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Questions on Sound?

Hi all!
I've been doing socials on and off but have taken a bit of a break after niching down and figuring out that post is what I want to do. Before starting up again I really want to make sure that I make content relatable to my target audience, which are indie filmmakers! 😄


So my question to all of you is simple: What about production/post-production audio do you have questions on/would like to see content about? No worries if you think any question sounds too basic, I really want to make sure content I make helps any indie filmmaker interested in bumping up their audio 😎
 
For me personally, the most useful thing would be a "Direct Comparison" channel that could effectively quantify the differences between the many competing VST solutions for various types of tools.

I'll give a few example of videos that I think people would watch.

"Direct Comparison - mastering the same tracks on the top 5 mastering suites"

The video could compare not only A/B testing of the sound, but comparisons of the speed at which the results were achieved, learning curve, scientific waveform analysis, etc.

"500 dollar convolution reverb, vs free reverb"

A major advantage of taking this tac is that you would have a large number of proceedural content pieces you could create, which could piggyback on brand searches.

"Izotope Ozone vs LANDR - BLIND TEST" - this comes up in searches for Izotope, Ozone, and LANDR.
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
A video about the audio engineering of a jump scare would be cool.
Is there anything more to it besides going really quiet and then loud?

sometimes i would watch movies in bed and a jump scare would come up and my dog would jump up lol
 
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A video about the audio engineering of a jump scare would be cool.
Is there anything more to it besides going really quiet and then loud?

sometimes i would watch movies in bed and a jump scare would come up and my dog would jump up lol
Haha aww, poor pup! That's a great one, I actually helped someone troubleshoot their jumpscare the other day! Building 'em all comes down to story, really. Sometimes you just want PFx/Tone to jump right into a door slam, sometimes you want a lead in with SFx/Msx. Totally depends on the point in the story. But definitely an idea worth exploring!
 
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sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
Haha aww, poor pup! That's a great one, I actually helped someone troubleshoot their jumpscare the other day! Building 'em all comes down to story, really. Sometimes you just want PFx/Tone to jump right into a door slam, sometimes you want a lead in with SFx/Msx. Totally depends on the point in the story. But definitely an idea worth exploring!


I don't think my dog understood the story. jump scare still worked on him though.
 
I'd love to see a tutorial on achieving a consistent sound level in a scene. The assumption is that an edited scene will contain clips from many takes shot at different times of the day (possibly even on different days). Assume that the sound mixer did a reasonable job when making the recordings (or maybe not!). How do you keep the dialog to noise level consistent so that it sounds like all the actors are talking in the same room around the same time?
 
Would love to see some interviews and guest experts like @AcousticAl and @Alcove Audio. A "What would you do?" series would be pretty cool. Some bad audio, or complex situations where we see what different experts would do. Plus background on them.
I'm working on finishing up a lot of backend business systems and one of those things is a podcast workflow, interviews are a fantastic idea! I'll be sure to reach out to them, thank you! :)

I'd love to see the workflow for big sound on a small scale. IE, you have a single scene. Ultimately, you need Dialogue, Music, Sound FX, Foley and Atmosphere. What's the order of operations for mixing the scene?
Funny you say that! The first YouTube series I'm filming right now is all on how to create a DAW template for mixing films with an indie-level stereo/2.1 export. I'm hoping to start releasing episodes weekly starting in August along with free downloadable content to help people as they build it and give them more info.

If you want you can check out more info about the first checklist here https://postaudioformedia.com/freebies
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
i have a question

how far from the roads/highway must you be to stop hearing cars
how do they tackle production sound on shows like "Last Man on Earth" where they can't have any hum at all of car noises in the background
 
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i have a question

how far from the roads/highway must you be to stop hearing cars
how do they tackle production sound on shows like "Last Man on Earth" where they can't have any hum at all of car noises in the background
That's a great one! I can make a blog post on location scouting for sound but to sum up some highlights that popped up in my head:

- Don't location scout without a member from your location audio team. You focus on if the scene looks right, let us tell if it'll sound right or any problems to chew on before shooting starts.

- On set hopefully your audio team is bold/experienced enough to hear what can cause problems in post, like ambient noise (ac's, refrigerator hums, and the like), cars, animals (like a flock of geese going nuts when an actor is talking), planes, construction, etc.

- Remove noise where needed but remember that noise is NOT the enemy. The last thing you want is for a scene in Grand Central Station to sound like it was recorded in a studio. Mitigate noise, but dont try and eliminate everything. This one comes with experience and with speaking to the director which is why taking audio to location scouts is so important so we can ask them those questions. "Is it ok if you periodically hear an elevator chime or should we shut em down and add the dings in post?" Remember, the director is the one in charge of how to capture or translate sound in a script. Their input matters, don't keep them in the dark.

