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Sound Quality Need Help!!!!


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#1 Teguh Pramana

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Posted 28 October 2007 - 03:05 PM

Hey guys, I just finished a movie project together with my friends (an amateur student-oriented kind of movie) screened in Australia, Melbourne this year. I use Rode NTG-1 (http://www.rodemic.c...s&product=NTG-1), a shotgun mic, to capture the sound.

However, the sound quality is not as good as what I expected. The mike is very sensitive. In one hand, it's good as it captures the details of sound of the shooting scene accurately. In another hand, there are lots of noises going on (I have used a windscreen, and put another layer of cheap fur tingy windshield, but it's just not enough to reduce all the noises).

I used some features in Adobe Premiere Pro to reduce the noise (they got the DeNoise), but it tends to change the characteristics of the voice of the actors/actresses, and the voice loses its distinctive character. Sometimes, the dialogue is even unheard.

Any suggestions to this kind of problem? Should I use different mikes for indoor and outdoor recording (with heavy noise)? Does an expensive Rycote windshield makes a lot difference in reducing the noises? Should I use a very good sound editing software like Adobe Audition with Noise Cancellation features and stuffs? Kinda stuck here, looking forward for much improvements in sound quality for 2nd project.

Appreciate your comments and replies!! :lol:
Teguh
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#2 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 28 October 2007 - 03:24 PM

Teguh, my experience with sound is that, no matter how good the post tools you have are, you have to get good results during recording. There are a few conventional and a few non-conventional things you can do to acheive good sound results.

The conventional way is to buy a better mic that isolates very near noises, hence a Super-cardioid "shotgun" mic with a good signal-to-noise ratio. In addition to the good mic, you need to keep the mic as close as possible to the subjects without getting it is frame, also utilizing windscreens, and using some savvy like filming outdoors only in very quiet places. Filming near trees is a mistake because they amplify wind noise even if you can't audibly hear it at the time. You'll get home, upload your audio, and shreik. Also avoid filming near freeways and busy streets. If you do film near a street, a good technique is to record a track of the noise of the traffic on the street by itself. This way you can mix it with your dialog track and control the levels of each for good clean sound.

A mystery of sound is that often times, throwing in extra noises (when controlled) actual IMPROVES the quality of the sound and causes people to listen closer to the dialog, which in turn gives the illusion that your sound is better. This will not be the case if one track has all the different noises on it. They must be seperate tracks as clean as possible, but when mixed, sounds very clean and professional. Noitce how many movies make extensive use of music. Music being played at a low level is a great way to cover up background noises in your dialog, as long as your music isnt drowning out the dialog.

If you cannot afford a better super-cardioid mic, and can't get good results from this one, try getting some cheap lapel mics and a cheap Radio Shack mixer. Lapel mics can be surprisingly easy to hide on your actors, and the signal to noise ratio is fantastic. Hiding them in the clothes will often stiffle outside noises too. Main caveat of this technique is to not hide the mics so well as to muffle your sound.

Last possibility if all else fails is the worst case scenario...ADR. This is a sure fire way to get fantastic sound. Have your actors come back and overdub it. It's ideal from a sound perspective, but the actors I've worked with hate it. I don't blame them. I wouldn't want to go back and try to say something in the same rhythm I said it before. People who have experience in cartoon voice-overs are good with this though. It should always be left as a last resort IMHO.

Outside of this, get yourself a good audio cleanup tool. A freeware one that I use is called Audacity. It's not hte best, but it's Freeware and the Noise reducer is very good if you use it right. I'm sure others around here have better advice than me, but I've told you some things I've learned personally.

Good luck.
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#3 Michael Nash

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Posted 28 October 2007 - 05:09 PM

What kind of noise are you getting? It's not all the same, and has different solutions.

Rycote softies help dampen direct wind noise on the microphone. That's it. Just that deep, rumbly wind noise on the mic itself. It doesn't do anything to cancel out background sound or signal noise. In fact they're designed to be as acoustically "transparent" as possible, to let in ambient sound and not impede the performance of the mic.

If you're getting background sound (sounds of traffic, distant sounds etc.) creeping into your dialogue, it means your mic has too broad a pickup pattern or is too far from your subject.

If you're getting "hiss" or static or similar sounds, that noise is within the signal and not in front of the microphone. The noise is coming from the mic iteself, the cabling and connections, or the mixer.

