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Sound for Digital Video

Tomlinson Holman

The distinguishing feature of many low-budget films and TV shows is often the poor sound quality. Now, filmmakers shooting DV on a limited budget can learn from Tomlinson Holman, a film sound production pioneer, how to make their films sound like fully professional productions. Holman offers suggestions that you can apply to your own project from preproduction through postproduction and provides tips and solutions on production, editing, and mixing.

Holman, sound engineer on such films as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, is famous for his pioneering work in film sound production and for developing THX. Now, he brings his expertise to the relatively new field of sound for digital video productions. Once considered an amateur format, digital video is becoming the format of choice for some feature films and for many lower budget productions; this book will enable you to use this medium to create the most professional and effective sound possible.

Contents back to top
Sound for DV
Tomlinson Holman
Outline
I. Introduction
Why this work is worth doing, who it is aimed at, general format of the book (case study method); relationship to Sound for Film and Television
Going to art house films shows trailers demonstrate difference between pix and snd: pix usually better, sound often sacrificed
Even on studio pix, pic dominates such as mono The Rules of Attraction
Scope of DV
Not just a tape format
Minimum standards for audio
This book covers from DV to DVCProHD, because audio is similar across all DV-based formats
Digitizing the world
Pros, cons
Digital Video
Basic digital: why?
Four dimensions of a sound track
Frequency range
Dynamic Range
Spatial capability
Time
Digital sound and the four dimensions
Features of DV format tapes
Further distinguishing features among the formats
Footprint
Single-speed vs. DV_s SP and LP modes
Locked vs. unlocked audio sample rate
Time code
User_s bits
PAL
Interchangeability
Conclusion
II. Production Sound, aka Location Sound, Original Sound Recording
A dedicated sound person
Location scouting
Coverage
Scene coverage: basic technique
Boom
Lav
Planted
What can be done with an on-camera microphone?
How to use the two channels
Items other than voice recorded during production sound
Basic acoustics of sound and microphones
Microphone types by method of transduction
Electrodynamic/electrostatic distinguished
Other, rarer types
Powering mics
Microphone types by polar pattern
Differences among mics due to polar pattern
Short form advice
The radio part of radio mics
Microphone accessories
Booms/fishpoles
Shock mounts
Windscreens
Pop suppression
Cries and Whispers (capturing loud and soft sound)
Recording Level parallels to early Cinematography
Cries and Whispers simultaneously
Multiple level controls in the chain
Another kind of overload distortion and how to avoid it
Case studies
Mounting lavs
Radio mic usage
Combining features for best wind performance
Disposable mics
Example from DVD
Boom operator_s job
Common problems
Logging
Sound kit accessories
III. Sound design
Sound design defined
Sound is constructed, not accidental
Continuity
Ambience/backgrounds
Foley
Layering
Hard Effects
Music
Film sound styles
Realism
Stretched reality
What is seen vs. what is heard: on- vs. off-screen
Surrealism
Montage
Shifting levels of reality
Sound design as an art
Emotional memory
Low frequencies mean threat
Exaggerating reality
Spotting
IV. Connecting Up, Reference Levels
Basic work flow with Firewire
Types of audio interconnects: digital
AES3
S/PDIF
Problems arising on digital interfaces
Types of audio interconnects: analog
Mic/line/speaker level
Line levels: _10/+4
Balanced and unbalanced connections
File transfers
V. Editing
Non-linear editing defined
Random access editing
Non-destructive editing
Visual waveform editing
Edits and fade files
File management
Plug Ins/Processes
Edit processes vs. mix processes
Processes defined
Process environments
Track and channels
Busses
Pan pots
Grouping Tracks
Differences between picture and sound editing systems
Picture-sound sync resolution
How to Edit
Block diagram of process
Fine editing of production sound
Where presence is used
Documentary considerations
Fixing bumps
Sound effects
Ambience/backgrounds
Cutting music
Scene changes
Detailed analysis of scene changes in Love Actually
VI. Mixing
Editing and mixing are different, but converging
The mixing hourglass
Level-related processes
Level controls
Gain staging
Hand compression
Compression
Limiting
De-essing
Noise gate
Downward expander
Processes related mainly to Frequency
Equalization
Filtering
Combinations of level and frequency
Time-baesd devices
Reverberation
Other time based effects: echo, duration change
Other plug ins
Dither
Generator
Pitch correction
Panning
Routing and limitations caused by it
Busses, channels
Delay compensation
Voice limitation
How to mix
Start with dialogue
The dialogue processing chain
VII. Masters and Monitoring
Delivery Master defined
Choice of sound format on Delivery Masters
Mono
Stereo
LtRt matrix surround
5.1 channel discrete surround
Mastering for level
Background on _12 versus _20 dBFS reference level
Level calibration
When you can_t calibrate with test signals
Best one-size-fits-all approach
Mastering for DVD, Digital Broadcast, and Digital Satellite Television
Post Production Masters Label
Monitoring
Film versus Video mixes
VII. Sound Basic Video for Audio People
Video
Basic frame rates
Under- and over-cranked camera
Digital Video
Basic digital
Interconnecting video


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Sound for Digital Video
Publisher: Focal Press
Pages: 328
ISBN: 0-240-80720-0

 

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