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Soundtrack Success: A Digital Storyteller’s Guide to Audio Post-Production

Book Description

Whether you make narratives, documentaries, news shows, training videos, podcasts, games, or some other media, sound has a great impact on what people see, believe, and remember. When you dedicate attention to every element that makes up the whole soundtrack -- dialogue, sound effects, and music -- your story will hold more meaning for the audience, and you'll deliver your message in a more memorable way. Thankfully, putting together a better soundtrack is the easiest, fastest, and most effective way to make your production better. SOUNDTRACK SUCCESS will show you how to do it. It's a non-software-specific guide to the entire realm of audio post-production, with particular attention paid to fixing problems, sweetening sound, and pulling together a complete soundtrack. You'll learn how to use dialogue, voiceover, walla, backgrounds, sound effects, Foley, and music, and you'll discover how to record, edit, mix, master, and deliver high-quality and high-impact soundtracks. The companion DVD includes video tutorials and examples that further demonstrate the many concepts and techniques described in the book. This complete primer is your key to making soundtracks that soar.

Table of Contents

  1. Copyright
    1. Dedication
  2. Acknowledgments
  3. About the Author
  4. Introduction
    1. Who this Book is for
      1. DVD Downloads
  5. 1. Crafting the Quintessential Soundtrack
    1. Dialogue
    2. Background Sounds
    3. Sound Effects
    4. Sound Design
    5. Music
    6. Putting It All Together
    7. Workflow
    8. DVD Education
  6. 2. Audio Aesthetics
    1. Dialogue Rules
    2. Plan Ahead
    3. The Final Mix Matters
    4. Narrative Elements
      1. Diegetic and Non-Diegetic Sounds
      2. Listening versus Hearing
      3. Figure/Ground
      4. Cause and Effect
      5. Entrainment
    5. Soundtrack Core Elements
      1. Fixing and Sweetening
      2. Controlling Noise
      3. Ensuring Consistency
      4. Enriching the Listening Experience
    6. Checklist for Soundtrack Success
    7. Sound Transitions
    8. Ear Candy
      1. Quiet Scenes
      2. Sports-izing
    9. Analyze This
  7. 3. What Is Sound?
    1. Components of Sound
    2. Analog Basics
    3. Sound Perception
    4. Digital Diatribe
    5. Sound Starts
    6. Sound Channels
    7. Wrap Up
  8. 4. Workflow
    1. Picture Editorial versus Sound Editorial
    2. Divvy Up the Work
    3. Workflow Approach
      1. Spotting Session
      2. Working with Production Dialogue
      3. Working with Sound Effects and Backgrounds
      4. Working with Music
      5. Putting It All Together
    4. Technical Issues
  9. 5. Location Matters
    1. Overcoming Production Woes
      1. Location, Location, Location
      2. Capturing Room Tone
    2. Top Mistakes Made in the Field
    3. Fix It in Post...Not!
      1. Noise
      2. Distortion
      3. Acoustic Anomalies
      4. Distant Miking
      5. Live One-of-a-Kind Content
      6. Printed Effects
    4. More Noise Issues
      1. Practicing Noise Avoidance
      2. Wild Tracks and Shooting for Sound
      3. Deadening the Sound
      4. Adding Noise in Post
      5. Dealing with Wind Noise
      6. Choosing a Mic
      7. More Noise Sources
    5. Checklist for Production Sound Success
  10. 6. Microphones
    1. Dynamic Mics
    2. Condenser Mics
    3. Ribbon Mics
    4. Pickup Patterns
    5. Mic Rules
      1. Choose the Right Mic
      2. The Fewer Mics, the Better
      3. Only Record in Stereo When Appropriate
      4. Move the Mic Closer
      5. Avoid Built-In Mics
      6. Use Care with Your Mics
      7. Be Careful When Placing Multiple Mics
    6. Microphone Types
    7. Boosting the Signal
    8. Fisher’s Hierarchy of Microphone Choices
    9. Placement Options and Tips
  11. 7. Building the Location Sound Kit
    1. Mixers, Meters, and Levels
    2. Separate Audio Recorders
    3. Cables and Connectors
    4. Location Sound Field Kit
    5. Recording Sound Effects and Backgrounds
    6. Stereo in the Field
  12. 8. CYA Tips
    1. Double-System Recording
    2. Slate Procedures
    3. Audio Recorders
    4. Shoot for Sound
    5. Quality Control
    6. What Is Wrong with This Scenario?
  13. 9. Hearing Sound
    1. Monitors
    2. Real-World Reference
    3. Speaker Location
    4. Speaker Calibration
    5. Ruminations
    6. Audio Interface/Soundcard
  14. 10. Making and Recording Sound
    1. Computer Hardware Choices
    2. Software Choices
    3. NLE to DAW
    4. Gearing Up
      1. Strategy
      2. Research
      3. Set Goals
      4. Budget
      5. Buy/Pass
  15. 11. Make Sound Sound Better
    1. Using Effects
      1. Tone
      2. Time
      3. Modulation
      4. Dynamics
      5. Pitch
      6. Time Compression/Expansion
      7. Other Effects
      8. Channel Strips
      9. Restoration Tools
      10. Audio Analysis Tools
      11. Multi-Effects
    2. Must-Have Plug-Ins
    3. Links
    4. FX Workflow
    5. The General State of Generic Advice
  16. 12. Audio-Post Workflow Tips
