Recording Audio and Overdubbing

DVP Week 9

In the ninth session for the ‘Introduction to Single Camera’ module, we looked at overdubbing audio and the importance of sound in film-making.

We were shown a clip from the DVD supplement that comes with the instructional manual ‘The Shut Up and Shoot Documentary Guide’ by Anthony Q. Artis. In the film the author talks about sound in film and how it is more important than footage. According to Mr. Artis, an audience will more easily forgive a visual mistake than they will an audio mistake. When making any kind of film, it is essential to record your sound separately and remix it in post production where it can also be edited and  mixed to match the footage.

Many things must be considered when recording audio for film. If one is shooting in an outdoor location, one must consider the natural sound of the environment such as traffic noise, bird song and of course, every sound-man’s worst enemy, the wind! Many elements of audio in film are added or re-done after the footage is shot, it is therefore essential to ensure that all the sound to be used with the footage is audible. In some cases the dialogue recorded on set or location is inaudible and would have to be re-recorded and overdubbed in post production.

Splitting ourselves into groups, we were challenged to re-record some dialogue for some footage from the 1959 film ‘House on Haunted Hill’ starring Vincent Price. Having a choice of several clips from the film, we selected a scene and set about transcribing the script from the original footage. Once we had written down the lines, we assigned each group member a character to voice and set about recording our own audio on MP3 recording devices. The audio had to match the lip-sink of the actors as closely as possible and we had three characters to voice in our scene. Our group consisted of four people so I took the role of director and prompted each of the other group members when their lines were to be delivered. After a few practice runs, we recorded the audio whilst watching the footage so that we could gauge the pace at which the original actors delivered the lines.

This was a valuable exercise in sound production as most films require overdubs in places and we shall no doubt have to re-record dialogue in our own projects in the future. The lecture stressed the absolute importance of sound in film-making and was a helpful insight when considering the sonic elements we experience when watching a film or television programme.

Here’s the result of our work:

About Roulette Revolver

Currently a first year undergraduate in Film & Media Studies.
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