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t_young
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6th February 2013
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Rerecording Mixers Chime In! Boom or Lav?

First, I'm actually posting this as an editor-- not a mixer. And a relatively new editor at that. I've been doing post for a couple years, so I have a little experience, and some points of reference for what I'm about to ask... But I'm still curious enough to ask, since there are a lot of well respected rerecording mixers here.

When you get your dialog edit, headed into the mix, I'm wondering:

How often are you, if ever, presented with both sets of mics-- fully edited?

If you are presented with that option, do you usually have a go to track? My assumption has always been boom-- since 90% of the time it sounds most natural to my ear, but maybe you guys actually throw in the lav more often than I think?

If you aren't presented with that option, do you wish that you were? To me it seems like extra time and work, having to sort through which tracks are better on the stage. I've always edited using my best judgement, editing in which mics sound most natural, and cut the best together (again, almost always boom).

I'm asking firstly because I'm curious to know your guy's thoughts on booms vs lavs, but also because I'm editing on a feature now, and I've been asked to provide a boom edit (and deliver the session with those tracks muted), as well as checker-boarding out the lavs for each scene also. To me, this feels like being asked to edit each real twice in the same amount of time I would normally do one edit. But maybe this is actually standard practice?

Thanks guys! I know that was a long couple of questions.
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Never both. Just the best sounding.
I don't have time to sort through tracks to find which mic is the best.
It doesn't matter if the boom sounds the most natural, if there's issues with it.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Henchman View Post
Never both. Just the best sounding.
I don't have time to sort through tracks to find which mic is the best.
It doesn't matter if the boom sounds the most natural, if there's issues with it.
Thanks for chiming in. I've always edited by what seemed to me like common sense (I was never really taught or told explicitly otherwise), providing the best of all possible recordings, not providing all possible recordings discreetly. Just wondering if there's a wide, or any, expectancy (or desire) out there for it.

...In this case of course I'm happy to provide them with what they're asking for as I won't be mixing, I have the time, they're good clients, and I'll be able to pay the bills for a bit after this one.
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Boom. Even if it has more noise underneath. TV is a different beast... When you have to meet specs noise becomes more of an issue.
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Originally Posted by Mister_T View Post
Boom. Even if it has more noise underneath. TV is a different beast... When you have to meet specs noise becomes more of an issue.
I guess I could see how that would be true. I've done less TV. I end up cutting in a lot of boom because a) it almost always sounds better, and b) it usually just cuts together better. There may be a little more noise, but there isn't obnoxious cloth rustle, and I'd rather have a more consistent bed of slightly higher noise than inconsistent jumps/cuts in noise.

Of course there is a time and place for a good lav, and they can really save you, that's why they're invested in and used. The mixer on this particular show actually did a great job with the lavs, which brings me back to the topic of this thread, and wishing I was just doing one "best sounding" cut, I'm sure a good chunk of it would have made it in.
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Boom will intercut better with ADR too.
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Whatever works best. Good lav coverage can be a get out of jail card if the location is noisy or if there are crazy overlaps etc. I am finding really good booming is becoming rarer sadly.
When I cut dialogue and there are both available I start with the boom and try to make that work, if I can't I cut in the lav. But either way, if its available, the lav option will be laid up too, but muted if unnecessary. In very very rare cases I have managed to pop the lavs onto of the boom (both running together) but that was probably more to do with how wide the boom was than any skill or good fortune. In that case the lavaliere mics ran at say 100% and the boom filled it out at say 60 or maybe 8-10dB down maybe more.
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if both mics are usable, we ask for both.

and if the editor can do it, we ask for the mics to be phase-aligned. we seem to be in the minority on this, but it was something i was trained on from when i first started.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nzl62 View Post
Whatever works best. Good lav coverage can be a get out of jail card if the location is noisy or if there are crazy overlaps etc. I am finding really good booming is becoming rarer sadly.
Very true. With low budget films around here there is rarely an experienced boom op. It might sound good on a tight shot with one character but the rest of the scene will be worthless so I have to go with lavs, which depending on the experience of the mixer and the conditions on set might be pretty bad as well.

I much prefer the natural sound of a good boom track.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmattchan View Post
if both mics are usable, we ask for both.

and if the editor can do it, we ask for the mics to be phase-aligned. we seem to be in the minority on this, but it was something i was trained on from when i first started.
From an editing standpoint that seems like it would waste a lot of time.
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When I've worked strictly as an editor I've supplied only one properly-filled contiguous DX track, consisting of the best sounding stuff from end-to-end, and it might be a mix of both boom and lav. There's simply been no time or budget to cut both sets let alone phase-align them. But then, I'm not working on top-level stuff either.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmattchan View Post
if both mics are usable, we ask for both.

and if the editor can do it, we ask for the mics to be phase-aligned. we seem to be in the minority on this, but it was something i was trained on from when i first started.
For feature film work this is what I ask for and expect. In the mix I'll usually go for the boom first, and sprinkle whatever lav I need to save my ass, sorry, the scene. Some scenes can work fine with just one mic, but I often end with a bit of both, sometimes together (hence the phase alignment requirement), sometimes solo.
No strict rules here during the mix, whatever sounds best in the end.

