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Veit Norek

Noisy Environments

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Hi Group,

I am currently shooting a TV-Series in Berlin and of course they didn't want to pay me to be on the tech recce.

Now I am confronted with the most horrible locations. A little video as an example attached. Since it is a bigger

series I didnt even wonder and thought. ADR, of course.

So now I have the strange situation that the producer basically says, no ADR. For 80 days of shooting they maybe

budgeted half a day of ADR. I know this is ridiculous and they should know better.

Now he wants suggestions how to avoid ADR in horrible locations, besides changing the location. 

I already told him to hire a dialogue editor who really goes through all the scenes and taking parts from quieter

takes. I suggested sequence shots, so no cuts, the whole scene in one take, but that doesn't suit the format

of the series at all. Also I suggested to shoot two close ups at the same time, so at least you can edit the 

environmental noise. I know that the last answer to these locations is indeed ADR but that is not what he wants to hear.

I am a bit clueless by now, cause I only show up on location in the morning and there is nothing I can do.

 

Are there any magical tricks I can still try.... I think it is ridiculous that they choose these locations and not expect

ADR, but this guy is breathing down my neck right now.

 

Best

Veit

 

The video  https://youtu.be/wEdjvFoC9aA

 

 

 

 

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You'd be very surprised with what they can do to clean up audio. It won't be ideal, but may be good enough, which seems to be the current standard requested these days for most productions.

 

I did a scene about 4 pages long in downtown LA at rush hour. We had a snow machine hissing away above our actors. We had busses and traffic, and even someone playing trumpet down the alley. The actors were talking so quietly that they were unable to hear each other for their cues, even though they were sat next to each other on a park bench. They were facing forward, so couldn't see when each other spoke. Everyone assumed the scene would require ADR. Myself included. But it didn't.

 

The resulting fix was not good if you listened to the scene on headphones, but not too bad coming from TV speakers. And this was 10 years ago with even simpler tools than they have today.

 

Your solution of getting as much recording as possible for the dialog editors to work with is smart. Have the actors speak at the highest level they can that makes sense to the scene. Get the lavs close. Maybe rent a SuperCMIT and see if that will help too. Consider running the scene wild in a quieter area directly after the scene is over, so the performances can match to some degree. And run a separate ambiance track while you're shooting. Point it in the most consistent and least noisy direction, so the sound editor can use it to smooth out the cuts. This last part only works of the ambiance makes sense to the story. If you're shooting a piece that takes place in the 1700's and you hear cars and busses, then there's obviously no point.

 

Good luck, and remember that bad producing is not your fault.

 

Robert

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When you can't fix the noise, record the noise.  Use a plant mic, or the boom to focus on the noise sources so post can use that ambient track later.  Whether it's good or not is another subject, but it may help a dialog editor at least make the scene smooth and be able to manage the edits.

 

I can't play the video, so my suggestion may be not relevant to your situation.

 

I would also suggest to the producer that the post audio team needs to be involved in the conversation.  You are not the only person working on the soundtrack of the show.  The re-recording mixer can also take samples from each location and scene and do a bit of processing to show the producer what it's going to end up like, as well as reinforce the points you've already been making.

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I deleted the video and added a link to youtube.

I forgot to mention that I already recorded an ambient track facing the train tracks.

I am surprised that you both suggested opposite ways of recording the noise.

Robert says facing a quite, consistent corner and wandering ear says facing the noise.

So far i faced the noise.

The problem is that they don't really have someone who could work on these recordings

while we are shooting at the same time. I know that this is not my problem but I am sick

of endless emails regarding potential ADR. 

Guess I am left hoping that the producer comes to his senses 😞

 

13 minutes ago, Wandering Ear said:

When you can't fix the noise, record the noise.  Use a plant mic, or the boom to focus on the noise sources so post can use that ambient track later.  Whether it's good or not is another subject, but it may help a dialog editor at least make the scene smooth and be able to manage the edits.

 

I can't play the video, so my suggestion may be not relevant to your situation.

 

I would also suggest to the producer that the post audio team needs to be involved in the conversation.  You are not the only person working on the soundtrack of the show.  The re-recording mixer can also take samples from each location and scene and do a bit of processing to show the producer what it's going to end up like, as well as reinforce the points you've already been making.

So far they only have an assistant editor who sends info about difficult scenes but he has no clue about sound. The Post is done by one of these

bigger post facilities... They never really have time and have to work super fast, at least here in Germany

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The decision to point at or away from the noise source depends on the noise, whether it's justified or not, and how you think the editor will use it.  A scene I recorded last year comes to mind.  We were shooting on a pedestrian over pass over an intersection of 3 streets, 2 of them were 6 lanes each, and it was approaching rush hour.  Light rain as usual in Seattle, so the streets were a bit wet too.  Producer refused the idea of ADR, which I wasn't sure was going to be possible.  I planted my boom on the railing and pointed it at the traffic below.  At the time I wasn't sure if a loud track of noisy traffic was going to be useful, but when I did the dialog edit on the scene later, using that traffic track helped me a ton in masking the really rough edits and giving me a consistent noise bed.  A generic traffic bed would've been much harder to do this with, trying to match the timing and timber of the ever changing background noises.  By no means did the scene sound good, but the noise was justifiable and it worked..... enough. 

