I did the a good chunk of sound engineering on this one, Natalie (my co-engineer) worked together with me on it and voiced Black Widow Enjoy.
Cool! That was indeed fun to watch.
Pretty interesting, if a bit violent for my taste.
So, generally speaking, what goes into something like this? Are there tons of tracks, especially for the sound effects? Do you have to do a tremendous amount of automation to get all the sounds to transition properly? How about SFX libraries? Do you use one or several of them to get all the sounds you need? I’m not asking for any “trade secrets” (unless you want to divulge them ), but can you give us an overview of how something like this works?
Ha, yeah it’s voiceover, but largely ‘gruntover’. Mostly grunts and groans with a few verbal utterances here and there. I’d guess she really had to get into it physically to make all those noises. I understand that’s how it works, and I don’t watch a lot of stuff like this, so that was interesting to see what goes into one of those vocal performances.
nicely done. The sound was excellent.
Like the sounds, good job!
The animation…eh, it’s okay.
The sound is way too good for that horrendous animation.
Stan , I appreciate you asking the questions - thought I’d take the time to write long. I can chunk parts of this out if I ever need to answer questions about this kind of work in other places in the future
It depends on the level of everyones involvement. These things will always have director. The director dialogues with the producer over how they want to get it done and who they want doing what, and what they can pay outside contractors.
First the sequence has to be written then storyboarded - there’s a lot of pre production stuff that goes on in these stages which I don’t know a whole lot about.
Voice Actor Casting
Skipping forward to what I do know, usually the actors are contacted and then if they’re interested will be sent scripts with a few lines to read. They submit them and are chosen based on whats called a ‘slate’. This is an audio cue where you might hear verbatim:
“Mark Hamill - auditioning for Joker. (pause) Hehheheee Haahaha…Eeeeh Batzy - i AM your father. (pause) Well kiddo- it is what it is!!”
Even when an actor is in mind, its still customary to have them do a line read. The producer then contracts the actors, sends them the full script and they record the audio.
Voice Actor Tracking and Dialogue Editing
I only recorded Natalie - I have no clue who the other girl is (she did a nice job though). The ADR is always recorded dry, and its is mandatory in almost all situations that no EQ or compression is ever committed.
Next the ADR director will review the performance takes and request ‘pickups’. In this case Natalie was sent back to the studio here to get behind the same mic, with the same preamp and settings and re-read a couple lines. In this case it was “I’m a god damn avenger” and that last line after she rips the girls head off. Because they wanted it read different, and I think Natalie pronounced that thing she says at the end incorrectly the first time. She’ll be sent back in with clear instructions. For example, she read the line “I’m a god damn avenger” sarcastically, because she didn’t realize the character had just been zapped, was on the ground, and winded because we can’t see the action sequence as we’re tracking. The second round of pickups is organized and submitted to the ADR director. Once the ADR is complete, either the VO actors or the individual contracted to edit the dialogue is sent the files to do further editing. Still no processing and effects are applied. They are merely choosing takes, and organizing them so they can be presented to the CGI artist when they are ready to be ‘delivered’. The GCI artist then take those deliverables and dump them into the action sequences and cues.
CGI picture lock
Only after the action sequence is complete with dialogue, is it normally sent to the sound designers, musicians, and foley artists. This is called a picture lock. The sound effects designers have to see the picture in time with the dialogue to make sense out of things. With the exception of Disney movies where characters sing, music usually happens in the later stages of post production.
Me - the re-recording mixer
The last stage is me, the re-recording mixer. This is the dub mix where everything is tied together. But re-recording mixers, on small projects like one in this thread are sometimes asked to double in whatever capacities are necessary. On our last movie, I did a substantial chunk of the sound design, but Natalie wasn’t cast in it. She was the dialogue engineer, and we both worked on the re-record mixing side.
