Thread: How do movie pros do audio?

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  1. #1 How do movie pros do audio? 
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    Do they use a mono shotgun mic on a boom and in post make it so it appears 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound or something? Or do they use a stereo condenser mic or multiple mics at the same time? Also, please recommend some good mics you have either used or think are good. Thank you in advance.
    Last edited by Frank_L; 01-28-2011 at 08:53 PM.
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    Frank, nearly all pros use multiple mics. Schoeps has a good line of mics.
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    How many mics do you think is minimum for a shooting a scene?
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    I'm not a mixer or a boom op, but to my knowledge, dialog is recorded in mono, and in a 5.1 mix comes primarily from the center channel. Any panning and positioning is done after the fact.

    On the project's I've worked with, the sound folks ran lapels on each main character and a boom as well, each to a separate track.

    The goal is clean, isolated, present sound. Placement can be determined in post.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank_L View Post
    How many mics do you think is minimum for a shooting a scene?
    One.
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    Senior Member Thor Melsted's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M Most View Post
    One.
    ROFL
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank_L View Post
    How many mics do you think is minimum for a shooting a scene?
    Zero.
    Anson Fogel
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    www.camp4collective.com
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    I will echo what zach says here. 99% of the time one or two booms, and as many lavs as possible are used, each one being mono. The goal of the production sound team, (and the productions that can afford a Red have no reason not to have them!!) as was said, is clear, clean voices. this can be up to 10-12 tracks, if the scene needs it. Generally, it's more like 4-6. Dialog editors then go in, edit, clean, choosing the best mics, taking out problems, work with ADR. They also ensure that there is smooth consistent sounding room tone on their tracks, and seperate out any on sound fx recorded during filming to make mixing easier. Again this is all mono.
    The fx and foley teams add in backgrounds, hard fx, sound design, and foley. Foley is recorded mono to match production. Fx and BG's, and sound design are normally mono or stereo, though it is in some cases recorded in surround.
    This is no small feat. Every syllable is checked. Everything that could make a sound is given one, every footstep recorded. Music is also edited.
    After all of this is done, all of these hundreds and hundreds of edited tracks are brought to the mix room and brought together. Panned, treated, noise removed, reverbed, and leveled. This is the point that the sonic stage is built. 95% of the time. Dialog is panned exclusively to the center channel. Though some reverb might be put in the left or right, or the surrounds, it stays in the middle. This is done to keep things consistent between camera angles. You could imagine if characters' panning moved everytime a cut happened, it would be very distracting, confusing, and at some point pull the viewer out of the story. Obviously, there are times dialog will move away from center, but it's a rare exception to the rule. Foley is kept in the middle to match the voices. If the voice is in the C but the footsteps are L, you get confused. Hard fx are panned to follow on screen action. Door slams, car bys, jet fly overs. Backgrounds and atmospheres are kept about 60-75% up front with some going to the surrounds. This of course depends on the scene. Is it intimate or huge? Quiet or active? How much does the director want the scene to fill the theater? Is there a subway or an ocean? Where? How big is the space? A verby hanger or a bedroom. All creative choices.
    Music is similar to BG's, though it's for the most part kept out of the center. If stems are given, individual instruments might be panned. Normally, music reverb is added.

    So the bottom line: Recorded mono on set. Made surround in post.

    If you learn a lesson: sound shouldn't be a hasty afterthought. Budget for it. Take time for it. You don't skimp on the picture. Don't skimp on sound.
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    Quote Originally Posted by S_Miille View Post
    I will echo what zach says here. 99% of the time one or two booms, and as many lavs as possible are used, each one being mono. The goal of the production sound team, (and the productions that can afford a Red have no reason not to have them!!) as was said, is clear, clean voices. this can be up to 10-12 tracks, if the scene needs it. Generally, it's more like 4-6. Dialog editors then go in, edit, clean, choosing the best mics, taking out problems, work with ADR. They also ensure that there is smooth consistent sounding room tone on their tracks, and seperate out any on sound fx recorded during filming to make mixing easier. Again this is all mono.
    The fx and foley teams add in backgrounds, hard fx, sound design, and foley. Foley is recorded mono to match production. Fx and BG's, and sound design are normally mono or stereo, though it is in some cases recorded in surround.
    This is no small feat. Every syllable is checked. Everything that could make a sound is given one, every footstep recorded. Music is also edited.
    After all of this is done, all of these hundreds and hundreds of edited tracks are brought to the mix room and brought together. Panned, treated, noise removed, reverbed, and leveled. This is the point that the sonic stage is built. 95% of the time. Dialog is panned exclusively to the center channel. Though some reverb might be put in the left or right, or the surrounds, it stays in the middle. This is done to keep things consistent between camera angles. You could imagine if characters' panning moved everytime a cut happened, it would be very distracting, confusing, and at some point pull the viewer out of the story. Obviously, there are times dialog will move away from center, but it's a rare exception to the rule. Foley is kept in the middle to match the voices. If the voice is in the C but the footsteps are L, you get confused. Hard fx are panned to follow on screen action. Door slams, car bys, jet fly overs. Backgrounds and atmospheres are kept about 60-75% up front with some going to the surrounds. This of course depends on the scene. Is it intimate or huge? Quiet or active? How much does the director want the scene to fill the theater? Is there a subway or an ocean? Where? How big is the space? A verby hanger or a bedroom. All creative choices.
    Music is similar to BG's, though it's for the most part kept out of the center. If stems are given, individual instruments might be panned. Normally, music reverb is added.

    So the bottom line: Recorded mono on set. Made surround in post.

    If you learn a lesson: sound shouldn't be a hasty afterthought. Budget for it. Take time for it. You don't skimp on the picture. Don't skimp on sound.
    Very informative and great advice. Thanks!
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  10. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank_L View Post
    Do they use a mono shotgun mic on a boom and in post make it so it appears 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound or something? Or do they use a stereo condenser mic or multiple mics at the same time? Also, please recommend some good mics you have either used or think are good. Thank you in advance.
    The best advice: hire a good, experienced sound mixer who knows what they're doing. Don't try to do it yourself. Bad-sounding dialog is one of the biggest turnoffs in low-budget filmmaking.

    To answer your questions: 5.1 and 7.1 are final delivery formats, not production formats. Films are generally recorded in mono on the set, but sometimes (and more often these days), individual actors are miked separately with wireless microphones. Boom mikes, operated by a skilled operator, generally get more realistic dialog because they include the acoustic properties of the room. Stereo microphones are rarely used for dialog, but are sometimes used in effects gathering during the post process.

    The Schoeps CMC641 is one of the most popular boom microphones used for interiors; the lower-cost Sennheiser MKH50 and MKH40 are also very good. The Schoeps CMIT and Sennheiser MKH60 are both excellent shotguns for outdoor use. The skill of the boom operator and the nature of the location are the two biggest issues that affect on-location dialog quality.

    There are no general rules that apply to every production, and sound is an enormous, difficult, complex subject. Richard Patton's new book Sound Man goes into it in quite a bit of detail. But bear in mind that learning how to do sound from a book is a little like reading how to ride a bicycle. Nothing beats actual experience. As a friend of mine likes to say, "it takes years of experience to get years of experience."
    www.colorbymarc.com | colorist / post-production consultant
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