Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Be Evil, & Save Audio Sweetening Till The End

Here's a little evil tip: Save your audio sweetening for the end. Why? Well, have you ever had a client who keeps monkeying with the project making irrelevant changes and basically just toying with the edits for no real rhyme or reason?

What I do is save the audio sweetening and music levels until the very end. After seeing so many versions with poor audio, then suddenly seeing a version with music levels up, audio panned correctly (usually just centered if someone decides it's a good idea to have offset audio channel levels when audio was recorded to "save" the peaks...grrr) the client will think some miracle just happened and often they'll love the version. Evil yes, but so is making dozens of meaningless tweaks over a week.


Tim said...

You don't like offset audio channel levels? My Video director swears by this process...and I have to admit it has saved us numerous times by avoiding digital distortion.

What would you do instead?

Walker Ferox said...

Depends on the situation really. If we can rehearse the sound person will adjust the audio levels so it doesn't peak.

If it's run-n-gun shooting most sound people I've worked with keep the audio a bit low to prevent peaking. You can end up with a bit of hiss later but its' not too difficult to remove it if needed.

The best is when the sound person has a peak limiter on their recorder which prevents audio from peaking to begin with (although with a slight loss in quality).

A lot of the stuff I do plays in theaters and/or on some high-end audio systems and the difference in the quality of offset-recording, once you bring the levels up equally -so there's no spacial lean- is usually apparent.

Overall my pref is to keep input levels low and boost slightly later in editing.

Walker Ferox said...

Forgot to mention that they are sometimes called "Input Limiters" on something like a Field Mixer the sound guy (or girl) will have.