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By Fred Ginsburg CAS PhD
• Narration and
Voice-Over
• Music
• Sound Effects
• Dialogue
• Aka “practical” or “extraneous”
• Are these sounds heard only by the audience, or also by
the characters
• Diegetic: ori...
• The Story Teller
• Provides explanation to audience
• Could be recorded “live commentary”, sync to picture,
example: Tra...
• Authoritative
• Anonymous
• Devoid of background ambience, reverb, or room tone
• Recorded “clean” in proper studio or n...
• Often continuation of on-screen dialogue or on-screen
explanation
• Aka “wild track” or “wild dialogue”
• Matches audio ...
• Adds emotion
• Tells audience what they should be feeling
• Joy, sorrow, tension, exhilaration, impending fear,
resolve,...
• Pre-recorded music libraries.
• Producers purchase rights to use quality, generic music
tracks composed/recorded for med...
• Consumer music, such as iTunes, Amazon, etc. is
restricted from use in media projects.
• Just purchasing the rights to L...
• When you hear popular music in TV or radio, the rights to
use that music have been licensed for those kinds of
uses by t...
• Originally composed and performed for your project
• Ranges from full scale orchestration to a single artist
overdubbing...
• Software, such as SmartSound, offer pre-recorded music
libraries that go way beyond the basic “needle drop”
• These are ...
• Can reinforce what we see on-screen, or what is implied
immediately off-screen. Example, footsteps seen in a
wide shot o...
• Sound effects can mimic real life, or be completely
“designed”. Imagine what a three foot mosquito might
sound like.
• S...
• Hard Effects refer to effects that have a sync point to
picture. Such as a door slam, or hammering a nail.
• Soft Effect...
• Car crash: engine noise, pass by, tire screech, thump,
metal crushing, glass breaking, muffled scream,
bystanders shouti...
• Named after Jack Foley…
• Post production process of recording
sync sound effects “live to picture”
• Performed by “Fole...
• Room Tone is the sound in the dialog track, during
moments when the actors pause from talking.
• Recorded with same mic,...
• Background sounds exist beyond the dialog track
• Ties multiple shots and angles together within our sound
universe
• Im...
• Hollywood term for general background sound of people
• Crowd murmuring and unintelligible chatter, such as in a
restaur...
• Audiences are not told (narrated) what happens; they get
to experience the interplay of characters
• Dialog must be clea...
• Subtle difference between CU and Wider shots is the
amount of ambience that audience PERCEIVES.
• In real life, ambience...
• Automated Dialog Replacement
• Actors re-record their lines in a recording studio, while
watching picture playback and l...
• Narration tracks (NARR, N)
• Voice Over (VO)
• Music (MX, M)
• Production Sound Effects, recorded on the set (PFX)
• Roo...
• MOS stands for shot without sound. Often wrongly
quoted as mit out sound, mit out speech, mit out
sprechen.
• Origin is ...
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Elements of the Soundtrack

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Sound is a multi-layered mixture of various elements. All things audio make up the soundtrack, and each has their own respective priorities, contexts, and purpose.

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Elements of the Soundtrack

  1. 1. By Fred Ginsburg CAS PhD
  2. 2. • Narration and Voice-Over • Music • Sound Effects • Dialogue
  3. 3. • Aka “practical” or “extraneous” • Are these sounds heard only by the audience, or also by the characters • Diegetic: originating from within the scene, either visible or implied. Such as from a “practical” radio, loudspeaker, or on-screen host. • Non-Diegetic: only for the audience. Exists as part of the media experience, but not for the characters in the scene. • Sometimes creatively overlapped… beginning as one type and then transforming into the other.
  4. 4. • The Story Teller • Provides explanation to audience • Could be recorded “live commentary”, sync to picture, example: Travelogues. • Or, recorded “wild” from script, section by section, and then edited to picture.
  5. 5. • Authoritative • Anonymous • Devoid of background ambience, reverb, or room tone • Recorded “clean” in proper studio or narration booth.
