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This one is for the production sound guys. What techniques are you using to capture dialogue for NYC (or any big city) exteriors? I am a post guy and I am constantly faced with indie productions that have awful exterior dialogue. Combine that with an ADR budget of zero and a short deadline and I end up a film that is not up to par. Even with a top notch, well equipped studio with every noise reduction tool you can think of, the dialogue is simply too noisy.

So how are the bigger productions doing it? I am definitely seeing NYC exteriors that are not ADR'ed.

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In addition to what was said about larger productions utilizing security/police to deal with traffic control and having a location scout pick spots that are appropriate for the story AND the production...one of the biggest attributes to a production mixer is a talented boom op. It is sadly a thankless job that many films would suffer greatly if they didn't exist. Many people who are boom ops aspire to be mixers or even non-sound crew, but there are a few who are passionate about booming. It is a tough gig, both physically (try holding your arms straight up for hours at a time at 4am in the pouring rain :-) and mentally (you need to stay focused to follow the actors to be slightly ahead of where they are going to be and know the script just as well as the director and actors). As a re-recording mixer and dialogue editor, when I get a film edit OMF/AAF that sounds great, I make sure the production mixer AND the boom op know how much we appreciate it.
Using the correct equipment is always important, but just like in music, it is the abilities of the operator that is of utmost importance...even a pawn shop guitar will sound pretty amazing in Clapton's hands.

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I work mostly in lisbon, and whenever we're recording on very busy areas we have a few police agents stopping the traffic. That, as you can imagine, helps an insanely awful lot...

If we can't stop traffic, we'll switch to our long shotgun mics, the mkh70, and negociate the shots with the director and DP. We'll many times mic the actors if we can't "get the boom in there".

Also actors who can project their voices helps immensely.

  • By the way, i shot a bit in NY as well, but was lucky enough that it was always in not so terrible locations. Some places in the East village, brooklyn and the bronx. I think the toughest location i did there was in harlem, with the overhead subway roaring away. – Filipe Chagas Sep 24 '12 at 21:13
  • By the way number 2! Just a piece of trivia i like, The Devil's advocate scene when John and Kevin are in a desert Manhattan, was shot at a sound stage :) – Filipe Chagas Sep 24 '12 at 21:18

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