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Interesting! So it seems, according to at least this very small cross section of people who have taken some time to respond, that there are some people in every camp. It's also interesting looking at where everyone is working geographically. I wonder if a pattern will emerge as more people respond. Could be completely inconsequential... But I'll still be interested to see.
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I agree with Steven. When there is time and budget on features I ask for both boom and lav fully cut and filled and phase aligned, with the phase alignment being important for exactly the reasons Steven outlined above.

On projects where time or budget is an issue, and when working with a dialogue editor I trust, a hybrid solution is for the editor to cut only 1 mic on scenes where it's clear that only 1 mic will work well (usually the boom), and then only in troublesome scenes edit both mics and give me the choice then. Saves a little bit of time but still gives me all the options in scenes that are tricky. Phase alignment is still important though if I have to leave multiple mics open at once, which I don't usually like doing but sometimes is whatever it takes.
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Also, to the folks who ask for both edited discreetly, is that simply because you're not sure if you can trust your editor to provide you with what really are the best sounding recordings? Or maybe you simply just like to have plenty of options in the mix?

Also, do you allow for a longer edit since you're asking for each track to be edited well? I'm trying to turn each reel on this show around in about 5 working days. I've just started on the first reel, and it feels like enough time to edit everything they're asking for... How long would you expect a professional dialog editor to give you what you want?
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A reel a week for dialog is pretty reasonable on many films. Plan ahead do not spend time fixing any major issues until you are fully through once so you know where any hurdles are so you can plan your time.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven1145 View Post
For feature film work this is what I ask for and expect. In the mix I'll usually go for the boom first, and sprinkle whatever lav I need to save my ass, sorry, the scene. Some scenes can work fine with just one mic, but I often end with a bit of both, sometimes together (hence the phase alignment requirement), sometimes solo.
No strict rules here during the mix, whatever sounds best in the end.
For me, two mics at the same time doesn't happen so often as to justify phase-aligning all dialogue. And when it does, phase-aligned microphones don't necessarily sound better.... I think you should pay a developer to make a phase-alignment plugin for Nuendo, rather than torturing your editors
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leverson View Post
On projects where time or budget is an issue, and when working with a dialogue editor I trust, a hybrid solution is for the editor to cut only 1 mic on scenes where it's clear that only 1 mic will work well (usually the boom), and then only in troublesome scenes edit both mics and give me the choice then. Saves a little bit of time but still gives me all the options in scenes that are tricky.
This is pretty reasonable IMHO. Even when I edit dialogue and later do the mixing myself, sometimes I will first opt for one set of microphones, and later change my opinion, in relation to how backgrounds play, what the director wants etc. Or just because of my misjudgment about noise reduction.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmattchan View Post
if both mics are usable, we ask for both.

and if the editor can do it, we ask for the mics to be phase-aligned. we seem to be in the minority on this, but it was something i was trained on from when i first started.
It's nice to hear this. This is what I do as well and phase alignment makes a huge difference. I also find that the polarity needs to be flipped on occasion, which I'll do with Audiosuite Invert. Using this method, the tracks can play well together and my mix will be mostly boom with lav support as needed. If it's a particularly noisy setup, I'll bring the boom down to an acceptable level of noise floor and let the lavs do the heavy lifting.

Well worth the extra time, imo. That said, I do mostly feature work, so there is usually enough time to work this way. There are also ways to make it go faster like grouping tracks together.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mundox View Post
Boom will intercut better with ADR too.
Not necessarily.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by starcrash13 View Post
It's nice to hear this. This is what I do as well and phase alignment makes a huge difference. I also find that the polarity needs to be flipped on occasion, which I'll do with Audiosuite Invert. Using this method, the tracks can play well together and my mix will be mostly boom with lav support as needed. If it's a particularly noisy setup, I'll bring the boom down to an acceptable level of noise floor and let the lavs do the heavy lifting.

