Avid Pro Audio Community

Avid Pro Audio Community

How to Join & Post  •  Community Terms of Use  •  Help Us Help You

Knowledge Base Search  •  Community Search  •  Learn & Support


Avid Home Page

Go Back   Avid Pro Audio Community > Pro Tools Post Production > Post - Surround - Video

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
  #1  
Old 04-22-2006, 09:27 PM
AdamI AdamI is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: New Jersey, USA
Posts: 22
Default How to best mix audio of an indie film?

Hi everyone.

I need some advice on mixing a film's audio. I am composing the soundtrack for a film and I've ended up with more on my plate than originally suspected. I have now also become the sound designer and audio mixer. I'm working in Pro Tools 7, HD2 ACCEL system with DINR, WAVES and other plug ins.

This is an independent film, that was shot on 24P DV.

I've scored a few films so far, but I've never had to do a dialog mix. I doubt this thing will ever get blown up to film, although the director is going eventually to digi-beta so he will have that option down the line. For now, this thing is probably going to DVD, and being shown at film festivals and schools.

I don't plan to do multi-channel with this, just stereo. But is there anything else anyone can offer in terms of advice for a first timer with this? I'm assuming I should keep the dialog pretty mono at all times... and the music in left-right stereo?

ALSO, what level should I be mixing to? I'm assuming not that close to "digital 0"? This isn't a "Pop Record", right? So where should the levels be, -3db? Even less?

Anything I should watch out for, or closely pay attention to? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks.

ADAM
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 04-22-2006, 11:40 PM
JKD99 JKD99 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Los Angeles, CA USA
Posts: 1,322
Default Re: How to best mix audio of an indie film?

Hi Adam,
Congratulations on the film, I'm sure your score will be great! Unfortunately, the questions you've asked regarding sound design and re-recording mixing tell me that you're in way over your head, so I'd be very careful about accepting the gig. One analogy might be, if someone came to you and said, "I'm a very accomplished pianist, and I've written some songs, and now I've been asked to orchestrate and score a film. Can you give me some tips on orchestration and film composition?" There's a TON of stuff that goes into doing sound for film, be it indie or major studio feature, especially if the film may actually screen in a theatrical environment. So much of what we do isn't noticeable unless it's not there, and that's what makes it "sound like a movie" instead of a home video.There's several threads on the forum to go through (especially Dr. Sound's "Room Calibration" thread) to build your knowledge base, and although the best way to learn is by doing it, I have a feeling from your description of the project that this might not be the one to take on the whole enchilada.

Quick example, regarding your level question "What level should I be mixing to". It should read, "What level should I be mixing AT" A film is mixed in an environment where pink noise played at -20 db measures 85db, so anything at 0 would be 105db. Theaters are calibrated the same way so that the film will (theoretically) play back in the theater exactly as the filmmakers intended when it was mixed. So, you're right about not mixing to "digital 0, or -3, or even less". MUCH less! Usually, the only things up at -3 or 0 are things like gunshots and explosions. If your average dialog level was up there, you'd have a VERY loud movie! This is where the "Room Calibration" thread comes in.

Dialog is almost (99.999999%) mixed mono to the center channel, on rare occasions you might have offstage dialog/ADR or Group ADR in the left or right, but onscreen dialog is always mixed to the center channel to "anchor" it to the action, even when the character is not in the center of the screen. Thus, any foley footsteps or props associated with that character would also be in the center so as not to have their feet seperated from their head.

Having said all that, and I sincerely hope you're not offended by my comments, if you're gonna go for it then read up, study up, and listen up!

I hope this helps, good luck Adam!
__________________
Joe Milner
Puget Sound, Inc.
Los Angeles

IMDB

Puget Sound on Facebook
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 04-23-2006, 08:29 AM
EarHole EarHole is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 806
Default Re: How to best mix audio of an indie film?

