De-Sickness plug-in?



Just got through recording a celeb who was just getting over a cold.

I said no way to the producer. Producer told me deal with it. I said there is no way to deal with it. He said, just do it - there is no time.

What do I do?

I don't think it's fair to me or the celeb and I voiced this more than once during the session and I was regarded by the producer as an incompetent. There isn't really a way to get in touch with the director...

I notch out the honk factor which is 100X worse because this talent is stuffed up. It's a bit better but it's just not full anymore and sounds sucked.

I have been through this route before with recording talent "because it can't wait" when they're sick or just getting over a sickness, and ALL of them I've had to re-record, all the while with me thinking "I told you so...". This one isn't likely to be re-recorded as that would be a lot of money.

I'm asking you, my colleagues, if there is such a thing that can make someone sound well again as a last resort. Have any of you been in similar shoes? What did you do to handle the recording?

Don't know what I am going to do... Hope people don't think I'm incompetent that I couldn't cause a miracle and make someone sound un-stuffed up with mic placement/mixing...


Posted 2011-02-17T06:02:47.110

Reputation: 14 155

@penguinhearder @Syndicate @Colin Hart @Chris @VCProd Thanks to each of you for your responses. Here's what I did: I stayed up through the night last night and worked it out to the best of my ability. I used a VST Linear-Phase Dynamic EQ to notch out most of the 400-600 congestion, boosted the highs immensely (about 10 dB shelf with a Neve EQ) and added a slight bit of guitar distortion via Waves. I then singled out each of the trouble-syllables manually with audiosuiting via an Oxford EQ and on top of that added a bit of multi-band compression on the honks that still crept by. It was long and – Utopia – 2011-02-17T19:55:43.340

arduous, and I'm still not 100% happy, but I got it approved by the director this morning (he happened to be here checking an FX plan on another scene and I had a chance to take him aside and explain the whole thing to him. He was very appreciative at my effort to stop the recording but he also told me the actor was flying out of the country for more filming on the same project. He told me he'd speak to the producer personally if we go to the final mix and it's still a problem). – Utopia – 2011-02-17T19:59:18.320



A day in the life, huh? First and foremost you have my sympathies. Our clients see maybe 10% of what we actually do and tend think our only knowledge is "here's the 'better' button, and over here; the 'suck'-button"... So the only REAL soloution is better sound education for directors and producers. That said, the audience knows as little as the producer, and having done this for a few years, I wanted to tell you that I have been in your exact situation a few times, and sometimes - not saying this is one of them, as I have not heard the recordings - I have made a big fuzz, anly to have someone else filter the hell out the recordings and ship them. In one of these cases, a major feature dub, I am still annoyed by the actor's clogged up nose four years later - but no one else seems to notice... I am taking time out to write this simply because the lack of understanding on part of the client combined with what they conceive as an acceptable result could cause them to see you as the boy who cried wolf, and you might never get that "told you so" moment...

On the technical side I would make one "regular" edit and one harshely filtered (removing all traces of proximity, simply dipping a lot around 400, sometimes does the trick...), and bring in a few friends or colleagues (if you have some scattered 'round the office) and blind test. If it still sucks on both/all levels, you know what to do...

Good luck to you, and may your nxt assignment be snot free in all respects.


Posted 2011-02-17T06:02:47.110

Reputation: 41


You can try EQ, but to be honest I can't think of a single thing that will make it sit right if it's as bad as you say it is. A little raspy is one thing, but honking and nasally is another. I'm not necessarily an ADR mix specialist though.

If it was the producer making the bad decision to let you record it then let him eat his words and let them pay you to do it again . If they think you're incompetent and they go elsewhere then that's likely business you're not going to want to come back. At least the talent knows you stuck up for them and you did the right thing. It will likely get back to the director when the celeb complains about having to do it again and that the producer should have listened to you in the first place. And if the producer is known for having such an attitude then it's likely that anyone that knows him well enough to hear him complain likely also knows to take it with a grain of salt if he's badmouthing you.

However, keep in mind that regardless of the fact that we're not only a service, but a provider of a long crafted professional opinion and expertise doesn't matter to people like that most of the time. They see it as paying you for a service and I wouldn't let it bother you one bit.

Syndicate Synthetique

Posted 2011-02-17T06:02:47.110

Reputation: 2 050


Other than a bit of EQing (which you mentioned), and perhaps a bit of gating (to get rid of some smacking and weird breaths), I don't think you have much to go on. I suppose if you can find a decent breath or two in there you can go crazy replacing labored breaths and such.

I do agree that it was unfair to you to expect so much - a cold can actually change the timbre of a voice - very difficult to fudge it into place...

Then again, I'm not a dialogue editor, so there might be a process I'm not aware of, but I'm sure it's not an easy one...

Colin Hart

Posted 2011-02-17T06:02:47.110

Reputation: 7 588


It seems like there could be a spectral / timbre comparison somewhere out there in development land for this.


Posted 2011-02-17T06:02:47.110

Reputation: 2 594


I like penguinherder's idea - get a relatively clean track as your base, and then layer on a track that his some specific frequencies bumped - 2k - 4k, roll off all the rest. Bring it up in the mix until it sounds...normal.

Other than that... really sucks. There is no "make better" setting that I know of!


Posted 2011-02-17T06:02:47.110

Reputation: 3 122


This might be a bit of a longshot and I haven't tried this myself BUT.....because a cold basically narrows your pipes - principally your nasal passage - could a throat modelling plugin such as Antares Throat or the new Flux Ircam plugins help to compensate for that narrowing which affects the vocal sound? I'm pretty sure any treatment would also need the eq'ing as mentioned in other comments, but perhaps worth a go? Or if there is any way of having a recording of the artist's voice without a cold, perhaps combine this with some EQ matching?

Michael Maroussas

Posted 2011-02-17T06:02:47.110

Reputation: 761

This is a good idea. I'm going to have to try out Antares Throat on some recordings of a sick person sometimes just to find out. – Syndicate Synthetique – 2011-02-22T05:08:21.813