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teaching self "Movie Mixing", any tips?

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#1 GregBest

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Posted 24 December 2014 - 10:15 PM

I'm an amateur film maker with a background in music mixing and mastering, which is all about slamming peaks.  

Now, getting into "Movie mixing" and observing things in commercial movies like most dialog is between -25 and -18, and the action explosions my hit peak and dynamic music between the two.

 

Are there any basic rules of thumb any can give me like: start with all channel faders at -30 and work up from there??

Feeling lost and alone - no one around me knows movie mixing at all.   Also starting to test the waters of 5.1 surround, but that is a whole other philosophy.

I'm using Sony Vegas Pro 13 FYI

 

Here's an example of my last "complex" audio production...  It works, but I was still in LOUD MODE.  Anywhere from 5 to 20 audio tracks in this one:

http://youtu.be/d9ZNlI92uYw?t=7m9s

(apologies for the amateur EVERYTHING in that video.. these are sandbox testing videos for me to learn everything)

 

I would love any hints, tips, tricks, to aligning my audio with commercially finished blockbuster movies.   Am I aiming too low?  :D

Sure, Skywalker Sound has 100 channels with full automation, and many professional full time staff members, but I want to give it a shot.

 


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#2 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 25 December 2014 - 05:02 AM

Any mixers talking about this subject say that the most important thing is to listen to the sound you're mixing rather than only looking only at the levels.

 

Sony Vegas is based on an audio program, so sound is one of its strong points.


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#3 GregBest

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Posted 25 December 2014 - 08:18 PM

Cool thanks, good to know.  I DEFINITELY am a "listening" type guy.  Vegas seems really capable audio wise, I'm enjoying it.


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#4 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 26 December 2014 - 09:16 AM

I think you have to use a deep booming sound a lot.

 

:)

 


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#5 GregBest

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Posted 26 December 2014 - 10:23 PM

hahahaha noted.  :)   I do plan to use some "sub" enhancers here and there.... where fitting, of course.

Just watched a couple movies.... shocked how quiet the standard dialog was compared to the big music and loud/exciting parts.


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#6 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 26 December 2014 - 10:26 PM

It's quite high dynamic range compared to TV stuff.

 

What are you doing for monitoring? I'd like to own better surround gear.


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#7 GregBest

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Posted 27 December 2014 - 12:14 AM

I use Sony Vegas Pro 13 - it has 5.1 Surround mixing and encoding, and I been studying the controls there.  I have Yamaha HS80's for main stereo monitors (120 w bi-amped or something), then got a Logitech 5.1 computer surround system for $150.  It actually sounds half decent and I use it MOST of the time now.  It's obviously not "pro grade" but helps me sort sound field, and I can check on any home theater system - but still working out the bugs of making a 5.1 Blu-Ray disc (as in:  I haven't done that yet)

 

Usually, I download current trailers or reference my BluRays or DVDs for levels, eq, RMS, surround placement etc.

 

I'm just here seeing if anyone here mixes real movies and has some basics they follow  :)


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#8 Richard Perrine

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 05:27 PM

Start with dialog tapes you get front the sound crew.

Analog recording tapes..each one of them should have a 30 second  0bd tone one them.

 

on a Nagra there's a switch to throw that give you a 0db 400HZ  tone to record on the tape.

0db level is 12db below tape saturation.....the peaks in a signal are faster than the meter.

This level allows the peaks to go above zero without distorting.

 

Hopefully, the crew will hand you tapes that have all the dialog recorded in a limited "range"....ie from  say -30 to 0db.

then when you transfer it to your system to edit....all the dialog is at the same level and all the background noise too.

Roomtone should be recorded with the mic in the same position as the dialog and at the same volume level as the dialog.

 

redording digital audio....reference tone is -11dbf .  this is also your zero in your mixing system.

 

dialog should be recorded with out compressors or limiters....you can use a 40hz low cut for small room echo.....

