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Dialogue Editing - Track Numbers
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
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Dialogue Editing - Track Numbers

Hi,

Having had a conversation with a fellow dialogue editor the other day, they said they were only using 8 tracks in total - checkerboarding the booms across the first 2 and then using the remaining 6 for lavs. This got me wondering how many tracks people use and what mixers tend to prefer. I know there will be hundreds of different views on this, but would love to hear what people prefer - both from an editor point of view and a mixer point of view. I've searched the forum and there are some threads on this but not specific to this point.

I like laying out boom tracks per camera setup (and noise profile) so each track can be processed in the same way by the mixer. I checkerboard the booms across tracks 1-8 for a scene and then 9-16 for the next scene so you can easily see scene boundaries. Then lav mic tracks underneath laid out by character so they can be treated the same. I phase align everything so they play well together if needed. These tend to take up no more than 6 tracks but I sometimes allow 8 so they take 17-24.

I know it's a lot of tracks, but feel like this keeps things very neat and the mixer can treat each track, and therefore it's associated noise/tone, easily. If I can do it in less tracks I do - ideally I aim for 16 tracks when delivering. 10 booms and 6 radios, but with the increasing number of ISOs, multiple booms and number of characters speaking in a scene it's not always possible.

Would love to hear people's thoughts/techniques on this. Ultimately I always ask the mixer what they want and deliver that way, but sometimes it feels a little messy to me!

Sub-question - if we could work out a way, would mixers like to standardise the process so they always know what they will be getting? Seems like it would help achieve some consistency across the industry and speed up workflows.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #2
Your approach is close to what I prefer to receive.
Arrange booms by camera setup/noise/perspective etc.
Lavs below if needed.(usually by character)

I'm not precious about a delineation like 1-8 is boom, 9-16 is lav... just make it clear on a per-scene basis.

I have my editors color code Blue=boom, Red=Radio(lav) Mix=Purple, Alt=Yellow so I know at a glance what each clip is.

I think checker-boarding whole scenes is unnecessary... just make sure adjacent scenes don't share tracks within a few seconds... then re-use.

8 tracks is a little cramped, and just checkerboarding booms with no regard for camera setup/noise/persepctive is not dialogue editing.

16-24 tracks should be enough...

tracks are cheap.... mashing everything into 8 is unnecessary.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

The two major ways I've been asked to prepare tracks is Booms and Lavs on on their own tracks (Booms 1-8 Lavs 9-16) vs. blocking them together on common tracks (Prod 1-16). Splitting is determined by how many tracks the mixer wants total. Recently I did 5+5 Booms and Lavs so I couldn't split as much as possible but it still worked and the mixer was happy. Definitely curious to know why the preferences for spit boom/lav vs common tracks, and also why low track counts are asked for sometimes vs enough to fully split by setup.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #4
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Henchman's Avatar
I only want the mics that are sounding good for any specific scene.
I don't have time to sort through all the mics.
That's the job of the dialog editor.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #5
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Henchman View Post
I only want the mics that are sounding good for any specific scene.
I don't have time to sort through all the mics.
That's the job of the dialog editor.
Yes but how do you want them organized?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #6
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Henchman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheMuffinMan01 View Post
Yes but how do you want them organized?
4 tracks production sound 2 futz tracks, 8 tracks for ADR and alts.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #7
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Henchman View Post
4 tracks production sound 2 futz tracks, 8 tracks for ADR and alts.
And that's for factual TV? Or is that for everything up to feature drama?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #8
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Henchman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheMuffinMan01 View Post
And that's for factual TV? Or is that for everything up to feature drama?
I do mostly TV scripted
Old 6 days ago
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sventeck View Post
Your approach is close to what I prefer to receive.
Arrange booms by camera setup/noise/perspective etc.
Lavs below if needed.(usually by character)

I'm not precious about a delineation like 1-8 is boom, 9-16 is lav... just make it clear on a per-scene basis.

I have my editors color code Blue=boom, Red=Radio(lav) Mix=Purple, Alt=Yellow so I know at a glance what each clip is.