I can think of situations where recording an ambient track away from the offending noise issues would be helpful too.  Especially if it's a noise that can't end up in the final show, like a high pitched whine or something that will likely be noise reduced out later.  

 

I agree with RP that it can be surprising sometimes what post is able to do to make a scene work.  Especially with tools like Dialog Isolate etc.

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Good creative solutions.  I do the best I can re fidelity and normal standards of "good sound" but also remind myself that the recording's purpose is to work for the scene, like with picture, and "barely working" counts as "working" if it preserves what was good about that performance and shot, and avoids ADR.

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Yes, I am constantly amazed at what a good post team can do with problemtatic locations. But my guess is that they will go to the producer and tell him/her that since the locations were so bad, they‘ll need a few more days to get their job done. That may end up being more expensive than a fair amount of adr. Especially, since ADR is already included in the actor‘s day rate - or at least it used to be like that. So the thing making it more expensive is the studio side if things. 

 

I‘v been in similar situations before, and I have done the following: 

 

- request a bit more time each day to wire the actors and make doubly sure those lavs sound good. They really can make a difference 

 

- get a long shotgun or a SuperCMIT. It may help a little. 

 

- keep a list of the bad locations and write down what’s bad about them. Mail this list every few days (as it grows) to everyone involved: producer, director, AD, post house, assistant editor, production company and so on. You won’t believe how quickly they forget that you warned them about the sound having problems. They always kick down not up. 

And yes, speak to post. Call the studio if you know which one. Just call the head sound guy or whoever, it doesn’t matter as long as you get them involved. 

 

The last point is probably the most important one and also the one that can change things easiest. 

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My takeaway from this thread is that you can’t fix the location problems and you can’t fix the producing problem regarding budget for ADR.  In other words you can apply tricks of the trade and even without ADR post team may be able to salvage the scene, but ultimately it will be a substandard product.  When that happens, you want to be in the position where you are on record for suggesting ADR, not that what you are doing is going to “fix the location”.  The decision to ADR or not is going to happen in the future without you involved other than being one of the technically minded voices that have suggested it from the beginning.  The alternate is for you to say that you think you can make it work by recording this super specific ambience track, but then when the decision to ADR is made, now it is because of empty promises and technical deficiency on your part.

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Regarding recording the ambiance toward or away from the offensive noise... I have found that in situations like traffic, car noise that's visible in the shot and such will still make the track even with the mic pointed in a "quiet" direction. I feel that a more consistent and less noisy underlying ambiance, with the most obvious things like trains and cars still making that track, would be more useful. But really all I get from post is that it was useful, and I have never really asked if it would have been better pointing directly at the cars and such. I would like to know 🙂

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I'm curious about what a combo of the SuperCMIT + Cedar DNS2 would accomplish. Maybe it would sound like shit, maybe it would work wonders.

 

On the analogue side, you can't do better than a Sanken CS3e boom for isolation, and I've found the Sennheiser MKE2 lavs to be the best at isolation on the talent. Sound/tonal quality is definitely lacking compared to the DPAs or Sankens, but if you really just need to hear the talent and reduce background noise then try the Sennheisers. 

 

Regardless of what tools you use, s:n ratio is crucial for boom and lavs. Tell your producer flat out that there should be no shooting wide/tights ever, and that you need extra cooperation with wardrobe to get perfect lav placement-- assuming he doesn't want to ADR the movie.

 

Good luck!

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On 7/2/2018 at 4:30 AM, Veit Norek said:

The problem is that they don't really have someone who could work on these recordings

while we are shooting at the same time. I know that this is not my problem but I am sick

of endless emails regarding potential ADR. 

Is a common problem I've had as well. That they often have no idea yet who is going to do sound post. 

 

On 7/2/2018 at 4:30 AM, Veit Norek said:

Guess I am left hoping that the producer comes to his senses 😞

Sad how often they don't realize we are the expert for sound on this set, so should take our advice more seriously.

 

On 7/2/2018 at 1:29 PM, SBretzke said:

I'm curious about what a combo of the SuperCMIT + Cedar DNS2 would accomplish. Maybe it would sound like shit, maybe it would work wonders.

I'm curious too, it is a rather expensive combo however!
And ideally they'd better off leaving it for post to handle rather that on set. 

 

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I've had this edict from producers many times and then found I'm recording dialogue in noisy environments.

