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I have just come to a new town and am editing dialogue for a good number of different mixers who have very different preferences in how they like their dialogue edited. I would like to know if there are anymore common permutations I have not yet seen.

What do you like when you sit down at the board?

Do you like 4 frames or 2 frames fade outs and ins on scenes?

How long do you like your fades from character to character in a scene?

Do you like muted extra tracks on the dialogue tracks in addition to inactive AAF tracks at the bottom of the session window?

Do you prefer characters to consistently be on the same tracks? Do you require this throughout the project or just in a scene?

Do you want your dialogue editor to Izotope clicks and crackles?

Do you checkerboard your dialogue from one character to another even if it was recorded on one mic?

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2 Answers 2

My forté is not in dialog editing but I can shed some light based on working with and learning from some really talented people:

  • Do you like 4 frames or 2 frames fade outs and ins on scenes?
  • How long do you like your fades from character to character in a scene?

Depends on the scene but I'd use 2 frames as the standard. That's how I prepare FX, BG and Foley tracks. Can't advise on the character to character fades but I assume it depends mostly on the amount of similar/dissimilar noise from angle to angle.

  • Do you like muted extra tracks on the dialogue tracks in addition to inactive AAF tracks at the bottom of the session window?

This is basically a question regarding conveying information and organization. If you prepare a slew of muted regions but no one knows why there are there, then you've created a problem. If, on the other hand, you prepare a slew of muted regions and TELL the mixer what they are for and why they may need them, then you've provided options. Also, having the editor's tracks (OMF or AAF) running along in the session is CRITICAL. You will be constantly referencing and pulling material from those tracks during the mix, and if you don't have the editor's tracks then you've screwed up royally and will pay dearly.

  • Do you prefer characters to consistently be on the same tracks? Do you require this throughout the project or just in a scene?

Principal characters should always be on the first four (or so) tracks of the dialog session, allowing room to split for new angles or locations. Secondary characters can bounce around a bit but it's better to keep them up near the top if possible. Definitely keep continuity within the reel but it's not necessary to have the exact same track layout throughout the whole project (unless you can pull it off, which would be fantastic).

  • Do you want your dialogue editor to Izotope clicks and crackles?

Depends on a few things: Your proficiency with Izotope (don't render regions that are over-processed), the type of noise you're considering for reduction (certain noises may be better left to the mixer to work with), etc. If you do process regions with Izotope (or similar plugs) then be sure to leave a muted original in sync on a nearby track in case somebody doesn't like what you've done.

  • Do you checkerboard your dialogue from one character to another even if it was recorded on one mic?

I think that depends on the scene but I would say generally no. You'd be creating extra work for yourself and may do more harm than good.

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we seem to be answering at the same exact times... –  Utopia Feb 3 '12 at 6:49
    
+1000 to each point Jay, coming from a fellow dialogue editor ;) –  Stavrosound Feb 3 '12 at 7:23
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I only use iZtope etc as a last-resort for de-crackling only. X Tracks are your friend and sometimes saving-grace. For ticks/click, pops, and lipsmacks I choose to hand-edit them out. Tedious, but well worth it in the end when it hits the stage. –  Stavrosound Feb 3 '12 at 7:25
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@Stavro What are X Tracks? –  Utopia Feb 3 '12 at 7:27
    
Utopia, X tracks are Xtra tracks. Nice, Jay. That you so much. I love the track assignment info. –  Karol Urban Feb 10 '12 at 5:28

Since I started out as an ADR mixer and dialogue editor and did this for quite a while, I have a few guidelines I make sure are known if I have someone cutting for me, and these are:

  • Never consolidate an edit. I like all edits to be on the track and easily fixable if there is something I hear that is not quite right (I have an ear for the slightest over-fade or glitchy edit)

  • Use as much original material as possible when editing ADR. If a whole line is picked up, either use the first few syllables from the production track or just replace what is needed (word change, word clarification, etc.)

  • Never print EQ or noise-reduction. Add it as a plug-in non-destructively, but never print it so that what I have on the faders is original tonality.

  • Depending on the amount of ADR and if it matches well, editing them in on the same track is okay - if they are extremely different tonalities, keep them on separate tracks.

  • Anything you're unsure about (sync, etc.) place an alt take or whatever other takes there may be on another track directly below the line in question.

  • Mute (but don't delete) the bleed of different mics of the scene so I can see I have these in case I need them (something I learned from music mixing - bleed from other mics can help meld the scene and sound more convincing - to a degree. Use judgement)

  • I personally like to region group an edit (not consolidate) after it's been edited so it's easier to see the levels and arcs of delivery of lines while riding the faders in the mix.

  • Depending on the source tracks and how big the session is and if I've heard the tracks in rushes or in a spotting session already, I may ask for the session to be "Save Copy As"ed so that any extraneous audio files are dispensed with by the time I get the session.

  • You ask about hard cuts and if they should be 4 frames or 2 frames. I say use your ears - I have never heard of a hard rule about this sort of thing. If it sounds good, then do it. It really depends on the ambient noise and if it sounds good to fade it out gradually with an S-curve or a straight fade or maybe even sometimes a scooped fade to get rid of some noise.

  • Don't take out every single tiny little click of the actor's performance. I have had some of the hottest, most talented editors rip a performance to shreds thinking it was noise and they took out every little nuance and lip-click the actor delivered - which turned out to be detrimental to his performance and in the end looked unnatural because every time the actor stopped talking he didn't make any noise with his mouth even though he was opening and closing his mouth. Use good judgement on what is distracting and what is okay to leave in - for example, The King's Speech, if they edited out all of his little noises he made, it wouldn't make sense because his character stuttered and stammered.

  • I personally despise playlists when editing dialogue because as soon as a picture edit comes in and you update it on your most recent edit, all the playlists below are out of sync. I also hate hidden tracks. If you have to hide a track make sure there is a note or else it is sometimes never seen and thus used by the mixer on the stage.

  • Please cut in wild-track under the clean ADR if you need to and label this accordingly and keep the tracks directly under one another so that it doesn't get lost and thus nudged out of sync.

If I think of any other peculiarities I'll edit my answer but keep in mind these are my own little quirks and may be completely different than those you work for. I suggest just meeting with them and have them show you examples in a session (not just talk about them because misunderstandings and misinterpretations may arise and you don't want those at the beginning of an expensive mixing day).

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I love the region group idea!!! I had not seen that. This is excellent. Thank you, kind sir. –  Karol Urban Feb 10 '12 at 5:23
    
@Utopia Dude, I'm a region group addict ;) –  Stavrosound Feb 26 '12 at 7:34

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