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Mixing for Tv show with no postproduction


jassim jaffer
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Hi all,

I have landed a job mixing for a tv show and am a bit worried as they tell me there will be no or very little postproduction going into each episode (churning out 5 episodes a week so the editor will have a few days for turnaround)

In my relatively limited experience there is always a fair bit of work that needs to be done on production audio, aside from eqing out hum etc.

My question is to the seasoned mixers of jwsoundgroup is, in general on bigger Tv productions, how does sound post workflow go?

My main concern is noise reduction, which i know is often treated with outboard/ hardware processors like cedar DNS 8 for live boradcast, but how do they deal with it on TV series =/ soaps etc?

Production also want me to use radio mics most of the time and i was wondering if the seasoned pros ever have to deal with cloth russle and acoustic noise at all or can it be 100% mitigated?

I will be mixing direct to cam for the most part, is there any tips or advice you guys could spare?

Really appriciate any help on this..

j

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I did a web/telenovela for Univision a few years back. Discovered later that no post audio was done. Clothing noise on lavs (shot 3-camera, wides and close ups), and various other things that would have been sorted easily with a bit of post.

If I could go back in time, I would have done it all on 2 booms and had it be looser on the wide stuff, even with the tight cameras. In that circumstance, I would have preferred it to the clothing noise on the very "animated" characters.

Sometimes a consistent 75% quality is better than inconsistently averaging out a combination of 50% and 100% quality, which is all you can hope for under adverse conditions, like 5 episodes a week.

Robert

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In the absence of The Senator, I would chime in and say "the producers have unrealistic expectations."

You are always going to get lav noise in some situations, plus there's the issue of an actor leaning down (or back) and going off-axis. Lavs are rarely infallible, in my experience. Trying to do this on the fly with very little post mixing will be problematic at best.

What is the nature of the show? Reality? Drama? Comedy? Soap opera? Game show? Talk show? If it's five people sitting around a table having an unscripted conversation, it could work OK, provided you have lots of cooperation with the costume department. Automix would also help, assuming this is unscripted.

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I did a web/telenovela for Univision a few years back. Discovered later that no post audio was done. Clothing noise on lavs (shot 3-camera, wides and close ups), and various other things that would have been sorted easily with a bit of post.

If I could go back in time, I would have done it all on 2 booms and had it be looser on the wide stuff, even with the tight cameras. In that circumstance, I would have preferred it to the clothing noise on the very "animated" characters.

Sometimes a consistent 75% quality is better than inconsistently averaging out a combination of 50% and 100% quality, which is all you can hope for under adverse conditions, like 5 episodes a week.

Robert

The EXACT same thing happened to me. If there's going to be no post, I can do it, but I need to know because I will work differently.

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thank you all for your replies..

In the absence of The Senator, I would chime in and say "the producers have unrealistic expectations."

You are always going to get lav noise in some situations, plus there's the issue of an actor leaning down (or back) and going off-axis. Lavs are rarely infallible, in my experience. Trying to do this on the fly with very little post mixing will be problematic at best.

What is the nature of the show? Reality? Drama? Comedy? Soap opera? Game show? Talk show? If it's five people sitting around a table having an unscripted conversation, it could work OK, provided you have lots of cooperation with the costume department. Automix would also help, assuming this is unscripted.

yes these particular producers are very good at unrealistic expectations..

its an indian soap opera commissioned by one of the bigger stations over there.. its not multi cam but the producers want the whole thing on radios, saving money on paying a boom op most probably as budget is relatively low .. i think.

Production have invested in 4 audio active DCP02 (similar size as countryman B6) which i am hoping to hide in plain sight for the most part to avoid cloth russle.. I have suggested that i sit down with the editor and show him how to batch process all the raw audio with izotope rx initially, although this is a fair bit of work which is out of my remit i would rather do this than have raw audio ive recorded being sent out to the tv station.

The EXACT same thing happened to me. If there's going to be no post, I can do it, but I need to know because I will work differently.

in what why did you deal with it? if you dont mind me asking..

Eliminate the problem, eliminate all clothing or cast only allowed to wear shirts made out of felt.

lol

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I very much recommend that you do NOT sit down with the editor and show him/them how to use Izotope RX. That's a loaded gun you are handing them, my friend. While in skilled hands it can do great things, it is very very easy to improve audio into a ruin with that app. I'm at a loss as to how that many wirelesses on rental will cost less than a boom op. My guess is that with them you will be fighting and losing battles with wardrobe all day long while recording pretty lousy audio if they want the mics hidden. 2 booms is the way to do this, even if you have to do one of them yourself. I've done lots of "live" TV, (which by definition has no post)--we did not use any noise reduction, what we did was set things up very carefully, have wardrobe control for the wires and boom ops for the rest. I understand these producers are working to a budget--your task now is to make them see that by simplifying the audio set up (2 booms instead all all-wires-all-the-time) they will get better audio faster with less fussing with their actors and wardrobe people. There isn't anything to say that you might still have to go with some wires sometimes, but relying on them 100% w/ no post is nuts.

philp

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its an indian soap opera commissioned by one of the bigger stations over there.. its not multi cam but the producers want the whole thing on radios, saving money on paying a boom op most probably as budget is relatively low .. i think.