- For big budget films it's easier to get rid of a lot of the modern sounds. They have the budget to block off roads, redirect foot traffic, even redirect flights if that's a problem. For 99% of us we can't afford it. Proper location scouting, understanding how production noise is used/mitigated in post production (Dx editing: Fill, Fix Fade), having an audio team that speaks up on set when an issue comes up, MAKING SURE YOU GET ROOM TONE, and taking those extra minutes on set to get it right will do you wonders. :)

- Bonus: Stop relying on lav mics to fix your noise issues. Yes, they cut out more noise than booms but they also remove all the natural ambiance and noise you DO want. Going back to the Grand Central Station, if you paid a large amount of money to record there but have all your dialogue in super wide angles using lav mics to compensate and manage noise...you've just wasted your money. Because now all that beautiful natural ambiance of the station is gone and all you have left are recordings that sound like the person was inches from a mic...because they were. Plan your scenes for Boom, plan to use lavs ONLY in severe crisis management.
 
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I used to just use a Mitra for scene ambience and just mixing that as a separate track, denoising the voice tracks with Izotope RX, and then sending those cleaned vocal tracks through a tailored convolution verb that matches the space.

I record location audio during stretches without distracting background noise, and then quilt them into a realistic backdrop, leaving in sounds that enhance the SOD like distant ambulance wails, etc, and cutting noises that steal focus from the dialogue.

How much percentage difference in quality do you feel there is between redirecting traffic to get uncompressed live sound, and simply cleaning the voice tracks and running them through an IR captured on scene, then mixing that with an ambience plate?

Do you feel like an audience can tell the difference between flying a microphone to the Sahara desert, vs overdubbing an appropriate wind track, and how is that cost difference justified?

I ask because studios commonly spend astronomical amounts of money on things that have basically no client end effect, so I take their methodologies with a grain of salt. Of course I understand that budget dynamics change a lot when you are loosing 10 grand a minute in overhead, but simultaneously, that seems like an argument in favor of compartmentalized and digitally refabricated soundscapes rather than against them.
 
I used to just use a Mitra for scene ambience and just mixing that as a separate track, denoising the voice tracks with Izotope RX, and then sending those cleaned vocal tracks through a tailored convolution verb that matches the space.

I record location audio during stretches without distracting background noise, and then quilt them into a realistic backdrop, leaving in sounds that enhance the SOD like distant ambulance wails, etc, and cutting noises that steal focus from the dialogue.

How much percentage difference in quality do you feel there is between redirecting traffic to get uncompressed live sound, and simply cleaning the voice tracks and running them through an IR captured on scene, then mixing that with an ambience plate?

Do you feel like an audience can tell the difference between flying a microphone to the Sahara desert, vs overdubbing an appropriate wind track, and how is that cost difference justified?

I ask because studios commonly spend astronomical amounts of money on things that have basically no client end effect, so I take their methodologies with a grain of salt. Of course I understand that budget dynamics change a lot when you are loosing 10 grand a minute in overhead, but simultaneously, that seems like an argument in favor of compartmentalized and digitally refabricated soundscapes rather than against them.
A lot of that depends, really. If the production chooses to go the ADR route that can be a really time extensive and expensive operation to massage those takes into the production sound. And the biggest variable there is the actor's ability to recreate the emotion, flow, and cadence they performed during the take.

My best example for how ADR can ruin a film is with Shyamalan's Old. If you haven't seen it, the entire story is on a beach. Nightmare for audio. To make it better they're all in swimsuits. Nightmare for lavs. The entire film was a 3/10 for me solely for how much ADR I heard. Completely pulled me out of the experience.

Don't get me wrong, they did a fan-freaking-tastic job with what they were given. But it was still there and my ears picked up on it.
The best example I can give that relates to predominantly film peeps is cheating day for night. Yeah you can get it done but it's time consuming, costly, and there's a lot of variables that can make it go really, really wrong.

It's the same with audio. Yeah we can filter dialogue, low cut out rumble, denoise the living crap out of it. But you can also introduce a lot of artifacting that way which ruins the scene. Then your options are to deal with the noise captured or tell the director/producer to ADR it. And if done poorly ADR will ruin it worse than the noise.

A lot of this plays into the style of the location audio/post team and how that melds with the style of the director, too. I'm a very naturalistic audio engineer. I love the texture and grit of natural audio. When you capture a scene with perfect natural ambiance and just get it right on set then it just needs a little polishing in post before it's magic. That's why I love working on indie films because they're not as stuffy as bigger productions. Although a lot more productions have been giving the green light for their audio team to go nuts thanks to the consumer rise in Atmos and it's incredible. The Northman? The last film I got that excited for on their audio was A Quiet Place.
 
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