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I saw Cosmos on TV and the narrator's voice quality was all over the place.
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Thomas W. Bethe
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12th March 2014
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I saw Cosmos on TV and the narrator's voice quality was all over the place.

I just saw the first Cosmos program on TV. It is a very well done show. The graphics, the CGI and the animation are all very good. The host Neil deGrasse Tyson's voice was all over the place when it came to quality and levels and ambiance. I am wondering why no one listened to his voice quality before they aired the program. Most big ticket shows done for TV are very well done from an audio standpoint. This one was not. Just wondering??? Maybe they only auditioned it on a TV with a 3.5 inch speaker???

Inquiring minds want to know.

Thanks in advance
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
I just saw the first Cosmos program on TV. It is a very well done show. The graphics, the CGI and the animation are all very good. The host Neil deGrasse Tyson's voice was all over the place when it came to quality and levels and ambiance. I am wondering why no one listened to his voice quality before they aired the program. Most big ticket shows done for TV are very well done from an audio standpoint. This one was not. Just wondering??? Maybe they only auditioned it on a TV with a 3.5 inch speaker???

Inquiring minds want to know.

Thanks in advance
That's Henchman's baby I think. I thought it was good through my Onkyo surround system broadcast over direcTV.
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12th March 2014
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You will awaken Henchman's pragmatic wrath!

I wouldn't say all over the place, but I could hear some source changes. It didn't bother me; it was still clear and tight. I will say that I could hear some NR on Sagan's line near the end.

I enjoyed it. This is one series I was looking forward to the most in a long time.
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It popped out a little to me too. The beginning when he was on the cliff sounded great, but a lot of stuff inside the "Imagination Ship" was pretty different to everything else and irked me for just a bit. Must have been a crappy soundstage?
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Where do I begin.

The VO throughout the series has been recorded all over the place. Different studios. And not all great recordings. None matching even closely. Changing lines within sentences. You name it.

Inside the SOTI the sound of his voice is purposely different, with a bit of verb added, so it's not just all dry VO all the way through the show. Unfortunately, also not a great recording. Mostly a scratchy, noisy lav, buried in his jacket.
Outside production sound, also mostly scratchy, noisy lav.

And to top it off, Neil is a very dynamic talker. It's not uncommon for me to have to boost words and end of sentences by 40-50db. No kidding.

Now, add to that, getting that to stick out over non-stop, big effects and a great score, and a day and a half to mix it. And a day for playback and fixes.
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Originally Posted by paranerd View Post
It didn't bother me; it was still clear and tight. I will say that I could hear some NR on Sagan's line near the end.
I didn't like the sound of that line either. But they insisted on using it. It was already RX-ed to death.
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Ah, and in today's episode, I had to make a line that was recorded in their video editing suite, fit onto a sentence that was recorded outside.

Good times.
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I think ggegan's comment on the dialog in breaking bad would also be applicable here:

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Originally Posted by ggegan View Post
I wouldn't be so quick to blame the dialog mixer for bad sounding dialog, you don't know how it started out. There are times when the best that can be done still sounds nasty in the end due to insurmountable location issues.

I always say that the shows that we do our best work on are sometimes those that sound the worst because they were a total disaster when we got them and we had to use every trick in the book and rely on all our years of experience just to make them releasable. That takes a lot of skill.

Last edited by ThisIsSka; 13th March 2014 at 05:51 AM.. Reason: Maybe it'll link back to the original quote now
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Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
Maybe they only auditioned it on a TV with a 3.5 inch speaker???
Kudos to Henchman for taking the time to politely reply to such an insolent statement.

It's striking that fellow mixers who actually know perfectly well what we all have to deal with every day - impossible source material, very little time, producer's or director's requests at the eleventh hour - are often the quickest to blame the mixer ...

That being said, this was a very good sounding show, and I enjoyed it very much. I really liked Alan Silvestri's score, too.
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Kudos to Henchman for taking the time to politely reply to such an insolent statement.

It's striking that fellow mixers who actually know perfectly well what we all have to deal with every day - impossible source material, very little time, producer's or director's requests at the eleventh hour - are often the quickest to blame the mixer ...

