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Topic: The Hollywood sound - a seminal lesson

  1. #1

    The Hollywood sound - a seminal lesson

    In the \"Is it samples, or is it Memorex?\" thread I noticed an instructive statement from Martin:
    After recording the violin parts, I noticed that the click track had bled from the headphones into the parts on all the lyrical tracks, so I had to EQ it out. Fortuitously, it gave the violin a really nice warm sound and eliminated all the screechiness that a violin can sometimes have.
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">What does it tell you?

  2. #2

    Re: The Hollywood sound - a seminal lesson

    that I should make sure to watch out for click bleed

  3. #3

    Re: The Hollywood sound - a seminal lesson


    [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img] Yep, I really should have watched out. But the violinist and I both liked the sound MUCH better with the EQ than without it.

    I guess the point is that you can make big changes to the way an instrument (whether sample or live) sounds during mixing. Trust me...if I had used the actual recorded sound of the violin (assuming there was no click bleed) it would not have been nearly as effective.

    I should note that I\'ve used this technique in the past as well with live recordings. I have a flute that has an annoying buzzy/raspy sound in the high end, but sound fantastic otherwise. I used EQ to eliminate the buzzy/raspy stuff and used it in a song where it sounds fantastic ( http://www.cdsol.com/cdsol/downloads/starbirth_thanks2.mp3 ). BTW, that song uses the same drum as used in Astral Journey treated a little differently.

    I know that you know this with all your experience editing samples, but it does bear repeating.

    I made some pretty drastic changes to the harp part as well with the reverb and digital delay. Makes it sound totally different.

    -- Martin

  4. #4

    Re: The Hollywood sound - a seminal lesson

    Originally posted by KingIdiot:
    I was jsut trying to make a joke aand poitn out that its MUCH MORE than EQ that makes for this so called \"hollywood\" sound.
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">This the reason why I put the word \"seminal\" in the thread title...
    From Merriam-Webster\'s Dictionary:
    containing or contributing the seeds of later development
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Part of the \"Hollywood string\" sound has to do with necessity. The mode of capturing the string sound meant that a lot of post processing would be necessary. Not only does Martin point out that there are bleed issues to work out (both from headphone clicks as well as other instruments when in an ensemble recording session using close mics) but there are also the concommitant issues relating to the fact that most people do not carry with them the correct recollection of what it sounds like to listen to a string instrument \"up-close\". The \"close-but-far\" sound you get from a string ensemble mix in film is partly due to the fact that we\'ve simply grown accustomed to what it\'s \"supposed\" to sound like from the influence of film.

    Listen to any classical stage recordings of Bernstein, Solte or von Karajan and tell me differently.

    Here\'s a film example that my wife explained to me: When we look at a \"night\" scene on TV or film - why can we still see? Do we always have that much \"blue\" light at night? Not always. So, why is it there? Well, to a certain degree, that\'s what we expect when we look at a night scene on TV. It was partly born out of the fact that you needed *some* light to get a decent picture onto film. You\'ve got actors walking around clammoring \"in the dark\" yet we have no trouble seeing them or their surroundings. So, we\'ve created a situation that would never occur in nature in order to propel a story or better fit the medium in which it is experienced. It\'s not real, but to do it any differently would adversely impact what is perceived as \"natural\".

    Martin\'s experience is instructive when you look at how some sample libraries that do much of the processing for you. Some of the mic positioning, abundance of natural ambience and sample processing cuts into the more shrill character that you get from real string instruments. You\'re left with something that might approximate the perception of a \"final\" sound, but there are factors that went into the crafting of the sound that are out of the composer\'s/mixer\'s hands.

    Some people prefer that, some people don\'t. I happen to be the type of person that works the way I did when engineering classical music recording sessions. If it\'s already in the can by having over-processed samples, I feel like I\'m handcuffed to certain musical decisions because there are places that an over-processed library won\'t go *if* the sample is already over-built.

    The \"Hollywood Strings\" in GOS are proof of my point, in that a good, high-quality string sample needs some modification to fit the \"Hollywood\" profile.

    Of course, there\'s more to it than EQ and reverb, but again my point here is that Martin\'s word and works are \"seminal\" in uderstanding the broader context of string instrument recording. More to the point, the outcome of Martin\'s thread illustrates that certain responses give away that \"expert\" opinions here are operating on some assumptions that may , in fact, be based on knee-jerk \"audio logic\" as opposed to the realities of the stringed instrument.


  5. #5

    Re: The Hollywood sound - a seminal lesson


    there\'s a few things more to consider than the constraints.

    I for one love having control. Its been a big point I\'ve been stressing for some years. One of the main reasons I always clamour for multiple mic positions.

    Still, depending on the room recorded in, sometimes you\'re limited in different ways in terms of control.

    For instance. Take a smaller room and a french horn. There\'s not enough pace for the horn to \"breath\" and the choice of mic positions can lead to limitations in what can be achieved after the fact.

    Not to mention the extra resonances that might be created byt the room itself. Creating a somewhat \"boxy\" effect. That, in itself, can destroy the overall sound no matter how much EQ and reverb and placement.

    This is why having multiple options is Key. I realised multiple mic placements made a huge difference when I first purchased Real Giga Drums. I can rocess the sound much more like an engineer with this approach, and not have to finagle my way to \"creating\" a synthetic ambience that will never act the way real recordings of the different mics would.

