Blog Foley Post Production Questions and Answers SFX

What is Post Production Sound Mixing?


Oftentimes when individuals ask me how my week is going or inquire into how my weekend was, my answer is “I have been/was mixing all week/weekend”. Nevertheless, I virtually all the time get a standard response, after they tilt their head like a confused canine does, “What kind of mixing?” or “What exactly is it you do?”

I typically overlook that folks outdoors this subject may be overseas to what I do and what I think about widespread sense. Even individuals in my business have very restricted information as to what goes on in the course of the postproduction (submit) audio mix part. So I’ll do my greatest to offer a layman’s overview on what mixing entails and what my common process is.

What do you imply by sound mixing?

The essential definition of sound mixing is taking all the elements of the movie’s soundtrack, i.e. dialog, SFX, Foley, and Music, and mixing them together to create one thing that sounds good. (For the report, SFX means particular effects like gunshots, automobiles, and so on. Foley means extra “person” noise, comparable to footsteps, clothes noise, eating noise, or the kinds of noises brought on by a person.)

In more particular terms, mixing/modifying is taking the dialog and ensuring it is clear and usable. Any dialog that is not usable will need ADR (Automated or Automated Dialog Alternative), which is recording the dialog in a studio throughout publish with the actors. In addition to the dialog being clean, it additionally must be leveled so your dynamic vary is not leaping far and wide. Principally this means bringing the quiet elements up and the loud elements down.

SFX and Foley have to have this similar course of executed. SFX and Foley must be positioned at correct volumes so you don’t have footsteps louder than dialog. Music must be added or composed and its degree needs to be automated so the music is not too loud or too quiet.

Once these elements are completed, every little thing must be combined collectively as an entire in order that in the long run there’s one seamless audio monitor that permits every facet of the film’s audio to reside in its own proper area.

Process for Sound Mixing

English: An-Najah University media room

English: An-Najah University media room (Photograph credit: Wikipedia)

The very first thing I do once I start engaged on a new movie venture for submit is to observe the picture lock edit, the place the video edit is last. From this I can study quite a bit concerning the quantity of work that might be involved and what I’ll have to do. I wish to make notes of what kind of ADR I will need to schedule, and what sort of environments within the movie I will need to painting sonically. At this point I additionally speak with the Director/Producer about any sound design that could be needed.

Once that is finished I often get an OMF file of the movie audio monitor from the editor and import that into the DAW I am utilizing. This is where I spend quite a little bit of time organizing. I take all of the dialog clips and put that onto its personal tracks. I do the same factor for all of the SFX, Foley, and Music(if any). I then create a Aux monitor(Stem), and have all the like tracks funnel into one monitor. By having all of these things tunnel into one monitor, it permits me to have control over the dialog or SFX as an entire. For instance, if I need to make a whole scene’s dialog louder I can with just make a few adjustments to the stems moderately than the person tracks.

Necessary Gear for Sound Mixing

As far as gear, aside from having a top quality pc that can deal with the processing of audio modifying/mixing, an important thing to have is high quality reference screens. The distinction between screens and speakers is that speakers may be barely EQ’d to make music and films sound just a little higher. Screens often have a flat EQ to them. So you will hear issues precisely as they have been recorded. This lets you combine so that your challenge will sound its greatest no matter what sort of audio system it is heard on in the long run.

Points concerned with Sound Mixing

For probably the most half I find the blending process very artistic and satisfying, however there are typically points to be overcome. One difficulty I encounter is when the production dialog was not recorded properly. Having a talented Sound Mixer on set is key to make postproduction sound mixing a lot simpler. One of many benefits of being somebody who does manufacturing and postproduction audio is that it permits me to document the audio on set that I do know I will need to save time in submit.

In addition to that, setting noises might be difficult at occasions. Coping with surroundings noise like crowds and planes can create plenty of time-consuming work. Typically uncontrollable environments can change from take to take in order that if you edit a scene together, you could discover that one shot has airplane noise and the subsequent doesn’t.

However the largest and most consistent challenge I’ve to cope with is time. Massive price range Hollywood movies have a group of publish sound individuals and may spend six months or more in publish for audio. Within the indie world we don’t have this luxury. Typically I have a weekend to get a brief executed or solely a couple of months to finish a function. Making an attempt to do what teams of five or extra guys do in only two months is very irritating and troublesome at occasions.

