What is audio post production and how does it work? part 1

Audio post-production is the process of creating the soundtrack for a visual program of some kind. Now this has been relevant ever since silent movies began to talk, and filmmakers have been looking to control and improve the sound of their creation to better engulf their viewers. As soon as film-makers realized there was a way to control and enhance the sound of their pictures, audio post was born, and has been a vital part ever since. In Television, audio was originally “live”, but as TV evolved, and the art form grew to include “videotaped” and “filmed” programming, the need for audio post increased. Nowadays, it would be difficult to find any feature film or television show that hasn’t been through audio post.

     According to filmsound.com audio post usually consists of several processes: Production Dialogue Editing, ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement), Sound Effects, Foley Recording, Music Composition and music editing, and Mixing. In order for the production audio recorded on the set or on location to be mixed the proper way, a Dialogue Editor needs to prepare it. This means that he has to locate the proper take from the recorded production audio, check the sync on screen (so it actually works with the picture properly and when the actor speaks the words are matched to his lips), and eliminate excess noise so the Mixer has clear and clean dialogue to use during the Mix.

     In cases where the production audio is too noisy, or otherwise unusable (bad line reading, or some uncontrollable noise interferes with on site recording,etc.) the Dialogue Editor will “cue” the line for ADR. This means replacing that line or lines of dialogue using the Automated process of Dialogue Replacement. This process takes place using a recording studio where the actor can record lines in sync with the picture. Once a replacement line of dialogue has been recorded, the editor will check the sync carefully, editing the take if need be, to precisely match it to the picture, and prepare it for the mixing stage. This process is also known as “looping”. So now that dialogue editing and ADR are out of the way, ever wonder how they made the sound of Darth Vader’s helmet breath, or the Empire’s Tie Fighters, or that famous light saber sound? Sound Effects Editors and Sound Designers are how. The process of adding sound effects (backgrounds like: air,lighting, rivers, birds, dog, cats, traffic, and hard effects like: gunshots, door slams, body falls, grunts, explosions, etc.) has been the go to of sound effects editors for years. Although originally edited using 35mm magnetic film, recent years have seen the development of many different Digital Sound Editing systems. More and more projects are using digital technology ( Pro-tools, Logic, abelton) because of the efficiency and quality it can bring to sound effects. Sound Designers use digital and analogue technology to create sound effects that have never been heard before, or to artistically create specific “mood” sounds to complement the director’s vision of the visuals.



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