Jump to content

Welcome to JWSOUNDGROUP
Register now to gain access to all of our features. Once registered and logged in, you will be able to create topics, post replies to existing threads, get your own private messenger, manage your profile and so much more. If you already have an account, login here - otherwise create an account for free today!

Photo

A question for "post folks?"


  • Please log in to reply
22 replies to this topic

#1
Rich Van Dyke

Rich Van Dyke
  • LocationLos Angeles, CA

I'd like to start a discussion with our post folks.  Many members speak of booming and "laving" an actor or interviewee. To me, this practice seems redundant, one or the other should suffice as a quality recording.  However, I understand that this seems to be a trending way to work.

 

So the question I'm proposing for discussion is this:  How is the "boom track" used, if the actor or interviewee is "boomed" while also wearing a wireless lavalier?  Is there a mix of both of these "tracks" used, or is a decision to use one or the other made in post?  

 

I would imagine that the picture editor uses some sort of production "mix" to cut with, and then the sound editor listens to the multi-tracks and makes further choices, however I don't know and am curious to know, as I don't have my boom operator "boom" the actors when they are wearing lavaliers.  I use the boom in a different way, when deploying wireless mics, within a scene.

 

I'm hoping that this topic may result in some helpful dialogue between our post friends and our production folks.

 

Keep it clean....


The more knowledge you gain...The more you realize how little you know.

Richard Van Dyke, CAS

#2
dfisk

dfisk
  • LocationUnited States

My personal experience, having done both the sit down interview and the sound editing for the sit down interview is that I would record both tracks separate and then mix them on the recorder, for a total of 3 audio tracks. The main reason I did this was for redundancy, and because, well, I could. On the post side of things I just picked the one that sounded the best, which usually ended up being the boom (which is usually on a stand). I never used wireless for sit down interviews, though. I always ran a hardwired lav. For me, I just like having as much redundancy as I can. 


bacon bacon bacon

#3
Philip Perkins

Philip Perkins

I'd like to start a discussion with our post folks.  Many members speak of booming and "laving" an actor or interviewee. To me, this practice seems redundant, one or the other should suffice as a quality recording.  However, I understand that this seems to be a trending way to work.

 

So the question I'm proposing for discussion is this:  How is the "boom track" used, if the actor or interviewee is "boomed" while also wearing a wireless lavalier?  Is there a mix of both of these "tracks" used, or is a decision to use one or the other made in post?  

Sometimes there is a mix, yes.  Mostly it is a matter of matching, cut to cut, location to ADR or wild line etc.  I have jumped back and forth between lav and boom several times in one speech if that's what was needed to get it to play evenly.

I would imagine that the picture editor uses some sort of production "mix" to cut with, and then the sound editor listens to the multi-tracks and makes further choices, however I don't know and am curious to know, as I don't have my boom operator "boom" the actors when they are wearing lavaliers.  I use the boom in a different way, when deploying wireless mics, within a scene.

If only that were always true.  I've recorded lots of MT audio that was never listened to at all--no time.  They went with the production mix.  As the production mixer the choice of having your boomists follow actors wearing lavs or do something else is up to you unless you've gotten a specific request to do otherwise, I'd say.  For a lot of jobs I work on post expects to have a choice between the two all the time, logical or not.

I'm hoping that this topic may result in some helpful dialogue between our post friends and our production folks.

 

Keep it clean....

In docs or doco-style work the unpredictability of the action is one reason to do both--people turn away or even leave the area where they can be boomed while talking, they put on a coat or do something that hits their lav, etc etc..  In the drama work I've recorded in the last few years there are just going to be a number of lines that we aren't going to get a boom on for all the usual reasons, and there won't be any further coverage--same old story...

 

philp



#4
Jay Rose

Jay Rose
  • LocationBoston US

Like Philip said, you make a choice in post based on a lot of factors.

 

First, which one sounds better... which is usually a question of room acoustic vs wireless rolloff/distortion.

 

And which one is more appropriate for the scene. If the subject's location and physical background or room activity is important to the story, the extra ambience of a boom can help. If the subject is framed tight to camera with a neutral background, or is cut with a lav'd interviewer, then lav all the way.

 

Then you bounce between them, sometimes for specific phonemes within a word, to avoid prop noises on the boom or clothing hits on the lav. Obviously treating them to match.

 

I won't say you never mix them. But I can't recall any time in the past decade or so when I have.