    1. Keeping Organized
    2. Preparing the Project
  17. 13. Voiceover
    1. Scripting Voiceover
    2. Casting Voiceover
    3. Getting the Best Performance
    4. Recording VOs
      1. The Recording Environment
      2. The Porta-Booth
      3. Engineering Equipment
      4. Mic Placement
      5. Record Flat
      6. Talent Placement
    5. VO Resources
  18. 14. Recording ADR and Walla
    1. The Challenges of ADR
    2. Getting Quality ADR
    3. Walla
      1. Defining Walla
      2. Recording Walla
      3. Handling Walla Challenges
      4. More Techniques for Effective Walla Recordings
  19. 15. Editing Dialogue
    1. The Importance of Editing Dialogue
    2. Smoothing Dialogue
    3. JLX
    4. Other Smoothing Techniques
    5. Close Your Eyes and Hear
    6. Dialogue and Phase
    7. Fixing Common Dialogue Ills
      1. DC Offset
      2. Sibilance
      3. Popped P’s (and B’s and T’s)
      4. Mouth Noises (Breaths, Lip Smacks, and Other Vocal Garbage)
      5. Expansion
      6. Too Much Reverb
      7. Rumble and Hiss
      8. Tonal Fixes
      9. Better Speech Intelligibility
      10. EQ One File with Another
      11. Clicks, Glitches, and Pop Removal
      12. Repairing Clipped Peaks (Distortion)
      13. Hum
      14. Time Compression/Expansion
      15. Pitch Shift
      16. Volume
      17. Compression
        1. Threshold
        2. Ratio
        3. Attack
        4. Release
        5. Output
    8. Dedicated Noise Reduction
    9. Special Voice Effects
      1. Simulating a Telephone Line
      2. Simulating Rooms and Spaces
      3. Delay...Delay...Delay
      4. Reversing Dialogue
      5. Flanging, Chorusing, and Phasing
  20. 16. Sound Effects
    1. Oodles of Sounds
    2. Spotting Sound Effects
    3. Hunting and Gathering
    4. Your Sound Effects Library
      1. Production Tracks
      2. Sound Effects Collections
      3. Sound Effects Websites
      4. Roll Your Own
  21. 17. Foley and Backgrounds
    1. Foley
      1. Recording Foley
      2. Footsteps
      3. Clothing
      4. Props
      5. Foley Sound Effects
      6. Software-Based Foley
    2. Backgrounds
      1. Gathering BGs
      2. Super-Size Your Stereo Backgrounds
      3. Surround BGs
  22. 18. Sound Effects in Use
    1. Write Once, Use Many Times
    2. Play to the Emotions
    3. The Long Road
    4. Sound Saves Money
    5. Movie Physics
    6. Think Cause and Effect
    7. Remember the “See a Dog, Hear a Dog” Adage
    8. Finding the Sync
    9. Sync the Foreground
    10. Don’t Mistake Clip Edges for Sound Starts
    11. Be Authentic
    12. Make ’Em Your Own
    13. Get Real during Pauses
    14. Use Layers
    15. Watch Out for “Noise” Sounds
    16. Beware of “Temp” Video
    17. It’s What the Sound Sounds Like, Not What It’s Called
    18. And Then There’s Sound Design
    19. Use the Non-Surround LFE
    20. Worldizing
    21. Include Some Ear Candy
    22. Use Perspective Shifts
    23. Pre- and Post-Lap
    24. Beware the Exit-Sign Effect
    25. Throw in the Kitchen Sink
    26. Never Close the Door to Creativity
    27. Futzing Around
    28. Premixing, Freezing, and Printing Audio Effects
    29. Getting Notes
    30. A Few Short Case Studies in Sound-Effects Work
      1. Cars in Motion
      2. Dream Phone
      3. Screams
      4. Killer Drug
  23. 19. Music
    1. Music Fundamentals
      1. Why Are You Using Music?
      2. What Emotional Response Do You Desire?
      3. What Is the Message?
      4. Who Is Your Audience?
      5. What Style Is Appropriate to the Audience?
      6. What Style Is Appropriate to the Message?
      7. Where Will You Put the Music (or Not)?
    2. Getting the Music
      1. Library (a.k.a. Production or Stock) Music
      2. Indie Artists
      3. Creative Commons
      4. DIY Music
      5. Hire a Composer
      6. Music Budget
    3. Editing Music
    4. Further Music Studies
      1. Opening Titles/Show Theme
      2. Motif and Leitmotif
      3. POV
      4. Building Tension and Foreshadowing
      5. Diegetic to Non-Diegetic and Back
      6. Music as Sound Effect
      7. Offbeat, Atonal Music
      8. Electronic Music
      9. Firewood
    5. Case Study: Scoring The Craving Heart
  24. 20. Mixing
    1. Housekeeping
      1. Listen to What’s There
      2. Don’t Mix Alone
      3. Premix/Predub
      4. Track Optimization
      5. Audio Effects Optimization
      6. Monitor Optimization
      7. Have a Reference Mix
    2. Mix Secrets
      1. Think WHOLE Mix, Not Individual Pieces
      2. Dialogue Still Rules
      3. Look beyond the Obvious
      4. Find a Place for Everything
      5. Fill the Entire Audible Frequency Range
      6. Watch Time
      7. Use Volume
      8. Use Frequency
      9. Use S-p-a-c-e
      10. Embrace Dynamics and Contrast
      11. Apply Appropriate Effects
      12. Use Automation
      13. Don’t Watch the Screen
      14. Trust Your Ears
      15. Tired Ears = Bad Mix
    3. Quality Control
    4. Surround-Sound Issues
    5. Export and Encode Options
      1. Render the Final Mix
      2. Dolby Digital AC-3 Metadata
      3. Dialogue Normalization
      4. Dynamic-Range Compression
    6. Final Thoughts