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tcmoistboy1
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21st September 2012
Old 21st September 2012
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Problems bouncing documentary....

Hey guys,

First, let me start by apologizing for such a long post. I'm more of a music guy. I am a very seasoned engineer, though I've only done very limited bits of post work (a cartoon pilot - mixed through Digital Performer before I got PT, & a couple other small things) . Somehow, I just kinda happened upon mixing this 60-minute documentary through some colleagues of mine.

I've been searching through the forums to make sure I'm not asking a question for the 100th time, & I can't seem to find any definite answer in regards to any posts with semi-similar sounding issues.

Anyways, here goes....Long story long....Apparently all of my bounces that I'm sending to the client are coming into them way different than the way I'm hearing them (the way I'm hearing the actual bounces - not the differences between what's being heard from mix to bounce). I've turned in several up to this point. They're all being setup proper (or at least I think they are - proper source selected, WAV interleaved, session bit depth & sample rate 24/48, convert during bounce). Does this all look correct?

There have been some audio only bounces & some QT bounces. I was told the original dithered QT bounce sounded "boxy & modulated." I made some adjustments, remixed & did new bounces. I was told that those bounces are "pretty much unlistenable." They said that all are coming through still "modulated," as well as "way too loud & distorted." They said it sounds like something's wrong - very obvious. I told them that by the way they're describing it, it sounds like a clock issue to me & that the problem could be on their end of things..Does this sound like the issue?

This is really starting to baffle me, because I've listened to the various bounces on several different sources here (other friends of mine have as well in their own systems) & it's all translating really well everywhere its been played, at least on our side of things here. I just listened on a PC with a pair of Bose speakers to a full QT bounce w/ video that I did late last night & it didn't sound modulated, or distorted. My peaks on the stereo master when mixing arent getting past -3dB & none of the individual tracks are peaking either. I wish I could just actually hear what these guys are hearing, but right now I guess I just have to deal with this & figure it out.

To give you some more useful info, I received everything from them in OMF, exported from FCP. All the files arrived in 24-bit, 48kHz, & I setup the session properly to reflect this. Though I have a ton of outboard gear, I've tried to keep the setup I'm using for this whole mix as simple as possible for this scenario.

I'm using Pro Tools 10 HDX outputting out of an analog stereo pair (ch. 1-2) of one of my Avid HDI/O 16's. Both of my HD I/O's are calibrated at 0VU = -18dBfs. I'm using a Mac quad-core w/ OSX Lion - 16Gb RAM / 2TB Glyph drive. The whole system is clocked to an Antelope Isochrone master clock via word-clock (the clock is sending a rate of 48kHz to match the session). Everything is being monitored through my C24. [bleep]I'm not using any of my outboard gear for EQ or compression, it's all just plugins....Basically, everything is internal, other than the master clock - you get the idea...

We were originally asked to do a 5.1 / LCR mix, & a stereo mix, so we setup the session accordingly with a 5.1 master fader, & a stereo master (neither with dither). We started out the session for mixing in surround, but we were asked to hold off on the surround mix for the time being & start working out the stereo mix. Because of the poor quality of the tracking, we had mainly just done a ton of editing & cleaning up the session, so it wasn't a big deal to just change the outputs on the existing session from surround to stereo (there was no real important automation to loose). I know that's not standard practice, but I've never heard or experienced anything.

Continuing on, after discussing possible reasons as to why this was happening up to this point, we decided it best to do a couple of short 1 minute test bounces last night, converted & dithered down to 16-bit to see if it would make any difference & possibly show that it's a clock issue on their end. I even did one at 48kHz, & another at 44.1kHz to cover everything, & it's apparently more of the same. Blah, blah, blah. I'm not positive, but I don't think that they've imported the bounced file back into FCP, I think they're just listing in QT. Would that make a difference?

Maybe these guys are super audio-files, & I know nothing & can't trust my ears & knowledge anymore. Or, Maybe my mixes really are just sucking & it is actually coming out the way they are hearing, but I really don't think so. BTW, I forgot to mention that I imported one of the last bounces back into PT, & again, it sounded & looked fine. I really am at a loss now. I've been trying to troubleshoot any possible way I know how, & thought of everything I can. I'm running out of ideas, & afraid I'm loosing ground & reputation if I can't get this figured out. My newest idea is to try to do a bounce with no external clock & going all internal..Maybe that's what it is, but not likely.