#5
Philip Perkins

Philip Perkins

I should say that in docs anyhow there is very often a mix of lavs and boom going if only because not everyone talking is wired.  This week I was shooting a doc in classrooms where a few adults were wired but none of the students were--so that scene will definitely be a mix of the wires and the boom to get all the dialog working.   

 

philp



#6
Marc Wielage

Marc Wielage
  • LocationNorthridge, CA

In the wide shots on CBS' 60 Minutes -- which I continue to believe is the gold standard for interview shows -- they appear to use an overhead boom and a wireless lav on every interview subject. One hopes that the editor is smart enough to only use one, and have the ears to make a good judgement call on which to use. In marginal locations, I'd bet that the lav would eliminate most of the room noise and I'd recommend to the director that they use that (and I'd send an email to the editor with the same information); in cases where the interviewee moved around and had some unexpected lav noise, then they could always go to the boom for a moment. 

 

I don't have a problem giving the post crew multiple choices, assuming they're smart enough not to mix the lav and boom together indiscriminately. No question, the boom will probably sound more "real" and the lav will sound more "intimate," so it's a question of which works best creatively. I can make good arguments either way, at least for an interview situation.

 

At least if one mic fails in a mission-critical interview, you've got the other as a backup. So there is that as well.


www.cinesound.tv | location sound • post-production consultant

#7
Jack Norflus

Jack Norflus
  • LocationBrooklyn, New York

In the wide shots on CBS' 60 Minutes -- which I continue to believe is the gold standard for interview shows -- they appear to use an overhead boom and a wireless lav on every interview subject.

I do a lot of work on 60 Minutes. And generally the sit down interviews are done with either two booms or 2  lavs - almost never both.

It is up to the sole digression of the sound person as to how to mic things - there is no mandate as to micing technique. I am one of the few sound people who uses two booms most use lavs. Though if shooting an interview in their "studios" (which is probably 50% of the sitdown interviews) its next to impossible to use booms so it will always be lavs.



#8
Marc Wielage

Marc Wielage
  • LocationNorthridge, CA

I'll take your word for it, Jack. I have seen overhead booms on C-stands in some shows where I could also see visible lavs, but not consistently. I agree, as long as it sounds good, it really doesn't matter. I think you can also make a good case that the more intimate sound from lavs is most appropriate for interviews.

 

BTW, the green screen studio stuff sounded awful at the beginning of the season (the introductory stand-ups in front of the graphics), awfully reverby and echoey, but this mysteriously got a lot better in recent months. My guess is that they were forced to use some closet-sized green-screen set, and are now back to their regular place. 60 Minutes is such a class act, particularly in sound and picture; I wish other documentary shows were even half as good in terms of technical quality and editing.


www.cinesound.tv | location sound • post-production consultant

#9
Constantin

Constantin
  • LocationGermany

I won't say you never mix them. But I can't recall any time in the past decade or so when I have.

So what about for those medium wide or wide shots, where the boom is there, but it sounds roomy, and the lavs are there, but they sound dull. On set, I would always mix them, the lavs quite low only to add more presence to the otherwise non-descript sound of the boom. If I find that I don't need the lavs, because the boom works fine, then I keep them out of the mix, but record the Isos anyway. But I rarely disregard the boom altogether. So I take it, in post you don't do this? What about on those occasions when neither boom nor lav sound good on their own, is it then a case for ADR, or do you mix then?

#10
Rich Van Dyke

Rich Van Dyke
  • LocationLos Angeles, CA

Thanks for the responses.  I wonder, Phillip, if you might have some clips, for examples, as to when you went from boom to lavalier and back again?  This would be a dramatic example of this technique, and Mr. Rose, if you too might be able to post a clip that gives us an example of when you've gone from boom to lavalier.

 

What might even be more dramatic, is if we could possibly get three clips, one of just the boom track used, and then the same clip with just the lavaliers, and then the "final" version of how it was "mixed," I think this would prove useful to the production mixers.

 

Within the interview situation, I have to say, I don't understand why it has been becoming the "norm" to hide the lavalier.  To my mind, the most important objective of the "documentarian" sound person, is to provide solid clean sound, that is intelligible and without distractions.  This is usually done most capably with a lavalier placed out in the open, of course it's visible, but should we care that it's visible?

 

I don't know who the sound person was that did the Oprah Winfrey interview with Lance Armstrong, but I felt so terrible for him/her when watching the interview.  The scratchy noise coming from Lance's mic was a distraction to me, hopefully not the rest of the viewership, and I can only assume that there was no other source, such as an overhead mic, to go to.  This could have been avoided just by clipping his lavalier to the outside of his jacket or shirt, but for whatever reason they chose to "hide" the mic.  

