Week 8 - Class One
This week, we are kicking off the process of creating complete audio projects for video/film. I tend to think of audio-for-film as having four parts:
- Musical Soundtrack
- Environmental Sound
- Foley and Sound Effects
In this class, we are going to focus on the musical soundtrack. There are many videos where the 'pros' expound upon their process and how they prepare their compositions. I actually don't find the too useful, because in most cases they are done for promotional purposes and not educating other composers. One person that does really reveal his actual process is YouTube member musichistorynut (Jerry Wickham), who produced a series of videos that go through some of the details of the work:
- Spotting: determining when music will exist, and when it will change
- Temping: putting together some basic themes for actions, on-screen items and characters
- Composition: actually creating the music that is used
In our case, we are not necessarily going to be doing all the composition, but you can see from the video that 'composition' is rather a loose term - it is really pulling together the sounds, rhythms and phrases necessary to support the video work.
Working with Video in Audition
The most important thing we have to deal with during our in-class period is understanding how to work with video inside of Audition. It's really quite simple: you drag a video into Audition and allow it to create a set of extracted video and audio files. You then place these in a session - and start adding/editing your composition. When you save your session, the use of the video (and its audio) will remain across program runs, so this conversion process is a one-shot deal.
Once you have a final product, however, you face a different problem: gluing the audio back onto the video. This is *not* something that Audition will do for you; you will need to work with some other video program to composite the audio and the video into a single media stream.
For my own work, I will use Final Cut Pro to take in the original video file, remove (or mute) the existing audio tracks, then place my own audio track in its place. I can verify alignment (which is why it is good to have some sort of specific sound to match - like a slate tone), then export the result as a combined audio/video package.
In class today, we begin a three-part assignment that will culminate with a completely replaced audio track for a short movie clip. You will be responsibile for selecting (or creating) a musical soundtrack, dialogue replacement, environmental sound and foley/sound effects. The result will be presented to the class on Wednesday, 11/5.
You will be randomly assigned a video clip for this project. During class, I want you to download the clip, create some sort of document that shows me that you did a spotting run through the clip, find or create at least one music clip that would serve as a general background, and one music clip that would work as a theme for a person, place or thing found in the video. Let me see/listen to the result before you leave for the evening.
For Wednesday, I want you to show me this piece with a complete soundtrack sketch, including a few themes, and changes in music as approriate (or however your artistic vision tells you to go). Wednesday will be about dialogue, and next Monday will be about sound effects and environmental sound; we will cover each in detail at that time.
Week 8 - Class Two
This class, we will be continuing the review of oddball video reviews of important material by looking at this clip about ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement):
While not really up-to-date, and not very engaging either, this video does show the reason to do dialogue replacement, and shows some of the basic processes behind it. Unfortunately, even though this is a professional doing his job in front of the camera, he still didn't do a very good job of dialogue replacement!
Here is a better video, and one that discusses the role of a dialogue editor within a film production (although it peters out at the end...):
What is perhaps more interesting to us is to look at the dialogue replacement tools available in Adobe Audition. The 'automated' part of the ADR process is really hyper-automated, as you will see in this video:
So, while this provided us with a pretty slick process for aligning things, we still have to do some work on our own. What does this represent?
- Document the dialogue that actually existed in the video.
- Record that dialogue in a more 'pristine' environment.
- Use the Alignment tools to get a tight interpretation of the original lines.
- Tweak the timing and the sound of the voice until it matches.
While at times this process can see kind of 'magical', it is far from magic. If you try to make the system auto-stretch too far, you will end up with harsh stretching artifacts that are almost as bad as the original bad audio
In the class, you will do all of the dialogue replacement text using other members of the class. Why do this in class? Because it is probably one of the only situations where you will have access to a wide variety of voices from people that are compelled to help you!
Document the dialogue, create script pages, then record the voices - both male and female - necessary to replace all of the video's dialogue. In some cases, you may be able to play with the system by using gender reversal for voices or changing the emphasis in order to make the video more poignant (or more funny). Experiment, try new things, but make sure that you focus on recording a good performance of the dialogue to be replaced. If you don't get a good recording, you aren't going to be able to do a credible job making the final (master) video.