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I just started working on the dialog for this short film that only used lavs. First off there are times where cloth movement got recorded during the take. The director doesn't want to do ADR on the CU shots, because he wants performance over clarity and that's when a lot of the cloth movement occurred. Is there anything I can do to get rid of the cloth movement? Here's one of the dialog tracks:

BAR 03-4.1 by Mitchell Scott

Also, is it possible to make the recorded lav takes sound anywhere near the depth and fullness of a shotgun mic? Thanks!

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I use the Oxford DeClicker almost exclusively for this purpose. It works almost perfectly on the stock settings and you can often "blindly" add it to a clip for great results.

From there its a matter of eq to get it sounding better.

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You can try Izotope decrackle, and see if it helps you a little bit, apart from that I would suggest you mix the tracks actively, so you decrease the volume of the individual tracks between the dialogue.

The loudest guy in the track, who I presume is the one wearing the mic, sounds pretty good on my MacBook speakers, so it should be possible to get a full and rich sound of him.

I would use the two major tools for getting the dialogue to sound nice and full: EQ for the characteristics of the voice and reverb to give it a bit of air, so it doesn't sound too close all of the time.

I am totally with the performance over clarity, performance is always most important to me!

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Hi Mitchell

If you're doing the dialogue, it's your reputation on the line, not the director's. I always consider whether I would find it acceptable and, if not, I believe I would not be doing my job if I submitted it as a final product.

Budgetary constraints are one thing but, if not the case here, there is no excuse for sub-standard dialogue. iZotope RX Spectral Repair is a fantastic tool for removing unwanted impulse and transient noise but, if the sample clip you provided is anything to go by, I reckon opting for the ADR would be cheaper, quicker and offer superior results.

  • So since the production guy only used lavs, would I then ADR with a lav instead of a shotgun since? – Mitchell Scott May 17 '11 at 0:08
  • Although it is common practice to use what was used in the field, I try to avoid lavs where possible. Shotguns would usually be preferable but, since none were used, I would avoid them in this case. I believe in getting dialogue down as well as possible using a decent quality neutral studio condenser(AT4050, TML103, etc) or dynamic (RE20) in a dead room. You can always mix in some wild sound or room tone from B-roll to help it blend. You mention that it is a short film - depending on how short, it might be a good option to redo all the dialogue (effectively VO) for the sake of consistency. – Bluesman69 May 17 '11 at 8:58
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I hate using lavs, next time ask to do wild tracks, there are also a couple good threads on here on lav tips to make sure you get the best recordng.

At present with all you have to work with, try out some noise reduction/crackle plugins

  • I would have loved some wild tracks haha, but I wasn't brought on till after production. – Mitchell Scott May 17 '11 at 0:04
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I listened to the track and I have a few questions. Forgive me if I'm wrong because I only had my laptop speakers (no headphones) available right now to listen to it:

If you're trying to use that track for the woman's dialogue, you've got the wrong mic. The mic sounds like it's on the guy who says "Wallace vs. Chavez..." and this sounds pretty clean to me when he's talking (relatively. It will still require penciling out the little ticks and snaps, but I think I could make something of it if ADR was not an option). Just snip out the noisy stuff and replace foley to it.

Do you have another channel for the woman? Hope you do... Otherwise, I don't know what to do with that. ADR it. Sounds like there is way too much cloth to signal ratio and it's utterly unusable.

Tips to make a lav sound bigger:

  • Add bass to it but don't make it "chesty".
  • Add a nice warm boomy reverb of a room if they're indoors. The lavs I have heard are one for one really dead (because they have cloth and such over them) and this will help give them body and weight.
  • @Utopia Oh no, haha that mic is definitely on the guy, and they actually put the 2nd lav on the bar counter instead of on the actress. Thanks man, I'll definitely try penciling it out. – Mitchell Scott May 18 '11 at 2:10
  • Wow. On the counter? Was she topless or something? Tell the director you want to ADR it just for that alone... I've NEVER heard of anyone putting a lav on the counter. Condenser pencil mic, yes, but lavs, no. – Utopia May 18 '11 at 2:13
  • @Utopia Ha, nope she wasn't. It sounds pretty distant. He doesn't want to ADR any CU or MS shots since he thinks you'll be able to tell they've been ADRed. By the way I've been trying to pencil out the cloth noise like I do with pops/clicks and it's not working. Am I doing it wrong? – Mitchell Scott May 18 '11 at 3:47
  • @Mitchell I'd try to sell him on the ADR. Trust me, it will be better all around. If the ADR supervisor does a good job and gets a realistic sound, then it will work. How are you penciling the clicks out? Are you zooming in to sample view and following the curvature of the underlying waveform? – Utopia May 18 '11 at 4:26
  • I was actually the FX editor on a festival piece where a colleague of mine was the production mixer. For one shot he apparently used 3 lavs as plant mics while 2 actors moved to different positions, mixing between them. I'm not entirely sure why, but when I saw the dailies it sounded decent. Can't tell for sure, though, as it didn't make the cut. – James May 18 '11 at 11:12

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