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With close to 30 years of Sound Design experience in live theater, I would have thought doing sound for a television series would be quite easy. I'm surprised that it's actually a bit of a challenge. I find it to be almost the complete reverse of theatrical sound. In theater, I start with a silent space and add whatever sounds I deem the production requires. In television, I am given a set of audio tracks in which most of my work involves removing sounds from.

http://www.iamthewisp.com will show the current episode. Any constructive thoughts, comments and/or suggestions would be most welcomed.

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I watched Episode 103 or so that is on the front-page.

Here are some critics (sorry if I only mentions things that i don't like but its the most easiest :D)

  • Dialogues are jumping in the stereo field sometimes. Better keep 99% of dialogues mono, right in the centre. Just pan spoken words if you want to hint into a direction -> someone from the far right is yelling at the actress in the middle.
  • Dialogue levels are jumping a bit so have a check on these, use compression if needed. Riding the level via a volume automation or midi controller works best for 80% of the time.

  • Sound Effects like footsteps are to loud and present sometimes. I know it is tricky if you get some shotgun mic-ed footsteps in a reverberated room. So always have some deeper, softer footsteps in your library to replace if needed.

  • Ad more atmosphere. Especially silent rooms can need some fresh atmospheres to make them more interesting. Lightbulp beeping, airconditioner. mumbling from neighbours. Noise from outside the window. Simply noise. A lot of high end TV-Series drench the whole sound in atmosphere, so flaws in recording and sound fx are not that audible anymore and you get a sense of being in the scenery.

So here is my Tip when mixing/re-recording/engineering/producing/etc. sound for TV:

  1. Lay down Atmosphere and make sure it has a RMS of around -24 dB (my guideline)
  2. Make sure the transition of the atmosphere between scenes works well
  3. Add in Music (if available at that stage) and make sure it hits at max -18 dB
  4. Add Sound FX and make sure they hit max at -12 dB
  5. Add Dialogue and make sure it peaks at -12 dB

Et each stage I try to fit the elements so that I enjoy watching the scene.

GL

  • Thank you SO much for taking the time to watch the show and critique the Sound Design. I especially found helpful your specific level guides and your thoughts regarding atmosphere. I had been shying away from adding much more atmospheric sounds in fear of sounding too intrusive or "canned". I'll be rethinking my approach to that type of thing. – Patrick Gorman Nov 6 '13 at 6:49
  • Watch some high-end productions with focus on atmosphere. You will be amazed :D gl! (the levels are very rough guidelines, find some they work well for you and your productions) – Tobias Schmidt Nov 6 '13 at 23:19

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