Just saw "The Cage" on TOSR- Help me out here...the Keeper's voice...

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by gastrof, May 2, 2009.

  1. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Just saw "The Cage" on TOSR- Help me out here...the Keeper's voice

    Thanks for confirming that, number6. Even I (a non-audio engineer ;)) could still hear Malachi's inflections in the revised audio.
     
  2. GSchnitzer

    GSchnitzer Co-Executive Producer Moderator

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    Re: Just saw "The Cage" on TOSR- Help me out here...the Keeper's voice

    How do you "pitch manipulate?" I understand how Ross Bagdassarian and George Martin had to do it for the Chipmunks and the Beatles respectively. But how would they have done it on Star Trek?
     
  3. number6

    number6 Vice Admiral

    Re: Just saw "The Cage" on TOSR- Help me out here...the Keeper's voice

    Tape speed manipulation. TOS created so much with something that simple. They did the same thing with Mira Romaine in Light's of Zetar, only they slowed the tape down slightly. I can't remember if the electronic process was available as it was in later years, but I do, in fact, recall some delay and pitch units made in the seventies with basic analog circuitry. Whether this was available in 1965-66 is not known. We're not talking a huge jump in pitch, just 10-15%, if that, depending on the tape speed used in the audio dubbing process. If they were using tape speeds of 7.5 ips, 10% would be drastic.
     
  4. GSchnitzer

    GSchnitzer Co-Executive Producer Moderator

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    Re: Just saw "The Cage" on TOSR- Help me out here...the Keeper's voice

    Well, if you speed up the tape with "tape speed manipulation" in order to also increase the pitch, then the sped-up dialog wouldn't match the actor's lips. I still don't get how you speed up the sound without speeding up the sound.
     
  5. gastrof

    gastrof Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Just saw "The Cage" on TOSR- Help me out here...the Keeper's voice

    But since the speed that The Keeper spoke at didn't change, the speed the recording is played back at isn't what produced the different sound. I believe it's something else.

    EDIT:
    This was a reply to "number6". Guess I type slow.
     
  6. number6

    number6 Vice Admiral

    Re: Just saw "The Cage" on TOSR- Help me out here...the Keeper's voice

    At percentages like 5-8% it wouldn't be that noticable. It's not like a chipmunks record where the pitch shift is that drastic.

    It's funny you say that. It sounds slightly sped up to me. I could be wrong, and that's why I speculate that there may be some other pitch process involved. One thing is for sure.. That's Malachi Throne's voice and not Vic Perrin's.

    I'm not sure if even primitive pitch shift circuits were easily made without the tape process...But also keep in mind that technology is much more sophisticated today. People can resample and pitch shift things without any kind of audio artifact to give it away. The pitch of the echo and reverb on the Keeper's voice is consistant with a pitch shift. Whether it was done by some kind of "project box" circuitry or through Tape manipulation is anyone's guess.. I believe it was the latter, simply because it would be the easiest thing accomplish, and so many sound effects of that pilot were created with tape speed manipulation and tape echo.
     
  7. GSchnitzer

    GSchnitzer Co-Executive Producer Moderator

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    Re: Just saw "The Cage" on TOSR- Help me out here...the Keeper's voice

    Well, I'm not a physicist and I'm not much of a musician, but I think increasing the voice by exactly one octave would require the tape speed to be exactly doubled. How many octaves' difference do you think there are between Throne's original Keeper voice in "The Cage" and the new higher-pitched Keeper voice from "The Menagerie?"

    I know how you do it today. But I still don't get how it could have been done in 1966 with Throne's already existing recorded dialog.
     
  8. number6

    number6 Vice Admiral

    Re: Just saw "The Cage" on TOSR- Help me out here...the Keeper's voice

    The Chipmunks were pitched exactly one octave. As you can hear, that is a drastic change of pitch. With the Keeper, we're talking a few semitones at best. You'd be amazed at how much that changes someone's voice.

    Throne's original Keeper voice isn't shifted at all. That's his performance. You can hear that tonality when he speaks as Commodore Mendez, but speed that up just a little bit, and then you get the Keeper we know from the Menagerie.
     
  9. GSchnitzer

    GSchnitzer Co-Executive Producer Moderator

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    Re: Just saw "The Cage" on TOSR- Help me out here...the Keeper's voice

    A few semitones apart--so maybe three or four? So three semitones would require that the tape speed be increased by 25%. I think that would be a noticeable difference between what you heard and what you saw on the actor's lips.
     
  10. number6

    number6 Vice Admiral

    Re: Just saw "The Cage" on TOSR- Help me out here...the Keeper's voice

    At Most three semitones..Most likely less..

    I believe the pitch variance to be more like 10-15%...or even less.

    Have you ever heard Led Zep's "Song Remain's The Same?" The tape is pitched down just a semitone or so when Robert Plant is singing those silly high notes.. When played back he sounds quite silly.

    What I suspect they did was redub the Keeper voice at a slightly slower speed on the tpae machine, so that when it played back at sync speed, the pitch would be slightly higher.

    It would have to be a small percent, otherwise the lip movement wouldn't line up. As such , the lip movement doesn't line up on a lot of the dialog throughout. Loads of passages were looped. Most of Majel's dialog was looped, as was some of Susan Oliver's dialog.

    With the Keeper, I am certain that if they used this technique, they did it in small sections, so that lip sync inconsistancies would be less noticeable.
     
  11. GSchnitzer

    GSchnitzer Co-Executive Producer Moderator

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    Re: Just saw "The Cage" on TOSR- Help me out here...the Keeper's voice

    Ah, so now you are proposing that Throne's existing Cage-recorded dialog actually wasn't manipulatable and couldn't really be salvaged and all his dialog had to be re-recorded in 1966/67 while he delivered it at a slower speed but at normal pitch so that this newly recorded dialog could then be sped up to a higher pitch. Now you're talking. That's plausible. Throne was around and available anyway. But I just don't see how any of his recorded dialog from 1964/65 could have been used.
     