That being said, this was a very good sounding show, and I enjoyed it very much. I really liked Alan Silvestri's score, too.
No offense meant but I listened to the mix on my TV's speakers and it did not sound all that bad. Then I listened to it on my mastering setup (Alon IVs, Bryston 4BST Power amp and Avocet monitor controller) and was amazed at the differences in the vocal sound sometimes in the same space. I have recorded VOs for the History Channel and I know what they expect in terms of quality and sound throughout the whole process. I was just curious as to why this sounded so different and Henchman was very nice in explaining it. Sorry if I stepped on someone's work.
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I don't use TV so I hope it comes to the internet soon. Anyone know when?
Also, any else see the original in 1980?
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I don't use TV so I hope it comes to the internet soon. Anyone know when?
Also, any else see the original in 1980?

Some of the original Carl Sagan episodes are on YouTube. Great stuff. Will be interesting to see how the new generation of the show carries the baton. I thought NDT's homage to Sagan in the first episode was a nice way to tie them together.

Props to Hench for putting out a good product in the face of what appears to have been very challenging circumstances.
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So, to summarize what Mark said: Dialog is like Real Estate it comes down to 3 things. Location, Location, Location.

PLUS, TV deadlines suck ass.
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Congrats Mark, the show sounds great.

Cheers from Colombia
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Thomas. I was not at all offended by your comments.
It's not like you said. "I listened to Cosmos, and it sounded like a$$. Who the fu$& mixed this pile of poo".
That's what I would have said.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Henchman View Post
Mostly a scratchy, noisy lav, buried in his jacket.
Outside production sound, also mostly scratchy, noisy lav.
I am going to guess that Neil has a hairy chest. It is the number one thing on men that makes it immensely hard to get a clean lav sound. If he wears a tshirt under his button up that would help. Because chest hair rubbing on a dress shirt ruins audio for almost every place you would want to hide that lav - particularly if he is very dynamic and dips low in volume. (Of course, I suspect everything is in the can at this point.)

Congrats on the big name show! Haven't seen it yet, but I will. Loved the original. Dig Neil deGrasse Tyrson. And Silvestri is immensely talented.

Cheers,
Sam
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Originally Posted by loujudson View Post
I don't use TV so I hope it comes to the internet soon. Anyone know when?
Also, any else see the original in 1980?
Its on Hulu Plus, I think. Thats at least where I saw the first episode.

And Mark, as a dialogue editor and mixer myself, I totally feel your pain with this one. Seems like it was quite the challenge given that NDT is such a dynamic speaker too.

I am stoked to check out all the episodes!
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As we get into the episodes, we are jumping much less between SOTI and VO. Meaning, I am mixing VO to sound like its in SOTI, so there's not so much jumping back and forth. Which was a little annoying. I think the producers realised this as well.
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I saw this the other night on Hulu Plus and thought it was very well done. Congratulations!
Question: Were you using any other effects on the host other than a little reverb in the spaceship? It sounded pretty surreal at times, almost 3D. Like going from wet to dry and then adding some sort of a low end synthesizer on the tails. Just seemed to pop out at me. Really cool sounding.
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Congrats, awesome gig!!!


How does you mind not explode listening to the stuff presented. I watch it and it gets me every time. Do you ever hit rewind and go, "did he really say that".....
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ehall View Post
I saw this the other night on Hulu Plus and thought it was very well done. Congratulations!
Question: Were you using any other effects on the host other than a little reverb in the spaceship? It sounded pretty surreal at times, almost 3D. Like going from wet to dry and then adding some sort of a low end synthesizer on the tails. Just seemed to pop out at me. Really cool sounding.
Nothing else, other than reverb and eq.
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Why is that always the case. Nicely done!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Henchman View Post
Ah, and in today's episode, I had to make a line that was recorded in their video editing suite, fit onto a sentence that was recorded outside.

Good times.
Yep that's always fun.

I am surprised with all the promotion they threw behind this that they couldn't at least put him in the same studio for pickups. Even though it seems he is a pretty busy guy nowadays.
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That's the problem. He is incredibly busy, and all over the place and world.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Henchman View Post
... I had to make a line that was recorded in their video editing suite, fit onto a sentence that was recorded outside.
At least both recordings were actually him.
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At least both recordings were actually him.
Hahahaha
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Quote:
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Where do I begin.

a day and a half to mix it. And a day for playback and fixes.
2 and a half days! Luxury.
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2 and a half days! Luxury.
Not on a show like Cosmos. The SFX never stop.
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Quote:
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Not on a show like Cosmos. The SFX never stop.
Did you do the sound design (sfx) as well or were they laid in by the editors?
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That's all done by our sound designer rick steel.
My mix partner Joel has a tough job to get through it all.
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