Well worth the extra time, imo. That said, I do mostly feature work, so there is usually enough time to work this way. There are also ways to make it go faster like grouping tracks together.
Particularly interested to hear this from your perspective Pascal. Is that pretty common for shows done up at the ranch? I'm particularly interested because I work here in the Bay Area also, and, as if it's not a given, I'd really like to eventually get some work on shows done up there. I guess if that's the norm there... Or even moving to be the norm... I better start getting my chops up on it! Not that I particularly love editing dialog, or would want to go down the road of making that "my thing" necessarily, but I'm always interested in being well rounded.
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I guess we need to differentiate between the level of projects.
The majority don't have budgets of a week per reel and weeks of mixing.
we are talkingmuch much less time than that for editing. And an average if two days for a TV show and3-5 days to mix mow's and low budget features.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Henchman View Post
I guess we need to differentiate between the level of projects.
The majority don't have budgets of a week per reel and weeks of mixing.
we are talkingmuch much less time than that for editing. And an average if two days for a TV show and3-5 days to mix mow's and low budget features.
That said, supposing you did have the time and budget, would you then in that case want both sets of recordings going into the mix? Would you change your typical workflow just on the possibility that you could have better dx?
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Most of the low budget tv I work on has a dialogue allowance of between 5-10 days for a commercial hour -( 46mins roughly). Averages out at about 7/8 days I guess.

I that time it is perfectly reasonable to cut both boom and lav but only if the assistant editor has put all the media in the omf or if they have adhered to the location sound workflow (see avids website) that allows the easy re linking to the polywavs.
It is ceratinly much easier to cut the lav in as options than have the mixer ask, then edit run away and pull things in - the dx editor has often moved on to another project or the next ep by the time I get to predub lol
It's all about cutting your cloth accordingly and I prioritize making sure that the mixer has the lav option where available because that how I like to mix myself personally.
Phase aligning? Well I have not consciously done it but would be keen if anyone has any shortcuts for that.
Re adr matching, often the boom from adr sessions matches the worst due to a number of issues such as too much off axis rejection and coloration, small booth, noise,
A number of people I work with have moved from the MKH 60/416 goto towards the shorter more hyper cardiod MKH 50 - not sure if this is the correct model, ut this mic has been superb. Often a well maintained COS11 or DPA lav will match beautifully - even matching into boomed scenes. my 2c
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With a lectro and a schoeps lav = love

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Quote:
Originally Posted by nzl62 View Post
Most of the low budget tv I work on has a dialogue allowance of between 5-10 days for a commercial hour -( 46mins roughly). Averages out at about 7/8 days I guess.
You are very lucky.

Here, the low budget tv is two to three days for dialog editorial.
And regular budget, about 4.
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That said, supposing you did have the time and budget, would you then in that case want both sets of recordings going into the mix? Would you change your typical workflow just on the possibility that you could have better dx?
No. I want a dialog editor who is going to give me the best, and have the other mics on an x-track, edited. I personally have never used two mics at once. It's one or the other, which ever sounds best.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by starcrash13 View Post
It's nice to hear this. This is what I do as well and phase alignment makes a huge difference. I also find that the polarity needs to be flipped on occasion, which I'll do with Audiosuite Invert. Using this method, the tracks can play well together and my mix will be mostly boom with lav support as needed. If it's a particularly noisy setup, I'll bring the boom down to an acceptable level of noise floor and let the lavs do the heavy lifting.

Well worth the extra time, imo. That said, I do mostly feature work, so there is usually enough time to work this way. There are also ways to make it go faster like grouping tracks together.
agreed on all points! when it works, that increase in signal to noise ratio is, for me, the biggest benefit.

we are working mostly on features and docs for theatre.
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Particularly interested to hear this from your perspective Pascal. Is that pretty common for shows done up at the ranch? I'm particularly interested because I work here in the Bay Area also, and, as if it's not a given, I'd really like to eventually get some work on shows done up there. I guess if that's the norm there... Or even moving to be the norm... I better start getting my chops up on it! Not that I particularly love editing dialog, or would want to go down the road of making that "my thing" necessarily, but I'm always interested in being well rounded.
I can't speak for what other editors do and, as Mark pointed out, it really depends on the budget. The main thing is for the editor and mixer to be on the same page as far as what to expect. If there's a normal dialogue predub, then it's usually common to have all tracks available and cut. Either with the best track open and others muted or all open. I personally, as a mixer and editor, prefer a hybrid approach which is mostly boom with lavs time and phase aligned and cut to be mixed together to taste. As an editor, I also do basic leveling using Clip Gain in Pro Tools so the reel is playing pretty smooth by the time I hand it over.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nzl62 View Post
Phase aligning? Well I have not consciously done it but would be keen if anyone has any shortcuts for that.
First off, if it sounds great I don't touch it. If it sounds weird and mushy or blurry when you play more than one track, I zoom in and see what's happening. The boom will be a little late compared to the lavs so I'll nudge them in sync. If the two waveforms look like mirror reflections of each other, then that means one or the other needs to be flipped.

This actually doesn't take as long to do as it does to describe it. ;-)
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