Nevertheless, the satisfying features of blending far outweigh the challenges for me. I noticed I loved mixing the very first time I used to be employed to do it, which was for an indie function film. Coming from a background in music recording and reside sound, I felt little to no artistic management in these fields, but movie was an entire new ballgame with countless artistic prospects. With the ability to put my stamp on each undertaking I work on provides me a much bigger feeling of function than I ever had earlier than in other fields.

Why I really like what I do

Once I began submit sound mixing there wasn’t any strong information out there on “How to mix audio”, so I sort of went into it blind. I approached it as if I used to be mixing a music for a band, and it had loads of similarities, nevertheless it was also a lot more work than I ever anticipated. Nevertheless, the mistakes I made on that first venture put me on the right path to the place I’m as we speak.

I continue to work on this subject as a result of I’ve a whole lot of control over the emotions and feelings which might be portrayed within the general film. I’ve a say in the forms of SFX used and designed. I have influence over the music that goes into the film, or at the least an opinion, in addition to how gentle or loud this music is. It is shocking how a lot one music can change the whole feeling of a scene.

It’s additionally fascinating to notice that as a result of sound and what you hear in every day life turns into second nature, it’s a particular problem to duplicate that in a film. Individuals will concentrate on loud sound of their day-to-day life, but for probably the most half we don’t even acknowledge what we hear throughout our day. Even in the event you have been to take a seat and take heed to the whole lot around you at this very second you’d in all probability decide up on quite a bit since you are specializing in it, but when asked to call the whole lot you heard in the final 10 minutes, you’d in all probability solely have the ability to recall what you’re presently listening to.

Mixing desk during a album recording.

Mixing desk during a album recording.

With regards to mixing, it is my job to create the same feeling. If dialog is out of sync, a footstep too loud, or the setting doesn’t match the visible, the brain will decide up on this instantly, but if it is all combined properly, until you give attention to it, you gained’t notice it.

Sound individuals often don’t get recognized for exceptional sound, nevertheless it is all the time identified when it is dangerous. I all the time go together with the philosophy that when sound is not talked about in a evaluation, meaning I did my job.

Most moviegoers in all probability don’t understand how a lot of what is heard in a film is not from the unique manufacturing audio but is added in later. How a lot of the audio is replaced all is dependent upon the type of movie. In massive blockbuster Hollywood movies, little or no of what you hear was in all probability recorded on set. The truth is I keep in mind watching one thing concerning the sound workforce for “Life of Pi” they usually talked about you can rely on one hand how a lot of the manufacturing dialog was usable for the film. Which suggests most of that movie was finished in a studio.

Smaller scale indie movies are a unique story. For a lot of the unbiased films I work on, I try to use manufacturing audio as a lot as potential as a result of it’ll sound probably the most pure. ADR is not the simplest thing to make sound like the original surroundings. Nevertheless, typically I will use strains from totally different cleaner takes to maintain from having to do ADR.

But it doesn’t matter what, I am all the time studying and advancing my expertise. Sound is something that is all the time altering, whether it’s with new codecs or methods. It is a dwelling thing. No two films I work on are ever achieved the identical approach. Every one is better than the final because I take information and expertise and build upon it. Only recently I combined my first indie film in Surround Sound and it was quite the training curve. Nevertheless, now I’ll take what I discovered and the errors I made and correct them for the subsequent one.

And that’s it. That’s “What is Sound Mixing 101”, and why I personally take pleasure in it as much as I do. The subsequent time you see a film, I hope this provides you an added appreciation for a way a lot of your enjoyment of film comes via your ears as well as your eyes.

Post Written by James Alire

An completed musician and consummate skilled, James Alire brings schooling, passion, and a variety of expertise to the sound desk. He has excelled as an IT specialist, recording engineer, and sound mixer/ editor in many arenas. His firm, 5J Media, has steadily expanded to include a broad range of net design and audio/sound providers for musicians and filmmakers. His stellar fame is well-known within the film group, as evidenced by the a number of awards James has gained for his work. His unique experience and leading edge information and technical assets end in 5J Media persistently innovating with artistic options for every problem. For quotes to interact James for audio and/or net providers, contact us.

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