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Treating a studio that has central air

Hello I'm new here so please bare with me if I get certain terms wrong or am not describing the problem clearly. I'll try my best.

I am a video/editing guy by trade but am a stickler for good sound and as many of you know sound can be the least important thing or last thing on anyone's mind on a set. Quick low-down on my situation... I currently work in the education system, at a university in fact, where a small video team of about 5 editor/shooters create online educational videos. At this point we have the lighting dialed in to the T but the audio is quite sub-par. I am the go to person for fixing the audio. Here's what's going on in the studio. It is a small green screen studio, except for the screen's material and maybe some sprayed-on acoustic treatment on the ceiling(if any) there is no other treatment for sound. For the most part we rarely hear traffic noise, or sounds from the rooms nearby. The room is located in the basement, so aside for the occasional music from the small gym a few doors down, it is relatively free from exterior noise. The problem with the room is the duct used for central heating/cooling and as you may know, we have no control over when it is on or off. I have done what I can to minimize the noise by removing the register to help with reducing turbulence and have also tried redirecting the air flow so there is less chance of it hitting the lavaliere mic on the talent. The latter is rarely an issue. Anyway, you can probably guess where this is going. After a shoot, sound files get sent to me and I do my best to clean things up using a variety of techniques(Adobe Audition's denoise or iZotope RX, applying Acon Deverberate, parametric EQ to boost lost frequencies, etc.)

I am getting increasingly annoyed that I have to deal with such crummy sound while the picture looks so pristine. I would like to try and remedy the situation by fixing the problems before it even gets recorded. One editor suggested we aI'm two shotguns at the talent, balance it out in post with probably more clean up and call it good. I don't see how that would work considering the size of the room and how all encompassing the noise is. He also suggested it needs more egg crates. :facepalm: For the most part the noise is consistent which is great for the noise reduction tools but there are a myriad of speakers that come through, male, female, bass, tenors, altos, soft, loud, you name it. So denoise tools don't always work. Too many certain frequencies get removed.

My questions are... is there ANY way to minimize the noise coming out of the one vent in that small space? The vent is about 4-5 feet above the talents head. Can there be something maybe placed inside the duct, prior to the air coming out, to help minimize turbulence? This might have to be done on the sly as to not disturb the cooling/heating system of the building. OR Is there something that can maybe catch the frequencies coming from the duct? Would bass traps minimize these annoying frequencies? Something maybe placed in front of the duct but still alloy it to adequately cool/heat? Is my co-workers idea of using two shotguns a good idea? Currently we use a lav and that goes straight to the camera. Would a better sound recorder set at a higher capture rate/resolution help with sampling the noise and thus giving me better denoise results? Although I'd rather not do so much post-process.

I hope this illustrates my dilemma and hopefully someone out there in the community could shed some light on the subject. I'm all for setting up the source correctly, it's just a matter of how and then figuring out a budget to propose. Thank you in advance.


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