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Movie making / shooting techniques

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During the Q&A on May 17th, Thomas spoke about looping a scene and saving parts of the sound. I thought I'd start a thread about techniques in movie making and start with looping. I found this article interesting because it shows the perspective from the actor's viewpoint and the impact on work quality. 

 

ADR stand for "Automated" or "Automatic" Dialog Replacement. 

Dialog that cannot be salvaged from production tracks must be re-recorded in a process called looping or ADR 

Looping originally involved recording an actor who spoke lines in sync to "loops" of the image which were played over and over along  with matching lengths of recording tape. ADR, though faster, is still painstaking work.  

An actor watches the image repeatedly while listening to the original production track on headphones as a guide. The actor then re-performs each line to match the wording and lip movements. Actors vary in their ability to achieve sync and to recapture the emotional tone of their performance.

ADR is usually considered a necessary evil but there are moments when looping can be used not just for technical reasons but to add new character or interpretation to a shot. Just by altering a few key words or phrases an actor can change the emotional bent on a scene. 


Randy Thom: 

  • The way ADR is treated and approached is symptomatic of how little respect sound gets in the movies. You march the actor into a cold sterile room and usually give them no time to get into the character or rehearse. They are  expected to just start performing a few minutes after they walk into the room. The emphasis is almost always on getting the dialogue in sync instead of getting the  right performance. Of course the majority of the actor's brain is then occupied with whether his lips are flapping at exactly the same rate as they were on the day that the camera was rolling. It is no wonder that most ADR is not very good. In the final mix, directors almost always prefer the production sound, even if it is noisy and distorted.

    One of the things you do with ADR to make it sound more like production sound is to pitch it up. ADR is almost always delivered at a lower pitch because the actor doesn't have the energy he/she had on the set.  In the excitement of the shooting set the actor tends to talk louder and higher. In an ADR session, the director typically has to push the actor to get them anywhere near the level of vocal performance that came from the set. 

    If the recording of ADR were treated more like shooting the movie it would almost certainly be better.  Recording it in more authentic environments (instead of studios) tends to help the actors' performance enormously.  Environmental noise is a problem whenever you record outside of a studio, but well worth the trade-off in my opinion.

Edited excerpts from Cinema & the Sound of Musi

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Also during the Q&A, Thomas mentioned the soundstage in Rosarito during the shooting of DBS. I had to look it up, so maybe this will be interesting to others as well.

 

220px-Videowisconsinsoundstage.jpg
An empty sound stage.

In common usage, a sound stage (also written soundstage) is a soundproof, hangar-like structure, building, or room, used for the production of theatrical film-making and television productions, usually located on a secured movie or television studio property.

A sound stage should not be confused with a silent stage. A sound stage is sound-proofed so that sound can be recorded along with the images. The recordings are known as "production sound." A silent stage is not soundproofed, and is susceptible to outside noise interference, and so sound is not generally recorded. Because most sound in movies, other than dialogue, is added in post-production, this generally means that the main difference between the two is that sound stages are used for dialogue scenes, but silent stages are not. An alternative to production sound is to record additional dialogue during post-production using a technique known as dubbing.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound_stage

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Nice thread this. Good reading. 😎

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What I learned tonight (no rocket science once it's been clarified):

The Difference between SFX and VFX

 

Don’t worry, you are not the only one wondering what the difference between SFX and VFX is. Trust us, film production companies use a wide variety of unique terminology that film students still struggle to understand. It’ll take you two minutes to learn the difference between these two abbreviations.

VFX – stands for video effects. That may not seem too challenging and that is because it isn’t. Video effects are additions to the actual graphic/video/shot. Scenes that include green scenes rely on VFX in the post-production stage of the film. This can be a shot of background scenery, the hammer Thor or even a character that is embodied by CGI (computer-generated imagery).

Not to difficult, right?

SFX – is the abbreviated way to say special effects. Now, there is further confusion for some because SFX is sometimes termed as sound effects—an aspect that film production companies work on in post-production as well. However, typically, SFX refers to special effects (an acronym that might be used to better represent sound effects is SE, but that is not the most common either). This means that when film production companies use SFX in a sentence, they are talking about the added effects on the set rather than in post-production. Things like animal suits, prosthetic makeup, animatronics and other effects that are on a character or used on a scene are categorized as special effects.

While some SFX (special effects) are now being done by VFX (video effects) like explosions, there are still some examples of VFX and SFX that you would likely recognize. An obvious one to all generations is Yoda from Star Wars—he falls under the category of SFX. The magic that floods out of Harry Potter’s wand is a recognizable video effect (VFX).

With many film production companies turning to CGI for their unique and high action scenes, VFX are being used more than ever and the trend seems to rely on SFX less and less. Yet, CGI is a highly advanced aspect of video production that is usually done at major studios. For videos on YouTube or company websites, SFX still plays a large role.

Whether you were simply curious about the two abbreviations or you are looking for something more, to reiterate, VFX are added effects created digitally in post-production and SFX are used on the actual set.

For any other video production related question or inquiry, check out Big Door for more information. 

Source: https://bigdoorvideo.com/the-difference-between-sfx-and-vfx/

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I personally think VFX is the death of classic cinema. Its cheaper now to sit at a laptop now and add explosions etc rather than setting up squips and controlled real time explosions (as an example) The problem is on lower budget works it really shows when its done badly. However when done right you get the Avengers movies, Jurassic Park etc so obviously has its place. 

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1 hour ago, Geoff said:

I personally think VFX is the death of classic cinema. Its cheaper now to sit at a laptop now and add explosions etc rather than setting up squips and controlled real time explosions (as an example) The problem is on lower budget works it really shows when its done badly. However when done right you get the Avengers movies, Jurassic Park etc so obviously has its place. 

So what’s Tom’s preference (as much as I love The Expanse please tell me he’s old school!)

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45 minutes ago, Gail Bentley said:

So what’s Tom’s preference (as much as I love The Expanse please tell me he’s old school!)

Always. However for example with Dark Country Tom was championing the 3D tech which is VFX through and through so it will all depend on the project I guess. 

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34 minutes ago, Geoff said:

Always. However for example with Dark Country Tom was championing the 3D tech which is VFX through and through so it will all depend on the project I guess. 

Good man!  Totally get it with the 3D though, would be pretty hard to do without VFX, and as you said it has its place if it’s done well.

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Dears,

I found this great article about the technical aspects of shooting Dark Country in 3D, posted by Thomas himself. There are no spoilers, just plenty of information about the difficulties linked to the fact that the equipment was a prototype and the cameras had cables to link them to two laptops. I learned that TJ can very well be cross-eyed and efficient if he wants to.

I enjoyed reading it very much and maybe putting it here with a "2019" post will allow people to rediscover it without having to search deep down into the forum.

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And the cool thing is, I had no idea that Hitchcock gave a try at 3D himself. I googled it to know more. It puts a whole new light on Dial M for Murder. Building on the shoulders of giants...

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