 

What's most curious, is that in the "freeze frame" of the clip, you can clearly see it clipped to the outside of Lance's shirt, but at the beginning of the interview, which this clip is from, it's hidden under his shirt, so the sound person did try and move the mic, and apparently must have only been using a lavalier, just speculation.

 

 

I post this not to humiliate the sound person, but as an example of a choice made that must have caused the sound person to sweat the choice while rolling.  These are "moments in history" and there's no take two with a reset and a chance to move the mic, so why not just let everyone see that you used a lavalier, just like the "news," or why wasn't a boom and lavalier deployed, which seems to becoming the new standard for interviews, just curious as to why the need to hide.


The more knowledge you gain...The more you realize how little you know.

Richard Van Dyke, CAS

#11
Jack Norflus

Jack Norflus
  • LocationBrooklyn, New York
Marc
The intros that they do are in a separate studio and is a separate entity from the interviews that I do. The interviews are done in a rather smallish windowless room in there offices with a rather loud hvac blower that you can't control.
Do to the blower, physical size of the room, and the way that they light it makes it impossible to hang booms.
There have been a few cases where I have used both lavs and booms on a sit down those cases have been when right after an interview they will be getting up to do some sort of walk and talk and there will be little or no time to wire them. And the interview and the walk may be handled by separate sound people.

#12
Marc Wielage

Marc Wielage
  • LocationNorthridge, CA

Within the interview situation, I have to say, I don't understand why it has been becoming the "norm" to hide the lavalier.  To my mind, the most important objective of the "documentarian" sound person, is to provide solid clean sound, that is intelligible and without distractions.  This is usually done most capably with a lavalier placed out in the open, of course it's visible, but should we care that it's visible?

 

I agree completely, Rich. I've had (civil) arguments with directors before who insist on hiding the lav for a sit-down interview, on the basis that the lav is "distracting." I've warned them that this increases the chance of clothing noise, but they often insist on it. Usually, my caution is preceded by saying, "you know, the gold standard for interviews for about 45 years has been CBS' 60 Minutes, and they never hide the lavs!" But the directors rarely listen to me. 

 

In a few cases, I've gotten them to accept a very discreetly-placed lav that's not hanging out and looks very small and neat. I've joked about the need for color-coordinated lavs and clips to match clothing (red, green, blue, yellow, cyan, magenta, black, and white), but even then, some of these guys would still complain. 

 

If it were a real mission-critical interview, I wouldn't hesitate to use a lav and a boom, even if one was never used. I can recall a rock & roll interview I worked on in post where the ornery guy on camera got angry and ripped off his lav and walked off, cursing the director for five minutes. In that case, they did have a boom and were still able to get a lot of the off-camera sound, which I think wound up in a piece of the show. 


www.cinesound.tv | location sound • post-production consultant

#13
André Boisvert

André Boisvert
  • LocationMontréal, Québec, Canada

I can recall a rock & roll interview I worked on in post where the ornery guy on camera got angry and ripped off his lav and walked off, cursing the director for five minutes. In that case, they did have a boom and were still able to get a lot of the off-camera sound, which I think wound up in a piece of the show. 

 

I hope the boom wasn't locked down, otherwise he would've been waaay off as soon as he got up. :)



#14
Rich Van Dyke

Rich Van Dyke
  • LocationLos Angeles, CA

Thanks for posting this fine example, Rob.  What a heartbreaking story though.  This is a fine example of how simple recording sound can, and should be.  Within the interview, the interviewees interrupt the interviewer with overlapping dialogue, as normal conversation occurs and it's all clear and clean of any clothing rustle.

 

I do also understand the difficulty that must come from "serving your Master," as Marc Wielage points out, if it is truly a "talking head" shot, then why not just put a boom up, room acoustics aside.  I believe in the Lance/Oprah interview, overhead booms would have been fine, as the shot never was wide enough to show more headroom than the "close-up" camera did.

 

The other point I wanted to bring up is that if a black lavalier, as was used in the Lance interview, it would have blended into his jacket and been virtually invisible.  As this YouTube video shows, you can't even distinguish between the lapels on his jacket, the lavalier would have blended into the blackness.

 

What's unfortunate, is that the sound person that shows a Producer, that he/she can hide a lavalier and record clean dialogue, then sets up the next sound person working with that Producer for a discussion of why the mic should or shouldn't be hidden.  Again, to my way of thinking, the critical mission of a sound person working in an unrehearsed interview situation, is to record clear and clean sound, whichever methodology is applied.


