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With the recent college basketball championships engulfing our March, it's easy to see what it takes to make a winner: teamwork. Okay, I know it sounds cliché, but it's the same in production. If a coach only relies on one player, then the team will eventually fail. Everyone sees the other players just standing around and "phoning it in." What would you think? "Good player, but this team could be so much more." What about "Good video, but it could be so much more."

Here's your game plan:

  • Spread out your offense: one forward shoots the video, the other records the sound.
  • Drive the lane: one guard edits the video, the other posts the audio.
  • Feed the post: slam dunk your message.

Now that's teamwork.
The reason I bring this up is I see so many productions that have great video production, but weak soundtracks. The entire package seams unfinished, like a half-hearted three-point attempt instead of a slam dunk. Why are so many soundtracks this way? Mostly from misperceptions.

The first misperception is that it's expensive to have the audio produced separately. If it wasn't planned on in the first place, then it can seem that way. It's been said that sound is half the movie. But it isn't half the cost - in fact most soundtracks are usually 15-25% of the total video production budget.

The second misperception is that producing the audio separately will take as long as the video. In most cases, again, it's in the 15-25% range of the total video production time.

The third misperception is that it's easy to add a soundtrack. Well that's actually true, because anybody can just slap together some music and narration and be done with it. But using an experienced engineer will allow the soundtrack to support and even lift the video.

Just like a point guard sets up plays for other teammates, the soundtrack provides audible cues to the message or story. Just like a forward has the tools to smoothly drive the lane, Dynamix has the right tools to smooth out the sound. Just like the center has the legs to out-rebound a smaller player, a powerful soundtrack can rise above an average one.

So c'mon coach, we want to be on your team. The crowd is chanting for a champion!

Dynamix Tech Notes

Treating location sound is a major advantage to having a sound post-production studio produce your video soundtracks. The best location sound engineer and equipment will always have audio issues, such as background noise, traffic, clothing rustle, and dull sound from hidden microphones. Even a cleanly recorded "talking head" in a shooting studio will have background rumble and noise. It simply can't be avoided with location sound. When extraneous ambience and noises are left in, the soundscape gets crowded and doesn't have room for important sounds like the voice and music. Also, the viewer might be distracted from the message when a car horn sounds or the rumble starts to make the speaker woofers rattle.

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One of the first processes of post-production audio is to denoise the tracks. We have a highly-specialized software program used worldwide by major television networks and studios to remove or replace offending sounds. Izotope RX2 has an interface with a completely different view than a standard waveform. This program actually allows you to "paint" out sounds, much like you're editing a digital photo. Clipped audio can often be repaired; light buzz and hum can be removed; birds, wind, footsteps, and horns can be eliminated leaving the original sound mostly intact. I make it sound easy, and it is "easier" than it used to be, but it does require skill, precision, and experience. But I have to admit that it's really fun and satisfying to just paint away a thud or lip smack.

Neil Kesterson

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