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While in the midst of a dialogue premix, I've been playing around with this Snapshot feature on TLSpace I never knew existed. Has made verbing so much quicker and easier now especially for recurring locations - in fact I wish I knew this for the past 4 years ;)

It has been nice to add just a touch of verb to interior scenes, with Snapshot settings matching the right feel and timbre of the space (some having a short pre-delay slap of a living room IR for an apartment, and a longer pre-delay with a slap back late delay of a garage for a big empty club/bar location that has high ceilings etc).

But when it comes to exterior spaces, I'm curious what some of you have done (or not done) regarding verbing the premix chain. I ask because when I have always added just a touch of verb to the dialogue ('a touch' meaning that in the case of TL Space, I'm running a ratio of 0dB Dry, -25 to -30dB wet) it seems to round it out with some warmth and make it pop, almost in that it diminishes the slightly flat sound that results from running prudent/conservative broadband Noise suppression (a la Cedar, C4, etc). In other words, just enough reverb to give some life and space back to the now-clean dialogue but not enough verb that you're hearing it as "oh my good, there's reverb in here!".

But then comes exterior spaces Something still sounds flat about raw dialogue even against BGz when it's fully dry. I have normally left it alone because it seems that in most exterior locations it feels natural that the dialogue doesn't react with the space (for example, on a mountain trail overlooking the city). But in spaces where we do naturally have slap-happy interactions like an alley or such, I did recently play with a dark plate verb I found and fit the bill. For seem reason, even that touch of it was enough to bring life to the exterior dialogue that the other dry exteriors didn't quite have.

So it brings me to the question of those who mix dialogue - have you experienced this 'sparkling' effect with how reverbs react with production in a pleasant way, and as such, do you tend to always add a tinge of verb to all of production regardless of interior or exterior (while of course choosing the right IR and parameters that feel correct for the type of space). Or do you find exterior verbing a waste of time/no benefit to the luster of the production track and just roll with it dry on exteior unless we're in an appropriately-reverberant space (e.g. an alley)?

There isn't a right or wrong answer here, just seeking opinions and experiences of others. Thanks!

NOTE: My signal flow: DX EDIT TRACKS => SIDECHAIN (EQ, Comp, Noise Suppress, DeEss, etc) => DX Submaster (sometimes I run the verb insert on this, sometimes I feed the Sidechain to an Aux Send for verb and feed that to sum into the Submaster - depends on a case by case). So ultimately, my verb is always at the tail end of my chain before the DX signal hits the stem print track. if this at all helps visualize.

I think my question may be slightly mus-interpreted, although I appreciate the responses so far they've been great to read and learn about. I'm asking more though about "why" verbing Exteriors (beyond the obvious verby spaces) could be useful or a waste of time on helping/hindering the dialogue track, versus the "how". Thanks!

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3 Answers

I, too, have used TL Space as my go-to reverb for almost 6 years now (that is, unless I have the privilege of using an M6000 - those things are sweet).

I absolutely put on verb if the character is outside. A lot of people I've worked with don't realize that one of the largest surface areas that creates reflection is the ground or floor in a room. In this case, on a street there would definitely be some early reflections being created if you were talking to someone.

I think the only place I would never put reverb on a voice mix would be on a large beach (far away from cliffs or trees, just sand for at least 100 yards) and possibly a meadow with taller grass. Other than that, early reflections add back a realism quality to a voice that you simply don't get with a dry lav recording.

Check out the preset named "Trillium Field". This is a good, realistic outside slapback.

I also believe in spending a lot more time than just "setting and forgetting" reverb on a voice. Just walking around my studio in through the hallways, other rooms, niches, under chandeliers, etc. changes the reverb characteristic immensely and you don't get that with a static IR or algorithm. I like riding the reverb return and even changing the reverb mid-sentence as the actor is walking through a room or into another area outside (closer to a barn, building, near a tree, etc.) This is something I learned from Jay - I will print the verb on another track and crossfade it and mesh it where I want it to change that way. I hear this being done in movies quite a bit. I think it just adds more realism into the dialogue.

Since you mentioned you just now found the snapshot recall function, one thing I have noticed about TL Space snapshot recall is that the Pre-delay setting is subject to not recall 100% correctly each time. Keep an eye out for that. I also found that sometimes when you close and re-open a session, always make the plug-in instances inactive and active, and re-load each snapshot by cycling through them (not by scrolling your mouse and letting them load but actually click the "Load" button on the top right) because those that were stereo are suddenly mono sometimes. Over the last 6 years it's caused a lot of hardship with these little details. It's also helpful to checkerboard the reverb recalls with 2 instances of TL Space on the same Aux track and automating the bypass button when you want it to change (less likely to digitally snap that way).

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Awesome answer. –  Luca Fusi Feb 21 '12 at 4:41
    
Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Dunno if it's me or what but some of those outdoor IRs are whacked out or something with phase problems, at least in stereo mode. Otherwise, I love the plugins. Wish there were more IRs for outdoors and car interiors etc like Altiverb. But it sounds like you verb out everything to some degree, even if minimal. I agree with the verb on a separate track to mix into the dry. Alas, it comes down to time and budget constraints so usually I cant be fiddling all afternoon with a verb with is unfortunately. Like Jay said, show me that perfect world ;) –  Stavrosound Feb 22 '12 at 6:45
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It's interesting to hear you talk about your approach, thank you for sharing. I have found myself wanting the same effect in the past, especially when dealing with ADR, or really any alternate take that was recorded from a different perspective than what is on screen.

My particular example, however, involved the production dialog. The shoot was a nighttime bonfire party scene, during which one of the main characters starts a fight. The music immediately goes off, everyone quiets down, and then the whole soundscape consists of two people yelling at each other, very quiet fire sounds and some insects —— i.e., the dialog was very naked. The location was a very open farm field, so I couldn't use reverb overtly. I wound up making a collection of aux tracks:

• a slap delay (somewhere between 50 and 150 ms) • a convolution reverb with a small room IR (e.g., a closet or very small bedroom) • an outdoor conv. verb with a longer tail (e.g., forest or urban setting)

I also put a PF send from the delay to the outdoor reverb. All of these sends were pre-fader so that I could balance everything with the faders.

When I wanted the feeling of space I would send some balance of the original dialog and the slap delay to the outdoor verb. Usually, this was when the actors would leave long gaps between their words, or directly after a particularly loud shout. When I wanted to "thicken" the voices, I would send the dry signal to the small room reverb and bring it in to fill out the Left and Right channels as well as the Center (assuming 5.1). It was very subtle, but it made the voices feel "wider" across the screen.

Hope this helps!

~Matt

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For Dialog, I usually have two verbs - one for bigger spaces, one for smaller rooms (both heavily automated) plus an "ambience" send and a 200ms-ish delay all being fed by auxes. Adding a little reverb to the Dialog tracks is something I always do... it helps them share a space and smooths over changes in perspective and mic position immensely. I actually picked this technique up ages ago while on the dub stage at my first feature. The "ambience" send (basically just ER) is used for those times when I have a very dry lav on one character and a boom on another, to help even it out. Finally the delay is used either with the big verb to cover things like an arena (much of the show I'm doing now takes place in a hockey arena) and I will also use just a taste of it for exterior shots. If I can hear the distinct echos, then I've used too much (I also like to roll it off fairly heavily around 3 to 5k for exteriors). I've found it adds that feeling of space, without sounding artificial. I don't often use IR verbs for this, preferring the good old algorithmic type, although I will use IR's for FX design, and for matching ADR sometimes.

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