Sorry for such a long post, but I figured I need to be as detailed as possible to give everyone a clear picture & to make sure that I've covered things on my end. If there's anyone out there who has experienced something similar & has any ideas please let me know. I know that mixing for film is different from mixing a song for CD, but I can't see it being that much different to where I shouldn't be able to trust my ears & my meters. Every bounce I've ever done in the past translates just fine (just like the ones I've done for this film are when I listen to them here in different sources).

Does it sound more likely that its on their end like I've been suggestion to them, or am I just being an idiot? Anyways, thanks for taking the time to read. If anybody sees anything that I may be overlooking, then any insight that any of you can give would be greatly appreciated.
PLEASE HELP. Thanks guys!
#2
21st September 2012
Old 21st September 2012
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Have you tried sending Aiff files? If they're in Final Cut, it can be a bit off with Wav files in certain situations.

Also you haven't mentioned framerates.... What were they cutting at. What rate were the files you received. What rate did you mix at. If you sent a file which was not at the same rate as what they're editing you'd have problems too.
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21st September 2012
Old 21st September 2012
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If you imported the mix back into PT and listened back on various sets and it all sounds good, it probably is good. Like you said, if they only listened to the quicktime bounce (never a good idea to deliver a quicktime bounce I think), it could be that there's more than two tracks "active" in the Quicktime movie. Thus playing the original "editors-bounce" and your mix at the same time. What they mean by boxy is probably the phasing between the two and the distortion is obvious.

You can check that with quicktime pro: show movie properties and have a look at the soundtrack(s).
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21st September 2012
Old 21st September 2012
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Hi there!

You say that your clients are hearing the QT mixs distorted, but what about the wave mixs? I agree with Pethenis that what is probably happening is that your clients are listening to both your mix and the editors reference mix.
The problem could also be as simple as speaker distortion on there part, bad cables, broken speakers.
It would be helpful for you to attach a small part of your mix here for all of us to listen too.

Good luck and cheers.
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21st September 2012
Old 21st September 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FullFrequency View Post
Have you tried sending Aiff files? If they're in Final Cut, it can be a bit off with Wav files in certain situations.

Also you haven't mentioned framerates.... What were they cutting at. What rate were the files you received. What rate did you mix at. If you sent a file which was not at the same rate as what they're editing you'd have problems too.
I haven't tried aiff yet because I was requested to send the files as WAV. As far as the frame rates go, we've been locked since we setup the session. 29.97fps (it shows up white on the video track info on the edit window.
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21st September 2012
Old 21st September 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pethenis View Post
If you imported the mix back into PT and listened back on various sets and it all sounds good, it probably is good. Like you said, if they only listened to the quicktime bounce (never a good idea to deliver a quicktime bounce I think), it could be that there's more than two tracks "active" in the Quicktime movie. Thus playing the original "editors-bounce" and your mix at the same time. What they mean by boxy is probably the phasing between the two and the distortion is obvious.

You can check that with quicktime pro: show movie properties and have a look at the soundtrack(s).
I will have to check this & make sure. It could definitely be the issue. I kinda figured as much.

This was sent to me via yousendit.com with a video track (not sure if the video is muxed), & 8 stereo tracks of various audio (1 stereo track of dialog, 1 stereo track of B-Roll, 3 miscellaneous - more B-roll really, & 3 music tracks (mainly empty)). if there was audio embedded into the video track though & I imported it with it, wouldn't I be able to hear this on my end of things as well? It doesn't sound phasy at all.

I was taking his description of boxy the same way you are here - phasey.

Let me also say that this film is definitely a still a work in progress. There is still no score on it & still much that I haven't been sent. Basically im having to work this in pieces. The film guys are in New Orleans, & I'm in Austin. Needless to say there long wait times between sending & receiving files back & forth. I've only done 2 QT bounces by request. One was right before the recent hurricane that hit NEw Orleans, because they were anticipating being out of power for a while & I guess they wanted to have something simple to review what we've done thus far. The second was just as a test, because nothing is being heard properly.

I will buy QT pro today & double check the original video properties to see if the problem lies there. If there is no embedded audio in the video file, do you have any other ideas.....thanks for the responses guys.
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21st September 2012
Old 21st September 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jorge Valtuena View Post
Hi there!

You say that your clients are hearing the QT mixs distorted, but what about the wave mixs? I agree with Pethenis that what is probably happening is that your clients are listening to both your mix and the editors reference mix.
The problem could also be as simple as speaker distortion on there part, bad cables, broken speakers.
It would be helpful for you to attach a small part of your mix here for all of us to listen too.

