location Room Echo - Post Production Nightmare?

Hi all, I’ve recently stepped away from producing and have started to focus more on location sound recording. I won’t go into why I’ve made this change in this post, but am looking for some advice on a project I have coming up.

We have a location for one scene that the director has their heart set on, but unfortunate it’s a warehouse location with some serious echo. I’ve given them a general estimate of what it will cost both in time and money to set up the location to have this echo radically reduced but being a low budget shoot that has already had its budget stretched a little too thin, they’re not keen on this option.

What they did ask me was what if they embraced the echo and tried to play it off as a stylistic choice? I told them I’d look into this. My main concern is that this will sound terrible as opposed to intentional. But my other concern, and my main question for this post, is how the scene is going to be handled in post production. It’s a dialogue heavy fight scene between four actors. Could cutting the sound together for this scene potentially be a nightmare for the person handling it in post production?
 
Very aurally ambient locations are a fornicating nightmare during audio post. It is incredibly difficult to reduce reverberation. Even Zynaptiq Unveil. DyVision Reverb Remover, SPL’s De-Verb and other plugins to reduce reverb/echo are only marginally effective, in addition to being pricey. And I'm guessing that they don't have the budget for an audio post facility that could afford such software.

You need to get in REALLY, REALLY close with a hypercardioid (which seriously limits shot choice) or use lavs (which seems to be budget limited in this case). Doing dialog wilds and/or ADR is probably another budgetary issue unless your audio post person/team know what they're doing - possibly also a budgetary limitation, I'm guessing.

When it comes to editing the amount of reverberation will change from shot to shot and be very noticeable, another issue that will be very difficult to reconcile sonically. It will also be extremely difficult to get the Foley and sound effects to match well.

It's not a "stylistic" choice, it's not accepting the reality of the situation. As I mention frequently on this forum each dollar/minute you spend on production sound will save at least ten in audio post. My suggestion is that you try to quash this ridiculous idea as strongly and firmly as you possibly can; they are just trying to use "stylistic choice" as an excuse to avoid spending money, and they will regret it in the end. If they do decide to go this route make sure that you have it in writing that you object to this self-destructive choice and they are going this direction against you advice so zero blame can be attached to you. At the very least be sure that you collect copious DX wilds immediately after the scene is completed; at least the talent will be in the mood, in the scene and in character.
 
Very aurally ambient locations are a fornicating nightmare during audio post. It is incredibly difficult to reduce reverberation. Even Zynaptiq Unveil. DyVision Reverb Remover, SPL’s De-Verb and other plugins to reduce reverb/echo are only marginally effective, in addition to being pricey. And I'm guessing that they don't have the budget for an audio post facility that could afford such software.

You need to get in REALLY, REALLY close with a hypercardioid (which seriously limits shot choice) or use lavs (which seems to be budget limited in this case). Doing dialog wilds and/or ADR is probably another budgetary issue unless your audio post person/team know what they're doing - possibly also a budgetary limitation, I'm guessing.

When it comes to editing the amount of reverberation will change from shot to shot and be very noticeable, another issue that will be very difficult to reconcile sonically. It will also be extremely difficult to get the Foley and sound effects to match well.

It's not a "stylistic" choice, it's not accepting the reality of the situation. As I mention frequently on this forum each dollar/minute you spend on production sound will save at least ten in audio post. My suggestion is that you try to quash this ridiculous idea as strongly and firmly as you possibly can; they are just trying to use "stylistic choice" as an excuse to avoid spending money, and they will regret it in the end. If they do decide to go this route make sure that you have it in writing that you object to this self-destructive choice and they are going this direction against you advice so zero blame can be attached to you. At the very least be sure that you collect copious DX wilds immediately after the scene is completed; at least the talent will be in the mood, in the scene and in character.
Thank you for such detailed info there. As usual, you are extremely helpful. Thanks again!
 

pedramyz

Member
How big is this warehouse? How much of the walls is going to be visible in your frames? One really cheap way I used to do to reduce echoes is covering all the walls with these egg cartons. And then covering the cartons with something that gives the impression of a wall ( like a white but a bit dirty blanket really stretched and pinned on four corners . It is not a perfect solution at all, but it's cheap and it works to some degree.
 
How big is this warehouse? How much of the walls is going to be visible in your frames? One really cheap way I used to do to reduce echoes is covering all the walls with these egg cartons. And then covering the cartons with something that gives the impression of a wall ( like a white but a bit dirty blanket really stretched and pinned on four corners . It is not a perfect solution at all, but it's cheap and it works to some degree.
Thanks for the suggestion. It’s a room in the warehouse that is maybe 50ft by 50ft. I proposed setting up sound blankets and to drop carpet down for all shots where you cannot see the floor. All of this was proposed with a small budget in mind. Unfortunately it’s a bit of a case of not enough money / time to be allocated to this task so I’ve strongly suggested that another location be found.

With the details supplied from Alcove Audio, they’re now listening and are looking at an alternate location for this scene.
 
Sound blankets and carpeting, etc. are good in smaller spaces such as bedrooms and hallways, but have minimal effect in large spaces; there's just too much space to cover effectively.

Keep beating them over the head to get a new location, pointing out the poor audio quality issues of the overly ambient space. Another issue that you may want to point out is that, with a large sonically ambient space, external sounds and sound from the crew will be greatly exaggerated.


Just for fun…. Quite a few years ago I was the sound consultant and slated to do the audio post on a low budget project. The director/producer absolutely insisted on a specific location and would not budge; it turned out that the location had some sort of sentimental value to him. The problem? There was a VERY busy eight lane highway a few hundred yards to the East (lots of trucks), a busy railroad switching yard to the West and it sat directly under a take-off/approach of a major airport. We had to raise our voices just to discuss the location when we were there. I took my consultant fee and bailed on the project. Some people just refuse to listen to the voice of experience.
 

onebaldman

Member
Oh wonderful, I have a warehouse planned for my SciFi short film, but really an relocation won't be an option. Would be curious to see what you all came up with if you eventually stay at the location. Also, what gear did you have access to at the time of the recording?
 
Yes, recording DX in a very ambient space is possible, but it requires a lot of experience and technique. You may want to check out "Being There" (1979). Besides being a great and very funny film Jeff Wexler (PSM) and Don Coufal (Boom-Op) did a fantastic job capturing DX in the highly ambient spaces of the mansion (they work together A LOT!). If you can afford it, a very experienced PSM/Boom-Op is a great option. Lavs are another solid solution for smaller budgets. As mentioned in my above posts, be sure to capture copious DX wilds for your audio post team.
 

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