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And now the Drama Director get's blamed for mumbling actors..


Scott Smith
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And what the hell does he mean by sound being made "more complicated" with the "proliferation of different types of television" that "affects a whole range of the population"?

 

Voice of the Listener & Viewer conference Jamaica Inn: BBC strategy chief apologises, but blames varying TV types

 

James Purnell follows drama controller in saying sorry, but says sound has become 'more complicated' due to changing viewing
 
Jamaica-Inn-009.jpg
Jamaica Inn: BBC strategy chief James Purnell has apologised over sound problems. Photograph: Robert Viglasky/BBC/Origin Pictures

The BBC's strategy director has apologised over complaints about inaudible dialogue in BBC1 drama Jamaica Inn but said that sound on productions has become "more complicated" with so many TV set-makers in the market.

The "mumbling on the moors" issue in the BBC's adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's novel led to almost 2,200 complaints.

James Purnell said it was a "very interesting issue" as the sound on television productions has been made "more complicated" with the "proliferation of different types of television" that "affects a whole range of the population".

He said the corporation felt it had "made real progress" on it over the past few years with Danny Cohen, director of television, having delivered a report about it to the BBC Trust and by changing production guidelines and "changing the way sound is done in post production".

Speaking at the Voice of the Listener & Viewer annual conference in London, Purnell said that was why "I think everybody found this particularly upsetting for the BBC to have got it wrong so we want to apologise for that and we want to make sure we learn the lessons from it."

Ben Stephenson, the BBC's controller, drama commissioning, apologised last week admitting: "If no one can understand what they're saying, then there's a problem."

The corporation blamed a "range of factors" for the inaudible dialogue. BBC chiefs apologised for what they described as "sound issues" which affected the first episode. But despite attempts to rectify the fault many viewers still had problems understanding some of the characters' broad West Country accents and the complaints continued to mount.

Meanwhile, Purnell said that director general Tony Hall met new culture secretary Sajid Javid this week for introductory meetings.

Speaking about the run up the review of the BBC's charter – which ends in 2016 – Purnell said that in light of the forthcoming general election next year, the timetable is for the government to set out but "they want to take it out of the political cycle" and the BBC "shares that goal."

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I think what they mean is that most modern TVs have downward facing or rear facing speakers, which as we all should know affects the mid and upper frequency ranges.

Mixing stages may do a "TV mix" but not likely done in a manner which best represents the way the majority of viewers watch/listen.

I saw a trailer for a movie the other day. Some of the dialogue was unintelligible. I listened to the same trailer on my phone, out of curiosity, and dialog was crisp and clear.

While this issue may have a lot to do with "accents" and "mumbling", I think how people set up their TVs (most have a NEWS mode for better voice intelligibility), and how the final mix is done, I worth discussing also.

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I've noticed this on a couple of shows I watch, and it isn't the "sound". It's actors not enunciating. Hell on Wheels was notorious for this. We would DVR the show and half the time we'd have to rewind it to try and understand what was being said. Sometimes Gandalf in LOTR and The Hobbit movies is a mush mouth. Nothing to do with production sound or post sound. 

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I've noticed this on a couple of shows I watch, and it isn't the "sound". It's actors not enunciating. Hell on Wheels was notorious for this. We would DVR the show and half the time we'd have to rewind it to try and understand what was being said. Sometimes Gandalf in LOTR and The Hobbit movies is a mush mouth. Nothing to do with production sound or post sound. 

 

I think Dave is 100% right on this. Microphones are better than ever, recording technology is better than ever, post has never been better. But actors have to learn to enunciate. Mumbling is not acting.

 

That's a new T-shirt!

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I mixed a couple of episodes of Salem, 102, 104 and 105, and the mumbling and whispering was ridiculous. You know it's bad when you can't even se the actors lips moving when they speak.

I did a movie with Shane West about 7 years ago. He was one of my first really low talkers. First time director with no filmmaking experience or acting experience (rich guy with rich friends). Shane was adamant about sticking with his "cool" mumbly performance. His costar was Alfred Molina, loud talker, and they had scenes with Philip Baker Hall, who at times I feared would bust the capsule on my 50.

It's hard to mix a believable scene between three people with such drastically different deliveries.

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I did a movie with Shane West about 7 years ago. He was one of my first really low talkers. First time director with no filmmaking experience or acting experience (rich guy with rich friends). Shane was adamant about sticking with his "cool" mumbly performance. His costar was Alfred Molina, loud talker, and they had scenes with Philip Baker Hall, who at times I feared would bust the capsule on my 50.

It's hard to mix a believable scene between three people with such drastically different deliveries.

 

Alfred Molina = the best Jerry, the BEST!

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I suspect they went with a rerecording mixer who isn't quite up on why we have standards, who told them "if it sounds good on my theatrical dub stage, it'll sound good anywhere"… and proceeded to do all sorts of dicey things with surrounds and extremes of the band.

 

So when it goes through the normal insults of broadcasting, cable, set top, and home decoders, those dicey signals get misrouted or lost.

 

Cmon: radio has been around longer than talking pictures, and TV and Film have happily coexisted for at least half a century. We know how to do this right. Blaming new technology, or manufacturer's variability, is a copout.

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Speaking of shows with quite actors - "Elementary" is unwatchable because the lead guy mumbles. A real low talker, and then Lucy Leu decides "no ones going to out drama me" and IT'S ON! Mumble Fest '14.  I felt so bad for the mixer I quit watching the show.

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This is basically my one criteria for bringing a sound issue to the attention of the director.

That is, viewers will be asking what was said and there goes the message and the momentum of the story.

People/audiences are very forgiving of the context of quality but if the message is lost it's a total waste of time to all involved and you will turn the watchers against the show very quickly.

 

A show I did last year started the first episode with it's 5.1 patched wrong somewhere in the chain so the sub was routed down the to the center speaker. Wow did it sound horrible and I got a lot of folks asking what was wrong with the show. It was the season opener and the EP figured they lost a lot of business as viewers went elsewhere.

 

I always seem to get mumblers next to stage actors playing to the cheap seats. Crazy dynamics and beyond ridiculous.

 

Scott Harber

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steve: " these actors might find themselves mumbling their way out of future employment. "

actors ?? "actors"?  performers ?  maybe not, but stars !! ...and legends in their own minds...

doesn't look that way (at least near-term)... they just keep getting more $$ thrown at them, and their arrogant attitude increases...

as for the "Directors"...  well maybe many don't seem to know how to direct so much, eh ??

Edited by studiomprd
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I would like to be a fly on the wall in the post production suite when the picture editor (hearing it for the first time) turns to the director and says "Are you sure this is your pick take? I can't understand the actor".

 

And some of those Avid bays are noisy -- several big desktop Macs, a fleet of hard drives, nasty $99 monitor speakers, hard walls. It's amazing they can hear anything in those edit bays. 

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