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Old 02-14-2006, 01:18 AM
spicyitaliano spicyitaliano is offline
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Florida
Posts: 948
Default Getting Into Sound Design for Film - LE or HD?

It may seem obvious - any professional in the film industry would say HD or something equivalent. I understand completely. But let me explain my situation.

I've been a recording and mixing engineer for a while now, working with musicians in the studio and live acts on stage. I was recently offered a job to do some sound design work for a fantastic short film, completely done by professionals seeking to build their porfolios, and work for free. Cinematographers, set designers, make-up people, and then the post guys - visual effects, CGI, a composer with an original score played by a full orchestra, and then myself - the sound designer. The final product looks and sounds incredible, and everyone is so thrilled about it. The film is going to the Sarasota and Sundance film festivals!

Anyway, the director was so happy with my work that he invited me to work with him on the next film - a full-length feature backed by a rather large film company, a very generous producer, and a hefty budget. This has been a thrill for me, taking what knowledge I knew about building stems of dialog, foley, and sound design - and creating the final mix. Now I've always used ProTools in the studio and used my own LE rig for this past project.

But as this project comes closer, I need to decide on my rig...LE or HD? It really comes down to features. WIth the DV Toolkit 2.0, I get all the meat and potatoes I would need for utility work with sound design. I could get this for my own system and have everything I would need to get started. Everything - except for surround sound. I currently don't own a surround setup (because I use LE) but could budget for one. I have a good concept of surround mixing for film (because I'm a sound-design/move nerd) and feel that I could handle that end of things. The real decision comes with the amount of money I would need to spend (yes, I would have to purchase it) in order to get surorund mixing capabilities.

So what do you all think I should do? Heaven forbid...should I consider Logic?
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Old 02-14-2006, 06:02 AM
OliJ OliJ is offline
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 117
Default Re: Getting Into Sound Design for Film - LE or HD?

couple of big questions there! I'm not sure from your post wether your doing the mix or not. If you are, then I would suggest that LE is not up to it. Firstly track count will be a problem. Streamlining every thing down to a bare minimum, you may just get away allowing 8 trks for dialogue, 16 Fx, sixteen Atmos, 3 to 6 foley and 2 to 6 music (total track count, ignoring stereo- and this is very conservative, excluding the dilaogues most small budget features would double to triple the track count). You would have to premix dials,fx, etc. down to fewer tracks, and although this is entirely possible, and in fact the way it was all done in the not too distant days of Multi-tracks, you're going to look pretty inefficient when it takes you half an hour to go back and change a pre-mix, then re-import that into you're final mix session, for one of the countless changes that a producer/director are going to ask of you.
Also, Le has no provision for surround panning. Depending on the type of project, this may not be an issue. Further more as far as I'm aware of, there are no RTAS plugin surround encode devices, so you will need a hardware encoder to do your stereo LtRt for the deliveries ( this is all assuming you have some sort of monitoring matrix or surround mixer to assign your LE outputs to the suuround field). Outputing 5.1 stems for archives is also going to reqiure multiple passes, doable
of course but again time consuming. It all becomes a little like " How long is a piece of string"?
Tracklaying is definatley possible, as the 48 tracks now available to LE mean that as long as you make a different session for your dialogues, Fx, Atms etc, track count is not a real issue. You can do premixes of each session and import them into the others as a guide. The lack of suuround panning can be ovecome by duplicating a region accross the appropriatley assigned tracks and the doing the neccesary fades to affect a pan. Of course a TDM system would make it all the easier, but I guess the real question in regards to affordability, is how much more work of this type are you going to do?(though it's a pretty good excuse to splurge out I think).
I hope this helps some, there is a lot more to it of course, but in the interests of brevity I hope I've gotten down to the kernel.

PS. One little hint. sorry if this is old news to you, but it sound like you're relatively new to post production. When laying surround atmospheres, as a rule of thumb, it's best to lay mono tracks in you surrounds (you can duplicate the same track in the Ls as the Rs, as long as you have a long enough delay between them) as when you Dolby encode, any mono component in present phase coherent stereo tracks will end up in the centre speaker. Of course this doesn't go to say you cant do it, but if all your suuround tracks were stereo pairs, the final print would sound very mono as compared to your tracklay.
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Old 02-14-2006, 08:37 AM
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minister minister is offline
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Location: Minneapolis, MN
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Default Re: Getting Into Sound Design for Film - LE or HD?


you may want to post these questions in the post & surround forum.

for sound design, you can get away with LE and no surround. let the re-recording mixer put everything in the surrounds. also, you can jury-rig a surround setup for LE for auditioning and testing. but let the mixer do it.

now, if you were mixing, i'd say you would NEED an HD system for a feature.
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Old 02-14-2006, 11:19 AM
spicyitaliano spicyitaliano is offline
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Florida
Posts: 948
Default Re: Getting Into Sound Design for Film - LE or HD?

First, my apologies for the post placement! I've never really cruised anywhere else than the LE forums.

OliJ, thanks for the final tip at the bottom. That's something that I've always thought about - I always assumed a piece of audio would most effectively be panned when it is a mono region, so that when it's panned to a specific location, you really hear it there! Thanks!

Let me describe the current plan I have in mind for this. I typically record in commercial studios and do a lot of traveling, but when I came home for the day I wanted a smaller project studio rig at home. So with some renovations to the home and a little-big budget, I build a super nice mini studio, complete with a small tracking room next door. It worked great for me for a few years. I recently moved (temporarily) to Boston and needed to sell all the gear and tear down the room. While the walls are still standing, the custom built treatments are all gone. My plan was to move back piece together the room again, but this time re-design the place from the ground up for film post. I would invest in a medium sized 5.1 rig, all the necessary hi-end interfaces, either PT|HD or Logic, and a nice big screen. On top of that, I would outfit the tracking room with a mic collection for ADR and foley.

OliJ, I see your point about the inefficiency of the rig. I want to work in surround - Yes I am the mixer - so HD or Logic are already givens I suppose. On the last small project I did, I had seperate sessions for each stem, and then took the bounces from each and dropped them into a final mix session. Once I got the stem premixes good, then it was easy. But then we needed to make minor changes in the premixes and we ended up losing a lot of time. I can't deal with that.
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