why the canned laughter ?

Discussion in 'RED DWARF UNIVERSE' started by beckyw, Oct 5, 2012.

  1. Mellissa_Maple-Syrup

    Mellissa_Maple-Syrup Third Technician

    Jul 30, 2001
    I totally get what some people are saying about the laughter sounding canned. I was at the recording of Fathers and Suns, and laughter was abundant and loud, often raucous. Yet the laughter on the broadcast episode sounds unnaturally neat, as if it's been packaged and modulated to within an inch of its life.

    The problem, obviously, is that Red Dwarf is just too funny. The cast are too funny. Heck, even the warm-up guy was too funny. Even the floor manager was funny! At the point where Ian Symes attempted to rap, well there just wasn't enough oxygen in the room. The laughter had to be tamed somehow.
  2. MacabreMagpie

    MacabreMagpie Catering Officer

    Apr 11, 2009
    It's not that it sounds 'canned' as such, it just sounds a little unnatural. because it seems to stop dead rather than trail off. It bothered me more in episode 1 though, I barely noticed it last night so I probably won't care later on.

    But, on the model shots and such, I do remember that they held screenings months back to record additional laughter (I recall Richard and Doug tweeting about it and being annoyed that I couldn't go to it) so that explains the laughter in those places, if I remember correctly.

    I do happen to think that laughter enhances a scene in this type of comedy show because most of the dialogue is written differently because of the presence of the audience than if they aren't there (take BTE for example - the delivery is very different, for the most part). Think of the shrinking underpants... part of the reason that's so hilarious is because the audience goes crazy for it. In Back To Earth, I liked the scene where Lister is explaining his encounter with the hand dryer but that only worked so well because he wasn't being all whacky about it. He wouldn't deliver those lines in the same way with the audience because the laugh would be more subdued than if he went over-the-top, but if he went over-the-top and you removed the laughter, it would probably be a bit cringe-worthy. So yes, the laughter track is important.
  3. Murray

    Murray Second Technician

    Apr 16, 2009
    She's actually half right. The laughter wasn't "canned", but bigger laughs from different sections of the recording was placed over jokes that didn't get big laughs.
  4. OurJud

    OurJud Deck Sergeant

    Nov 11, 2008
    I've heard plenty, Seb, and I'm clearly not the only one bothered by the laughter. Nothing is ever as it seems, and people have revealed in this thread that the laughter is tinkered with in post production, either to cut it off so we can hear what's being said, or even added to scenes that didn't get a laugh on the day.

    Whatever the cause, none of it explains why it's so different to the other series. One possibility, of course, is that the show is now on Dave rather than the BBC, and Dave - despite their sickening self-promotion - don't have a fraction of the BBC's professionalism and experience.
  5. rickdeckard

    rickdeckard Skutter

    Apr 11, 2010
    I really needs laughter behind it. I LOVED it!!!!!!
  6. currymonster

    currymonster First Technician

    Apr 6, 2009
    This is purely speculation based on what I remember from the episode I saw recorded, Trojan. From memory they actually had room mics to pick up the audience's reaction/laughter etc and I also seem to remember that early on these weren't working or weren't on (something the floor manager said I think) so anything from the first scene or 2 of Ep 1 will have had to have had the laughter re-inserted.

    My thought's as to why they recorded the audience laughter like this I think are possibly for sound editing reasons. It's my guess that the reason laughter exists in early sit coms is because they are filmed in front of an audience and microphone technology being what it was back then would be less directional and pick up more of the room than in necessary, so a side affect of having an audience means their reactions are recorded by the mics used to record the actors on set. Now mic tech is a hell of a lot better. You have microphones designed for a specific purpose (as a drummer I know this to be the case because when you mic a drum kit, you don't just put any random microphone onto a drum, you have different mics designed to pick up different tones, frequencies etc of different drums) so it's my guess that the mic tech used to pic up the actors on set is designed in a way to be more directional, i.e. only picking up it's pointed at and in a way blocking out any background sounds (in the same way headphones are being developed now that are noise cancelling, they block out exterior sound so you only head what is being played through the headphone speaker). if this is the case then they had to record the audience laughter separately to lay on in the edit. it also allowed them to mix the audience reaction better, so it doesn't mask any of the actors lines when it is so loud. this would explain why their is more of a natural feel to the audience laughter in earlier series, as it is in sync with what they are seeing and to some extent unmixed, where as now they have the ability to edit it to fit a scene so it doesn't over run in to the next, bring it down in the mix so it doesn't drown out actors etc.

    re the comments about placing laughter where there wasn't any, or using a more toned down or beefed up laughter in some places i think this is for consistency. during the Trojan recording, a good part of it was shot at the very far ends of the studio, with the audience stretched the entire length of it. So the Trojan set was far left and bunk room set far right, meaning anyone sitting on the right couldn't hear what was happen on the Trojan set as well as they may have liked. Sure there were tele screens for us to see what was happening, but in terms of audio, they couldn't play too much of it back to the audience other wise you're in danger of causing feed back and such. Finally, the pre-recorded stuff (mainly the final scene with Sim Crawford revealing who she is to the crew) was show to the audience as a very rough cut, with a lot of the sound still missing, so the reaction from the audience was significantly reduced compared to the rest of the show as a result. Therefore to keep the audience reactions consistence throughout, and not all over the place, up, down, quite, loud, giggles and raucous they chose to mess around a little bit with it so there is a more even level of which is delivered to the audience at home.

    on the subject of the Trojan towing sequence, it's been said before that this has been changed from the sketch we were shown (purely for us to understand the episode) and even then that sketch didn't get a laugh, although out of context it wasn't funny. Red Dwarf towing the Trojan however as part of the crews deception IS funny. The fact they even thought the plan through to this stage is funny in itself. i think what is lost is the set up to the gag. its early on when they are first aboard the Trojan that Kryten says it's not space worthy, then there is quite a gap between then and us seeing the ship being towed. what would have helped would have been a reference to the ship not moving, Howard will realise and become suspicious etc then a cut to Red Dwarf towing it but I can understand for timing and pace etc this wasn't possible. the gag in the scene is actually from Rimmer saying we all know he is going to cheat and then cutting to the boys walking through Trojan in uniform. the Trojan tow gag is lost, but still funny when it's thought about. it probably didn't need or deserve laughter to be added over the top of that shot, but Doug was probably only bowing to the wishes of everyone on this forum who moaned that there is no laughter on BTE.
  7. danatblair

    danatblair Third Technician

    Apr 16, 2009
    I'm not sure if I enjoy it more with laughter or not. BTE felt a little distant to me. But, i have always heard Red Dwarf with laughter in it. So maybe my reaction to BTE was me being nostalgic for part of the Red Dwarf feel. As to the laughter in the series so far, I haven't heard anything that annoyed me. I have a bit of a tin ear and I can't ear audio variances as well as some people.

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