Off Topic - Anyone familiar with Hollywood Post Production Audio?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by FSMBP, Jun 5, 2009.

  1. FSMBP macrumors 68020


    Jan 22, 2009
    Hi, this question is for anyone familiar with the film industry.

    How is it possible for filmmakers to take dialogue captured during a scene when they're are wanted unwanted sounds (ex. the camera itself, crew footsteps etc.)

    I know if the audio is unusable, the actors do some ADR (ex. Looping) but I've been watching numerous behind the scenes of films and wonder the audio they capture is remotely usable?
  2. spinnerlys Guest


    Sep 7, 2008
    forlod bygningen
    They use directional/cardioid or shotgun microphones, whose characteristics allow them to only get the sound from where they are pointed at.

    Shotgun characteristic

    Also the cameras today have quite a good sound proof case, for example I once worked as the sound recordist for a short film that took place outside in a remote place.
    We had two cameras, one ARRI SR 2 and one ARRI SR 3 (both 16mm), and the SR 3 was more inaudible than the SR 2 (with cloth draped over the SR 2).
    I only had a semi-professional microphone at hand, and would sometimes have to stop the shooting, as a train was running by around 1km away.
    So I think, Hollywood and other big production studios will have the money to have more advanced microphones during shooting than me, so that even that noise will be not heard.

    Also they might use some sound filtering techniques during sound enhancing.

    Here are two links for microphones and their characteristics.
  3. FSMBP thread starter macrumors 68020


    Jan 22, 2009
    Thanks! I figured either the mics had to be a certain type but didn't know if there was something else.
  4. spinnerlys Guest


    Sep 7, 2008
    forlod bygningen
    Of course there will be something else besides the microphone. I just don't know how those big Hollywood studios have set there workflow up.

    Although I would think, that a lot of times, scenes will be shot at soundstages, so there will be not that many interfering outside noises. And if they shoot on location, what's the harm in some surrounding noises, it will give the scene the proper atmosphere, which will be of course enhanced with sound effects and a all that stuff.
    And when a big whopping truck goes by, they just have to reshoot.

    When we shot in some noisier places, we always had some people on the lookout and they would warn us, if something could be interfering the shoot, or they would try to stop that passing car (for example) and let us shoot our take.
  5. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I'd say ADR is used more often then you think. The audio for Apocalypse Now was nearly 100% replaced in post, for example. The on-set audio crew will also have the knowledge to know what are the best mics, and best placement for those mics, to get the best sound possible and once you get into post you'll have experienced mixers handling the sound, but as they say garbage in, garbage out.

  6. AVR2 macrumors 6502

    Jan 16, 2006
    Absolutely. ADR is very widely used indeed, and the technology for matching the re-recorded audio back up to the original pictures with perfect lip-sync (even if the actors didn't quite say the new lines exactly in time with the originals) is now so advanced that it's completely unnoticeable.

    It's probably fair to say that there's a good chance that any scenes shot on location, as opposed to on a soundstage, will have had *all* the original audio removed - ambient sounds as well as dialogue - and replaced in post-production.

    People are often surprised at how rough the original production audio (i.e. the stuff actually recorded during shooting) sounds. Even with proper professional shotgun mics, unwanted sounds are inevitably going to be recorded along with the dialogue. That wasn't so much of a problem back in the days of less advanced theatrical (and domestic) sound systems, but these days, the dialogue needs to be as sharp as a knife, and the only way to get that is to re-record it in a proper soundproof booth afterwards.
  7. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
    Having atmos on the dialogue channel is also less than ideal for the M&E (music and effects) mix for foreign dubbing.
  8. FSMBP thread starter macrumors 68020


    Jan 22, 2009
    Well, what got me thinking is this: ADR seems like a logical option sometimes but I've heard how some directors don't like it because the actor is usually out of character by the time ADR starts in post.

    Also, the more closely I've been watching more productions, I noticed how there is 9 times out of 10 a score in the background. The music may help dim down the constant unwanted background noises caught on tape.

    So, it's safe to say though that on a soundstage - that the audio is ideal because of the lack of unwanted noise? But on location shots use a lot more ADR?

    Oh and I appreciate all the insightful responses everyone!
  9. Gymnut macrumors 68000


    Apr 18, 2003
    The use of ADR and Foley really depends on the budget of the film, and certainly the type of film. Nowadays, with blockbuster action films, production audio, especially production dialogue is not always useable; You want the cleanest possible audio track you can get, and on a lot of these outdoor sets or locations, it's just not possible to get the microphone in close on the actor(s), and with so many competing sounds and distractions.

    It should also be said that ADR is not only expensive, but also time consuming, and your actor/actress is never able to fully reproduce their performance to what was shot possibly six months prior.

    There are no set %'s of what should be ADR and what production dialogue, as this varies from film to film based on their budget and viability of production dialogue; but I would fathom to say that the use of ADR outweighs production dialogue for most Hollywood features out today.
  10. AVR2 macrumors 6502

    Jan 16, 2006
    Actually, it's likely to make things worse! If you've got ambient noises recorded alongside the dialogue (say, traffic noise and pedestrians passing if you shot on a city street) they're going to be competing with the dialogue. You can obviously bring down the level of the ambient noise while the actors aren't speaking, but you'll have to bring it back up again for the actual dialogue, and you'd hear a very obvious change in the level of the ambient sound if you did that. Add in a score as well, and you're going to have one hell of a job mixing the audio to get a decent balance.

    Really, the only way to do it properly is to have completely clean, separate audio tracks of dialogue, atmos, sound effects and score so you can balance each of them precisely against the other.

    Not necessarily ideal, no. It all depends on what you're shooting. If it's an action scene with lots of movement from the actors there's every chance that they're going to go off-mic a lot. Or, if the scene requires fans to be blowing (say, to achieve a wind effect) the dialogue's probably going to be unuseable because of the noise.

    If it's a straightforward dialogue scene with actors sitting around a table, then there's more chance that the production audio will be useable in the final mix.

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