This page is dedicated to helping you achieve the best possible sound for your project before you bring it to me.
1. Common Issues
One of the most common issues I come across in audio post is low or almost flat lined sound files. This is easily corrected in the mix but is time consuming and can result in a noticeable quality loss. The two predominant causes for this are low recording levels by the production sound mixer and overly cautious digitizing into the AVID. Be aware that the audio level meters on an AVID are of the PEAK kind. They do not reflect the "denseness" of the sound just the peaks. They will bounce around a lot, often way into the red areas, this is fine, don't panic! As long as the little "peak" or "overload" indicators do not flash you are safe. Take some deep breaths and try to relax, do not be tempted to adjust, or worse, ride the levels for this.
2. Digitizing from Analog
When digitizing audio from analog tape sources try to keep the signal path as direct as possible. Directly out of the recorder into the AVID if possible. If you must route signal through a mixer prior to the AVID make sure it is set up correctly. This is a very common source of all kinds of bad audio.The trim pots at the top of the channel should be kept all the way down (fully anti clockwise) this is the "line level" audio setting. If you are recording a microphone, maybe for a scratch v/o track, this trim pot will be turned to about the three o'clock position and is then at "mic" level". The faders should then have a full range of motion, with unity being about three quarters of the way up. If the faders are typically at the bottom quarter or less of their range your audio will probably tend to sound thin, crispy or even distorted. Check on the mixer to make sure you are not double bussed. Those little buttons usually just above or beside each channel fader are for routing the audio out of the mixer. If your audio sounds phasey it could be being bussed out into the AVID and then where the AVID returns back into the mixer being bussed again back into the AVID, the resulting time delay causes the audio to be slightly out of sync and therefore phases.
3. Microphone Tips
Please try to keep mic choices as consistent as possible, or give us the ability to choose. Switching between a lavalier and boom will generally sound bad (unless it's for perspective). If you edit to the production mix or "line cut audio" please know that there is little we can do with it. We can't un-bake the cake. If someone is not mic'd then we probably will not be able to hear them, I know this sounds obvious but you'd be surprised!
Try to budget for a good audio mixer and then let them do their job. Don’t force them to bury mic’s under layers of clothes unless absolutely necessary, it can sound muffled, hard to understand and in some cases scratchy. A good audio mixer will not be scared or intimidated to hold up production for a few minutes while they fix a problem, after all they want the same thing you do, good clean audio. Please try to check the audio levels off tape before moving on to the next shot or location... if it is too low, distorted, or didn’t make it to tape at least you will know in advance and possibly be able to re shoot or do some pickups. Bear in mind that these issues are very often not fixable in post.
4. Ambience and Room Tone
One other thing we often come across while doing the dialog cleanup pass is the need for ambience or “room tone”. Whenever possible try to get at least a minute of silence for this, record it from whatever mic or mic’s you were using for the scene so that it matches, and make sure the editor knows where it is. If it doesn’t make it into the OMF/AAF we will probably never see it in post.
5. Organizing Your Tracks
When organizing your tracks prior to the shoot it sometimes helps to have a “mics only mix” this is generally pretty easy for the production mixer to provide and is a good compromise between getting every single mic of a multi mic shoot as an iso, and everything mixed together in a “line cut”. Even a combination can work well; "host ISO" and "mics only mix (minus host ISO)" for instance would work well. Of course where possible having the iso mic choices from the editor in the OMF/AAF is definitely the best way to go.
6. One Last Thing
One last thing, the audio that you digitize into the AVID is the same audio that comes to me in the OMF/AAF, and essentially the same audio that airs. Many mistakes that cause bad audio can easily be avoided and hopefully these tips will help.
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Izotope RX7 Advanced
The works! Just in time to make use of Ambience Match & Match EQ on some new shows. This is the defacto standard for audio restoration and it just got a whole lot better!
Audio Ease Altiverb 7
The premiere convolution reverb now in up to 7.1 channels. This thing is sick! Just amazing on dialogue localization anywhere from a closet to a concert hall. Indespensable!
Loving the new features in this latest version! Clip effects especially is a welcomed addition and enhances workflow no end when working on clip based audio post projects.
SSD All The Way!
Updated all drives to super fast SSD. These new Oyen Digital drives are blazingly fast and quite sexy (for a drive) I might add!!
New pitch change plug-in from SoundToys. Sounds amazing and I've put it to good use on 8 Minutes, a new A&E series I'm mixing. I tried out everything available and this one sounded the best by far.
Unveil from Zynaptiq allows attenuating or boosting reverb components within a mixed signal. An almost magical plug-in that helps clean up dialog recorded in reverberant rooms such as hallways and bathrooms. Now thanks to Zynaptic you really can un-bake the cake!
Izotope RX5 is finaly here and it's an amazingly powerfull tool for all your noise reduction needs. I've been using it a lot in my work lately and loving the new GUI, it's faster and easier to use than ever! As they say; "The repair tool of choice for industry professionals, who save time every day transforming flawed audio into mesmerizing media".
Check out my Post Sound Mixers group on Linked In and FaceBook. With 20,000+ members worldwide it's a great resource for anyone interested in post sound and there are many interesting & informative discussions being held by it's members.