The Secret Art of Turning a Concert into a Movie (Taylor Version) | ET REALITY


In other words, the room tone is essentially applied as a filter to the raw sounds recorded by the artist on stage. This filter, known as impulse response, takes readings from real physical locations and then “synthetically reproduces the sound of a real space like a club or stadium,” said Jake Davis, lead mixing engineer at SeisMic Sound, an audio facility in Nashville that specializes in concert films.

Mixers like Jake and his father, Tom Davis, the founder of SeisMic, have a lot of control over the sound in a concert film and making adjustments is a big part of their job. Some are minor improvements. Others are more like corrections: They make the concert film sound more like what the artist wanted than what necessarily happened on the night it was filmed. “When you lock something for a DVD or for streaming or whatever, once it’s made, it lives forever,” Tom Davis said. “It never goes away. So you want it to be the best it can be.”

Mixers can combine parts of a song recorded on one night with parts from another night to create the best combined version. They can fix an errant flat note in a guitar solo by manipulating it in post-production, or they can ask an artist to re-record a weak vocal in a studio, overlaying it in the mix so that it sounds as if it were delivered live. “We copy, cut and paste, just like you do in a word processor,” Davis said. “If there was a little bit of a clam in the first chorus, but it did well in the second chorus in the same part, we can cut and paste that. We can do vocal maintenance. We can fix a little pitch problem or bend a note a little.”

Although sound mixers record the crowd with a large number of microphones hidden around the arena, it is possible (and, in fact, common) to exaggerate the sound of that audience, to artificially give cheering fans an extra edge. “It’s kind of a dirty secret,” Davis said. “But the sound of the real audience is weak. Is not sufficient. You end up adding to it, increasing it. There’s something psychological about listening to other humans having a good time and reacting – it’s like a sitcom and a laugh track.” Jake Davis said the ideal balance is to “start with the real reaction” and then just “make it bigger and more obvious.”

Of course, part of the appeal of a live show, even on film, is the impression of reality, and the sense of truth is essential. “The goal of the mix is ​​to enhance the energy of the performance that exists as it unfolded in the best way possible,” Jake Davis said. “You maintain a certain element of rawness while removing distracting things, the nuances of a wrong note or a background singer who’s a little out of place.”

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