 

So transfer the dialog tracks.....do the picture/sound editing for a rough picture and track edit.

then dialog tracks can be EQed for cleaner track....roomtone can be punched in to replace odd noises.

dialog then gets 3:1 to 5:1 compression.....to even out voice levels so the audience can hear each word.

 

build sound effects tracks for all the footsteps, door slams, thuds, bullets, explosions, etc

hopefully, when you edited the picture....you left room for these effects in-between the dialog.

 

music tracks are the same.....full range 20 to 20K......but usually cued in little sections like 7 second bridge for a location change.

or a minute and a half for the Psyco shower sequence.

 

The mix.....LCRS........music stereo on left, right and surround ......dialog in center......effects can be LCR or on all.

Balance the mix so that all the elements of the track can be heard clearly.

 

Years ago, we did a sequence in a bar with some guys playing pool which then lead to a fight out side in the parking lot.

3 tracks....dialog , music and crowd...with a few glasses clinking and pool cue shots as effects. when I mixed it together (just a mono track for 16mm film.....

you couldn't hear any of the dialog.  It was a muddy mess......so....all the actors came back in and looped their lines.....the new recordings  were then transferred and synced with the 16mm picture.

then mixed.


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#9 GregBest

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 08:06 PM

Thanks, Richard!  That is great info.  Sounds like you have done this a time or two.  What is your background in this?  Looks like I am on the right track, but my mixing structure is not that well planned out... something I think I should fix!  :)

 

If you find a minute, skip through the video I posted above and let me know some things to improve sonically.  There were many audio tracks for dialog, music, and effects, but I compressed it all in the end to sound LOUD on youtube - big mistake I know - but the next one, I'd like to mix for DCP theater playback.


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#10 Richard Perrine

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Posted 25 January 2015 - 10:21 PM

if you look at that  "early cinema sound thread" here...you'll see the 10 minute short called "The Soundman".

My dad had a print of it when I was 9 years old....it captured my imagination....So I collected film.....started running projectors in Theaters after high school with

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in 1969 and ran theaters for 45 years.

But I wanted to shoot film.....but here in the sticks (Akron, Ohio) there was nothing.....so it was buy books and buy equipment.

 

My brother was a ham radio guy...so I got into electronics too.

I actually talked my mom into taking me to Detroit for a FCC Test.  I was 13.

The 5 guys there at the FCC couldn't find a regulation that said I couldn't take the test...so I did and passed.

I got a license to run transmitters at commercial radio stations up 20KW in power (non-directional).

So I couldn't drive a car or hold a job until I was 16...but I got the FCC Ticket.

 

Equipment .....Arri 16BL, Arri 352c, mitchell35GC....NagraIV....about a dozen mics....16mm 8 plate editor, sync blocks and splicers from 16mm to 70mm.

Lighting gear.

Norolco (Kinoton) projectors...3 FP-20's ...4 DP-75's (35mm and 35/70mm combination)....a couple of 16mm projectors.

Sound dubbers....Magnatech.....2 systems....one for 16mm single track...and the second system from LucasFilm....it's 6 track 35mm SR 48 tracks of playback.

Resolvers , compressors, limiters, EQ's, etc.

and junk.

one of the FP-20's and also a B&H JAN 16mm act as the master drive for the Magnatech's.

 

All of the film I've mixed were for short films on 16mm....which were all mono tracks.

mono great for learning...because everything has to be heard......go back....do a song....with a bunch of instruments and a bunch of vocals including background singers...

pack them all in a mono track.....so you can hear everyone.

 

Did lots of sound transfers from 1/4" to Mag film for a lot of guys making short films when the University's had actual film production courses too.

Now I'm 64 and all the theaters went digital....so I retired.

I'm now starting to play with the recording system and the screening room.

 

don't compress your mix at all.....other than the dialog......balance the elements in the mix.

 

if you want e-mail me direct....

RBPerrine@att.net

rich

 

 

"A movie studio is the best toy a boy ever had....."  Orson Wells


Edited by Richard Perrine, 25 January 2015 - 10:24 PM.

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