“My Most Difficult Case” Update 2011 October 9

My progress on My Most Difficult Case has been slow. A while back, I started to think of it as My Most Difficult Film, and it has certainly earned that moniker.

Last March I arranged with someone to do the sound postproduction. Unfortunately, they didn’t deliver, so I’ve had to cancel that agreement. That was a big disappointment for me.

I turned to Pat Aull for help. He helped me earlier with My Next Film. He came over one day and in an hour he taught me enough to do the sound myself. Obviously, you don’t learn to be an expert sound technician so fast, but I only need a competent sound track.

A major problem I had with the sound was that the sync sound recording had a lot of noise. My attempts to clean it up were not very promising. I used Audacity for my sound work. With it, I could remove the sound, but it also changed the voices in ways I didn’t like.

Pat suggested I retransfer the sound from the original tape. I didn’t think that would help, especially since the original recorder, a Sony Walkman modified with Chrystal Sync, was no longer available.

Nevertheless, I went ahead and redid the transfer. Much to my surprise the sound turned out much better. I really should have more faith in Pat. There was still a problem with noise, but I found that in my tests I could remove the sound without adversely affecting the voices.

The only problem with the new transfer was that the speed drifted a bit. Over the length of the 44-minute recording, it shifted about 15 seconds. I did a speed adjustment in Audacity. I found that the drift varied and in some places, it was still up to two frames off. I adjusted that after I replaced the sound in Premiere Pro.

I see what I’ve done so far as an experiment. I will go back and redo the noise removal and time adjustment before I move on to the rest of the sound work.

I see three more steps I want to do before I feel I’m done with the sound.

First, I want to do some adjustments to the voices. I think that if I add some room ambience and adjust the tone a bit, they will sound much better.

Second, I want to add in some background noises. For example, Bryson closes some books, but there is silence. The screech when a chair moves as people stand would add some realism. I could use some noises, like a coughs to emphasize the dialog at appropriate places. I could do the same with bits of music.

Finally, I need to balance out the sounds, so the voices are all the same level. The background noises should be in the Background.

I had hoped to have this film all wrapped in 2011, and I still might do that. However, with two other movies on the go for next years $100 Film Festival, that may be too optimistic.

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