I think checker-boarding whole scenes is unnecessary... just make sure adjacent scenes don't share tracks within a few seconds... then re-use.

8 tracks is a little cramped, and just checkerboarding booms with no regard for camera setup/noise/persepctive is not dialogue editing.

16-24 tracks should be enough...

tracks are cheap.... mashing everything into 8 is unnecessary.

Great stuff - just what I thought. Thanks so much. Agree checkerboarding whole scenes is unnecessary - think I just like seeing it clearly across the whole timeline but no real need. Thanks!
Old 6 days ago
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheMuffinMan01 View Post
The two major ways I've been asked to prepare tracks is Booms and Lavs on on their own tracks (Booms 1-8 Lavs 9-16) vs. blocking them together on common tracks (Prod 1-16). Splitting is determined by how many tracks the mixer wants total. Recently I did 5+5 Booms and Lavs so I couldn't split as much as possible but it still worked and the mixer was happy. Definitely curious to know why the preferences for spit boom/lav vs common tracks, and also why low track counts are asked for sometimes vs enough to fully split by setup.
Good to know. I've had to supply both ways too. I agree that low track counts can inhibit splitting by setup which I think doesn't really allow a good edit.
Old 6 days ago
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Henchman View Post
4 tracks production sound 2 futz tracks, 8 tracks for ADR and alts.
Thanks for this! Do you ever play radios and booms together? I feel that people are asking for both now and with Auto Align, means there isn't any phasing. Do you not want the booms split by setup? 4 tracks seems quite tight for that - the drama I worked on recently had 6-8 setups for some scenes which needed to be split out for noise treatment. Factor in the radio mics and I was supplying at 16 tracks.
Old 6 days ago
  #12
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Henchman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by GFPCJ View Post
Thanks for this! Do you ever play radios and booms together? I feel that people are asking for both now and with Auto Align, means there isn't any phasing. Do you not want the booms split by setup? 4 tracks seems quite tight for that - the drama I worked on recently had 6-8 setups for some scenes which needed to be split out for noise treatment. Factor in the radio mics and I was supplying at 16 tracks.
I never mix mics, to avoid phasy sounding dialog. Because no matter if you align the tracks, a simple movement by the actor, puts it out if phase.

If they're paying you for that amount of work, great.
If not, you need to have a little chat with them.
Old 6 days ago
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Henchman View Post
I never mix mics, to avoid phasy sounding dialog. Because no matter if you align the tracks, a simple movement by the actor, puts it out if phase.

If they're paying you for that amount of work, great.
If not, you need to have a little chat with them.
Fair enough - I find that the 'dynamic' mode in Auto Align actually covers this quite well for small movements sometimes - but with a large movement by the actor it does go right out. On the whole I manage to get it done in the time, though it does make it a little rushed. Most mixers have asked for this now which does add to the workload. Am asking to have the time budgeted for to allow for it now!
Old 6 days ago
  #14
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Henchman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by GFPCJ View Post
Fair enough - I find that the 'dynamic' mode in Auto Align actually covers this quite well for small movements sometimes - but with a large movement by the actor it does go right out. On the whole I manage to get it done in the time, though it does make it a little rushed. Most mixers have asked for this now which does add to the workload. Am asking to have the time budgeted for to allow for it now!
Mixers don't make the budget.
So they can want a lot of things. And if what they want Isn't reflected in the DX edit budget, then they need to take it up with the sound supervisor.
Old 6 days ago
  #15
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Brian Campbell's Avatar
 

