Many times when mixing a project I’m confronted with a classic problem. The location audio does not match the studio audio. One famous example is with dialogue replacement. The dialogue that was replaced sounds significantly different than the original.
Let’s look at an example I constantly deal with: two people talking in a car. The acoustic quality inside a car is usually based on the very absorbent seats and the very reflective glass. Thinking for a moment I realized what other location has this similar quality… my vocal booth! Yes, the foam inside was very similar to the interior of a car and the front glass could act as my windshield! By pumping my new dialogue through a speaker aimed at vocal booth window and then adjusting the microphone distance from that window I was able to recreate a very effective in-car sound!
Another trick is what I call “The Eavesdropper”. Simply put your speaker on one side of a door and your microphone on the other. By varying how open or closed the door is your audio can sound like you’re eavesdropping on a conversation.
Remember the rooms you are using plays a critical roll.
When trying to re-create your room sound with software, always try to make note of the room dimensions and furnishings. A lot of these programs will allow you to punch in dimensions and other parameter to match. Also, try to get a gauge on how “Live” a room is. This is audio slang for the amount of reflections in a room. A very live room would be a bathroom with all hard surfaces. A “dead” room would typically be a closet or a library like in the film My Fair Lady with Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison.
Adjusting how live a room is can be done with the use of blankets, pillows and whatever else you may have around that can absorb reflections. Usually, the ‘less reflections,’ the less need of a specific type of space. To create a small space with a hard surface, I’ll have my talent talk next to a piece of wood. The quick reflections create a sense of containment that can be very effective.
Whenever possible I always prefer the organic approach to re-creating a room verses using software. On an upcoming project which involves almost complete dialogue replacement, the talent will be returning to the same location to re-record all their dialogue. Though not a financially viable option for everyone, it is an option that may yield very desirable results.
Keep in mind the final touch of EQ is a great way to get your audio to work together. EQ can help seat your audio into the mix by cutting or boosting the appropriate frequencies to more closely match the original audio.
Bryant Falk has been a producer and engineer for over 12 years working with such clients as The Ricki Lake Show, Coca-Cola, Sports Illustrated, Valley National Bank, and MTV’s The Shop. His company Abacus Audio (www.abacus.nyc) handles many aspects of the audio production field from creative and production to mixing and final output.