Monday, April 29, 2019

Cable cars and more (plus a handy tip)

If you're visiting San Francisco, Powell and Market Streets is a good location to drop by.
Here you have a  very popular cable car turnaround, some places to grab a quick bite, a major shopping mall (with public restrooms= hard to find in SF) and lots of  tourist activity. Often you'll see a street musician playing here or a highly energized, toe-tapping dancer entertaining the crowds waiting to hop on a cable car.

The lines at Powell and Market at the cable car turnaround can be very long. Tourists come to San Francisco and their vacation is not complete unless they ride on a cable car. Here's a tip from a local: If you walk up Powell a bit, you'll see some cable car street signs up the line where you can hop on. The operators of the cable car usually leave a little space for a few pickups along the way. It'll save you a very long wait in line back at Powell and Market streets.

A little bit further up Powell is Union Square. Almost always there's something going on at the plaza. In winter, an ice skating rink!

The city has installed some very contemporary benches along part of the Powell sidewalk where you can take a break and watch the cable cars come and go or people watch.

On a recent visit to have breakfast and walk, I spotted this new piece of artwork on Powell.



Friday, April 19, 2019

Sibilance. Ugh!

Without a doubt, sibilance is one of the most annoying things to deal with in the audio world.  In short, it's a harshness to the ear upon voice over playback. Most often it's a sizzling "s" sound. Or, an overly loud "ch" or "t" that stands out and distracts the listener. Of course, these are not wanted and need to be "tamed" either during recording or in editing afterward.  Some people's voice can naturally be more sibilant than others. And the position of the mouth to the microphone can cause excessive sibilance. Too close can cause problems. Instead of speaking directly into the mic, position it at a 45 degree angle from your mouth. Experiment a bit with different microphone positions. Also, be wary of very inexpensive (cheap) microphones that can cause lots of sibilance.

In post production, there are what are called de-essers. This is a type of compression application designed specifically to deal with sibilance. Almost every digital audio recording software has some form of de-esser under the effects category. Not all de-essers are created equal. WAVES has just come out with a plug-in called, not surprisingly, "Sibilance." It's gotten good reviews and is sometimes on sale on their website.

Another option to getting rid of annoying sibilance in a recording is to manually drop down the volume (around 4 to 6 db) of those sibilant sounds. When viewing the waveform zoomed in a bit in your audio editor, a sibilant "s" will often look like a small football shape. Just highlight that with your mouse and drop the volume down as mentioned above.

Bottom line, most everyone has some sibilance when they speak. There are ways to deal with it when editing that will greatly improve the quality of your voice overs.