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Film Sound: How To Record Audio for Shorts & Indie Features

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Film Sound: How To Record Audio for Shorts & Indie Features

Postby henrirapp » Sat Mar 28, 2020 10:51 pm

Recording Sound for a Short Film or Indie Films

Recording quality audio for a narrative production, whether a short film or feature length movie, has a lot of challenges. No matter what budget or production scale you are working at from indie short films to fully funded feature films, a lot of principles carry over and can be applied and adapted. A lot of it comes down to preparing for the shoot, having the gear & experience to best utilize it, communicating with other departments, and using critical thinking & creative problem solving. Audio is one of the most immersive parts of the films we all love to watch, and it all starts with the production sound.




"We'll Fix It In Post"
This is the worst mentality to have. If you are going to do something, do it right!

Read Full Article at https://henrirapp.com/recording-sound-for-films/
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Re: Film Sound: How To Record Audio for Shorts & Indie Features

Postby The Red Bladder » Sun Mar 29, 2020 1:51 pm

henrirapp wrote:Audio is one of the most immersive parts of the films we all love to watch, and it all starts with the production sound.
That's yet another one of the big myths about the movie industry!

The production sound guy (that's the guy holding the 416 over the actors) in a movie often finds that not one thing he recorded gets used in the final product. The dialogue is ADR'ed, the set-sounds are Foleys and the rest is prerecorded atmos, FX and score.

If there is good PS, well, that's a bonus and if it can be used it reduces time and costs. But the main task of PS is so that we can line-up the ADR properly.

Once the principle photography is done, the actors' jobs are far from over. The one or two months spent on set are just half the job! They then have to go into the ADR studio and rerecord all the dialogue. When that's done, they are out there promoting the film.

TV and DIY'ed projects using a DSLR or a camcorder are different. There PS is usually all you get, so it better be good!
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Re: Film Sound: How To Record Audio for Shorts & Indie Features

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Mar 29, 2020 2:38 pm

Bit of a sweeping generalisation there RB... Some big feature films use a lot of ADR and some don't... it varies enormously with the type and locations of the shoot and the subject matter.
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Re: Film Sound: How To Record Audio for Shorts & Indie Features

Postby The Red Bladder » Sun Mar 29, 2020 3:23 pm

A quiet intimate sound stage is a fine thing and saves a great deal of time, but with crews getting larger and equipment getting noisier (e.g. fans on lights as many cinematographers still avoid LEDs because of bad skin tones and other gremlins) and more and more action driving the story than dialogue, getting perfect PS is something that just ends up conflicting with the schedule.

The most important people on set are the actors, the director and the cinematographer and his crew. The focus puller and the data wrangler (aka assistant cameraman) are more important and vital to the outcome of the movie than the sound guy.

If you can get perfect sound on set or location - great! If not, it's no big deal! Schedules are getting tighter and tighter and no director can afford a reshoot because a plane flew over or a car horn sounded.

Well, right now, almost every movie is shut-down, so when everybody goes back to work, shooting will be even more hectic than before.
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Re: Film Sound: How To Record Audio for Shorts & Indie Features

Postby ManFromGlass » Sun Mar 29, 2020 6:25 pm

I would agree this applies to some productions but budget constraints and a director who understands PS also impacts either for better or worse.
I work on mostly low to mid budget productions as composer, not mixer, and have sat in on some really poor final mixes as production ate up a good chunk of post production dough. With no money for ADR the only options were the overhead, perhaps a lav or even camera mic.
A sound recordist with the balls to tell everyone to shut up for :60 of room tone or who pushes hard for getting sound right on set is worth their weight in gold.
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Re: Film Sound: How To Record Audio for Shorts & Indie Features

Postby CS70 » Sun Mar 29, 2020 11:07 pm

The Red Bladder wrote:TV and DIY'ed projects using a DSLR or a camcorder are different. There PS is usually all you get, so it better be good!

It really depends on how experienced and entrepreneurial the DIY director is.. often actors in that kind of production do it for goodwill or at lower expense and is not hard to do ADR at least for the main actors (another thing, of course, is the number of takes it ...takes :-) But thank godness for DAW comping tools) . And FreeSound is full of ready-made foley.

Mostly is down to the guy with the camera understanding the distance between the end result and the steps in the construction.. smoke and mirrors!
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Re: Film Sound: How To Record Audio for Shorts & Indie Features

Postby henrirapp » Mon Mar 30, 2020 6:50 am

The Red Bladder wrote:
henrirapp wrote:Audio is one of the most immersive parts of the films we all love to watch, and it all starts with the production sound.
That's yet another one of the big myths about the movie industry!

The production sound guy (that's the guy holding the 416 over the actors) in a movie often finds that not one thing he recorded gets used in the final product. The dialogue is ADR'ed, the set-sounds are Foleys and the rest is prerecorded atmos, FX and score.


Certainly ADR, Foley, SFX, atmos, & score are all very important but production sound isn't as unimportant as you make it sound. Tarantino films have no ADR at all, all dialog is from production. It's something he demands for all his films.

maybe you would enjoy this article as reference: https://filmmakermagazine.com/96680-20- ... oGIEdNKiLI

ADR often sticks out like a sore thumb to the discerning viewer.
I will agree that most of the sound for films outside dialog is all sound design.
But to oversimplify it and underplay the importance of quality production sound just reflects on how little you actually know.

