If you run a small video production business, the kind that creates low budget commercials, web adverts, short documentaries for clients etc. then there's every chance you have to do the whole thing yourself. You have to come up with the idea, write the treatment, shoot the film, capture the sound, load and sort the rushes, edit the movie, grade it and do the sound. Does that sound familiar?
You simply don't have the time or the budgets to put the work out to a post house, so you have to do the best you can - including the sound. Now there may some post audio guys reading this thinking 'hang on Russ are you trying to do me out of a job?' The short answer is no, the longer one is if you want to work for free then there's plenty of work that small movie producers would happily give you - but I'm guessing that's not the kind of work you want or need.
If you have to try and do the best you can with the sound on your video productions then here are 4 audio applications every small video producer should own.
Sound Radix POWAIR
Sound Radix POWAIR has fast become my go-to dynamics plug-in when mixing dialogue, it's simply magic and helping to give a consistent loudness to spoken word. This is what Sound Radix say about POWAIR;
"POWAIR was designed to be a smarter, more natural sounding compressor. It’s a dual-stage loudness leveler / compressor / limiter powered by a novel, proprietary compression engine which provides greater transparency and control than ever before.
The first stage is a K-weighted loudness leveler, perfect for leveling a voice-over or auto-adjusting the level of different pieces of music. In its second compression stage, POWAIR uses an innovative gain detection and reduction engine, capable of fast gain changes with minimal distortion and adaptive response to the source.
The unique Punch feature enables full control over the transients’ levels during the attack stage, making it possible to shape the transients’ lengths while keeping peak levels under control.
And in an industry first, POWAIR features Adaptive Compression to maintain an average compression action, adding intensity and glue while keeping the natural dynamics of the recording."
You might expect that to be hype, but POWAIR has the ability to take troublesome audio and knock it into shape without any noticeable artefacts. One of the team used it to get 4 seperate voices recorded with one mic and make them sound great. If you are a video editor and want great sounding dilaog then POWAIR is the plug-in to check out!
Red Giant PluralEyes
Slates, timecode... the chance of you having those on set for a low budget shoot are unlikely so my guess is you're asking your interviewee or talent to clap their hands before each shot. Then you have to get back into your video editing app and get the picture and sound in sync. Some of the apps like Final Cut X has an algorithm to help, it's not bad either.
If you want painless video/audio sync then check out Red Giant's PluralEyes, version 3 was good and we reviewed it, but PluralEyes 4 is even better. It can work with mixed frame rates, audio drift and split clips. Download the demo and throw every kind of audio and video at it and see the magic happen - it's voodoo.
A lot of low budget shoots are one person. You've got a lot to think about, you're the Director, producer, interviewer, lighting, camera and sound. This means that something has to suffer, even if you have the right gear, often a one person shooter will be concentrating on getting the talent/interviewer directed and the picture in frame and in focus. This leaves the sound and for many as long as it's being captured with enough level and no distortion then that will be fine. It's at a moment like this you realise that location sound is an art, not only do location sound professionals make sure all the tech is right, from levels to sample rates, but they also listen out for everything from the noise of fabric or jewellery on mic to air con and planes flying overhead - every shoot should have one, but low budget shoots simply can't stretch.
Enter iZotope RX, which is fast becoming the must-have audio app for those working in post sound. Why? Think of an audio problem that may happen on shoot and RX can fix it... hype? Well I'm yet to find an audio issue that RX has not been able to fix. Noise, clipping, pops, gain problems and that's just scratching the surface. RX has saved me time, money and clients... it's as simple as that. You may think that RX is a noun but for those who use RX it's a verb. A problem with audio? RX it!
Marquis Broadcast X2Pro Audio Convert
When Apple announced Final Cut X it was met with a lot of complaints by established post professionals, especially those with multi-seat post houses who have complex workflows. Earlier version of Final Cut X had poor or none-existent ways to share projects across larger teams. Some improvement have been made and it is a lot better than it was but it still has no native workflow for getting Final Cut X projects into Pro Tools. Enter X2Pro Audio Convert.
X2PRo Audio Convert takes a Final Cut X XML document and converts it to an AAF file which can be opened in Pro Tools for audio editing.
This means that even if you can't have an audio professional on shoot, that you can send a Pro Tools compatible AAF to an audio professional for editing, or of course you also edit it in Pro Tools yourself.
Sound is often the poor cousin in low budget video production, but it shouldn't be and thanks to the audio applications above your videos can still sound great.
This is osftware I depend on when producing videos, what about you?