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The next step to a clean dialog edit is finding room tone for each of the dialog recordings. As mentioned, room tone is the ambient sound of the environment where a recording was made. When a dialog recording is cut up during the picture edit, gaps are often formed between lines (as shown in the screenshot below):
As a result, the ambient noise from that recording pops in and out with the dialog, often to a noticeable degree. Using clean room tone, you can fill those gaps that were created during the edit, creating a consistent bed of noise throughout that piece of dialog:
What makes Room Tone “clean”?
Clean room tone contains the ambient sound of a recording space and nothing else. Cloth rustling, distant car horns, and breaths are common things to avoid in your room tone. For example, if your chosen room tone has a car horn in the background, that horn will be present every time you use that room tone to fill a gap in the edit.
A desirable clip of room tone should be decently long so that it’s easy to work with (depending on your exact uses, anything under 10 frames or so can be problematic). For instance, if you’re filling a three second gap between two dialog bites, looping a 5 frame long bite of room tone can be tedious, and may sound obviously looped to the listener.
There are multiple methods of finding clean room tone. Here we list the most common ways, generally from most desirable to least:
For instance, say the following clip of dialog was provided in the OMF:
Since the picture editor included clip handles when exporting the OMF, the sound editor can pull out the start of the clip, as shown in the highlighted area below:
The highlighted area appears to be clean room tone! An editor can copy that room tone and paste it wherever it’s needed.
Other Uses of Room Tone
Room tone is used for more than just filling gaps between dialog bites. Here are someother common uses:
Using room tone, you should be able to create a full dialog track with no noise popping in and out. Each dialog recording can play in and out naturally by creating fades with that room tone, and ultimately your dialog edits can sound seamless to the listener.
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