For this little short thing, it wasn’t terrible. Under normal circumstances, a feature film has an obnoxious amount of channels. They get folded and collapsed before they hit my mixing desk which makes it easier. So 16 mono DX (dialogue), 8 stereo MX (music), 8mono/8stereo FX (sound effects), 2mono/8stereo BG(backgrounds), and 8mono/8stereo FZ (futz) which is like a miscellaneous storage tank. Everything is delivered mono to stereo then I break it out into 5.1 surround if the client requests netflix, BluRay, film festival or Amazon video compatibility.
Yes. Automation is huge. Because you don’t have the same actors on the same tracks throughout the film. Primary characters get left and parked on tracks, but characters with one liners get parked in that FZ futz track I mentioned earlier. In terms of transitions, the way this works is similar to what you call hand-offs in music mixing. Where a rhythm guitar part at the end of a chorus tails into the rhythm guitar part of the second verse. BG’s which are environment noises such as HVAC drones, wind, street noise etc… is a good example of something that will be re-automated every time there is a scene change. They’re incredibly important. Dead silence with only dialogue in a movie is incredibly disturbing lol.
Yeah. I’m pretty sure this one was all stock library sounds but they were sufficient and there was no clear-cut need to collaborate with a Foley studio on the sound design. Its customary that the re-recording mixers have access to the entire foley session. Us re-recording mixers get a huge file for the entire project. If there’s a Foley studio, I expect to see a folder in there marked Foley. In that folder I expect to see a dated file, with somebody initials, that has the completed session from which the ‘Foley mix’ was printed and bounced. But we rarely have to open it. Usually the foley mixer does their job.
In this case - the little action sequence was pretty forgettable. There were thousands and thousands of dollars put into this, but it was meant to be watched and forgotten, so hiring a Foley studio was counterproductive.
She spent hours screaming and yelling into the mic. Like
Ugh!! uuuuuGH! Arrrrragh. Hooh. NaaaAAAAA! Baaaaaah!!!
Funny story: I’m pretty sure she was the one who told me this lol. If I recall correctly she was living in an apartment in Chicago she was trying to do a sequence like this in a non-soundproofed bedroom and a neighbor called the police and they showed up at her door. At first she thought it was a noise complaint - but police told her it was someone concerned about kidnapping or domestic violence lol.
Ha, well you can imagine that most people aren’t used to having voiceover actors living next door, and ones doing anime at that!
Ah, so they provide all the FX to you in the session and you don’t have to have your own libraries? I guess they have to do that to let you know what they want, and then you can figure it out from there?
Thanks for going into all the detail on this, really good description and info!
Well, Natalie and I do have our own libraries. Her more-so than me.
A sound designer definitely has to have some kind of library but it doesn’t have to be original stuff. A re-recording mixer does not have to.
There are some instances where one guy will go in and put in as many sound effects as he can and then mark the spots with what we call ‘slugs’ which are empty audio regions (or dummy regions) stamped at certain SMPETE time code to tell us where we need to come up with a different or better sound. So if he’s going through the video and is and like ‘nope’. Don’t got anything for that, then he marks it in the DAW and passes it on and hopes that someone else does (this is in low low budget stuff). Usually we get an excel chart or a list of whatever the other guy tried to put in and couldn’t find something for. Its basically like the film studio hiring an assistant to put in the real obvious stuff so that the more experienced sound designers don’t bill them for basic things like footsteps, splashes, punches, gunshots, rips, tears, wind/rain. Where I get involved is usually more to implement stuff like 5.1 surround sound earthquake scenes, space portals opening, mutant monsters smashing entire skyscrapers, and space ships getting shot out of the orbit. Stuff where no one single sound does the job, and where special spacial audio variables have to be accounted for to feel believable in the context of the action sequence. I’m feel I’m pretty decent at this now, but I’ll be much much better at it by the time I get done with college.
I was very impressed with all the work you did on this. The cues are well timed, I believe the sounds are believable in the animation context they’re in, and I could sense all the automation you had to do which is why I asked about it. And your detailed explanations of the process show how much you have learned already. We know there’s always more to grow into though, so it will be exciting to see how it evolves for you.