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Working with indoor sit-down interview dialog in a documentary
Old 3 weeks ago
  #1
Working with indoor sit-down interview dialog in a documentary

Friend of mine is working on a sports documentary and I submitted some music for them to use.

Upon hearing some of the clips they put together I heard some hiss and differences in the ambience that got my attention so I reached out to see if I might be able to help smooth things out a bit.

I will mainly be focusing on the indoor sit-down interview segments and was wondering if you had some advice as to the philosophy on working with the different source materials.

Here are some initial thoughts on working with the interview audio so let me know if my thinking is in the ball park.

Reduce noise, (hiss removal free plug from Reaper) to obvious ones.
Reduce ambience, (transient plug) on ones that present more than others
Use slight amount of same room reverb, (7th Heaven close mic room verb) on all interview segments to give consistent feel.

Thank you for your time as well as any vids or information out there on approaching this tiny area of audio I'm trying to help out with.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #2
Lives for gear
 

As simple as that production seems each situation is unique and you'll have to treat each scene on its own. One thing that seems to work in optimizing the sort of recording described is to do a little of a number of things, rather than trying to solve all the BG noise issues (for example) with a single plugin. It's pretty important to keep yourself honest by often comparing the original unprocessed audio with your fix--like have you really made it better, or just different than it was, maybe even with new problems introduced by your fixes? In general I would say that filmmakers prefer noisy BG audio to quiet BG audio that has any sort of "processed" aspect to it.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #3
Lives for gear
There are also political issues. Some directors feel that any artificiality in a docy track is wrong. Or they'll let you do a very little NR -- just a slightly more than you'd get with sharp cutoff filters -- but balk at added verb.

I'd also balk at added verb ("slight amount of same room reverb, ...on all interview segments to give consistent feel"). Verb belongs to the subject's environment, not to their voice. It should change with different locations and the scene's intent. A long ECU to camera - whether in an office or limbo - shouldn't have much verb at all: the subject is talking directly to the viewer, rather than being in their own space. IMHO. YMMV. Etc.

That's not to discount temp love, where a director who's spent months working on a sequence has decided that's how the shot must sound because that's what they're used to in pix edit (and on their laptops at home).
Old 3 weeks ago
  #4
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Good advice from guys who know their stuff.

Only thing I'd add is to avoid distractions -- anything that diverts the viewers' attention. Not just gates and filters and so forth, but also things like when a person's being interviewed in their kitchen and at some points the fridge is running while at other points it's not. Counterintuitive as it may seem, you want to paste in fridge so it's running all the time, because the distraction of the sudden silence is far worse than constant fridge noise.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #5
Gear Guru
 

It's unclear to me if you're getting paid or not, and if they're willing to go somewhere for a (paid) mix by a more "known entity". If it's the latter I probably wouldn't bother at all to be honest. If you're just starting out I would guess you're not unlikely to end up with something they don't want, and at that point they'd go somewhere and pay for the job to get done, in which case you've just sort of wasted your time.

Other than that I agree with the rest of the crowd.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #6
Lives for gear
Quote:
things like when a person's being interviewed in their kitchen and at some points the fridge is running while at other points it's not
Old production audio trick:

Turn off the refrigerator before shooting.
Then put your car keys in the fridge!

I guarantee you won't leave without remembering to turn it back on.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #7
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Rose View Post
Old production audio trick:

Turn off the refrigerator before shooting.
Then put your car keys in the fridge!

I guarantee you won't leave without remembering to turn it back on.
OK, that's genius!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #8
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Rose View Post
Old production audio trick:

Turn off the refrigerator before shooting.
Then put your car keys in the fridge!
Cool solution.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #9
Lives for gear
Y’know, there’s a book full of these tips...
Old 3 weeks ago
  #10
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Rose View Post
Old production audio trick:

Turn off the refrigerator before shooting.
Then put your car keys in the fridge!

I guarantee you won't leave without remembering to turn it back on.
I have to warn folks that this is not a perfect solution to the fridge issue if, like me, you keep a spare car key in your tool pouch. In a state of exhausted confusion I HAVE driven away from locations using that spare car key, leaving the fridge off and my regular keys inside it! So do the key thing if you want to, but also put an OFF sign on the fridge and a FRIDGE OFF sticker on your mixer and TELL SOMEONE ELSE that the fridge is off!!!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #11
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by philper View Post
....not a perfect solution to the fridge issue if, like me, you keep a spare car key in your tool pouch...
Whoops, sorry:

***GUARANTEE VOID IN (did you say you were from SF?) BAY AREA
Old 3 weeks ago
  #12
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Rose View Post
Whoops, sorry:

***GUARANTEE VOID IN (did you say you were from SF?) BAY AREA
When you work as a one-person dept on video jobs **** comes at you from all sides all the time, and a spare car key is something you start carrying after the first time you have to break into your car because you locked the keys in it in the middle of a shot turnaround. So the risk is necessary! Everywhere!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #13
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by philper View Post
...first time you have to break into your car because you locked the keys in it in the middle of a shot turnaround. So the risk is necessary! Everywhere!


*** guarantee also void when in conflict with local laws, including murphy’s
Old 3 weeks ago
  #14
Thank you EVERYBODY for participating. I appreciate the education, direction and advice and will step in line accordingly.

