A Definitive Guide to Audio and Sound Post Production

Audio or sound post production is difficult and time-consuming. To the uninspired, it is quite challenging as well. No matter what: it is essential.

This guide will cover a lot of ground. It explains in layman’s terms, the process of sound post production, the workflows, and the significance in the entire scheme of things.

Audio post production is generally divided into two parts, including

  • Sound editing
  • Sound mixing
  • Recordings

After the production is completed, you have several recordings. These recordings can be

  • Dialog recorded during a take
  • Outtakes
  • Wild sounds
  • Ambient sounds, room tone, and more

If you have used a sound recorder, these recordings can stand-alone, in either AIF or WAV format. So, they are represented as squiggly lines in the chart. All recordings can be separated, taken on separate times in difficult locations, and maybe with multiple types of equipment.

Syncing

All recordings are paired with imagery unless they can be discarded. Due to this reason, it is prudent to find several ways to make sure your audio and video can be synced with each other, even if you record them separately.

Syncing is the way of aligning. For example, the lips must be in sync with the voice, and more. The previous way to make sure syncing is by using a slate or clapboard. Today, Time Code is used to do the same. On low-budget productions, you can record audio in sync with the camera. When it happens, you can try to use software that can help you to sync audio and video together.

Syncing sounds challenging, and it is. This is why it is essential to get your work right on set.

The overall process is known as Conforming, where you can try to match audio as well as visuals. Conforming can include dealing with codecs, changing duration, and more. Previously, you aligned them. Today, you have several options in your hands. If you have completed your production audio right, you can use auto-conform software to automatically match everything. Syncing dailies is an activity that can be performed in order to bring all the unruly recordings under their respective visuals. Without this step, the process of editing cannot be started.

Sound Editing

The best sound editor can assemble and organize the audio recordings as well as tracking, in the way that is most important for the overall audio workflow. If you study closely, you will see the sound editing phase divides audio samples into different categories such as dialogue, Foley, effects and music.

Dialogue generally comes from recordings on set, wild recordings, ADR, and more. All of these sounds include

  • Chosen: Find the best possible recordings for final results.
  • Cleaned: For noise, reverb, artifacts, and more.
  • Filtered: Several effects added to boost or manipulate the recordings in order to deliver a specific feel.
  • Layered on the timeline and then sync with the visuals.

This is where the sound editor decides if any audio needs to be recorded again. This is where every sound is decided on, assembled and made ready for the final result. In general, there are some projects that have multiple dialogue tracks, multiple songs and music tracks, and more. In short, if you are looking at hundreds of tracks, with no room for error.

Premixing

Once all the different groups of audio are passed, they are premixed. Dialogue can be premixed, foley can be premixed, and music can be premixed, and other effects can be premixed.

The premix can preserve the intentions of the filmmakers, and create Stems. You can have a dialogue stem, foley stem, effect stem, and music stem. You can also have several types of dialogue stems and more. The audio or sound post production is responsible for handling all of these elements.