A good shotgun mic placed close to the action and aimed at the action gives you the cleanest sound (from a boom mic).
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#4 Hal Smith

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Posted 28 October 2007 - 09:43 PM

I doubt if your Rode mike is in the really professional class. There a multiple problems with inexpensive mikes. 1) They tend to have a peaky frequency response which aggravates any background noise and degrades the quality of the desired sound (dialogue).2) An inexpensive mike usually has a poor signal to noise ratio which increase background grunge. 3) They tend to have fairly high distortion which generates new frequencies which can mask the frequencies you want.

In any critical project it's better to rent really good mikes than buy cheaper ones. My favorite dialogue mike is the Sennheiser MKH-416 and I tend to like Beyer Hypercardiods for more general sound. The Shure Dynamics like the SM-57/58's are classic workhorses and quite good for the money. Their principle drawback is they're not as directional as shotguns and hypercardiods. I own several of the old RCA Broadcast ribbon mikes which have never been surpassed for voice-over work. They bring out the "growl" in a good male voice like nothing else.
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#5 Teguh Pramana

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 03:45 AM

Thanks guys for all your inputs. So, you guys think I should get a new type of microphone in outdoor situation, to capture the vocals better, and capture the background ambience separately using different microphone? Because Melbourne is a very busy city, and where ever we are shooting, there will always be heaps of noises from the crowds, traffics, etc. . What microphones do you recommend?

Hal, the Sennheiser MKH416 the one you recommend for me, will it be able to capture enough vocals in an outdoor situation, without getting too much interference of background noises?

Thanks all, I'm kinda a beginner in this area. =P
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#6 Tim Terner

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 05:56 AM

Thanks guys for all your inputs. So, you guys think I should get a new type of microphone in outdoor situation, to capture the vocals better, and capture the background ambience separately using different microphone? Because Melbourne is a very busy city, and where ever we are shooting, there will always be heaps of noises from the crowds, traffics, etc. . What microphones do you recommend?

Hal, the Sennheiser MKH416 the one you recommend for me, will it be able to capture enough vocals in an outdoor situation, without getting too much interference of background noises?

Thanks all, I'm kinda a beginner in this area. =P


Agree with Hal about the 416 being a great mic, bought mine used about a year ago. The closer you get the mic to the talent at the level you need the less noticable the background noise issues become
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#7 Hal Smith

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 08:49 AM

Hal, the Sennheiser MKH416 the one you recommend for me, will it be able to capture enough vocals in an outdoor situation, without getting too much interference of background noises?
Thanks all, I'm kinda a beginner in this area. =P

One nice thing about sound is it's a lot cheaper to record some sound for practice than shooting film.

The Rycote socks are judged to be the best and widely used by pros. Shooting outdoors on location in a big city is difficult, you'll need to work the mike in as close as possible.

Practicing a shot over and over to know exactly where the frame lines are in space will help get the mike in close. For a locked off shot you could even tie a string across the set about 3" outside the frame line to see how close you can get. I've got several 35mm features that were shot and printed full frame but for 1.85 matted projection in theatres that if projected full frame quite of few shots have the dialogue mike visible in them, that's how close the Hollywood pros are working mikes. "Bull Durham" projected full frame darn near looks like a "Making Of" featurette - there are mikes showing, spikes visible, there's even a shot from the dugout where you can see a french flag hanging off the mattebox!
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#8 Daniel Sheehy

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 04:52 PM

Thanks guys for all your inputs. So, you guys think I should get a new type of microphone in outdoor situation, to capture the vocals better, and capture the background ambience separately using different microphone? Because Melbourne is a very busy city, and where ever we are shooting, there will always be heaps of noises from the crowds, traffics, etc. . What microphones do you recommend?

Hal, the Sennheiser MKH416 the one you recommend for me, will it be able to capture enough vocals in an outdoor situation, without getting too much interference of background noises?

Thanks all, I'm kinda a beginner in this area. =P

You haven't said anything about how your sound was recorded, how good your sound guy was etc...

You can run out and grab the Sennheiser, but if you're having trouble with technique, the new mic isn't going to be all that much help.

It sounds a little like you're having trouble getting close enough to get clean audio to start with.
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#9 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 06:28 PM

You haven't said anything about how your sound was recorded, how good your sound guy was etc...

You can run out and grab the Sennheiser, but if you're having trouble with technique, the new mic isn't going to be all that much help.

