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sounds old floors make (2 replies)

2 years ago
AtlantaTerry 2 years ago

I was reviewing the before & after stills of the courtroom scene in ‘True Grit’ in your Looking at Lighting section.

It reminded me of an old high school gymnasium in which we were filming a PSA in Smyrna, Georgia. Every damn step that a crew member or actor or extra took made the floor squeak and pop and groan! Moving the camera was a nightmare if we were recording at the same time. We ended up with a lot of static shots. LOL!

Mr. Deakins, did you run into similar audio problems with the ‘True Grit’ courtroom floor? 

Thank you.

Terry Thomas

Roger Deakins
2 years ago
Roger Deakins 2 years ago

That floor wasn't so bad and we weren't tracking so much either but I have experienced what you are talking about. One solution is to wet the floor. Not such a good idea in a historical building though!

2 years ago
Mike 2 years ago

Squeaking floors can be a real nuisance and will spoil a shot if you let it. Tracking shots are problems the worst due to the heavy weight of the dolly and camera plus crew. Steps can be taken to reduce it by placing weights along its route to increase stress on floorboards etc before the camera rolls over it. But at the end of the day it down to the soundman and the boom operator to control the microphones rejection pick pattern. Whether it's schoeps or Senheiser or Beyer or whatever, squeaking floors can be controlled. Wooden staircases are the worst as there is very little to do to quiet them down especially if it's a wide shot. If the feet are not in shot then a cheap old army blanket will soften the steps and many experienced actors know to walk on the less flexible inner parts of stairs.

Many European TV networks favour the M/S mic set up as you can control each channel more effectively than a single point mic set up. You can reduce the current on the L/R channels during editing and so block out any squeaks and rattles. Which is precisely why an M/S rig is better for dialogue recording especially when used in and old house or building. There is more flexibility at the editing stage for filtering out unwanted sounds. The other choice is to wear lavaliar mic's and strap on a TX on the actor, by reducing the DB's to a less sensitive pick up pattern you will hear only the actors voice and no floorboards but this can sound unnatural when walking through a stately home or grand living room when you should hear the movement of clothing and those nice squeaky floors!

I seem to be an expert on squeaky buildings!!!

Have a listen to "1940's Casablanca film" you can hear the Austin dolly's rubber tyres on the painted concrete floor. Or even "Gone With the wind" film where you can hear the crane bending under strain of the enormous weight on the end of it. All film's have noises if you listen for it using quality reference headphones.

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