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What is Room Tone?


Why do they call for 30 seconds of room tone on set? What is it used for?

Video Transcript

Welcome back to another episode of Lights. Camera. Answers. I'm Jeffrey and today we're talking about room tone. You may have been on a shoot and heard an Audio Operator say "hey, could everybody be quiet. I need 30 seconds of room tone" and thought what is that and why are they doing it?

Well, room tone is basically just the background noises of a room. So think of something like a refrigerator or an HVAC system. They have continuous low tones that you don't really think about, but are existent in the background of pretty much every room.

So what we do is we capture this room tone because then we can take it into software and essentially use that noise print to remove that background noise from things like interviews that are captured in that space. We can also use it to backfill little gaps if you need to cut out a word or two here and there, adding that room tone back in can make it sound more smooth and natural.

So that's why we grab it, but what do you do if you've realized a microphone like this is already in a case and you're halfway back to the office. We're all human. It happens. Well you can kind of salvage it. You can actually kind of use little parts of a shoot like when somebody's thinking about in the answer or maybe they're listening for feedback off camera. Those times are basically the same thing as capturing that 30 seconds of room tone you can pick and pluck those little areas and build your own noise print and kind of recover it and save it.

But your easiest way is just remember to do it on set. And that's why you hear us say "30 seconds of silence please." So that's room tone.

This has been another episode of Lights. Camera. Answers. I'm Jeffrey and we'll see you next time.

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