iZotope RX 6: Dialogue Repair on the short film " Mommy and Me"

Recently, our friends at iZotope hooked us up with their RX 6 Advanced audio repair software and we've been having a great time getting familiar with how it works and discovering just how powerful it truly is. RX 6 Advanced is the flagship of the RX family of products, the industry standard audio repair tool that’s been used on countless albums, movies, and TV shows to restore damaged, noisy audio to pristine condition. From noise reduction to removing clicks to fixing distortion, RX is a complete toolkit for cleanup and audio restoration needs.

The way the software visually identifies problems in your tracks is astounding. 

  The iZotope RX 6 session for one of the kitchen scenes in Mommy and Me (2018)

The iZotope RX 6 session for one of the kitchen scenes in Mommy and Me (2018)

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The first project we jumped into with this software was a short film we produced and shot in 2016 that had been sitting on our hard drives for quite sometime - Mommy and Me is a self financed production written and directed by Kelela Doerksen. We've collaborated with Kelela many times over the years and now having the ability to do a professional sound mix in-house at Guerrilla Motion Pictures meant we could get this film that much closer to the finish line!

The learning curve on RX 6 Advanced is very easy and if you're familiar with any editing program like Final Cut, Adobe Premier or even Photoshop then you should have no problem working your way around the RX toolkit. 

Most of Mommy and Me was shot in an apartment in downtown Calgary and we had some issues with traffic noise bleeding into our dialogue tracks. I was very impressed with how I was able to completely remove those sounds using Voice De-Noise and some manual repair on the more problematic sections. One segment in particular had a piece of dialogue covered by the action of actor Carlee Ryski putting a tube of lotion down on the tile countertop. This was easily fixed by manual repair.

After a thorough repair and noise reduction of the dialogue track I then used the amazing De-Reverb tool to clean up some of the reverberation we had at the location. Bathrooms, because of their tiled floors and walls, are always an issue when it comes to reverb. Normally, a sound person will use blankets or fernie pads to lessen the reverb but being a cheaper and fast paced production this was not done. Luckily, RX 6 was able to rescue us from this issue and the results speak for themselves.

Check out this video for some before and after examples of the audio repair we did using iZotope RX 6 Advanced:

CASTING CALL | BLACK AND BLUE | SHORT FILM | EDMONTON

BLACK AND BLUE
SHORT FILM

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CASTING CALL

NON UNION

Black and Blue – SHORT FILM

Director: Justin Kueber

DOP: Sam Reid

Production Company: GUERRILLA MOTION PICTURES INC.

Send Headshot and Resume to guerrillamotionpictures@gmail.com with role(s) you are interested in.

Guerrilla Motion Pictures Inc. is casting an upcoming non-union short film, shooting in Edmonton (and area) in March/April (dates TBD).

BLACK AND BLUE is a short drama/comedy about an energetic young girl who spends an afternoon with her aging, blind grandpa.

Katie (6-10 years old) (lead): African-American or Mixed ethnicity. Energetic and sassy, it’s her way or the highway and the last thing she wants to do is spend time with her “boring” blind grandpa.

Grandpa (65+) (lead): Caucasian. Must be a semi-skilled dancer or have dance experience.

Mom (30-45) (supporting): African-American or Mixed ethnicity. Mother of Katie. 

Young Grandpa (18-28) (supporting): Caucasian. Dance experience although not required.

Young Grandma (18-28) (supporting): African-American. Dance experience needed.

Nurse Davis (supporting)
Nurse Armstrong (supporting)

 

Technical Breakdown: Living With Type 1

 

In this blog post we're going to discuss the look of our 2017 video for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the ways we went about achieving that look with camera, lighting and digital grading.

 

Camera

We knew going into this project that we wanted to shoot our interview subjects with two cameras rolling simultaneously. Doing this gave us some leeway in editing and we didn’t have to worry about jump cuts, if there was a moment when an interviewee paused during a sentence we could just cut in to the close up or pull back to the wide shot and make a seamless edit. This also makes for a more visually interesting production so you aren't locked down to only one angle per interview.

 Justin Kueber setting up the two Canon c100 cameras.

Justin Kueber setting up the two Canon c100 cameras.

To do this we brought out our two Canon c100 cameras and placed them side-by-side on our Manfrotto tripods. A Cam was equipped with an 85mm Rokinon Cine DS lens and B Cam with a 50mm. We recorded in ProRes using our Atomos Ninja Blade and Ninja Star recorders on the cameras and matched the cameras by shooting in Wide DR mode, identical iso settings and a white balance of 4200k, this maintained a nice warm image with our tungsten lighting.

 

 

 

 

Lighting

 A paper lantern acted as a key light for the interviews.

A paper lantern acted as a key light for the interviews.

The setting was planned to be at the Hauger family home so going into this we knew we wanted to embrace that home feeling with warm tones and soft lighting. Our main key light was a soft paper lantern with a 150w bulb and we used a c stand and arm to position it close to our interviewees. The spherical shape of the lantern creates a light that wraps evenly around the face and provides a nice eye light as well. A 300w Fresnel on a dimmer with 251 diffusion gel gave our subjects a hair light while a practical placed in the background on camera left acted as a source light. A pretty simple set up that enhanced the natural feel we were hoping to achieve.

 

Digital Grading

As always we exported an xml file from Final Cut Pro to DaVinci Resolve to perform our colour corrections. There are two different locations in the video: the Hauger family home and the hockey arena in Leduc.

 The DaVinci Resolve project timeline.

The DaVinci Resolve project timeline.

The interviews at the home we didn’t change a lot but rather enhanced what was already there in the raw footage. We found a nice balance by adjusting contrast, giving a bit more separation in the skin tones and the bluer tones and pulling some of the yellow out of the whites.

 

 

Some before and after shots:

 A look was established using this shot. The job then became matching everything else in the arena as close as possible to this.

A look was established using this shot. The job then became matching everything else in the arena as close as possible to this.

The arena segments were a little more challenging. Being shot in a very documentary style with only practical lighting each shot had to be tweaked on its own. We started by taking one shot of Rylee and Jessy, establishing a look and then correcting the other shots to get them as close as possible to that look. In some instances we had to adjust the “exposure” by increasing the gain to better expose for the person on screen. The problem is that being in a hockey arena where everything is white it can be very easy to push the highlight too far to the point of clipping. Shooting in Wide DR protected the highlights considerably and using nodes later in the chain of our correction we were able to bring the highlights down to avoid clipping without affecting the brightness of the mid tones.

Here's an example of the raw footage, the footage graded and then the final image with the clipped highlights corrected:

 

Hopefully this gave you a little insight into what we were hoping to achieve visually for this short documentary. We want to thank the JDRF Edmonton chapter for bringing us on board to make this piece and, of course, the Hauger family for being so honest and kind while we spent time with them. The video is below and if you haven't seen it yet I hope you give it a watch. Working on productions such as this is a very rewarding experience for us here at Guerrilla.

-Sam Reid