  6. 6. • Often continuation of on-screen dialogue or on-screen explanation • Aka “wild track” or “wild dialogue” • Matches audio quality of on-screen portion (actual or implied) • Natural perspective and presence; sometimes w. ambience & room tone
  7. 7. • Adds emotion • Tells audience what they should be feeling • Joy, sorrow, tension, exhilaration, impending fear, resolve, etc. • Music can reinforce, contradict, even completely transform the original intent of images
  8. 8. • Pre-recorded music libraries. • Producers purchase rights to use quality, generic music tracks composed/recorded for media use. Fee includes copyright and performance/usage rights, royalty free. • Purchase rights can be for a specific project, or “unlimited” access to the library. (So m e lim itatio ns do apply) • “Needle drops” are versions of various lengths that can be edited for use at insertion points. Often, pay per each insertion. • Or, pay per “composition”. Edit and re-use song (or entire contents of the library) as much as you want.
  9. 9. • Consumer music, such as iTunes, Amazon, etc. is restricted from use in media projects. • Just purchasing the rights to LISTEN to a song, including a CD or download – does NOT entitle you to use it in any project. • Synchronization rights refer to media use. • Many on-line sites, such as YouTube, will delete your soundtrack if they detect use of registered music. • You also risk being sued by recording companies or artists. Violation of copyright, synchronization, and performance rights. • Even so called “public domain” only covers composer copyright, not use of pre-recorded performances of said music.
  10. 10. • When you hear popular music in TV or radio, the rights to use that music have been licensed for those kinds of uses by the broadcasters • Royalties are paid for every airing of the episode or commercial • Even if you get written permission from the composer to use their song, you must get permission from the recording company (who may actually control the rights) and/or any additional artists whose performance are part of that package. • Use an entertainment attorney or music clearing house
  11. 11. • Originally composed and performed for your project • Ranges from full scale orchestration to a single artist overdubbing one track at a time • Score is done to edited picture. • “Click tracks” are not clock driven metronomes, but adjusted by the editor or composer to reflect the pacing and shot lengths of the edited picture. • Ask around. Many aspiring musicians are excited to collaborate and may create new scores or grant you rights to their songs and/or performances. But make sure that they are not “signed” with a recording studio who might actually control the rights.
  12. 12. • Software, such as SmartSound, offer pre-recorded music libraries that go way beyond the basic “needle drop” • These are specialized SCORING programs • Each “song” is modular and can be modified for length, variation, intensity, tempo, full/partial instrumentation, and other creative variables. • Music is purchased copyright and royalty free. • Easy to use by a non-musician to achieve a professional score, with proper intro/ends, timed crescendos, stingers, and so on.
  13. 13. • Can reinforce what we see on-screen, or what is implied immediately off-screen. Example, footsteps seen in a wide shot or footsteps implied in a close-up. • Can suggest an event happening outside of the scene, such as a stranger coming down the hallway. • Extends the boundaries of what we actually see so that we imagine an expanded universe. Background sounds, ambience. • Redundant to picture: what we see is what we hear. • Counterpoints picture: adds new information not visibly apparent. See a suitcase, but hear ticking. See a car drive out of frame, and then hear it crash.
  14. 14. • Sound effects can mimic real life, or be completely “designed”. Imagine what a three foot mosquito might sound like. • Sound effects are often dramatic as opposed to real. Starships in space are silent. Silencers are noisy. Swords being unsheathed are stealth. Gunshots and explosions are short pops, not long roars. Time bombs do not tick. • Sound effects in media are usually created by montaging and layering a multitude of simple sounds to create a larger, complex sound event.
  15. 15. • Hard Effects refer to effects that have a sync point to picture. Such as a door slam, or hammering a nail. • Soft Effects are “wild” effects that generally add to the sound universe of the scene, but do not sync up to any specific frame. Turning on a blender. Background sounds at a beach, amusement park, downtown. A clothes dryer or washer.