If it's a soap opera, the classic way to do that is two Fisher booms and good operators. They divide the room into "zones," and each boom op is responsible for getting dialogue for the characters in certain parts of the set. Many, many "live-to-tape" American soap operas were done this way for at least three or four decades, well into the 1990s. Even today, I think overhead booms are used more often than wireless mics. And they have to go with something like the Fisher because of the long takes.

Fisher booms don't necessarily cost a lot of money, but you do need an experienced operator who knows how to handle them.

Doh, and I see that Phil beat me with a similar answer half an hour earlier! Great minds, etc. ...

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I very much recommend that you do NOT sit down with the editor and show him/them how to use Izotope RX. That's a loaded gun you are handing them, my friend. While in skilled hands it can do great things, it is very very easy to improve audio into a ruin with that app. I'm at a loss as to how that many wirelesses on rental will cost less than a boom op.

+100

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If it's a soap opera, the classic way to do that is two Fisher booms and good operators. They divide the room into "zones," and each boom op is responsible for getting dialogue for the characters in certain parts of the set. Many, many "live-to-tape" soap operas were done this way for at least three or four decades, well into the 1990s. Even today, I think overhead booms are used more often than wireless mics. And they have to go with something like the Fisher because of the long takes.

Fisher booms don't necessarily cost a lot of money, but you do need an experienced operator who knows how to handle them.

Doh, and I see that Phil beat me with a similar answer half an hour earlier! Great minds, etc. ...

Interesting... I have a feeling that production wont be too happy about renting a couple of fishers..!

Would the mixer in this case be working on a desk that has more comprehensive eq parameters?

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Interesting... I have a feeling that production wont be too happy about renting a couple of fishers..!

Would the mixer in this case be working on a desk that has more comprehensive eq parameters?

If there's no post then you have to do what you have to do, but in a fast moving show I would warn you (again) about depending on things like EQ and Izotope to save you. You have to get the right mic(s) in the right place first, THEN use tools like that.

philp

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Hi, and welcome...

sorry I'm late, Thanks Marc...

" i was wondering if the seasoned pros ever have to deal with cloth russle and acoustic noise at all "

never, why, are you anticipating problems??

" or can it be 100% mitigated? "

if it is ever even required, of course...

Now let me tell you about this great opportunity to invest in a bridge I'm designing to go from LAX to HNL...

" commissioned by one of the bigger stations over there.."

then it ought to have a proper budget

" its not multi cam but the producers want the whole thing on radios, saving money on paying a boom op most probably as budget is relatively low . "

actually these alleged producers just plan to keep too much of the available money for themselves. ywhat you describe would be tripping over dollars to pick up a dime. They are clearly not experienced or knowledgable in proper production...

REAL PRODUCERS KNOW BETTER!

" Even today, I think overhead booms are used more often than wireless mics. And they have to go with something like the Fisher because of the long takes. "

actually, in proper productions like the one you are describing, wireless mic's on the actors are pretty rare! Marc has given you excellent advice. He forgot to mention the necessity and value of proper rehearsals

Edited by studiomprd
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Production also want me to use radio mics most of the time and i was wondering if the seasoned pros ever have to deal with cloth russle and acoustic noise at all or can it be 100% mitigated?

I just heard a little clothing rustling on some of Daniel Craig's dialogue in the new Bond movie, and this was a $200,000,000 film that looks like it's on its way being the biggest hit of this series ever. So yeah, crap happens. It's the director's discretion to decide, "I'd rather live with the flaws of the original performance than to loop it later." (And it sounded fine, nothing oft-putting at all.)

What's interesting is that there's really three kinds of clothing noise: 1) cloth against the microphone; 2) cloth against skin; 3) cloth against cloth. An overhead boom mic can still pick up the latter, particularly if it's starchy shirts, silk, or synthetics. And I've had issues with men in suits where they move their necks and their skin rubs up against the collar -- not a lav problem per se, but a costume department problem. There is no magic bullet that solves any of these.

For a soap opera, hands down, I'd insist on Fisher booms, period. It'd be too much torture to put two boom ops through 10-page dialogue scenes all day long for hours on end, week after week. Maybe the producers could visit a comparable set from another production already using Fisher booms to get an idea of how and why they could save them money and time on the shoot.

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  • 1 month later...

Thank you for all your advice guys.

The last two months on this Tv show have been very challenging, havent even had the time to reply to this thread!

I am mixing some good sound now and have managed to get production to hire a good post production guy.

The producers of this program are running the whole thing on an absolute skeleton budget, and the schedule is really tough due to only having a buffer of ten days between shooting and telecast.

I am still using radio mics mostly, due to tights and wides and the fact that they are adamant that they cannot pay for a boom op (I feel that I would be going against the community to ask for a boom op to come on for expenses for a tv show) and im trying to boom as much as i can.

