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Ane L.de Z.
RAE ET AL, 203-217
- Digital sound reproduction has drastically changed the way audiences hear soundtracks in theaters (THX, Dolby, DTS/SDDS) —> improving the aural dynamic of sound.
- The most important step of sound is recording of good, clean sounds, especially dialogue, during principal photography.
- For recording audio: • Nagra, a portable audio tape recorder that was developed by Stefan Kudelski which fostered the
development of the cinema verite ́ and direct cinema movements.
• Number of companies also manufacture digital recorders which record to either a hard drive or a flash card: Sound Devices, Tascam, Fostex, and Edirol.
- When you are shooting video, sound is recorded right on the videotape or P2 card. Different video formats have different audio capabilities (digital audio, analog, and some combine both). Most professional video productions record sound “double system” (separately from the picture), sending the production mix to the camera for a guide track at picture editing.
- Although the tools have changed, the process of recording sound has remained basically the same. These new recording devices can’t perform magic. If the microphone is not placed properly in a dialogue scene. Although all sounds, including dialogue, can be re-created during the postproduction process, ADR (also known as looping, actors report to a studio months after the shoot to duplicate their original performances line by line), it is economically and aesthetically best to record as much of the dialogue and natural ambience at the location during principal photography.
- Audiences are more critical about what they hear rather what they see (we perceive the 90% of information through our eyes, so we have greater acceptability in visual images).
- PRODUCTION SOUND: consists of dialogue, natural sounds associated with each scene, and any other sounds that might be of value during the postproduction process. Person responsible for recording production sound —> production sound mixer or sound recordist. The one who positions the microphone for quality and purity of the sound is the Boom Operator.
- THE SOUND TEAM: • Production Sound Mixer. Responsible for assembling the sound crew and choosing the appropriate
equipment for the project, needs to find a way to achieve the best sound possible within the limitations of each lens choice, camera move, and lighting setup. During preproduction the sound mixer consults with the producer and director on the best ways to approach the recording. Also responsible for supplying fleshed-out sound reports and sound notes.
• Boom Operator. Is considered an equal partner with the production mixer. He must be strong, agile, attentive, and observant. It is no easy feat to hold a 15-foot long fishpole over his head at full extension, particularly with microphone, shock mount, and windscreen attached at the end. To be most effective, the boom operator needs to learn the dialogue and the blocking of each scene so the micro- phone can be angled to face each actor just before the line is delivered. The mixer/boom relationship is so important, the mixer should always demand the right to choose which boom operator to hire.
• Utility Sound Technician. Third person on the sound crew. In the old days, this position was known as the “cableman.” Early Hollywood cameras were linked to sound recorders by thick cables that drove
Ane L.de Z. the sync motors. Nowadays technology eliminates the need to run thick cables over great distances, so the presence of a UST depends on budget and complexity of the shooting (Handle an extra boom, follow behind the boom operator with cable in hand, rig and test radio mics, be the playback operator, music videos are all about playback…
- THE EQUIPMENT, mixer should always assume responsibility for the selection and preparation of the equipment package (it is quite common for the sound mixer to come with his own equipment. If he doesn’t, he should personally oversee the choice of and thoroughly test equipment from a rental house).
- PREPRODUCTION PLANNING. The sound mixer should prepare by analyzing the script from a sound perspective (Whether it is dialogue heavy, how many characters appear in any given scene, the nature of the locations, exteriors or interiors or both, weather issues, any extra sounds that must be recorded, whether playback will be required.
- SITE VISIT. It is best that the mixer visit the set prior to filming to recognize inherent sound problems. How large is the space? What are the acoustics of the space? Will sound blankets solve the noise problems? Can neighbors be controlled?
- RESPONSIBILITIES OF A SOUND TEAM: • Record “clean” dialogue —> production sound mixer strives to record dialogue at consistent levels
that can be replayed clearly. If it is impossible to record the dialogue clean, the sound team records it “dirty”, although unusable as the final product, this recording is used as a reference, or guide track, in the editing room for both cutting and ADR work.
• Match the sound perspective with the camera angle —> should be recorded at as close a perspective as the framing allows with as little reverberation on the master track as possible. However, perspective is often added at the final mix stage (in a close-up, the sound should have an intimate, almost overbearing presence). A character’s audio should be somewhat constant throughout the course of a scene, even as the shot changes from wide shot to medium to close-up. If you close your eyes, the changes in audio from shot to shot should not sound unnatural or unexpected. To minimize this bump in volumes at the editing stage, mixers often use shotgun or lavaliere mics that are more discrete in their sound- collecting properties.
• Record the scene so it will cut smoothly (sound consistency) —> The production sound mixer’s goal is to record sound consistently from shot to shot, the sound quality of a motion picture to flow seamlessly and continuously. It does not matter to an audience that the final soundtrack was constructed out of numerous camera angles and takes, shot over a wide expanse of time. Throughout the duration of the production, try to establish and then maintain relative audio levels for all your characters.