Also appreciate the link to a resource! ;-)
All the best!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #15
Gear Head
 

More importantly, I would focus on filling any gaps between sound bites with tone that matches the underlying tone of the interview and editing out any awkward breaths or mouth noise. Then you could start to think about EQ and NR. If you have only a free NR, I would imagine it’s probably not going to be transparent enough, but of course I could be wrong. NR is complicated, and something like RX is expensive for a reason.

So you could leave the NR alone and just EQ. I’d avoid reverb unless you have a very dead lav that you have to use. Or sometimes I use it (in mono) at the end of a syllable if it’s cut off.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #16
Lives for gear
The most transparent NR is often a parametric. Tune it “backwards” to get rid of any pitched noise and it’s harmonics, and also an6 ringing or booming room modes.
Then use your NR software on the result. It’ll have a lot fewer artifacts than if you hadn’t notched first.



“Backwards”: very high Q, very high boost. Sweep until the noise jumps out... it’ll may even overmod and crackle. Then switch from boost to dip at that freq and Q. Repeat for harmonics.
Good postproduction filters often have a dedicated Inverse switch to flip between boost and dip, and pre-multiplied higher sections ready for harmonics.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #17
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by evanb View Post
...sometimes I use it (in mono) at the end of a syllable if it’s cut off.
Surprisingly, you can often fix cutoff syllables with a little room tone. If there’s no abrupt shift in BG, the ear often thinks it heard the entire word. Faster to do, also, since there’s no bussing or tuning involved.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #18
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Rose View Post
Surprisingly, you can often fix cutoff syllables with a little room tone. If there’s no abrupt shift in BG, the ear often thinks it heard the entire word. Faster to do, also, since there’s no bussing or tuning involved.
That does work sometimes. I’m thinking of interviews with plenty of room on them, where a syllable is cut off on the way to the rest of the (very) cut together bite. There’s room tone, but still sounds cut off. I have a mono verb especially for this purpose already up and bussed, and I just need to raise the send for the end of the word.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #19
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by evanb View Post
That does work sometimes. I’m thinking of interviews with plenty of room on them, where a syllable is cut off on the way to the rest of the (very) cut together bite. There’s room tone, but still sounds cut off. I have a mono verb especially for this purpose already up and bussed, and I just need to raise the send for the end of the word.
Alongside that I will usually timestretch the last word or syllable to help the cutoff sound more natural if the editor has cut the last part of a sentence out.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #20
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Leverson's Avatar
Those tricks will all sometimes work if no other options, but usually the most natural sounding solution is to steal another end of a word from elsewhere in the interview and graft it into place. I generally ask for 40 second handles and usually in the handles I can find something I need. If not I keep a list next to my monitor of words or syllables I'm looking for so as I'm working on other parts of the film I can keep an eye out for that person's interview segments to come up again and see if I hear it elsewhere. If worse comes to worse usually production will have transcripts of the interviews somewhere they used for editing and I can ask them if I'm REALLY having trouble, but that is rare. And if all else fails then I'll try RX dialogue contour or adding reverb (although the reverb I usually only do to try and match echoey production dialogue). In a pinch, anything that works and sounds good works, but I always try stealing from other syllables or other ends of sentences first.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #21
Also, be sure to ask for the entire un-edited interview(s). You really can't do much magic with only 10 frame handles from the OMF/AAF. Many times a question gets asked more than once and you might find gold in the unused answer.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #22
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Garret View Post
Alongside that I will usually timestretch the last word or syllable to help the cutoff sound more natural if the editor has cut the last part of a sentence out.
That works sometimes too. And pitch shift down too. It all depends.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #23
Lives for gear
The tips in the latter part of this thread are all good.

And don't forget: unvoiced consonants don't have to come from the same person! If it's short and in context. the acoustics and BG don't have to be similar either.

I once had to replace a missing /f/ of Janis Joplin's... so I grabbed a mic and blew my own /f/. Demo'd the whole thing at some of my seminars.
One of my books has steps and an audio example where I pluralize a word of my wife's with my own /s/.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #24
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Rose View Post
The tips in the latter part of this thread are all good.

And don't forget: unvoiced consonants don't have to come from the same person! If it's short and in context.
It does help, though, if the mouth-shape and the energy are decently matched. There's a bit of acting involved.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #25
Gear Addict
 
Leverson's Avatar
Spectral repair in Izotope RX can also be used to steal and copy/paste sibilance and 'ch' sounds and things of that nature too from other parts of the sentences and also graft them in. I've had to do that before where a static burst on a lav mic or a peice of high frequency background noise wiped out those sibilant sounds and after clearing out the noise I was able to lasso another similar consonant or sibilant sound from later on in the byte and copy/paste it in. Sometimes that's easier/cleaner to do than cut and paste a whole new word or syllable. Sometimes it's not.

Also sometimes in run-on sentences where the stopping point you want ends in an ess, you can also RX and scoop out the lower frequency start of the next word but keep the sibilant/high frequency part of the previous word and that sometimes works too.

I love dialogue editing and all the weird tricks and slights of hands that can be used to fix problems, especially when they work seamlessly and invisibly.
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