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Questions from a music guy
Old 1st September 2011
  #1
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grrrayson's Avatar
 

Questions from a music guy

Hello, All—I realize "Post" means what happens after the initial recording, but I still assume this is the correct place to ask questions about recording for picture.

I've dabbled in the film world a couple of times (filling in as boom op, a little PA work in my younger days) but there are some things about the process I've never understood.

1. What's the point of having something like a 3- or 4-channel mixer when you could just record multitrack? It seems that dialogue gets replaced so often, if the tracks were separate you'd have a better chance of salvaging them.

2. Speaking of, what about "Automatic Dialogue Replacement" is automatic? You just hit a button and the talent nails it or what?

3. Why is the guy doing the recording on the set, particularly on smaller productions where there might be only one sound guy, called the "mixer" and not the "recordist"? Especially if there are only one or two microphones, therefore requiring no mixing?


Thanks in advance for enlightening my cluelessness on the matter.

Best regards,

Grayson
Old 1st September 2011
  #2
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by grrrayson View Post
Hello, All—I realize "Post" means what happens after the initial recording, but I still assume this is the correct place to ask questions about recording for picture.

I've dabbled in the film world a couple of times (filling in as boom op, a little PA work in my younger days) but there are some things about the process I've never understood.

1. What's the point of having something like a 3- or 4-channel mixer when you could just record multitrack? It seems that dialogue gets replaced so often, if the tracks were separate you'd have a better chance of salvaging them.

2. Speaking of, what about "Automatic Dialogue Replacement" is automatic? You just hit a button and the talent nails it or what?

3. Why is the guy doing the recording on the set, particularly on smaller productions where there might be only one sound guy, called the "mixer" and not the "recordist"? Especially if there are only one or two microphones, therefore requiring no mixing?


Thanks in advance for enlightening my cluelessness on the matter.

Best regards,

Grayson
I hope you're not a troll.

1: Recording multitrack is expensive, in gear, setup time, number of mics necessary, and post time to figure it all out. Large productions record in MT, but also mix a mix live. Why? A: the director needs to be able to hear the whole scene as a playback right away, in the edit room, for demos to others etc long before the film has its final mix. B: Many smaller productions do better keeping things simple most of the time--a boom or two, maybe some wires once in awhile, maybe a plant mic. C: The star of the show on a movie set is the camera, not sound recording. Production sound is a highly reactive job, so keeping gear as simple, small and portable as can be is a good idea.

2: Uh, no, ADR does not consist of hitting a button and letting a machine do the rest. It is actually whole separate field of audio recording unto itself, with highly developed gear and techniques, and is very demanding skillwise of engineers, editors and actors.

3: Tradition is that the head of the sound dept. on a movie set is called the Production Sound Mixer, and that is a real title on union shows, on IMDB, in contracts etc.. You are correct that on a small job the soundie might not be mixing anything that is recorded (discrete tracks or 1 mic only) but if there is more that one channel working they are mixing the monitor feeds at least. On most simple jobs I call myself a "recordist"....

phil p
Old 1st September 2011
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by philper View Post
I hope you're not a troll.
Ha! Not at all—you can look at my posting history. I work full-time in audio; I'm just trying to understand the audio-for-picture world more. So I can better appreciate what all you guys do!
Quote:
1: ... Large productions record in MT, but also mix a mix live. Why? A: the director needs to be able to hear the whole scene as a playback right away, in the edit room, for demos to others etc...
I figured it was more for run-and-gun type setups ( plus news broadcasts, etc.) and the KISS principle does make sense.

Does that reference 2-track mix come from something like a split from the monitor outs of something like a Sound Devices 744 or 788, or do you generally have an actual separate mixer for on-the-fly fader moves for this? Do you guys go for a "zero mix" when getting recording levels for the multitrack? (Speaking of when there's something more than just a mixed-down 2-track being printed initially.)

Quote:
2: Uh, no, ADR does not consist of hitting a button and letting a machine do the rest. It is actually whole separate field of audio recording unto itself, with highly developed gear and techniques, and is very demanding skillwise of engineers, editors and actors.
Right, that's my point... so what's "automatic" about it?! Perhaps my sarcasm didn't come through in my first post.
Quote:
3: On most simple jobs I call myself a "recordist"....
So "mixer" in smaller cases is a hold-over from bigger productions.


Thanks for the enlightenment, good sir!
Old 1st September 2011
  #4
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by grrrayson View Post
Ha! Not at all—you can look at my posting history. I work full-time in audio; I'm just trying to understand the audio-for-picture world more. So I can better appreciate what all you guys do!


I figured it was more for run-and-gun type setups ( plus news broadcasts, etc.) and the KISS principle does make sense.

Does that reference 2-track mix come from something like a split from the monitor outs of something like a Sound Devices 744 or 788, or do you generally have an actual separate mixer for on-the-fly fader moves for this? Do you guys go for a "zero mix" when getting recording levels for the multitrack? (Speaking of when there's something more than just a mixed-down 2-track being printed initially.)



Right, that's my point... so what's "automatic" about it?! Perhaps my sarcasm didn't come through in my first post.


So "mixer" in smaller cases is a hold-over from bigger productions.


Thanks for the enlightenment, good sir!
Mixers recording isos for drama generally lay down the isos prefade pre-eq at a level that pretty much guarantees they won't ever clip. (There is a bit of an art to this since there is a pretty tremendous dynamic range involved in dialog recording.) In addition, they do a mix, usually mono, of the whole scene the way movie mixers have always done. This mix might get used as I described above, or, in the case of episodic TV, that mix might be mostly what the viewer will hear, with some tweaks, due to time constraints. This mix is either done on a small analog mixer (Sonosax, Cooper, PSC) or a digital mixer (Yamaha 01v96) or on a fader surface that is actually controlling the mixer in a digital recorder (Sound Devices CL8 and 9, Zaxcom Mix12 and 8). Generally production mixers do not mix all the way up to 0 dbfs--a live mix w/ actors is too unpredictable, so headroom is left to avoid clipping.

The "automatic" in ADR comes from a time when the analog mag-film recording gear could be set to continually loop and the equipment could be set to automatically drop in and out of record. This gear would seem pretty primitive to anyone doing ADR today, which is now all done with various DAW programs.

"Mixer" is a union title, and has real meaning in terms of pay and relative rank on a crew.

phil p
Old 1st September 2011
  #5
Gear Head
 

1) The size of the hammer depends on the size of the job....Many feature production mixers use 6-12 channel mixers and record 4 to 10 tracks.

2) Actually, it's Automated Dialog Replacement. From the transition from film loops to random access timecode based locate systems.

3) Historical union job title. A recordist is a machine operator that QC's the signal that the mixer sends to the recording device
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