The audio is just on one track so I didn't know if it would be best to separate it in to 2 tracks so that I can adjust the volume easier. I'm using Sonic Foundry Vegas 4 software. This is the first project that I have had to work on dialogue so I really want to make a good go of it and learn as many helpfull tips as I can for future projects.
Jory K. Prum:
You can also use noise reduction software (or hardware) to try to quiet down the background noise, if necessary.
Vegas gives you the interesting opportunity to quickly level clips at high speed with its per-clip volume handle. Use that if you can, but be careful not to go wild on that if you're mixing via faders, since it's hard to remember all you did. Thankfully Vegas has a visual feedback in the clip waveform overview on how much clip-gain you applied. The volume automation is a seperate entity so mixing by fader is not inhibited. Should you have two different tones of the same character (lav vs boom for example) just pop 'em on another track. I sometimes also like to give each character their own compressor.
Do the busses in Vegas now have sends too ? That's one aspect of Protools I would sorely miss(or any $500+ console for that matter). If it's missing that you may have to blow additional CPU resources to insert a compressor in to each voice channel, instead of using it in a bus where you can't send a thing to any fx.
The split is made more difficult by the degree to which you are out-taking a scene or character. In many situations the level of ADR will also affect the way you split out the dialogue and fill in the tone around the remaining character or characters. Also one should not forget the sync effects , If they are good should also be prepared and saved for the M+E.. Saving and building up a well recorded dialogue track helps to give the sound track a natural life that should not be ignored. A good recordist may provide loads of good sound that does not necarrily appear in the EDL or OMF. There is often a wee bit of detective work to be done to discover some unused good material . Out-taking a scene and finding alternate takes can save many hours of studio time trying to match ADR to the original. The preservation and enhancement of the original recordings should be a first line priority. You should ask why am I going to split the sound out, above and beyond who is saying the particular line . What is the purpose of the split?
Do you make notes about the use of alternates? If so, are the notes for the sound department or do they get passed on? Do director's question the use of an alt? Do they care to know? Is it a case of what they don't know won't hurt them?
Just curious. I've had different reactions to the use of alts; some didn't care --others did
Many Picture Editors will appreciate this; a few won't. Basically the strategy is usually to do one's best to make the takes used in the Picture Editor's cut work, but to also prepare alts that have the potential to work better, if there are any. It's common to prepare alts for the dialog premix which can be put onto their own tracks.
Too many alts can make the premix too complicated though. That's an issue for the Dialog Editor and the Mixer to work out. Alts can also be cut and offered during the final mix. A good Dialog Editor will have a sense of how receptive the Director and Picture Editor will be to alts. Some will love you for cutting them, and some will think you're wasting their time.... you never know until you've worked with that particular team..
Those of us doing lo/no budget indie films are often presented with truly dreadful location sound, and the job of editing the location dialog tracks is most often an exercise of cleaning up the audio as best we can. The problems I most frequently encounter are:
1. No room tones.
2. No alternate takes.
3. Very low dialog levels in relation to the ambient sound.
4. Distorted words and phrases.
5. Words cut off at an edit point.
6. Directors instructions and crew noises overlapping the dialog.
7. No EDLs.
My first "solution" to these problems is to ask for 20 second handles on the OMF files. The extra 40 seconds on each soundbite, hopefully, supplies me with some short pieces of room tone, and, with luck, alternate pieces of dialog.
My first step in the location sound editing/assembly process is to copy each soundbite in a scene onto a separate track and stretch it out to its full length. I can then find, with luck, those pieces of room tone and alternate dialog parts I need and create a "library" I can call upon.
My second step is to shorten the soundbites back to appropriate lengths. I generally leave A LOT of overlap.
Step three is to re-organize the soundbites by "noise", finding the soundbites that can be treated similarly in the noise reduction process. I create noise reduction pre-sets I can use for later scenes in the same location and a log of how different elements were treated. (I use BNR and SoundSoap Pro and often have to do multiple passes.)
The next step, if I have the material, is to replace unintelligable or distorted words and phrases and cover mouth clicks and other extraneous noises with those little pieces of room tone. I have replaced entire lines word by word and even syllable by syllable in attempts to match the original performance.
Once I have completed the noise reduction, dialog replacement and cleanup process I re-assemble the location dialog track and try to create a smooth track with crossfades, etc.
It is during this process that I create my sound list for the scene; ambience, Foley and sound FX. What I hate the most is that more than half the time I am creating an ambience that will mask the noisy location sound rather than enhance the scene.
I normally don't separate the characters on to different tracks unless I absolutely have to.
I generally don't do anything with EQ until I start the pre-mix process.
Excerpt from thread "Children of Men" Feb 2, 2007 at Sound Design discussion list
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