
    This is probably the best way to ensure sound quality, or lack thereof. Get some one on the crew who knows what to do and ideally has the gear to do it. None of the other production sound issues will (ideally) pop up if you have a skilled sound crew.

    Improper mic selection. This is a killer. The general rule, especially for beginners, is shotguns outside and hypercardioids inside. Lavs are okay when absolutely needed, though they often have a much drier, less natural sound to them because of where they're placed. That missing ambience has to be added back in post. Wireless should be a last resort.

    Improper mic placement.
    One of the biggest problems here is with small productions that have no sound person, and resign themselves to putting the mic wherever they can. On-camera is the absolute last place ever to place a mic for production sound. Get the mic off the camera and into the action. The effective working distance for a mic for on-camera dialog is 6"-20", and 20" is pushing it. The closer to the source, the more direct sound in proportion to ambient reflections will be recorded.

    Improper recording levels. This usually goes more toward the low end, since it's much more obvious when levels are too high and distorted. Audio that is recorded too low is going to have noise problems later. Not only will the levels have to be raised in post, increasing the level of any noise in the signal, low audio levels also create problems when audio plug-ins and filters are added. Since low (digital) audio levels don't use but half, or less, of the available bits, processing through lots of things like compression and EQ can make the audio start to sound blocky (the sound equivalent of pixellated).

    No headphones. Too many folks like to leave their audio to chance. "Hey, the mic's plugged in and the meters are bumping, so everything must be good. Right? Right?"
    If you don't monitor your sound while you record, you have no idea what you're going to find when you edit. That can leave you with sound that's somewhere between terrible and unusable. You watch the monitor/viewfinder of the camera during recording, so why not listen to the sound as well?

    No room tone. There's sound that exists behind the dialog, whether or not you notice it. Traffic outside, refigerator or AC noise, the hum of lighting ballasts or hard drives... whatever it is, it's the natural sound of the room. We call this "room tone". Where room tone comes into play is later on in post. Cutting dialog together requires some continuity of sound, and when taking a clip from take 1 and a piece from take 2 and cutting them together the room tone will be needed both to smooth out the edit (so that the room tone doesn't disappear between lines) and often to keep continuity of sound between takes. If the traffic goes away, bugs start/stop chirping outside, or the room tone otherwise changes between takes, room tone is how you recover. Be sure to record :30 of room tone for each scene, and record it again if something changes. After the last take, ask everyone to stay still and quiet, and record in the same space with the same mics and with all the same equipment running.

    Post production negligence. This is the other big killer for sound. Nothing that is done properly during production is going to result in the big-budget, "in-your-face" sound that you know from the big screen. Sound needs just as detailed a regimen of post-production is picture does (though it does start with clean production sound). Dialog editing that's smooth and concise is great, but there's so much more to it than that, and simply adding the music underneath. Ambient sound beds add realism to the background. SFX and Foley replace all the sounds of people walking, moving, handling objects, etc. (none of that is actually recorded in production, where dialog is the only focus). Layers and layers of audio come together to paint the big picture.

    These seem like easy answers, but much of what I've said is the over-simplified, condensed version. Nonetheless, it's a starting place. The rest is up to research and experience (and budgeting for the proper crew and equipment).
    Last edited by Alex H.; 09-05-2011 at 08:59 AM.
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