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Is there anything that can be done about distorted location dialogue?
Old 9th June 2011
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Is there anything that can be done about distorted location dialogue?

Hey everyone (first post)!

So, I'm doing sound design for the first time on a short that my friend made recently. When I watched the dailys I noticed every track from day two of shooting was terribly distorted. I'm very new to the game and I was wondering if there was any way I could fix this and avoid him having to reshoot.

Thanks
Old 9th June 2011
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Matti's Avatar
Izotope RX can help with this by using its declip module, but no miracles for "terrible" material expected

Matti
Old 9th June 2011
  #3
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You can sometimes chip away at it with apps designed for vinyl record restoration.

phil p
Old 9th June 2011
  #4
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atma's Avatar
it may somewhat depend upon what kind of distortion it is, i.e., what was causing it.. but if it's completely ****ed up there are a couple options—assuming you have multiple takes, you can go through and make a frankenstein edit by hand, utilizing the snippets from different takes that are the cleanest. this is a nightmare to do and time-intensive, but i've done it before and sometimes it came down to splicing individual words from multiple takes together into one edit. not fun.

better option is just to get everyone to come to the studio and have them redo the dialogue while they watch their performance and just get it sync'd as best you can. its also time consuming but you wouldn't have to actually reshoot the scenes.

just be adamant that they have someone out there on location to check the audio—adjust the gain in the mic preamps properly and assure there's no wind noise in the current take, etc. doing this on location will save everyone massive amounts of time and headaches later on.
Old 9th June 2011
  #5
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Matti's Avatar
Hire a sound recordist / location mixer, its an good investment

Matti
Old 9th June 2011
  #6
I'm assuming that what went to the camera is all you've got, but in case the location recordist also used a portable recorder I thought I would share my recent experience. Basically every line in the feature I'm currently working on was distorted in the camera audio tracks, but it turned out that the feed to the camera was set too hot. The actual location sound files were all at good levels and I'm using 90% of the on-set dialogue in the movie. It might be worth checking if you're not sure how everything was recorded on set.
Old 9th June 2011
  #7
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Mr. Wilson's Avatar
 

We've had success with Waves Xcrackle a few times. It can round off the edges and it's super simple to use with no artifacting that we've ever heard. That said, like the RX (which is fussier to use), if the distortion is really nasty you have to just grin and bare it. Also compression and limiting can help. It will take a few stages of attacking the problem.
Old 9th June 2011
  #8
Gear Maniac
 

Waves X-Crackle and iZotope RX2 Decrackle do wonders on clipped audio. X-Crackle is quick and easy, but at really high threshold it can, though rarely, make dialogue lispy.

Fully distorted dialogue is another story which has been tackled by others (alt takes, field recordings, etc.).
Old 9th June 2011
  #9
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Ghosty Dog's Avatar
 

" I was wondering if there was any way I could fix this and avoid him having to reshoot."

Overdub the dialogue in the studio. Get the actors in with the script. You'll get better results.
Old 9th June 2011
  #10
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eoats's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by diglet View Post

... I watched the dailys I noticed every track from day two of shooting was terribly distorted.

You've listened on a good system; Speakers/Headphones you know?
Can't tell you how many times I sit & spot on some ____ edit room system.

+for iZotope RX, I bought it because it do declip better than anything else I found.
Old 9th June 2011
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by eoats View Post
+for iZotope RX, I bought it because it do declip better than anything else I found.
Agreed. The declip is excellent, I've rescued some clipped audience screams for a project not to long ago.
Old 17th June 2011
  #12
Gear Head
 
Rob23xyz's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matti View Post
Hire a sound recordist / location mixer, its an good investment

Matti
Freakin A Matti

+10

Most new filmmakers think production sound is just about plugging a radio shack shotgun mic into a camera — or worse yet, just using the little mic built into the camera that the manufacturer sourced from an "Everything's a Dollar" store.

Maybe you can't help with horribly mangled sound on this one (other than to recommend a script change where the setting is on another planet where the inhabitants talk like that normally), but you can help your friend out greatly by suggesting a few things for next time.
  1. Plan the sound design out while planning the shots, the staging, the costuming and props, the blocking, etc. Don't shortchange the sound planning process!
  2. Scout the locations in advance to get an idea what kinds of microphones, other gear and techniques to use, whether to use sound blankets, etc.
  3. Use the best equipment you can buy, beg, borrow or steal. Don't assume an old mic found in Uncle Elmo's attic from when he used to sing in a barbershop quartet in the fifties, plugged into a dictating machine is going to give you great sound.
  4. And yes, as my new good friend Matti suggests — hire a dedicated sound guy who actually understands how to capture the best sound possible. Would that filmmaker just grab some PA who has nothing better to do to operate the camera?

Being involved in a filmmaking community here, I am constantly amazed at seeing directors and producers spending many hours in preproduction with their DP. They walk around each location, paying attention to which direction the sun rises from, and talk about lenses and f-stops and where to use dolly moves... But then they bring in someone to "do sound" for them based only on their being available that day - bring them in cold to an interior location with a refrigerator humming, with hard plaster walls and hardwood floors reflecting voices like crazy and with only a shotgun mic that picks up all the nasty reflections. And then the next sequence that afternoon is an outdoor location next to a freeway and under the flightpath of the local airport - but selected by the filmmaker because it had a lovely stand of flowering trees in the background.

All that was for shooting narratives, but even if you're doing run-and-gun documentary work, you should still put as much thought and effort into sound throughout the entire filmmaking process as you do for picture. The two can complement each other nicely. But messing up one can horribly pull down the quality of the finished film to a pathetic/laughable level - despite the other being very good.

Anyway, in short (yeah, I know - lol) a little extra time spent planning out sound and a little extra money (or a favor being called in) to get someone who knows sound and has access to decent gear, to help you out, can save a lot of grief and aggravation and wasted time and effort re-shooting later on. Some things, after all, can't be fixed in post.
Old 17th June 2011
  #13
Gear Addict
 
KarmaPolice's Avatar
 

+1 on Waves X-Crackle. Both faders to maximum. If it´s really bad you can do it twice.
Old 19th June 2011
  #14
Gear Head
 

here we get some low budget tv stuff where the the camera assistant was the sound recordist and we must some how fix it because he didn't hear the aircon was louder than the interviewed.

RX 2 , a lot better that the original. I normally use it in stand alone so I can batch process and replace the files in the audio folder, it saves me re-editing and not discovering partially processed clips if I need to expand them later. the presets are also better, only a little tweaking for a marked improvement.
Old 19th June 2011
  #15
Three letters for you.... ADR




Cheers
Geo.
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