    I can understand the logic of being \"locked\" into a sound. Each approach (controlled/full blown placement) gives some benefits and some limitations. there\'s no ay to have it all, so sometimes its just about which you \"need\"

    About the hollywood strings/Ki Strings. Theres one thing that I need to stress. The material in that stuff came from multiple sources. Tehre is no single library out that will give you enough of the raw material to create that sound. You would have to mix multiple libraries together to get enough similar raw material (choices of instruments is just one thing, the actual long sustains and multiple short bows are another). Add to it considerable time and efort and you a very non-real world end result, but a good sound non the less (to me).

    Which to me is the key word \"sound\". If it sounds good then what does it matter.... but then what sounds good? You can tell me one thing and I can disagree [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

  6. #6
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Sep 1999
    Dallas, Texas

    Re: The Hollywood sound - a seminal lesson

    I would say that an expert opinion by definition would imply insight beyond knee-jerk responses.

    Orchestras, for both film and purely music product, are recorded every way under the sun. Some of the most classic Columbia releases were studio recordings. Some of the most grandiose filmscore recordings have taken place at Abbey Road or Lyndhurst. But some took place on soundstages where there was barely room to breathe.

    I think there may be too much emphasis on where, how, and through what post-production means a sound travels. There\'s almost no session where something doesn\'t get radically screwed up, and the fix involves something roughly equivalent to balancing a ladder on your nose, juggling three cats, and using your toes!! Once the track is printed, all that stuff just dissolves into history, and the next task comes to bear.

    It is difficult to make the case that there is a \"Hollywood Sound\" at all. If there is anything that can be remotely described as such, it is generally not happening at the music recording/mixing stage at all.

    I think it would be very informative for people to observe a post-production mix session if they get a chance. Whaever happened in the music studio itself (i.e., the soundtrack recording you buy on CD) is different than the way those mixes or stems are used in the actual film. Entire octave-plus wide cuts get made all the time, so dialog or effects can push through. Things get compressed. The music might get shoved backwards 25-30 feet, wholesale, in comparison to an intense foley effect. The frequency spectrum is routinely altered against dialog/fx.

    The music may, now and then, get shoved up front in its full-bandwidth, pristine glory, but those moments are very few and far between.

    So, in actuality, trying to get a \"Hollywood\" sound in any definition except good, clean, quality music mixes doesn\'t reflect any particular reality at all.

  7. #7

    Re: The Hollywood sound - a seminal lesson

    Originally posted by Bruce A. Richardson:
    I would say that an expert opinion by definition would imply insight beyond knee-jerk responses.
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Indeed - and it is more to my point. There are a few folks here that are granted \"expert\" (note the quotes - in my original post and here) status here whose assertions do not stand up to the instruction of history or to the light of current common practice.

    I think Martin\'s example, and the misfires in guessing the origins of certain tracks, is illustrative of the tenuous foundations that are often employed to impugn someone\'s work here - whether it\'s a specific piece or the quality of a specific library.

    But it also goes to the broader point of how the \"live\" versus over-processed/sampled/mixed-into-oblivion effect exists in a vast gray area, not the fine line of demarkation that some feign to pretend.


  8. #8

    Re: The Hollywood sound - a seminal lesson


    I am listening to your music now and enjoying it a lot.

    Very impressive background too!

    -- Martin

  9. #9

    Re: The Hollywood sound - a seminal lesson

    Originally posted by mschiff:

    I am listening to your music now and enjoying it a lot.

    Very impressive background too!

    -- Martin
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Thanks, Martin. I\'ve got some orchestral spec work that I\'m looking to \"re-cast\" with Garritan Personal Orchestra, but I\'m hitting issues with my primary audio PC. [img]images/icons/frown.gif[/img]

    I\'ll be posting some more \"traditional\" mixes in the New Year. Cheers!


  10. #10

    Re: The Hollywood sound - a seminal lesson


    One thing I\'ve found over the past 4 and a half years is. That EQ is VERY powerful. It can do wonders for your sound, but it can also do much damage to the aspect of \"realism\" with regards to samples.

    And especially moreso to section samples.

    I was jsut trying to make a joke aand poitn out that its MUCH MORE than EQ that makes for this so called \"hollywood\" sound.

    Anyone can go through my first years here on NS and realise how much I depend on and work ith EQ.

    I went through months of work to gt a a very lush and Rich sound for the KI strings in the last GOS update (they are being used in GPO as well but I\'m not sure where)

    Theres EQ, layering, tuning, mixing, more vibrato, control of vibrato, ambience, pitch shifting. Not including the sample cuting looping, and programming that used techniques that hadn\'t been done before...

    just to get a bit more of a warm and lush sound from GOS samples. BTW, its still some of my favorite string sounds.

    Simple fact is, EQ can do some things, and it cant do others.

    Actually all of the above mapulations can only do SOME things.

    I spent months and months working on trying to get specific horn and trombone sounds using other sample sets and layering and pitching. I always got \"close\" and only specific dynamics and ranges, never all dynamics. So until DDBE came along there weren\'t any section bras samples out there that gave me that \"big and blazing\" FF/FFF sound.

    This whole post also has a coupel more points.

    It goes to show you that the actual recording technique of the samples is more important to obtaining a specific sound than the manipulation of EQ and tools after the fact.

    The actual recording techniqe ALSO has a strong bearing on wht can be done after the fact with audio manipulation tools.

    I mean, if you recorded your violin differently, it might have been more difficult to get teh click out, o the amount of EQ you did may have made it sound flat instead of warm, or you may have lost alot of \"air\" or you may have needed to ADD a bit of the screech to cut through, which would have made the click more noticable...etc.

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