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Dubbing an entire short with MOS camera


Jonathan Bel
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As some of you fellow filmmakers are aware, it isn't always possible to shoot sync sound even though your script calls for its share of dialogue scenes.

 

In this case I'm shooting with a silent camera, the ARRI 2C, non crystal sync - constant speed motor. Blimping it is out of the question. I guess the only ploy I can wise up is to shoot the scene as it is written with directions to the actors to project tin-lipped mouthings, call cut and quiet on set, keep the players in position and ask them to just re-voice everything with the sound boom operator only.

 

Is this just a classic case of "just go and rent a sync Camera" or can dubbing a entire short be possible if done properly? Any techniques for this?

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It can be done! (See, Robert Rodriquez)

 

But I have some questions: You have a boom operator/sound guy? Why is blimping it out of the question? Can you not just throw a blanket over the camera to cut down on sound? Obviously this may not work if you are shooting handheld epic battle sequences, BUT if you ARE shooting lots of action, the camera sound may not make it through the mic. If you do have a mic, what kind is it? I would test. Fire up the Arri, throw on some headphones and have some one talk. See how much camera sound comes through.

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I did a whole doco on a Konvas 2M with a Barney from Custom Upholstry. You can still hear the camera in some shots; but we got by really well with letrosonics wireless lavs hidden on the peoples. From what I've seen, which is only about 10 minutes of footage, aside from one or two shots you don't even notice there is a loud, russian, crazy camera a few feet away.

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Hey John,

 

I have a sound guy. When I said blimping was out of the question, I was referring to the actual blimp housing designed for these cameras as they are virtually extinct. Creative blimping is always a option but I don't know how far I could get away with it in a quiet kitchen dialogue scene. There are many shots in the short with action scenes where the camera is at a distance. In these sequences, I can surely pull it off. But a strategy for the quiet scenes...

 

The other concern is the crystal sync situation.

 

I may go ahead and do a test scene as you suggested. Know of any clips online showing successful dubbing?

 

 

 

 

 

It can be done! (See, Robert Rodriquez)

 

But I have some questions: You have a boom operator/sound guy? Why is blimping it out of the question? Can you not just throw a blanket over the camera to cut down on sound? Obviously this may not work if you are shooting handheld epic battle sequences, BUT if you ARE shooting lots of action, the camera sound may not make it through the mic. If you do have a mic, what kind is it? I would test. Fire up the Arri, throw on some headphones and have some one talk. See how much camera sound comes through.

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If you really can't do sound on location, the "Spaghetti Western" approach is the way to go:

 

Shoot with the unblimped Arri, have your actors give the best normal performance they can. Record scratch tracks for reference if possible. Note very carefully if they decide to change any words. Don't waste time on location trying to do sound without picture.

 

When you're done shooting, have your actors record the dialogue, while watching picture. If you can get the use of an ADR stage, that would be the best. Otherwise, rig up some way to do it to video transfers of your picture -- maybe just a microphone and a computer. Your shoot will go a lot quicker this way, and the dialogue recording session for a short will be just a few hours.

 

 

 

 

-- J.S.

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Thank you for the strategy John, this is the method I might take.

 

thanks Adrian, John young for your replies also,

 

Jonathan

 

 

If you really can't do sound on location, the "Spaghetti Western" approach is the way to go:

 

Shoot with the unblimped Arri, have your actors give the best normal performance they can. Record scratch tracks for reference if possible. Note very carefully if they decide to change any words. Don't waste time on location trying to do sound without picture.

 

When you're done shooting, have your actors record the dialogue, while watching picture. If you can get the use of an ADR stage, that would be the best. Otherwise, rig up some way to do it to video transfers of your picture -- maybe just a microphone and a computer. Your shoot will go a lot quicker this way, and the dialogue recording session for a short will be just a few hours.

 

 

 

 

-- J.S.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Two quick thoughts...

 

1. Robert Rodriguez made this work by cutting the film to sound, such that whenever the audio drifted he would cut to another shot. Not exactly ideal, lol :)

 

2. Definitely record scratch audio even if you can't get the sound from the camera quiet enough. It's extremely helpful latter on, and definitely get some wild takes. It depends on the actors a lot, but with a scratch track recording and a few wild lines, your sound editor "might" be able to make it work. Try having the actors loop on-set if possible, but on the sets I've been on that seems to be one of those things that gets pushed off until 3AM and everyone just says "screw it, I want to go home" or the actors are thinking that and aren't doing their lines well anyway.

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  • 1 month later...

I did the sound editing and mixing for a short last year, where we knew the location sound wouldn't work because the great old house the director chose for the set had horrible acoustics and a noisy industrial air-conditioning unit across the street going on and off and loud traffic constantly going by and a dog that wouldn't stop barking... But the director had his heart set on this house (or at least his wallet).

 

We wired up all the actors to get a decent guide track and then did ADR for every line in post. I'm a dedicated sound guy, but It was my first ADR experience and I thoroughly read John Purcell's excellent tome: "Dialogue Editing For Motion Pictures" and then dove in. I have the stats burned into my brain for life: 5 characters, 160 lines total — took nine three-hour ADR sessions to record (the director was a perfectionist - Hi Mike!). Then I spent around a hundred hours doing ADR editing, working on getting the best lip sync possible. It was quite a task and also quite a good learning experience for me. I have incredible respect for the guys who do this full-time for feature-length films under tight deadlines.

 

While diligent audiophiles watching closely probably would have noticed, most people who watched the finished reels were astounded to learn that all of the lines were ADR'ed. It is possible to do and do well, but you have to be willing to invest the time and resources (in particular a good sound guy) :rolleyes:

Edited by Rob Gordon
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