  16. 16. • Car crash: engine noise, pass by, tire screech, thump, metal crushing, glass breaking, muffled scream, bystanders shouting. • Think of a chord in music, but apply it to your sound effects • Modify real life sounds to adjust pitch, length, distortion, digital signal processing. • Tell the “sound effect” story component by component, even though they all happen within fractions of a second of each other. It is not one sound, but a quick series of sounds.
  17. 17. • Named after Jack Foley… • Post production process of recording sync sound effects “live to picture” • Performed by “Foley walkers” or “Foley artists” • Includes footsteps, seen or implied, on various surfaces such as carpet, hardwood, granite, dirt, metal, etc. • Foley pits are small trays or recessed “sandboxes” filled with a variety of surfaces or textures in the Foley stage. • Foley includes footsteps, clothing passes, and any featured activities depicted on screen (or implied) that we need to hear.
  18. 18. • Room Tone is the sound in the dialog track, during moments when the actors pause from talking. • Recorded with same mic, same volume, same room/set conditions, as actual dialog. • Never intended to be perfect, but to contain all the imperfections present on the set during dialog recording. • Used by editors to patch gaps in the dialog created by removing short noises. Maintains consistency and continuity.
  19. 19. • Background sounds exist beyond the dialog track • Ties multiple shots and angles together within our sound universe • Implies consistency of location and continuity of time • Backgrounds may be actual recordings of the location, taken from better sounding locations/times, or artificially designed • Backgrounds are recorded for optimal overall quality, using the best mics. May be recorded mono, stereo, or full surround (rare ly succe ssful). • Best is to create the stereo or surround background in post • Not trying to match the dialog room tone, but to create a detailed environment under the scene
  20. 20. • Hollywood term for general background sound of people • Crowd murmuring and unintelligible chatter, such as in a restaurant, night club, store, etc. May also include the activity sounds, such as eating, drinking, shopping. • During actual production, background extras remain quiet, and pantomime talking amongst themselves, eating, drinking, shopping, as called for. • Sources of walla include: production wild tracks recorded of the extras; wild tracks recorded in post by a “walla/looping group”; or from an effects library.
  21. 21. • Audiences are not told (narrated) what happens; they get to experience the interplay of characters • Dialog must be clearly understandable • Perspective should match the viewpoint of the audience • Sound effects usually occur between words, rather than under words so as not to drown out or overpower the dialog • Use caution when mixing sound effects that overlap dialog • Volume changes are not determined by the angle of the shot, but by the implied distance to the listener. CU and MED shots need to intercut seamlessly. Zoom and Dolly are not the same thing
  22. 22. • Subtle difference between CU and Wider shots is the amount of ambience that audience PERCEIVES. • In real life, ambience does not change. Just that we ignore or filter out ambience when we stand close to a person, and then pay attention to same ambience when that person is more distant. • Add ambience to soundtrack to make lavaliers sound more open or distant.
  23. 23. • Automated Dialog Replacement • Actors re-record their lines in a recording studio, while watching picture playback and listening to their original production tracks on headset • Very meticulous and time consuming • Strive to match the audio quality of the remaining original dialog. Some mixers will use the same mics as used on the set.
  24. 24. • Narration tracks (NARR, N) • Voice Over (VO) • Music (MX, M) • Production Sound Effects, recorded on the set (PFX) • Room Tone (RT) • Background (BG) • Walla (WLA) • General sound effects (FX) • Foley (FOL) • Dialog (DX, DIA, D) • Replacement dialog (ADR) • Futz tracks, requiring future special processing (FTZ) • X-tracks : ‘deleted’ for now, muted, but kept visible (XX)
  25. 25. • MOS stands for shot without sound. Often wrongly quoted as mit out sound, mit out speech, mit out sprechen. • Origin is “mit out Speak” Jean Speak was the location soundmixer for director Joseph Von Sternberg, and he referenced not needing Jean Speak for the shot! • The name of the Star Wars robot, R2D2, was inspired by the label on the side of a film can in the edit bay. • It meant: Reel 2, Dialog track 2.

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