Have you already accepted?
If mixing is something that you want to get into then go for it.
But if this is something that you aren't looking forward to, then I would suggest
declining and sticking with what you know and want to do.
Start by reading the Sticky at the top of this forum regrading room calibration.
There is a bunch you'll need to learn and fast and it will server your client better
by being up front and giving them the opportunity to choose somebody with more experience.
They'll respect you more in the long run.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 04-23-2006, 09:01 AM
AdamI AdamI is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: New Jersey, USA
Posts: 22
Default Re: How to best mix audio of an indie film?

I wish I could get out of it- here's the thing.

This guy has no budget left- it's an NYU student thesis film. I was originally supposed to only do the musical score, and a little sound design, but evidently, the director (who is not all that experienced either) apparantly had it planned for me to mix the damn thing. (I'm not sure he even REALIZES that these are SEPARATE processes). If I back out, he doesn't make his deadline.

Why do I CARE? Why not just walk away? Well, because it just so happens I'm an actor also- and I starred in this film, and it's going to be valuable footage for my acting reel- so that's why I'm trying to help this person get this thing done, in any way I can. Its in my interest to help him finish this film.

Now I know what I'm doing with Pro Tools (I'm a music guy, mixed plenty of records), and I'm experienced with scoring, but I'm well aware that "mixing" for film is another thing entirely. That's why I'm asking these questions. There's not a lot here- it's a 30 minute film, no special effects, explosions, nothing crazy- just dialog and some score. If I don't mix this, the person "editing" the film will. So, I figured maybe in Pro Tools I at least have a shot of doing something acceptable, if I can get info on where average dialog levels should be, etc.

But for sure, I hear ya. Wish there was another way!
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 04-23-2006, 09:13 AM
bigbadhenchman bigbadhenchman is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Posts: 836
Default Re: How to best mix audio of an indie film?

The fact that the director and producer didn't leave money left in the budget for a mix is not your problem. And whatever reason is being used to force the enormouse task of posting and mixing a film, is a bad one.

Unless this is a 5 minute short, I would run away quickly.

If they have no money, and it's a medium length to full-length film, tell them to post an add online for students. They will gladly take the task on for no money.

As much as you want the thing to get finished because you're an actor in it, the director and producer want to get it finsihed even more than you do. Trust me.

Again, lack of funds on their part is not your fault. And the headaches involved
with especially no-budget features can be huge. And when things go sideways, you know who they'll blame.
I would tell them you can do the score as promised, but don't have the time or expertise to do the audio-post and mix.

The info youask for is like me going to a piano forum and saying "I play guitar, but I have a client who wants a piece on piano. Can you tell me which keys to use, as I've never played piano in my life. But I have a cool sequencer at home."


Sounds kinda silly doesn't it.
__________________
M-Powered Forum

www.markhensley.tv
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 04-23-2006, 09:19 AM
Starcrash Starcrash is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Marin County, CA
Posts: 794
Default Re: How to best mix audio of an indie film?

If you don't want to spend any cash, download the Vintage Meter by PSP. Set O VU=-20dbFS. Dialog should cruise below and during loud parts just above 0VU. Set a brick wall limiter (preferably Waves L1 at -10 dbFS on your FX/Foley or even entire mix to be safe). Turn your music WAY down so that it will play right under the dialog. Check out Pro Tools for Film, Video, and Multimedia by Ashley Sheperd. Good luck.
__________________
Pascal Garneau | IMDb
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 04-23-2006, 09:38 AM
bigbadhenchman bigbadhenchman is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Posts: 836
Default Re: How to best mix audio of an indie film?

Quote:
If you don't want to spend any cash, download the Vintage Meter by PSP. Set O VU=-20dbFS. Dialog should cruise below and during loud parts just above 0VU. Set a brick wall limiter (preferably Waves L1 at -10 dbFS on your FX/Foley or even entire mix to be safe). Turn your music WAY down so that it will play right under the dialog. Check out Pro Tools for Film, Video, and Multimedia by Ashley Sheperd. Good luck.
I'm sorry, but these are very bad tips.

Cranking and using limiters on film mixes is a bad idea.
Turning music WAY down is not true.
Mixing good dialogue takes experience, and can't be taught on an internet forum.
__________________
M-Powered Forum

www.markhensley.tv
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 04-23-2006, 10:13 AM
georgia georgia is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: NY,NY
Posts: 1,859
Default Re: How to best mix audio of an indie film?