  12. number6

    number6 Vice Admiral

    Re: Just saw "The Cage" on TOSR- Help me out here...the Keeper's voice

    I'm not proposing that at all. I don't think he recut any of the Keeper stuff, except for the dialog germaine to the two parter. The similarities in inflection listening to the B&W and remastered versions lead me to believe that they took his dialog and redubbed it at a different speed to achieve the pitch. It's actually pretty easy...as easy as having a second machine recording. I have worked with Nagra tape machines.. This is relatively simple process.

    What do you guys use for on set audio recording for PII?
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2009
  13. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Just saw "The Cage" on TOSR- Help me out here...the Keeper's voice

    Here's my guess: They recorded his dialogue, then dubbed it to another tape that was running at a lower speed (say 90%), so it would cover less tape. When played back on a machine set to 100% it would fall back to the correct sync speed but be higher pitched.

    The way Bagdasarian did it was to sing the songs normally, then listen to the tape (over headphones )slowed down and sing along with it to get the inflection right (if you deliberately try to talk slow you'll stretch some sounds unnaturally). When the resulting "slow" singing was sped up, it got all squeaky, but sounded naturally spoken because he was basing it off a real-time recording.

    Making chipmunk voices is easy. I can do all three. Talk normal tone for Alvin, pitch your voice up a notch for Theodore, and go nasal for Simon. Record that and pitch it up and it's virtually indistinguishable from the original (sample of a vintage Chipmunks recording).
     
  14. Captain Robert April

    Captain Robert April Vice Admiral Admiral

    Re: Just saw "The Cage" on TOSR- Help me out here...the Keeper's voice

    I suspect they ran the dialogue through some electronic doohickey, like an early synthesizer or a Fender amp, and manipulated the pitch that way, so's not to effect the speed. Less time intensive than playing with playback speeds, and a lot less hazardous if things don't quite work right. And since the whole deal about the two-parter was to regain some time in the shooting schedule, they'd want to avoid any pitfalls that might blow the schedule.
     
  15. Captain Robert April

    Captain Robert April Vice Admiral Admiral

    Re: Just saw "The Cage" on TOSR- Help me out here...the Keeper's voice

    Just need to use the standard settings on the typical reel-to-reel recorder (I forget what the two speeds are). I once tried to put together a parody bit, "The Chipmunks Sing Led Zeppelin", and the chipmunk voices are the easiest thing in the world. Just play back the song in question at the slower speed (in this case, "Stairway To Heaven") and sing along in your normal voice. Play the mix back at the higher speed and the music sounds normal, but suddenly it's Alvin singing along with Jimmy Page.

    The project itself didn't go anywhere, but it was fun.
     
  16. number6

    number6 Vice Admiral

    Re: Just saw "The Cage" on TOSR- Help me out here...the Keeper's voice

    Doubtful. Tape manipulation is really the most straight forward way to accomplish this. Early synths were clunky and unreliable and Fender amps wouldn't affect pitch..thought I'm willing to bet the reverb tanks were used.

    As I explained before, the pitch could be altered with negligable impact on the lip synch.
     
  17. number6

    number6 Vice Admiral

    Re: Just saw "The Cage" on TOSR- Help me out here...the Keeper's voice

    Consumer decks generally run at 7.5 and 3.75 ips.

    Some have variable pitch control, but that was rare for consumer decks in the 60s.
    Variable pitch control was (and is) a feature on professional reel to reels. I am pretty certain the Nagra decks of that era had them and could be adjusted within percentages of voltage to achieve different speeds. The production team used this to great effect in creating the warp drive sounds and phaser sounds.. The transporter "beam down" combined echo feedback.. Courage made extensive use of tape echo in his score for the Cage as well.
     
  18. Captain Robert April

    Captain Robert April Vice Admiral Admiral

    Re: Just saw "The Cage" on TOSR- Help me out here...the Keeper's voice

    The only way to really tell would be to take a piece of the unaltered soundtrack and compare it to the altered version, and even that might not yield much. But then, even with the free editing software available online, you'd be able to find out if there's any difference in the speed, even an otherwise neglible difference.

    If it were my call, though, I'd opt for whatever option didn't involve playing with the speed, if only to simplify the editing process. The only objective in this aspect was to make it sound not like Malachi Throne, regardless of whatever the final sound was. And I've heard the whole thing unaltered, when Roddenberry played "The Cage" at one of this lecture stops, and I seriously doubt they did anything that changed the playback speed, even minutely.

    I think they ran it through something to take out the lower range and fuzz it up a bit (maybe a Fender amp, maybe even a Fender guitar -- think Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion" or a typical old school Cylon, only not as intense), so that matching up with the original footage wouldn't even be an issue.
     
  19. Pindar

    Pindar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Just saw "The Cage" on TOSR- Help me out here...the Keeper's voice

    I just rewatched the Cage and noticed something I don't remember seeing before.

    When they first beam down and approach the singing plants Nimoy appears to be limping heavily in that scene.

    It is my imagination or had he injured himself in some way?
     
  20. GSchnitzer

    GSchnitzer Co-Executive Producer Moderator

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    Re: Just saw "The Cage" on TOSR- Help me out here...the Keeper's voice

    Spock had been injured (presumably) recently on Rigel VII. ("Three people killed--including Pike's yeoman, and seven injured.") Other notable injuries include Jose Tyler (who has his hand bandaged) and the unnamed geologist (who has a bandage on his neck).