I am now running everything through a desk mixer with which i can make slight eq adjustments to each channel before sending mix to both cameras, to try and keep all the voices sounding similar in tone regardless of mic placement. I know this is not typical practise, but im just trying to find a solution the problem at hand.

as for cloth rustle I do find myself wishing that everyone, regardless of gender, had cleavage as days when we shoot the ladies are so much easier for me!! lol

The show is picking up a lot of viewers so hopefully we will have more budget to play with and be able to get a proper set up/ sound department in the future.

j

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The show is picking up a lot of viewers so hopefully we will have more budget to play with and be able to get a proper set up/ sound department in the future.

j

But here's the problem. You have made it work. Poorly, you admit. But it's apparently good enough. You still have the job. So why would they hire a boom operator or increase the sound budget next time?

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yes, thats a problem.. I think they really understand how important the sound is now (somehow they didnt know that before going in to the production) and given that they are paying me such a poxy rate (for super long hours) they should really have some money to throw about..

I also am fully aware that I may be bringing the value of the trade down by taking low paid work and maybe not mixing the most solid sound, but i feel that I have to start somewhere and in a way it gives more value to the better/ more experienced mixers services!

Is anyone in aggreance with that?

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yes, thats a problem.. I think they really understand how important the sound is now (somehow they didnt know that before going in to the production) and given that they are paying me such a poxy rate (for super long hours) they should really have some money to throw about..

I also am fully aware that I may be bringing the value of the trade down by taking low paid work and maybe not mixing the most solid sound, but i feel that I have to start somewhere and in a way it gives more value to the better/ more experienced mixers services!

Is anyone in aggreance with that?

First thing you should do, is get paid more for the long hours. Instead of having them pay someone else more.

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" they are adamant "

another case of unrealistic expectations, and in this case uit is not only the producers, but also you!

others have already pointed this out: first, the producers are screwing you several ways at once, and, BTW, breaking the law if they are not paying you OT; anyway, that won't change... if the show is actually successful, and they actually get an increased budget to spend, why would they spend any more on you ?? especially if they can keep it themselves instead..??

" Is anyone in aggreance with that? "

agreement ?

with what ?

that " I may be bringing the value of the trade down by taking low paid work " yes, if you are actually worth more.

that " maybe not mixing the most solid sound, " but with the price the only consideration, you are getting the job done to their needs..

and " but i feel that I have to start somewhere " well, you could start out working as the second person with someone more experienced at the helm...

that " in a way it gives more value to the better/ more experienced mixers services! " well, maybe, but you are doing well enough for their current needs, and when they want or need better, they won't pay you any more... they might upgrade.but probably will just look for someone better for the same $$

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not that it means anything but just for the sake of it there is always worse. I'm about to start a tv job that is:

 

- 1man sound 

- requires production sound sent to the 5d

- has no sound post.  

 

I guess neither producers, broadcaster or viewers care for the poor sound that's all over the national tv which breeds all of the above.

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  • 3 weeks later...

" they are adamant "

another case of unrealistic expectations, and in this case uit is not only the producers, but also you!

others have already pointed this out: first, the producers are screwing you several ways at once, and, BTW, breaking the law if they are not paying you OT; anyway, that won't change... if the show is actually successful, and they actually get an increased budget to spend, why would they spend any more on you ?? especially if they can keep it themselves instead..??

" Is anyone in aggreance with that? "

agreement ?

with what ?

that " I may be bringing the value of the trade down by taking low paid work " yes, if you are actually worth more.

that " maybe not mixing the most solid sound, " but with the price the only consideration, you are getting the job done to their needs..

and " but i feel that I have to start somewhere " well, you could start out working as the second person with someone more experienced at the helm...

that " in a way it gives more value to the better/ more experienced mixers services! " well, maybe, but you are doing well enough for their current needs, and when they want or need better, they won't pay you any more... they might upgrade.but probably will just look for someone better for the same $$

 

thanks for your words.. havent had the time on this schedule to sit down are reply.

 

"well, you could start out working as the second person with someone more experienced at the helm..."

 

I wish there was more assistant work going about here in the Uk, it seems that there are less utility jobs going and i have tried to get that kind of work to no avail. Its one of those bills to pay things (and where paid over a very bleak dec/jan period) that made me take the job and i think the main lesson i learn was to 'NOT TAKE THESE KIND OF JOBS IN THE FUTURE' ;)

 

I think that with four or so months of this tv show under my belt i might be more employable in this regard and will work on getting lower level assistant work with PROPER productions.

 

- i think that what also cant be ignored in this case is the contracts that TV companies draw up with production houses, who also seem to be getting screwed in some manner.. 

 

 

not that it means anything but just for the sake of it there is always worse. I'm about to start a tv job that is:

 

- 1man sound 

- requires production sound sent to the 5d

- has no sound post.  

 

I guess neither producers, broadcaster or viewers care for the poor sound that's all over the national tv which breeds all of the above.

 

wow.. so there are more terrible jobs out there! i thought i was on my own...

 

how is it going?

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