Hey... well you've stuck your foot in it now! How's the quicksand?

If you can get out of it.. DO IT. You've just stepped into quicksand...oh yeah...
2 absolutes in Film Post: NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED. and DON'T MIX in an uncalibrated room.

so moving on:
Mix in stereo as you have stated. DO NOT DO 5.1 or an LtRt mix with out a calbrated room and some working knowledge of film mixing. Since, at this point you're probably going ahead anyway...and you are going to mix this in an uncalibrated room with near-field monitors I would suggest the follong tips: NOTE: THIS IS A REALLY BAD IDEA, but... no funds, no options and limited gear...

1. place your speakers in a Mid-field position and put an EQ in you monitor path set to the dreaded x-curve. ( assuming your room is perfectly flat )
2. open up your protools session and solo the dialogue track
3. Setup the dialogue to play at between -25 and -10 dbfs with an average around -20 or so.
( yelling at around -10 normal dialogue around -12 to -20 quiet between -20 and -25 )
4. Put on some DVDs and play them thru your system and adjust the dialogue to sound the same volume from the DVD as your now "calibrated" dialogue track. (cough hack)
5. now listen to the rest of the mix on the dvd and take notes!
6. Mox your project to the same basic levels...
7. Pray really hard every morning before you start.
8. Remember you will probably have to deliver the following:

Full MIX stereo at 48Khz 16 bit files with tones and 2-pop for each reel of the film
You and only you will be responsible for sync and god help you if you screw it up because your "friend" will only blame you for the favor you've done...
Make sure the levels are correct for the mix, the dynamic range is appropriate for a digibeta and for DVD and for projection in a threatre... you'll probably have to deliver more than one set of mixes.
Potentially M&E tracks as well ( although for an NYU film that may not be needed )
Once you've done a basic mix... go back and listen those DVD's again.

Start your final mix.
Rince and repeat...


I hope I and the other post guys have either scared you to death or convinced you to be very very careful...


If you are really stuck call me, I'll let you bring the final stem here to do a quick check in a calibrated room.

cheers and... duck and cover.
geo
__________________
georgia hilton CAS MPSE MPE

Hilton Media Management

Film Doctors http://www.filmdoctors.com
Me... http://georgiahilton.webs.com/
Stage 32 http://www.stage32.com/profile/6569/georgia-hilton
My Production Company http://www.hiltonmm.com

CREDITS (partial) http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0385255/resume
MEMBER: IATSE LOCAL 700
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 04-23-2006, 10:52 AM
bigbadhenchman bigbadhenchman is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Posts: 836
Default Re: How to best mix audio of an indie film?

Another option is to tell them to use have the picture editor mix it in his system.
__________________
M-Powered Forum

www.markhensley.tv
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 04-23-2006, 10:53 AM
Starcrash Starcrash is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Marin County, CA
Posts: 794
Default Re: How to best mix audio of an indie film?

You mean there's more to mixing a film than adjusting a few faders and slapping on a limiter at -10?
Maybe I should stick to editorial!
Actually, I've seen far too many student thesis films that would've sounded better if they followed my "bad advice". I was just trying to help stop the bleeding.
__________________
Pascal Garneau | IMDb
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Pro Mixing Webinar: Creating an Indie Film Soundtrack Avid Post - Surround - Video 36 06-02-2015 02:24 AM
Pro Mixing Webinar: Creating an Indie Film Soundtrack Avid General Announcements 0 11-30-2012 03:36 PM
Studio vs Indie film mix levels Nate Hoffman Post - Surround - Video 21 05-26-2012 08:32 AM
Indie Film Mix Levels for different formats? Bantom Post - Surround - Video 5 04-04-2012 01:29 AM
Big audio problems when film and audio is burned to dvd. abes Post - Surround - Video 5 10-13-2011 11:46 AM


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 09:43 PM.


Powered by: vBulletin, Copyright ©2000 - 2008, Jelsoft Enterprises Limited. Forum Hosted By: URLJet.com