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Tips on cutting sword fights
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maria
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#1
9th February 2013
Old 9th February 2013
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Tips on cutting sword fights

Hey,

I've been asked to cut some sword fights. This is the first time I'll be doing this sort of thing and I'd like to prepare as much as I can before the project starts.
I've been watching some great films for reference which is helping me get an idea of the sounds I should go for.

I was wondering if you have any suggestions, tips or a workflow that you follow when cutting sword fights.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Maria
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9th February 2013
Old 9th February 2013
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Stainless steel kitchen spatula has a nice sword-like ring when rubbed against another metal object. Good for shings etc.
Garbage containers can sound like metal shields.
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#3
9th February 2013
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Find a good schwing. If you can find a good schwing you've got it made. The schwing is the most important effect when it comes to sword fighting. A good schwing is worth a thousand blongs and whooshes.
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9th February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Fleischman View Post
A good schwing is worth a thousand blongs and whooshes.

I need a t-shirt that says this!

-Mike
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10th February 2013
Old 10th February 2013
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split, hits, shings and whooshes onto separate predubs. Have another predub for perspective that way it is easy for the mixer to boost a hit, lower an OS, boost a whoosh
cloth moves help too, easy to record a few to help bind the elements. I combine these with the whoosh track an these are easily recorded with even a zoom h4 and then I process with maybe a bit of eq, dopper whatever to mix'em up.
Sound toys decapitator is the bomb for making things bigger - tons of distortion presets that that can go from mild boost to plain evil. I use this on weapons too.
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10th February 2013
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It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that schwing!
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10th February 2013
Old 10th February 2013
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Depends on the context as well. We have been working on quite a few sword fights recently, but more soundscape stuff really. For a medieval battle sword fight we chucked in a bunch of pots and pans and dishes clanking about which was awesome for that clunky armour sound. Get a bunch of metal hits and as above get the schwing right and your there.

I would always recommend Boom Library for some of the best and most affordable SFX I have ever heard. I'm pretty sure they have a medieval battle library which you should defo check out.

Then there is midi SFX instruments (think that's what the company is called) who have a sword fight library which is even cheaper.

Good luck
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10th February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maria View Post
I've been asked to cut some sword fights.


Not sure if you meant it or not, but I lol'd.
maria
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10th February 2013
Old 10th February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaoz View Post


Not sure if you meant it or not, but I lol'd.
I did't, but laughed when read it back
Great suggestions and tips, sounds like the schwing is the key.

Do you start with the impacts first and build around them or do you build the sword fight with the delicate sounds first and then impacts?
#10
10th February 2013
Old 10th February 2013
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It really depends, I like to start with what is really obvious. If someone's getting stabbed then I'd start with the gruesome splat, followed by wilhelm scream, then work back to the whooshes, clinks, and everything else that's ear candy and all good for a sword fight.

It's also on the context of the film, if this is a ninja sword fight, remember that these swords also need to have Audible Sharpness.
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11th February 2013
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I don't know what kind of sword fights you've been asked to cut. A rapier dual is going to sound very different from a broadsword fight or an iron age battle between Romans and Gauls. It doesn't really matter that much as long as you've got the basic sounds right. The most important thing is to provide variety that fits the picture and varies in pitch. Make sure you include blade scrapes, etc. on separate tracks from the impacts. If there are blocking sounds from shields or armor, keep them separate, as well. Keep like sounds on their own separate tracks without getting too anal about it (you have to be practical, think in terms of maybe four tracks max). If you are designing the sound of the swords, try to keep the transients in check, because they can be brutal. You want to make sure that the meat of the sound comes through.
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11th February 2013
Old 11th February 2013
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From a workflow perspective I'd suggest going through the scene and marking the frame of all of your foreground impacts as a first pass.

design those fully, and then design background impacts and ofscreen impacts around the foreground ones. this will help with definition, since you'll be able to avoid muddying the primary stuff with the secondary stuff. It'll also allow you to add those few extra elements that help define the foreground stuff in an organized way.

Its all about arrangement. use the sounds to direct the viewer's eye, and don't distract the viewer with bg and os stuff unnecessarily.

along that same line, be aware of the frequency content of the stuff that you're cutting in. shings and clanks are very bright, transient and directional in the mix. they won't need as much volume as thumps and cloths moves to rate at the same loudness in context, and your ears track them in space very easily.

If you're mixing this as well as designing, then don't be afraid to use some compression and eq on those cloth moves and punches to get them to stand up.

low frequency stuff is just going to get lost in a busy swordfight. If there's room in the timing then that stuff can be killer, but if not its just mud.

i'll reiterate not to fall into the trap of just cutting in layers for the sake of cutting in layers. make sure every element you have in there is doing something positive to the overall scene.
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11th February 2013
Old 11th February 2013
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All great suggestions here. I just finished cutting a sword fight the other day, it was my first as well I think. FWIW, one thing that I found I wanted was a bit of low end in the sound of the sword impacts, so I cut a layer of tight wood impacts in sync with the main sword impacts that seemed to work well. Gave me some level without the bite that the metal had.

JR
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maria
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12th February 2013
Old 12th February 2013
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Excellent tips. I'll be doing a ninja type film
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12th February 2013
Old 12th February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by renec View Post
From a workflow perspective I'd suggest going through the scene and marking the frame of all of your foreground impacts as a first pass.
This - its great to visually see where your focus points are, finish and then pad out around them
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13th February 2013
Old 13th February 2013
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though a tiny bit corny, the sword fight in the Bond Film "Die Another Day" is a great bit of sound work.....
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13th February 2013
Old 13th February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maria View Post
Excellent tips. I'll be doing a ninja type film
If its a bit stylized I watched Hero again last week and there's a load of variation in there (probably the same with House of Flying Daggers and Crouching Tiger but haven't watched them in a long time)
#18
13th February 2013
Old 13th February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D'Animation View Post
If its a bit stylized I watched Hero again last week and there's a load of variation in there (probably the same with House of Flying Daggers and Crouching Tiger but haven't watched them in a long time)
or for something totally stylized and over the top (but still kickass) check out ninja assassin.
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16th February 2013
Old 16th February 2013
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I used a c-stand arm along with some other flimsier pieces of metal to great affect for a sword unsheathing. The location sound was pretty good for the shot, but the shot was slowed down considerably in video edit, and the audio wouldn't stretch. I used the length of the c stand arm for a very long sample of metal scraping, also mixing in a shorter "ching" sound at the end. all of this was pitched, stretched, eq'ed to cut through ( no pun), and added some verb. whats a slo-mo shot without some gratuitous reverb? and I also used the c stand clamps for various bits of metal armor clatter. I was in a pinch.

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