Pick the mics that sound best. If the mixer requests boom and lav on everything then I would still pick the best mic and put the other at the bottom muted. However I avoid this as it really adds to the work load and budgets don't allow for it. Besides stage time shouldn't be wasted picking through mics...
Sometimes lav mixed with boom can help in a wide shot but the lav has to be carefully cut and matched to the boom as if it is ADR. Lavs are often reversed polarity as well so that needs to be addressed. This combined with other open mics is the reason why the on set mixer's mix track can sound like crap. I know of editors that only cut the mix track
When the re-recording mixer hits play for the first time the dialogue should play through the entire show without the mixer doing anything, no surprises. Only the chosen tracks, close to the right level, no production dialogue and ADR playing at the same time, properly filled, crappy PFX muted, etc.
Old 6 days ago
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian
When the re-recording mixer hits play for the first time the dialogue should play through the entire show without the mixer doing anything, no surprises. Only the chosen tracks, close to the right level, no production dialogue and ADR playing at the same time, properly filled, crappy PFX muted, etc.
I've never experienced that.
Old 6 days ago
  #17
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Brian Campbell's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Henchman View Post
I've never experienced that.
Don't get me wrong I'm not suggesting that the mixer has nothing to do, on the contrary mixers have plenty to do. That's why it's important that the basics are taken care of before the tracks get to the stage. Don't hesitate to mute clips.
Just sitting offline with the director /producer and picking through the ADR can save a ton of time on the stage, although rarely happens in episodic.
Old 6 days ago
  #18
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Andrew Mottl's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Henchman View Post
I never mix mics, to avoid phasy sounding dialog. Because no matter if you align the tracks, a simple movement by the actor, puts it out if phase.
Mark, in case you haven't tried it yet - auto-align post by sound radix is quite a game changer for this.
It does correct moving mics, it checks for polarity issues etc.
Not saying it is a must to use all the time and mix all mics permanently, but if you do need to bring in a lav for the odd moment and the timbre and all change dramatically, it helps a lot.
A good things -> you can also have it work clip by clip on a whole scene on multiple tracks.

Of course your workflow might not need it, but if you do question dialogue edits here and decide to check alternative mics, it can bring everything together quickly in order to mute/unmute for a decision.
Old 5 days ago
  #19
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Mister_T's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Henchman View Post
I've never experienced that.
Sounds like you need to work with better dialog editors.
Old 5 days ago
  #20
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Leverson's Avatar
Seconded on auto-align post. I do a lot of documentary work and sometimes I've got to use multiple mics out of necessity. That plugin is a lifesaver in those situations. Really good design, simple, easy to use, and works well.

In regards to the original poster's question, I don't mind a bunch of DX tracks, as long as it doesn't get TOO out of hand. I'd rather have too many than too few. I prefer to have both the boom and lav properly edited, with the best sounding mic active and the other muted (unless it's too hard to tell which would be better or if there is some kind of sound issue, then leave both open and I'll decide). I like when things are split by talker and mic angle and sound problem. But I don't need entire scenes to be separately checkerboarded, that can take up too much space. Just as long as it's clear to follow, and that general common sense is used so that you don't have mics from one scene running into mics from the next scene on the same track, etc.

Generally when I do my documentary work, I have my DX tracks organized by the following (not all of these are always needed depending on the film, but I'll list them all here below for reference).

Narrator/VO
DX Interview - each interviewee on their own set of tracks if they talk a lot on the film and they are sit-down interviews where the room and sound remains constant. And then usually the last couple of DX Intv tracks are the misc/randoms who only have one or two lines and never come back again, and they can be on shared tracks.
DX Verite - cut and split and organized by talker, mic angle, sound problem as detailed above
DX Archival
DX Futz
X-Tracks (any time the dialogue editor de-clicks or does any processing, a copy of the original edited clips should be preserved here in case they need to be reverted back)
PFX - Any good, useable non-dialogue sounds should be split out here. I try to use as much PFX as I can for documentary work, even if it's just the skeleton base that the rest of the sound design will be built over.

I generally don't mind dialogue editors de-clicking, or de-humming or using RX if they know what they are doing, and most good dialogue editors know what they are doing and I trust them. And then as long as they are using X-tracks I know that even if something gets overcooked in the edit bay I can undo that on the stage if need be. The time saved overall is usually worth maybe having to undo a couple things along the way.

These are my preferences anyways, happy to discuss here if anyone has any questions about it all. Lot of good discussions upthread. As always, the best answer is to talk to your mixer ahead of time and see what they prefer and make a gameplan together. Everyone has their own favorite workflows!
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