 

On big projects I attend location recce's and measure ambient sound levels and have even persuaded

options to be used when traffic or sea noise (measured) is an issue.

 

I agree that post should be involved but often that's too late as they can only listen to results.

 

However I was recently amazed to listen to a drama that I recorded earlier this year with two actors on lavs

sitting at a table outside a cafe and on a busy main road.

The post mixer told me the traffic was no problem at all!

 

mike

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I am currently working in a daily tv series in physical - live locations.

We are shooting 1 episode (45 minutes episode) in 3 days. A & B crew, so 1.5 day per crew.

Today was a reshooting scene (say ep.1, sc.1, 1 page dialogue) where we had dialogue (near wrap time at both times) next to heavy traffic.

So, putting a lavalier is not an option.

That scene, at both times, dialogue was next to heavy traffic.

That scene; will not be in final edit.

"I want time to put wireless - You dont have time to put wireless".

Case closed, next please and don't call me again at 16.00 at Sunday.

These guys have no idea what they are doing.

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On 7/2/2018 at 3:29 AM, SBretzke said:

I'm curious about what a combo of the SuperCMIT + Cedar DNS2 would accomplish. Maybe it would sound like shit, maybe it would work wonders.

 

I´ve got both the SuperCMIT and the DNS2. It´s either the Super or the Cedar. You can´t use them together. Just a bit of Cedar attenuation and the Super will sound very, very weird. Computer / robot like.

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8 hours ago, Matthias Richter said:

 

I´ve got both the SuperCMIT and the DNS2. It´s either the Super or the Cedar. You can´t use them together. Just a bit of Cedar attenuation and the Super will sound very, very weird. Computer / robot like.

 

Well there's the answer. Thanks for the input, Matthias. In which case I would pair the Cedar (if going to use DSP solutions at all) with the two analogue mics I mentioned, the Sanken boom and Sennhieser lavs.

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Disclaimer: The workflows I'm involved in don't need DNS2, so I don't have 1.

(But, it occurs to me) 1 of the advantages of using DNS in the context you are working would be to give those that care, a better idea of what is possible in post (in terms of clean up) with the material you are recording.

Eg. Perhaps you can convince production to hire/buy 1 so that you and they may preview a 'treated' version of your mix (on location) as a reference for a better clean-up later (like a Lut for monitoring log picture on set before it gets a bespoke grading). Of course there's a chance they think they can use your DNS track instead of doing the right thing in post but you'll have put forward a credible way to judge what will work etc, done what you can in the context and the cost is relatively cheap compared to rescheduling and relocating / treating locations / ADR / reshooting etc.

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On 7/5/2018 at 6:28 AM, VAS said:

I am currently working in a daily tv series in physical - live locations.

We are shooting 1 episode (45 minutes episode) in 3 days. A & B crew, so 1.5 day per crew.

Today was a reshooting scene (say ep.1, sc.1, 1 page dialogue) where we had dialogue (near wrap time at both times) next to heavy traffic.

So, putting a lavalier is not an option.

That scene, at both times, dialogue was next to heavy traffic.

That scene; will not be in final edit.

"I want time to put wireless - You dont have time to put wireless".

Case closed, next please and don't call me again at 16.00 at Sunday.

These guys have no idea what they are doing.

 

 

VAS tell this in the same detail to the Producer and say that you know how to save his post money!

 

mike

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7 hours ago, mikewest said:

 

 

VAS tell this in the same detail to the Producer and say that you know how to save his post money!

 

mike

 

Let's start with the basics: I am not sure if we are shooting scripted or reality show. lol

 

To answer Veit: Do your best. Atmos / Room Tone, 1 or 2 seconds silence after "action" for editing (have a deal with actors here) and if it's small scene (say 2 or 3 lines) take some wild lines.

 

That brings me to the question about: ADR on location. Hmmm

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8 hours ago, VAS said:

That brings me to the question about: ADR on location. Hmmm

That's exactly what the producer makes us do. We already had two little sessions

with director, actors and us sound guys thinking what stupid unprofessional stuff

we were doing. BTW each time different locations than the scenes were originally

shot.

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3 hours ago, Veit Norek said:

That's exactly what the producer makes us do. We already had two little sessions

with director, actors and us sound guys thinking what stupid unprofessional stuff

we were doing. BTW each time different locations than the scenes were originally

shot.

Then you have to get editorial on the phone and find out if they are down with what you are doing or if it's a waste of time.  If it's the latter then they need to call the producer and let them know about all the ADR that's in their future....   If the producer is ok with that then...."SPEED"!

 

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A bit OT and just out of curiosity: I know that in the US there were these ADR trucks that would drive up to the location with a properly treated recording room and there you could record instant ADR. Are these still a thing? On what kind of shows are they used?

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