I Don't Want to Hear Your Voice!

As the Location Sound Mixer, sometimes it's not dialogue I need to capture, but other sync sounds. Of course, often, some sound guys might lav up an actor who has no dialogue or boom from above when the only sounds in the scene are footsteps. These might be dumbfounded moments, but when an entire scene has no dialogue or any sounds from actor's mouths, you need to think what sounds do we want and what sounds don't we want?

Last week I wrapped mixing a feature film in NYC. One night, we had a scene with a few characters riding a bicycle through NYC, particularly Times Square. I was told to mic the actors but I knew they were not saying anything and since it was a bit of a chase scene on bikes, even if I missed some panting sounds, those are easily added in post as "Efforts." So, what sounds did I want? We spoke about not recording sync sound on this, rather recording foley sounds of the bike upside down recording the wheels spinning. But that plus many other sounds on the road, screeching of stopping, turning, riding over sewer tops, moving NYC street ambience, it would be quite a project. So I took a look at the bike and saw a spot where I could hide the lav mic close to the wheels and the pedals out of sight (under the bike seat) along with hiding the transmitter beneath the seat as well. The helmet-like shape of the seat and a foam windscreen protected the lav mic from wind noise. I also used a Countryman b3 rather than my main B6s because they are less susceptible to wind noise and other unwanted high frequencied cars driving by which we don't want too much of. We are fighting other traffic sounds so getting it close to the wheels and pedals is ideal. Fortunately, we shot this at 3am on a weekday, so traffic and other ambience was minimal- something more ADs shooting in NY should consider.

We lead the bike in an Action Camera Truck with lights, camera, video village and myself on the back of the truck shooting the cyclists. We also did some shots with the camera on the front of the truck following the cyclists from behind. I got sync sound of the bike ride throughout Times Square and it sounded much better than I thought it would. I didn't hear the spinning of the wheels as much as I thought I would but that was natural. Just add some more NYC street/Times Square ambience in the background which I had recorded earlier and you have a nice effective natural sync sound of that scene. We did have a few takes where the actors panted a bit which my lav did not pick up well (the rider in the back sounded OK, but the lead cyclist in the front seat of the bike was muffled as the mic was below his buttocks. However, like I said, that is something that is extremely easy to add in post as "efforts." Another reason why I wanted the mic on the bike rather than the actors was because with them riding the bike, they might be moving a lot, and I might get some rustling on the mics or it might fall off from their sweat and could then get caught in the moving pedals and gears or be dragged on the street. I was also trying to avoid the sound of the generator on the truck, so I only used the boom for slate rather than to add that NYC street ambience I felt we were missing.

We had other shots like this however, we did not use the follow/lead truck. We had the camera on a dolly on the sidewalk, catching the cyclists as they pass by. For this, I already had a lav mic on both actors, so I decided to leave those, and also use the boom. I brought in the lav levels as they got closer and closed them as they passed, catching their pants effectively at the right time and getting the perspective sound from the boom. I still would have liked another mic on the bike or a better way to avoid the moving shirt from occasionally bouncing and hitting the lavs, but it was for such a short moment, that we got what we needed from the lavs, or worse case scenario, adding "efforts" for this would be very easy to match.

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