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Telephone scene in film

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Hey everyone. Long time lurker, first time poster.


I’m doing location sound on a feature soon and it’s being shot mostly in one room and mostly with the main talent on the telephone with the other (voice) actors off camera talking to her through the phone. My plan is to use my DPA4060 as lav on the main actor and then also boom. I’m also hoping to send the off-camera actor’s voice to the telephone speaker in hopes for realistic performances. The off-camera actor will also be lav’d with a 4060 and then also a dynamic microphone to send the audio to the telephone speaker. Hoping that both actors audio will be great and useable. A few questions:


1. How concerned should I be about bleed from the telephone speaker into the chest lav?

2. Potential problems I may run into? Am I approaching this from the right angle?

3. Haven’t been able to confirm if the telephone lines are active at the location we are shooting but was intending on using the JK Audio That-2 (https://www.jkaudio.com/that-2.htm)to send and receive the audio to the phone but I’m assuming it needs power from the phone system and wondering if there is a work around for this?


Thanks in advance for any insight. It’s much appreciated.




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You're overthinking it.

Shoot both without tricks. No overtalking. Pauses between characters. Phone talker in same room, behind camera.

The actors will be edited/tightened with video, and phone futzing will be done in editing or mixing.


A phone box might be too "real" and hard to understand, when I futz in post, its a not as extreme.

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Both ways are good and useful. 

if you think of it from the actors’ pov, I tend to think that if an actor is acting with another voice, that voice needs to be in that realm; the telephone, otherwise if the off-camera actor is actually in the room, this might be troublesome for the on-camera actor, especially if it’s an inexperienced actor. 

The “right” way, is of course to discuss this with the director and the actors and let them work it out and try what is best. You can’t go wrong audiowise. You might, however, make acting harder if you push for one way over the other. Either way you choose you’re gonna get great audio.


i also wouldn’t care so much about getting the futzing right. Your job on et is just getting the audio for the in-actor right and full, the off-camera might even be replaced …

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Thanks to both of you.


The director is pretty concerned about the phone feeling real and it allowing the actor to immerse themselves hence the in-ear. Since the prop department just gutted the phone (found out after I posted) we’re opting for a Bubblebee Sidekick 3 in-ear to cue the main on camera talent and the camera is going to shoot around it. Both on-camera and off-camera will be mic’d up and we’ll be aiming for keeper audio on both of them. The off-camera actor will be in another room with the feed to the earpiece. Not certain yet whether this will be hard-wired to the ear piece or IFB.




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When the Director wants to do both sides of phone conversation at the same time and make it as real as possible, I always counted on Props to have practical phone sets. Separate the actors physically to achieve audio isolation (different rooms or isolated part of the same stage) and have them have a regular conversation over the phone (this will feel as natural as is possible). This will work even when they want to shoot with 2 cameras, one in each room to cover each actor's dialog. Mic each actor, have iso tracks for each, do a mix which is sent to all the usual suspects to monitor the dialog (Director, Script, etc.). Do not try and futz anything  ---  leave that "creative" decision to post sound people.

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I don't really need to add anything to what's been said but the topic just reminded me of a recent video I saw on the URSA channel. Location Sound Mixer Stéphane Bucher talks about some scenes and the first scene they discuss is from "House of Gucci" and it's basically the same challenge. With the addition that the off-actor/actress was not even on set but in a hotel room.

Don't know if that's any additional help to the question but I think it's interesting anyway how it was done.


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Thanks Jeff and Sebi!


Jeff. This was my initial plan before props threw me a curve ball.  They gutted the phone to install a lighting system on it that is also crucial to the story. Because there is only one actor on camera I think my solution should work fine. For the actor though I really wanted access to the speaker.


Sebi. Thanks! Really similar to what I’m up against and helpful to watch this. Just grateful I’ll have both actors in the building and not have to do a conference call. Amazing! Thanks!

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