• Record room tone —> The mixer will often be required to supply 30–60 seconds (although 10 seconds will due in a pinch) of sound presence, or “room tone,” from each location. These 60 seconds of tone can then be copied and used in postproduction to fill in holes and smooth out the dialogue tracks when preparing for the mix. It is important that the tone be recorded with the lights on and the full cast and crew on the set, with the same microphone used to record the dialogue and at the same levels.
• Record sound effects to accompany the shot; Footsteps, cloth rustling, and prop movement should ideally be recorded on a Foley stage with no ambience added.
Ane L.de Z. • Record additional sounds —> If the crew is shooting in an interesting location, especially if it is
distant, the sound team should record any particular sound that is unique. • Handle playback on the set —> Because this music will be used later in the film, it must be recorded
with a reference pilot tone or SMPTE time- code so it is usually an omni or cardioid mic with a wider pattern of sensitivity be later synchronized with the picture.
• Communicate sound issues on the set —> It is common to supply an audio feed from your mixing panel for the director, producer, or script supervisor. Walkie-talkies are the other main form of communication on the set (Motorola).
• Keep accurate sound reports —> The production sound mixer should take clear and comprehensive notes of the dialogue recorded on the set and the “wild sounds” recorded on or off the set.
- APPROACHES TO RECORDING SOUND: • Plants/Stash. Are microphones that are not mobile; they are “planted” or “stashed” in a fixed location
for the duration of the scene.They need to be hidden from the view of the camera. They can be taped or mounted in doorways, on bed headboards, behind pictures, under chairs (usually an omni or cardioid mic with a wider pattern of sensitivity).
• Overhead Boom. The optimum way to position the boom is overhead (perspective is easier to maintain, group of people can be recorded from a single mic, allows for a fair amount of physical activity and movement by the actors). If it is physically impossible to mic from overhead, the next best option is to boom from underneath.
• Lavaliere. Is small, lightweight, omnidirectional micro- phone pinned under an actor’s clothing or taped to the body, carefully placed so as not to pick up the rustle of clothing as the actor moves.Perspective, however, is a problem with lavalieres that even an experienced sound mixer can’t prevent. Dialogue recorded with lavalieres sounds as though it was recorded close to the camera even if the actors were in a long shot.
• Radio Microphones. Are lavalieres that are attached to a wireless radio transmitter which transmits a signal to a receiver. Radio microphones are used to cover hard-to-reach areas, such as a wide shot of a couple talking on a beach. If the actors are far from the reach of a boom, plant, or lavaliere, a radio microphone might be your only option. We recommend their use only if it is the option of last resort.
- VARIABLES FOR PLACING MICROPHONES. The placement and use of the different microphones depend on the many variables of a particular scene: 1. The Director’s Vision; 2. Placement and Blocking of Actors; 3. Placement of Camera; 4. Size and Composition of Shot; 5. Lighting of Shot; 6. Movement of the Shot; 7. Acoustics of Location; 8. Camera Noise (position the camera as far away from the microphone as possible); 9. Where to Place the Recorder
- RECORDING CONCERNS. The director will ask whether a take is good for camera and whether it is good for sound. Camera will be first on the list. Asking for another take because of sound problems is a judgment call the director makes after listening to the track. Many sound problems can be addressed in postproduction, whereas picture problems must always be handled during filming.
• Pickups. If only a small section of a take is ruined because of extraneous sounds, you might be able to “pick up” the section of the take that was spoiled. In a pinch, the sound can be also taken “wild” (audio recording only) and matched to the picture in postproduction. An ADR session in a quiet room can also
Ane L.de Z. save some money, after the actors listen to their performance on headphones, they repeat the original dialogue for the production sound mixer.
• Keeping It Clean. Be aware of actors who step on one another’s lines, overlapping. If two sounds are already blended on the track, they can never be controlled separately. Record dialogue that can later be controlled in the editing room.
• Guide Tracks. The production sound mixer might not be able to achieve clean sound on a difficult set or location. The director will have to bite the bullet and plan for ADR work. However, it is still important to record production dialogue. It can be used as a guide track for editing purposes and as a reference track for the actors when they perform the lines during the ADR session.
• Crowd Scenes. To record clean sound in a crowded bar sequence, the assistant director instructs the background extras to mime speech and the clinking of glasses. This means that during the take, the background actors move their lips, but utter no sound. This allows the dialogue recorded on the set to be “clean”. This way, when the three soundtracks—dialogue, music, and background noise— are married in the mix, the volume of each track can be controlled separately
- VIDEO SOUND. Most amateur video sound recording is done single sys- tem, with the sound recorded right on the videotape (there are situations when audio is recorded separately). Most camcorders have microphones built into the camera.