Good luck and cheers.
They're saying the same thing is happening to just the WAV audio when they listen as well.....

I'm bouncing by selecting my master track only from start to finish & everything is setup as I stated in my initial post. Could the convert during bounce or after bounce have anything to do with it? I'm converting during bounce.

I will post a small segment up here shortly.

Thanks again guys
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21st September 2012
Old 21st September 2012
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One other thought - I mixed a show, with client signing off with me. Get the all clear, then supply a wav to go back to their edit suite so that they can review with a few other people in their own time. I get a call out of the blue with them stating that something's gone wrong with the export and it sounds all distorted and "weird". So I go up to the edit suite...... Channel output of the mixer is wayyyy into the red. Pull fader down (maxed out), setting to unity and hey presto. Could be something similar, although not sure how I'd approach asking them about that one.
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21st September 2012
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When I've had reports like this it has always turned out that either the editor was playing BOTH his own scratch mix AND my mix at the same time in the edit system, OR they had screwed up their monitoring setup in their little edit mixer somehow.

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21st September 2012
Old 21st September 2012
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Little bit off topic but have you thought about using print tracks instead of bounce and then exporting the prints in as many versions as you like, should save you some time.!
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21st September 2012
Old 21st September 2012
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I have had this call from clients before. They had each output sent to 1-2 instead of each out put to an individual out, and they didn't pan the tracks left and right accordingly. Phasey and distorted. There are so many ways for editors to screw up your mix. I had one editor replace my tones with his own! BTW, 0VU should be -20dbfs on your outputs, not 18.
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22nd September 2012
Old 22nd September 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soundboy View Post
I have had this call from clients before. They had each output sent to 1-2 instead of each out put to an individual out, and they didn't pan the tracks left and right accordingly. Phasey and distorted. There are so many ways for editors to screw up your mix. I had one editor replace my tones with his own! BTW, 0VU should be -20dbfs on your outputs, not 18.
I ran into this recently as well, it seems that the newer versions of Media Composer introduced "stereo" audio tracks, meaning if you dump the stereo mix onto two mono tracks ("the old fashioned way"), they BOTH end up summing to mono.

Also, go check out their playback setup, like FF suggested. Mixers aren't an editor's expertise, and sometimes they need some help with them. Good luck!
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22nd September 2012
Old 22nd September 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soundboy View Post
I have had this call from clients before. They had each output sent to 1-2 instead of each out put to an individual out, and they didn't pan the tracks left and right accordingly. Phasey and distorted. There are so many ways for editors to screw up your mix. I had one editor replace my tones with his own! BTW, 0VU should be -20dbfs on your outputs, not 18.
+1 to this aswell - it worries me how so many editors have no clue about stereo.
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22nd September 2012
Old 22nd September 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FullFrequency View Post
+1 to this aswell - it worries me how so many editors have no clue about stereo.
That sentence was done after the word clue.
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23rd September 2012
Old 23rd September 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tcmoistboy1 View Post
Does it sound more likely that its on their end like I've been suggestion to them, or am I just being an idiot?
PLEASE HELP. Thanks guys!
I just wanted to repeat what other people said which is that it could very well be a problem on their end. Here is what I propose:

1) Bounce a new file but just put a trim plugin on the master and drop the level significantly. I'd say 10dB or more.

2) Go to the edit suite personally with two files, the bounce that was ok (in your studio) at higher loudness and the new lower one.

3) Watch & listen to them importing and playing it back.

Of course you could simply tell them to lower the playback level in their monitoring chain, but I'd save that for when you're there. My experience has been that there's a divide between audio and video and I've had several instances where video editors end up being more in charge than producers/directors and simply won't acknowledge having done something wrong, and won't even go near a solution that would make that obvious. It's unfortunate but some people have ego's that are out of this world.




Like others I've experienced video editors having played back the mixes I've done "in sync" with their scratch mixes which resulted in phasing, distortion and screwed up imaging. I've also had them change the gain of mixes where they shouldn't have.

There was a time when audio post guys laid back the final mix to tape and it was our responsibility to ensure a proper level etc. Those days or gone of course which is both a blessing and a curse.
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25th September 2012
Old 25th September 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soundboy View Post
BTW, 0VU should be -20dbfs on your outputs, not 18.
Sorry, unless you are working in PAL.
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