The more knowledge you gain...The more you realize how little you know.

Richard Van Dyke, CAS

#15
John Blankenship

John Blankenship
  • LocationIndianapolis
As we've all likely experienced, "politics" tends to trump other considerations on set.

For a lot of projects that contain frequent interview situations, the producers are free-lancers hired by whichever production company is delivering a given show. The majority of producers I've worked with on these types of projects understand that the boom usually sounds better than a lav. Many times the producer is just covering his/her bases by stipulating both. They don't want to be in an edit bay at some future time and hear the powers-that-be ask, "Why didn't you have a lav?"

Many times, though, I've had a producer tell me to handle it whatever way I think will sound the best. Most of those times we've ended up with just a sweet-sounding Schoeps.

I've also had situations where there was a possibility of outside sound varying widely during the course of the interview where I've made the choice to "cover my bases" with both boom and lav, understanding that typically the biggest sin we can commit is to interrupt an intense interview with set-up changes.

Shooting docs is an entirely different thing. If I feel a lav is needed, I'll often keep a boom open for ambiance in order for post to be able to add "life" to the sound of the lav(s).
John B., CAS

#16
Philip Perkins

Philip Perkins

Hey Rich--you are kind of "Sunday quarter-backing" that interview.  Often those situations are so frought that the sound person might not have even been in the room--the lav might have been clipped on by a producer or a member of the star's posse, and the soundie is just not going to ever get close to the talent.  This has happened to me--there is nothing you can do about it--you are being over-ruled by a chorus of agitated above-the-liners.  No one wants it to sound bad, the producer in charge maybe didn't do their job of making sure the soundie got a solid crack at the talent, just like hair and MU.  The wiring job on Lance in that pic is so sloppy (exposed wire) that I doubt anyone experienced did it that way on purpose.

 

As for your request re mic swaps during a scene--there will be a new scifi feature being released in LA in the next month or so: "Griffith Park 8" that is full of this kind of trick on the cell interior shots.  I don't have the tracks anymore.  I'll see if I have any docs around here that might have that treatment.  It is a very common technique, I will say.

 

philp



#17
Marc Wielage

Marc Wielage
  • LocationNorthridge, CA

I hope the boom wasn't locked down, otherwise he would've been waaay off as soon as he got up. :)

 

Naw, you got to hear the lav ripped off and then the guy cursing and fuming on his way out of the studio. (I guess the statute of limitations is up: this was Chuck Berry being interviewed for a 1995 History of Rock & Roll special. I just about fell out of my chair when it happened. They did get Chuck back the next day, placated him, and all was well.) 


www.cinesound.tv | location sound • post-production consultant

#18
Rich Van Dyke

Rich Van Dyke
  • LocationLos Angeles, CA

Hey Rich--you are kind of "Sunday quarter-backing" that interview.  

 

philp

 

I'm not sure if you're using a "play on words" here, or mis-remembering the phrase.  I've heard of "Monday morning quarterbacking, which means to state what should or could have been done, but I'm not sure what you mean by "Sunday quarter-backing."

 

I watched the Lance interview and frankly I never saw it clipped outside of his shirt, it wasn't until I posted the clip here, and saw the "freeze frame" that showed the lavalier clipped to the front of his shirt.

 

I've wired all levels of "talent" and never was told that I couldn't wire them, of course I don't do much of this interview work anymore, but aside from the First Lady, or someone of her stature, I imagine that someone behaving in a professional way would be able to wire the "talent."  

 

But I must be wrong, from the previous comments.


The more knowledge you gain...The more you realize how little you know.

Richard Van Dyke, CAS

#19
John Blankenship

John Blankenship
  • LocationIndianapolis
I had a producer tell me once that he wanted the makeup person to wire the talent (nobody famous--a "civilian"). The makeup person looked at the producer like he was looney, my thoughts echoed that sentiment, and the talent was bewildered.

I was almost finished wiring her when he issued the directive which made everything all the more awkward. He said he thought the makeup person could handle the job more discreetly than a male sound mixer.

His comments only served to make the talent self-conscience and uncomfortable. She had been quite fine up until that point.

I had the impression he hadn't worked with a lot of talent before and was making things up as he went.
John B., CAS

#20
srab1138

srab1138
  • LocationNew York, NY

So what about for those medium wide or wide shots, where the boom is there, but it sounds roomy, and the lavs are there, but they sound dull. On set, I would always mix them, the lavs quite low only to add more presence to the otherwise non-descript sound of the boom. If I find that I don't need the lavs, because the boom works fine, then I keep them out of the mix, but record the Isos anyway. But I rarely disregard the boom altogether. So I take it, in post you don't do this? What about on those occasions when neither boom nor lav sound good on their own, is it then a case for ADR, or do you mix then?

