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Old 04-12-2012, 02:01 PM   #1
NoiseNinja
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Production sound recording process

Here is my production sound recording process. I would love any feedback or discussion as to anything I am missing or ways to make it better.


- Production Sound Check List -
□ Block scene with DIR and DP.
□ Place sound blankets and carpets to reduce reverberation. Be overly critical, use as many sound blankets as you can fit on set.
□ Turn off or relocate sound sources such as HVAC, fridge,clock, dripping or running water, animals, buzzing lights, phones, appliances and unnecessary cast or crew.
□ Set up gear and assign mic positions for booms, lavs and plant mics.
□ LISTEN to the room through headphones to identify and fix problems.
□ Listen for clicking shoes or noisy costumes, work with the Costumer to minimize.
□ Work with AD or Director to test levels. Do actual run-throughs (not just test test 1234) Record loudest dialog at -1.5 to -3db. (((TURN ON LIMITER ON FIELD RECORDER)))
□ Ask AD or DIR to have cast and crew to turn [OFF] all cellphones, tablets and laptops.
□ Capture the cleanest dialog sound possible. If there are loud sounds intermixed with dialog you may need to allow loud screams or slamming doors to clip so the dialog will be good. Set up additional mics to capture loud sounds on additional tracks.
□ During recording listen critically for problems. Make AD or DIR aware of problem takes
□ Keep sound log and markers accurate during all shooting (do not wait to fill it in after).
□ Listen back to recorded takes to identify problems.
□ Ask AD or DIR to record wilds for any dialog that may not be good quality such as from camera or set noise. Be sure to also record breath and mouth sounds.
□ Record production sounds such as doors, footsteps and prop sounds.
□ Record 30-60 sec of good room tone or 2-5 min of good outdoor backgrounds. Turn off production lights or other noise sources for room tone and BG recording.
□ TAKE A DEEP BREATH, have some water and a snack it is going be along day.
□ Reset for next scene. (turn on air conditioning to keep cast and crew comfortable)
□ If moving locations, turn on everything we turned off earlier: HVAC,water, fridge etc.

PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO CAPTURE CLEAN DIALOG ON SET. BE POLITE BUT RESOLUTE ABOUT GETTING GOOD SOUND. IF THE DIRECTOR DOES NOT HAVE THE TIME TO ALLOW FOR WILDS OR SOUND BLANKETS, IT IS YOUR JOB TO MAKE SURE HE OR SHE IS MAKING AN INFORMED DECISION, KNOWING THE QUALITY OF THE PRODUCTION SOUND WILL SUFFER.
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Old 04-12-2012, 02:31 PM   #2
Alcove Audio
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Don't forget your detailed take comments in the audio logs.

As you turn off or move noisy items keep a check list so you don't forget to turn them back on or put them back where they belong.
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Old 04-12-2012, 04:26 PM   #3
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Thanks Alcove,

Thanks, that is a good Idea to keep a list. I don't know why that escaped me.

Kurt
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Old 04-12-2012, 04:33 PM   #4
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Great thread! My personal mission, over the next few months, is to DRASTICALLY improve my audio-gathering capabilities. Thanks for the post.
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Old 04-12-2012, 11:52 PM   #5
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Thanks Cracker Funk. This list is the result of my efforts to improve my audio-gathering capabilities. I have 30+ years in recording and audio reinforcement but am new to film sound. I am in the process of letting go of the location sound responsibilities and focusing more on post production. I put this list together because tomorrow we are doing a 48 Hour Film Project and during the first night of shooting I will be training my friend to take over for me.
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Old 04-13-2012, 04:11 AM   #6
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Loudest dialogue at -1.5 to -3dB?? Ain't that sailing far too close to the wind? Especially on digital? There's no +dBs on digital, just square waves. I tend to try and have the average peaks tickling -20dB if I can and really don't like to go over -12dB except for the shortest of transient peaks. Limiting is audible. Yeah it will save a recording if the level jumps up but generally don't like to trigger it.

And if crew need their phones or tablets for logging, note-taking etc then 'airplane mode' is acceptable. Banish anyone with a laptop though, the fans tend to kick in at the most inopportune times.

