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Level matching -voice, effects and background
Old 15th February 2007
Gear Nut
shilshoolon's Avatar

Post Level matching -voice, effects and background

How do you mix all the scenes together to create a smooth mix when working on a long film?

Do you guys start with basic levels for example a voice track @ around 20dbfs and then automate it accordingly to the scene ?

Do you match background sounds between scenes by only using your ears or do you have some reference point to make it easier to match all the scenes of the film.

I read on this forum that some use a voice track as the level reference to the entire mix but what if there is no talking in your film or scene? How would you avoid not having your roomtone peaking at -4dbfs?

When I listen to low budget films I can usually hear the obvious level difference between each scene, or the room sounds unnatural as it was mixed it the wrong level.

I know all these elements can be very dynamic so I am not looking for rules just some good advice
Old 16th February 2007
Lives for gear
starcrash13's Avatar
Well, the idea is to mix in a calibrated dub stage. Ideally, the dubstage is very much like a really nice movie theater with a mixing console. This way your mix will translate properly in theaters. Your room tone would never be "peaking at -4dbFS" as you mentioned because you would clearly hear that it is playing too loud. If it sounds loud on the dub stage, it will sound loud in the theaters.

For those coming from a music background, this idea of mixing levels always seems to be a major road block. Other than Bob Katz, it's the Wild West in Music Land as far as monitoring levels. Once you get a basic understanding of room calibration, it all starts to make a lot more sense. Read some of the other threads on this forum including the post I wrote on basic stereo DAW calibration for film.
Old 16th February 2007
Gear Nut
shilshoolon's Avatar

Thanks for the help Pascal,

In other words, are you saying that you only trust your ears and do not have a level starting point that you know would most likely work with the scene?

My room is calibrated to 79db unfortunately l am not very experienced so I still don't trust my ears 100%.
Old 16th February 2007
Lives for gear
soundboy's Avatar
As frustrating as it sounds, it really is an ear thing and not a metering thing. But yes, dialog is king. For me its always dialogue first, music second and effects third in order of importance. Like any art, that's not in stone, its a framework to add structure to the process. If the dialog is sounding like its at the right level in a calibrated room, everything else mixes in around it. Then play from one scene to the next, are the levels jumping? If so, make adjustments. I do glance at the meters, to make sure I'm in the ballpark, if I'm jumping around the scenes, but still end up making adjustments as I play through by ear. Think of it like sculpting. Chip, chip, chip, and it starts to take shape. Once the mix is roughed out,(and here your BG's may be jumping a little from scene to scene, or the dialogue a little hotter in one scene) then you fine tune and work those kinks out. What you probably have figured out by this point is, the tuned room part of this equation is pretty big. If you can't trust what you are hearing, all the fine tuning in the world is not going to help.
Old 18th February 2007
Gear Nut
shilshoolon's Avatar

Cheers Charles

Yes you are right, I have to learn to trust my funny looking ears.
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