 

Over in the Post Place I have been asking whether or not we mix boom and lavs. Mixing doesn't seem to be the norm, and I can understand why. Adding them together brings up the overall roomtone and may result in comb filtering. 

 

I've sampled Altiverb and it really can make lavaliers sound like booms (an IR from the set would help a lot though, I imagine). Using careful noise reduction and EQ I have been able to make booms sound much closer to lavaliers. I'm new at this stuff though and I don't have much time (I spend most of my time just trying to figure things out). In other words, I'm not that good at this stuff. But potentially, I could see a professional matching everything very well. 

 

With that said, I also couldn't afford Altiverb at the moment and I did mix to get something that sounds acceptable. Could it have sounded better if I didn't mix? I think so. I also think roomtone for every microphone and the Foley guys' tracks would be essential to making any of these methods work much better. You don't want to be trapped by PFX and you don't want to waste too much time hunting for roomtone. 

 

EDIT: Another issue has to do with the quality of the lavaliers I think. If you send in tracks on stock mikes on Sennheiser EW series, there is going to be a distinct loss of quality here, no matter what post magic you do to it. In this case (and for the project I'm doing) the boom adds some quality. But what about at least Lectro 400 series with DPA lavs? Maybe you could have the sound for the whole movie come from those. 


I'm not sure if you're using a "play on words" here, or mis-remembering the phrase.  I've heard of "Monday morning quarterbacking, which means to state what should or could have been done, but I'm not sure what you mean by "Sunday quarter-backing."

 

I watched the Lance interview and frankly I never saw it clipped outside of his shirt, it wasn't until I posted the clip here, and saw the "freeze frame" that showed the lavalier clipped to the front of his shirt.

 

I've wired all levels of "talent" and never was told that I couldn't wire them, of course I don't do much of this interview work anymore, but aside from the First Lady, or someone of her stature, I imagine that someone behaving in a professional way would be able to wire the "talent."  

 

But I must be wrong, from the previous comments.

 

What about pin/button mics? Do they have to wear their own wardrobe? Let's poke holes, baby! Everybody wins. 

 

 

 

Sawrab


Sawrab Karim

Freelance Sound Recordist, located in:

New York, NY

#21
David Waelder

David Waelder
  • LocationLos Angeles

aside from the First Lady, or someone of her stature, I imagine that
someone behaving in a professional way would be able to wire the
"talent."

 

I did wire the First Lady once. Actually, I guess ex-First Lady would be the accurate title as Ronald Reagan was no longer in office at the time. I had to record her for something; I don't recall the program. I remember approaching her somewhat hesitantly while she was on-set and talking with the Director and Producer. I asked permission to wire her under her clothing and she replied,

 

"Honey, you just go ahead and do whatever you need to do."

 

I did and all was fine.

 

A classy lady. I don't agree with her politics but she was (is) a gracious person.

 

David



#22
studiomprd

studiomprd
  • LocationHollywood CA

Some good thoughts have gone by...

I, too, am typically in favor of visible LAV when a lav is used for sit-down interviews....I like to,  and have often been asked for both boom and lav, though often one channel is used for the interviewer's lav...

one excellent example was a prime-time series that had host segments by well known talent.  We discussed the micing, and I agreed with post to do both a boom, and a hidden lav.  Post was putting the host pieces into the standard single camera drama portions of the script, and the host was filling in the blanks in the story, such as a line or two insted of an expensive chase/gunfight scene.  Post liked the option of picking the tracks  that best made the transitions from the previous shots and to the next shots, often switching over from one to the other during the narration lines!


SENATOR Mike Michaels, c.a.s.
Studio M Productions

#23
Marc Wielage

Marc Wielage
  • LocationNorthridge, CA

Post liked the option of picking the tracks  that best made the transitions from the previous shots and to the next shots, often switching over from one to the other during the narration lines!

 

Yes, that makes sense to me, too. And you never know: even with a visible lav, I've had cases where the talent leaned over and popped the mic with a strong breath (even with a windscreen!), and the boom saved us. Giving post several options doesn't hurt -- but with some of the wackos I deal with, I make sure they know not to combine tracks unnecessarily. 


www.cinesound.tv | location sound • post-production consultant




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users