It's extremely costly to hire actors to come back in and rerecord their dialog, and more often than not the performances suffer too. Obviously there are situations where you cannot capture quality dialog on location, but the goal should always be to capture the best dialog you are able to, and not to just shrug it off and say we'll ADR it. There are exceptions to this, but the majority of films out there, the dialog you are hearing is what was recorded on set.
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Re: Film Sound: How To Record Audio for Shorts & Indie Features

Postby CS70 » Mon Mar 30, 2020 11:21 am

henrirapp wrote:maybe you would enjoy this article as reference: https://filmmakermagazine.com/96680-20- ... oGIEdNKiLI

Fascinating read. Among the many gems, the "list of questions not yet ready to be answered" bit is applicable everywhere. And of course, that it ain't about the budget - but a creative vision which is common to everybody. Cool guy, that mr. Ulano.
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Re: Film Sound: How To Record Audio for Shorts & Indie Features

Postby The Red Bladder » Mon Mar 30, 2020 11:27 am

henrirapp wrote:Tarantino films have no ADR at all, all dialog is from production. It's something he demands for all his films.
As much as I admire and enjoy Tarantino films, he is, shall we say, quirky! What he does is hardly a measure of how the rest of the World works.

EDIT - Every director is different. Some want to rehearse all day, some want to film with two or three cameras, some insist on just one focal length throughout, some hate rehearsals and try to avoid them at all costs, some order all LED lights off the set and some insist on LEDs only - and some insist on as much production sound as possible, some ONLY want ADR sound.

henrirapp wrote:I will agree that most of the sound for films outside dialog is all sound design.
A good movie (please note that I am referring to movies only and NOT TV or documentaries) should work with the centre speaker turned off. A mistake many amateur and first-time scriptwriters make is to lay too much pipe, i.e. place too much weight on the dialogue to explain what is going on.

I have on my desk right now a script where we have established the characters of the main two protagonists, introduced the love interest and created the first few good laughs and nobody has said a damn thing. We get to page six before anyone says anything - and even there, what they say is pretty irrelevant! It's just those noises actors make when they are not acting (in this case).

Golden rule - don't tell me, show me!

(And if we were not 'dark' until this C19 business blows over, that would have been a movie that starts shooting in May. The earliest we can hope for is to start July or August and that means the film gets released sometime next year when we have another movie lined up.)

henrirapp wrote:ADR often sticks out like a sore thumb to the discerning viewer.
Not if it's done properly - but that applies to everything!

And who are these 'discerning viewers'? 99% of the audience are just waiting for the appearance of the giant CGI'ed space-monkeys whose primary role is to blow things up and make loud noises!

henrirapp wrote:It's extremely costly to hire actors to come back in and rerecord their dialog,
ADR plus a limited number of reshoots plus promotional work will be written into the contracts of the main roles. The rest are working for scale and yes, VO and ADR costs per day. But on a list of all the other costs, the cost of the entire audio and music side of things is sadly very low down the list of the producers' priorities.

henrirapp wrote:But to oversimplify it and underplay the importance of quality production sound just reflects on how little you actually know.
Thank you for that. Coming from someone who has written an entire article about movie sound without mentioning ADR or other techniques such as using dialogue from one take and placing it over a wide shot, it is indeed a compliment.
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Re: Film Sound: How To Record Audio for Shorts & Indie Features

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Mar 30, 2020 11:40 am

The Red Bladder wrote:Coming from someone who has written an entire article about movie sound without mentioning ADR or other techniques such as using dialogue from one take and placing it over a wide shot, it is indeed a compliment.

It's not an article about all that is or could be involved in 'movie sound'! It's an article about the specific role, skills, and equipment employed by a location sound recordist ('sound mixer') working on a broad range of film shoots. It says so in the opening paragraph...

So why would or should it cover the entirely different skills, equipment, and roles of a ADR studio/setup/specialist, or the separate skills of a sound editor? These are entirely different jobs... as you well know.

For someone who knows absolutely everything about everything and has done everything, you are outdoing yourself at the moment with your sweeping but irrelevant generalisations. :crazy:
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Re: Film Sound: How To Record Audio for Shorts & Indie Features

Postby The Red Bladder » Mon Mar 30, 2020 12:05 pm

I have yet to do EVERYTHING - but I am working on it!

Seeing that I began my working career 54 years ago and my CV reads like a mad-cap ride through life involving every possible strange thing - some of which can even be mentioned in public, such as truck driver, show-tech, soldier, journalist, shop owner, chicken farmer, car salesman, carpet fitter, organ repair guy, building labourer, market researcher, economist and yes, audio - lots of it, starting with production sound of all things.

But my apologies to the OP - he did mention ADR in his article and it is a description of just PS.
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Re: Film Sound: How To Record Audio for Shorts & Indie Features

Postby ManFromGlass » Mon Mar 30, 2020 1:16 pm

Good article but that guy is an anomaly. He has a good attitude but he also can afford an attitude like that being one of the very few of his profession working on Hollywood films.
I have a love/hate relationship about dangling the "Hollywood standard" in front of people. It’s a fantasy standard that is misleading.
For every one of him there are thousands slogging away in the trenches working on Shorts and Indie projects who are just making the rent. The ones with skills and good attitude get hired again if they are lucky. But it’s never a mistake to invest in learning.
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