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Magic Microphones and Phantastical Post

On February 8, 2011, AES and Cinema Audio Society member Jay Rose gave an illustrated presentation to the Boston chapter of AES and invited members of SMPTE New England.

We had a camera rolling*.

Here's the entire presentation, sweetened and broken into chapters.

These are QuickTime H264 with AAC stereo audio.
You'll need the free QuickTime plugin from Apple.

* - Locked shot, very wide, available light, intended just as an archive record. Comments about picture quality won't help.

From AES/Boston news:

The Boston Section of the Audio Engineering Society Presents...
By Jay Rose
Tues. Feb. 8th, 7pm
Devlin Hall – Room 026
Boston College

The voices in movies usually sound pretty good. So good that, to people who understand audio, they seem impossible.

* How does Hollywood record actors so cleanly, with everything else
going on and no visible microphones?
* Why don’t background noise and room acoustics interfere?
* Most scenes are shot in multiple takes, with a single camera
that’s moved to various positions: How can the voices and backgrounds stay
so consistent, start to finish and shot to shot, even through scenes that
took hours to set up and shoot?

Surprisingly, the answer usually isn’t ADR or “looping”
(recording the actors’ voices separately in a studio). ADR is sometimes
necessary or tolerated, but it’s frowned upon by film sound professionals
and most actors. Mainstream films use a very high percentage of actual
production audio, recorded in tiny pieces through multiple shots.

Technology doesn’t come to the rescue either. Other than a few adaptations
for field use or speed, the equipment and software used in film sound is
very similar to that found in a music studio.
Directional microphones have their own problems, and the very directional
ones don’t sound natural. Noise reduction software that can actually isolate
human speech is still a dream.

The real trick? Carefully specialized technique, a workflow that’s based on
decades of sound filmmaking and being constantly tweaked…
and a little smoke-and-mirrors.

Boston-based film/TV sound designer Jay Rose will discuss these methods,
demonstrate some of them, and show ways you can bring them to smaller,
low-budget video projects. He’ll also mention some of the common soundtrack
mistakes that seem reasonable, but actually make a film sound worse.