It sounds a little like you're having trouble getting close enough to get clean audio to start with.


I think this is important to remember. You can have a mic inferior to the Sennheiser, but if your technique is good, get better results than someone who has the superior mic and inferior technique. Just using some savvy will go along way, regardless of the mic you use.
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#10 Teguh Pramana

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Posted 30 October 2007 - 04:55 AM

Well, I use xlr cable to connect the mike directly to the camera. the mike is than mounted onto a boom pole, with the xlr cable hold firm along the boom pole (sometimes it produces crackling sound). Aniwei, is there any proper techniqe of using a boom pole? Any ideas where I can find them (website or something)? I always try to put the mike as close as possible.

Also, any idea of a good portable audio recorder to store all the audio datas, instead of putting it into the camera memory? I heard about Marantz, is that a good stuff to use? Haha, sorry for all the questions, I am actually a business student, but so interested in movie making and sound production. I really learn a lot from your comments. Thank you.

Teguh
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#11 Tim Tyler

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Posted 30 October 2007 - 09:47 AM

Teguh,

Those Rode mics are fine. I know pro sound guys who recommend them if you're on a budget.

How close was the mic to the speaking person's mouth?
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#12 Daniel Sheehy

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Posted 30 October 2007 - 05:02 PM

Well, I use xlr cable to connect the mike directly to the camera. the mike is than mounted onto a boom pole, with the xlr cable hold firm along the boom pole (sometimes it produces crackling sound). Aniwei, is there any proper techniqe of using a boom pole? Any ideas where I can find them (website or something)? I always try to put the mike as close as possible.

Also, any idea of a good portable audio recorder to store all the audio datas, instead of putting it into the camera memory? I heard about Marantz, is that a good stuff to use? Haha, sorry for all the questions, I am actually a business student, but so interested in movie making and sound production. I really learn a lot from your comments. Thank you.

Teguh


Ok, part of the problem may lie in how you're connecting the mic to the camera. If its going direct you're relying on the built-in amps, which are of varying quality.

Was a mic level manually set and monitored on the camera, or was it allowed to automatically ride the levels? If on auto, it will have a tenancy to boost the levels betweens words, giving you an annoying amount of background sound.

You mentioned that the xlr cable sometimes produced a crackling sound, possibly faulty connections or cracked solder... you need to get the cable looked at.
When using a boom pole, you also have to be careful with how its handled, as rough handling will cause the mic to bounce on its mount. Also you have to be careful as cables scraping along the pole, or the sound persons hands moving on pole can also be picked up.
Secure your cables and use soft gloves or a soft grip binding (similar to tennis racket grip) when swinging the boom.

You could look at getting a portable sound recorder, but at the very least you should get a decent mixer to run the audio through before recording it in-camera. This allows the sound person to monitor and adjust voice levels comfortably. It will also give you better amps than you'll get relying on the camera.
Shure makes some very decent 3-channel ones, even the older models are still very good and should be cheap to buy.
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#13 Bernhard Zitz

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Posted 30 October 2007 - 08:13 PM

I use Rode NTG-1
However, the sound quality is not as good as what I expected.

I have one these, and it's more than ok for the price, you hardly find anything similar in that price range. Sure it's something else than a Sennheiser or a Schoeps that might cost ten times the price. But I had rather ok resulst with it. Alltough it's very sensitive to handlingnoise, so better get a good shockmount, a good boom and ultraflexible and soft cable. It's also very sensitive to electromagnetic fields, sometimes you get "buzz" when to close to electric stuff.
If you have disturbing noise in the low-end, use the onboard highpass-filter.

Does an expensive Rycote windshield makes a lot difference in reducing the noises?

I use the foam that comes with it, I ad the "deadcat" in windy enviroment. The foam plus deadcat does pretty much the same thing as a Rycote Softie, both kill some high-end. If you want a windshield that affects less the sound get a rycote zepelin, for lots of wind with the hairy stuff around.

Kinda stuck here, looking forward for much improvements in sound quality for 2nd project.

make tests to see (hear) where your problems come from. Is it your style of booming? the wind? bad cable? camera-input? etc...

Should I use different mikes for indoor and outdoor recording


In noisy enviroments (outoors), or for long distances it's better to use directif miks like shotguns to cancel the noise around. For indoor use I prefer hypercardiods, or cardiods if I have to move fast between the actors....

hope this helps...

cheers, bernhard
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