6 Replies Latest reply on May 14, 2009 12:47 PM by Jim_Simon

    Working Audio Into Narration

    windowman Level 1

      I finally have the audio done with my documentary feature. I thought of putting this post in the lounge, but I figured someone here might be struggling with the audio part of their movie and maybe this would help.


      Some of us were talking a few weeks ago about preparing audio for the big screen and/or TV. I may have to go back and adjust for TV when the DVD comes out, but right now what I tried to do was to prepare a big screen release that made everything mesh together without having to compress things to death. This film is mostly narration, so it was important to keep the music from stepping on the voice and yet compress it as little as possible.


      Generally a person's voice is very midrangy with a presense peak between 1 - 3k. What I ended up doing that helped the most was to take the music tracks (this was done in Audition) and drop the mids -12db around the most present frequencies in the narrator's voice whenever it was present, which in this case was around 2k. This allowed me to keep the music fairly loud in places I wanted it to be (like the intro) and still hear the narrator clearly.


      I'm fairly happy with it, but I wanted to see what some of you thought. The narration comes in about 41-seconds into the track. MP3-Intro

        • 1. Re: Working Audio Into Narration
          the_wine_snob Level 9

          What do I think? Well, considering that I am about to enter into the final (yeah, right!) stage of editing a 4-DVD set Project, that is heavily narrated, it could not have come at a better time. In the case of this Project, the music has been chosen, so I cannot use my normal workflow. Usually, I rely heavily on SmartSound and SonicFirePro 5 to adjust the music (Strata Series multi-layer music discs) for narration, or dialog. Can't do that in this case.


          I'm also considering your earlier thread on EQ/mixing for TV speakers. I might do two Audio versions, selectable via Menu, but having a second Audio Track might be a problem, as the DVD's are pretty full. Still, you got me to think about this, and that is good. Time (and space) will tell.


          Gotta' go, 'cause I've got a trailer to view.


          Thanks for posting,




          [Edit] Bogus! I wanted a trailer with Audio AND Video. I wanted to be transported to the pubs, the halls of Oxford, the verdant countryside around those parts. OK, I'll let you slide now, but we demand a trailer. I'll be in the Lounge, chilling the Rolling Rock and making sure that the yoodle supply is adequate, so we can properly screen your trailer. I do not know whether I should throw out the "dead" plastic plant, but will wait to hear from Jeff on it.

          • 2. Re: Working Audio Into Narration
            Jim_Simon Level 8

            The mix seemed OK.


            Something about the narrator's voice seemed a little off, though.  Not sure if it was the mic used, or some post processing, or maybe even just the MP3 compression.  It just seemed a little...compressed, "digital", processed...I don't know.  It kind of reminds me of Geddy Lee's rap in the song Roll the Bones.  It's obvious his natural pitch has been shifted to get the deeper voice.  There's a little bit of that same "electronic" sound to your narrator's voice.

            • 3. Re: Working Audio Into Narration
              joshtownsend Level 2

              Sound pretty good. The music might be hair loud IMO almost to the point of distraction. You know, it might be worth taking it to a one of the dozens of music post houses most likely in your town. Even if they never mixed a video before, it's the exact same concept. Your making vocals mix with music  and want to be able to hear both without one track taking bass or treble from the other. If you had say just two tracks or .wav files I'm sure you could find a good studio who would only charge you 30-50 dollars an hour. No need for a video specialist.


              However if your happy then just go with it. Take the music down just a hair or try to make to narration a little thicker. But that's me nitpicking sounds pretty good from what I heard.

              • 4. Re: Working Audio Into Narration
                windowman Level 1

                That's what I do Josh; I'm an audio guy. Video is more of a hobby. I agree the music is kind of loud here, but this is the opening segment, and I wanted it loud in this part. The rest of the hour long film is much quieter.


                Let me know how your project turns out Bill and if you learn any new tricks. There's an article on music scoring by Mark Cousins in the newest edition of MusicTech Magazine where he mentions the same thing of being careful around the 1-3k range of narration.


                Jim, are you saying all the narration had that digital sound or just parts of it?, because there is a short section just before the 1-minute mark where it says, "was a somewhat hazy world for all people" that does have a couple of words that are kind of chewed up. I thought the music kind of masked it though, or at least I was hoping. I don't know how it happened. One day I just fired up my DAW and there it was sounding like that after being clear as a bell the day before. It's just a couple of words though. The rest of the track is okay, although maybe you didn't care for any of it which is cool. I did the narration myself, and I have a very muddy voice, so I did have to push the mids a lot to bring out some clarity. A better narrator would have been my first choice, but being kind of poor and all....

                • 5. Re: Working Audio Into Narration
                  windowman Level 1

                  I took some of your suggestions and put back some of the low-end in the narration that I had taken out. This will not only warm it up a bit but make it slightly louder. I think it sounds better now.



                  • 6. Re: Working Audio Into Narration
                    Jim_Simon Level 8

                    I did have to push the mids a lot to bring out some clarity.


                    That may have been what I was hearing.  There was just something unnatural sounding about the voice that I couldn't quite put my finger on.