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To my frequent saviors, esteemed mentors, and fellow adepts,

Recorded a "free-driving" scene on a freeway with eight actors in a van improvising DX. Setting the myriad factors aside which would have allowed me to get what I wanted during recording (bigger budget for adequate kit list, knowledge of the shoot/story/layout beforehand, etc. ), what actually went down was recording with a Senn ME67, (2) Senn ME2 lavs, and the onboard mic of a Sony XDCAM (oh the horror...oh the shame).

Now that I'm cutting the varying SNR results from the three different types of mics into a PT session, with 2 tracks of DX for each mic, I'm wondering what the best strategy would be to provide the final mix with the least crowding of "noise".

My thoughts:

1- Re-record "fill" with all three mics during my own van session, and then use each separate fill for the corresponding mic type's DX track.

2- Re-record with the mic that has the poorest SNR from production (ME67), fill that mic type's DX track only, and hope that the better SNR from the lav and cam DX tracks punch through unobtrusively.

3- Grab a wakazashi, find a second, and commit ritual suicide for dishonoring the noble class of Noob.

Any thoughts?

  • +1 for the 3rd option only in the means of "epic-ness" though, and not the real situation here – Nikos Chatzigeorgiadis Jul 28 '11 at 1:04
  • @Nikos...thanx for sharing an appreciation for hyperbolic, and epic "shame"! – atheisticmystic Aug 4 '11 at 2:20
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I don't suggest trying to re-record fill. It won't sound the same for a variety of reasons. It's best to dig through your edits and find any and all small tidbits of fill for each "noise profile" and create long fill tracks (the Reverse tool helps a lot with this). Once you have a good 5+ seconds of steady fill that's free-and-clear of sound oddities and pitch fluctuations, here's what I suggest that may be a shocker:

Play both fill (angle edits) at the same time continuously.

It's a "least common denominator" situation.

Why do this? You mask the perceived noise bumps between the two types of noises - just run the edited track and their backfill all at the same time. By adding noise you will psycho acoustically "remove" perceived noise. I have had great success with this in even the most facepalm of dialogue scenes. In some cases when you stay with one mic/angle for a very long time (15+ sec) you can gradually get out of one of the noises... but if it's rapid-fire dialogue there's no such opportunity without drawing attention to it.

Then when you're in the premix stage, the common noise that is tied together can be processed with a real-time noise suppressor and the levels can be sculpted around the lines on the premix master fader (technically an aux track) - rather than wasting time trying to cajole three different noise profiles to work together in a back-and-forth crossfade dance. Sculpting the levels is helpful in very noisy circumstances, yet must be done careful so as not the pump the dialogue noise suppressor or create an artificially unattractive compression pumping quality where noise hisses in-and-out. This sculpting of levels is a careful balance which takes time and experience. There's a particular scene in the new Robin Hood film when Russell Crowe is down a by river in daytime and taking with somebody else - it is an great example of this 'hiss pumping' and what can happen when done wrong. Maybe it was fixed for the DVD/BluRay mix yet in the theater it was very unnerving to my ears.

Plus, this is a driving scene. By creating a steady, albeit slightly louder, noisefloor by running both noises, at least it will be steady in pitch and level - steady enough that your cut sound effects of an engine interior drive will mask most of it's nastiness (plus any wind buffet/whistle you have in the car too). If you had noise bump in pitch and level by not running them at the same time and just going back and forth, such masking would not work. Also, if the best noise you can find for backfill has a little bith of seat cloth or rattle movement, your suspension and seat creak sound effects edits should mask that or blend with it. It's not ideal to have this in the backfill to begin with yet I'm considering a worst-case dialogue scenario here: being in the mind of the sound effects editor and how they can help you.

This is only my personal dialogue editorial opinion and experience, based upon dealing with both crystal clear and atrociously gnarly sound situations that share this multi-mic or multi-angle complexity. It is by no means a be-all-end-all. It may just be a good place to start with and see where it goes.

Good luck!

  • @Stavrosound...thanx a million for the input! So dig out fill for both the ME67, and the ME2, and create a continuous fill track for both, the length of the edited DX track (it's (thankfully?) a long take)? – atheisticmystic Jul 27 '11 at 20:43
  • Sure thing! Again, it's only one way of handling it, albeit a slightly editorially--intensive way. To directly answer the question, yes you would want to build good pieces of fill for each type of noise and then backfill around all the lines as is appropriate. I wouldn't be as cut-and-dry concerned about the mic name and mic formalities etc... for me it's all about listening. If you have three mics, but only 2 of them are generating a noisefloor, and each of their noisefloors sound the same, then creatively work with weaving only one of those fill tracks of that noisefloor in your edits. – Stavrosound Jul 27 '11 at 21:34
  • My answer was based upon the assumption (maybe ill-assumption) that each noisefloor sounded characteristically different in pitch and loudness, which tends to be a common situation when you have a strong harmonic background presence that can shift from subtle mic placement differences (car engine versus dead exterior night air) – Stavrosound Jul 27 '11 at 21:36
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Be careful double (or triple) filling as the cumulative noise may not serve you so well - it may be better to cut the dialogue rather tightly (almost manually gated, but with a ramp in/out that helps smooth) and have the fill on seperate fill-only tracks, so that once each line of dialogue is playing at a good level, just enough fill can be ramped in and out to hide the edits... So maybe track 1 is one mic, track 2 is fill for that mic, track 3 is another mic, track 4 is a fill track for that mic etc.... Then the mixer has the option to use the minimum fill as required... Apart from that what will also help save your bacon will be to make very careful notes about what speed/moves the vehicle is doing and then go record FX only of the vehicle so you have good clean interesting sounds to help support & mask the noise. As a minimum I would have an engine mic, exhaust mic and interior mics.... Do a lot of recording this way and then cut the clean FX tracks to match the motor/road noise behind your dialogue.... Depending on whats onscreen another possibility is to also use a car pass to hide moments where its impossible to smoothly cross between takes...

  • @tim prebble...the shot is a "found footage" long take, and is at a very consistent speed on the freeway. So perhaps some passing truck brakes and the like. Much obliged big brother! – atheisticmystic Jul 27 '11 at 20:50
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If it were me I would seriously consider ADRing it if it needs to sound good but you mentioned in a comment it was a "found footage" situation in which case the other 2 answers are the best advice I have ever seen with this sort of situation.

But my own experience with trying to loop ambient noise either from a car interior or exterior is extremely hard because of the infinite variations in the sound (this isn't just tape hiss or hum). I think you would need at least 10 seconds of uninterrupted ambience cut together to be able to loop it - otherwise it will sound like a broken record.

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