Last edited by Chrisk; 04-13-2012 at 04:14 AM.
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Old 04-13-2012, 05:05 PM   #7
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It depends on the director. If there is time for a few good test runs and the director actually directs the actors and gets them to preform with passion then yes I record the highest peaks at around -3. If I have no confidence in the material I will try to start around -9 to -12. I need to record as hot as possible because the sets are very noisy as the group I am working with uses lights with fans. I also try to get as close as possible to the actors and as the frame closes in I try to close in with the mics as well.
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Old 04-13-2012, 07:22 PM   #8
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Your levels will have no affect on the amount of noise you record (except with equipment self noise, but that's another issue); everything is coming in at the same level whether its at -3 or -12. What makes the difference is how close in and how well you aim the mic.

Since you have a music background... It's like micing an acoustic guitar in a live situation. If the mic is 3" away from the guitar you minimize the amount of bleed from the other instruments. If the mic is 18" away you'll get more bleed from the other instruments. If it's aimed off of the sound hole it will pick up even more bleed, or at least less of the guitar. If a bridge pick-up or contact mic is used it's like using a lav on an actor; you get in really close but you have another set of issues with the tonal quality (plus the rubbing and other lav issues).

Production sound is very different than music recording; it requires a change in your thinking. The same applies to audio post; I had to radically change my thinking. As important as sound is to a film ("Sound is half of the experience!") is it still subordinated to the story and is supportive of the visuals; it very, very rarely takes center stage.
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Old 04-14-2012, 03:39 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoiseNinja View Post
as the frame closes in I try to close in with the mics as well.
I do this a fair bit as I often end up in noisy or less than ideal conditions but there is very good argument for picking one distance and sticking to it, even if the shot gets closer. Recording with your mic at various distances means the dialogue tone and 'roominess' will vary, making post a very difficult job. It's always going to be a bit of a compromise but once I get close enough to be happy with the audio I try and resist the temptation to move in significantly closer just because I can.
Unless the shots get in real close for an intimate feel then shifting the sound perspective for that shot could make sense.
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Old 04-18-2012, 03:19 PM   #10
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Thanks for you thoughts,

I thought it was best to get closer because it does help with prospective. You can EQ it in post to thin it out but you cannot add back anything in post you did not capture. Any other thoughts on this?
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Old 04-18-2012, 03:23 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoiseNinja View Post
I thought it was best to get closer because it does help with prospective.
I think you mean perspective.
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Old 04-19-2012, 11:17 AM   #12
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oops... sometimes I hate auto-correct.
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Old 04-19-2012, 12:58 PM   #13
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Quote:
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I hate auto-correct.
I hate AutoTune...
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Old 04-24-2012, 04:31 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoiseNinja View Post
Thanks for you thoughts,

I thought it was best to get closer because it does help with prospective. You can EQ it in post to thin it out but you cannot add back anything in post you did not capture. Any other thoughts on this?
Of course you can always rely on post to EQ and add appropriate reverb but you are possibly adding hours to post. Give the sound designer an easy ride (and the producer a smaller bill) and it may well turn into more work.
I was booming on a job where the sound designer was recording and he kept pulling me back to an even distance when I was going in close on the tight shots.
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Old 05-09-2012, 04:41 AM   #15
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-3dBFS to -1.5dBFS is far too hot! It's a balancing act of course, on the one hand you want the dialogue as hot as possible so that when you get to post as you lower the dialogue to around -20dBFS you lower the noise floor as well but on the other hand you don't want to introduce any distortion by recording too hot.

I use the term "distortion" to mean any unwanted interference. Of course clipping is the most severe distortion although you are unlikely to get any clipping because you have the limiter engaged but of course the limiter is itself is changing the waveform and causing interference (though much less objectionable distortion than clipping). As you hit the limiter, you are reducing the dynamic range, thereby effectively increasing the noise floor. Peaks even at -3dBFS during a sound check mean that you will be hitting the limiter frequently, which you should be trying to avoid. Think of hitting the limiter as the absolute last resort! To be honest, except in very unpredictable situations I would avoid engaging the limiter because there is no telling at what point the limiter is starting to operate and affecting the sound quality.

Also consider that professional mic-preamps are designed to operate at maximum efficiency at +4dBu (which usually equals around -18dBFS) the further out of this spec you operate the pre-amps the more distortion you are likely to introduce. In short, you should be aiming for a maximum peak level never exceeding -6dBFS, which probably means -9dBFS during a sound check.

G

Last edited by AudioPostExpert; 05-09-2012 at 04:46 AM.
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