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Organising And Determining Mixed Sources - How?
Old 1 week ago
  #1
Organising And Determining Mixed Sources - How?

Hi,

I'm not new to mixing, but fairly new to mixing larger projects, like full length documentary's or movies, and I need some help organising the stuff.

I'm working on a documentary now, and for different scenes, I get different audio channels, in different format. Like stereo for scene A and B, M/S for another. Sometimes, I don't even now sometimes how it was recorded, as there is no sound report.

First: how can I check what is what? I listen to each channel, and I can tell a boom from a close mic, but not a boom from a cam mic. I check stereo by panning two sources left and right and look at the polar pattern. But how do I check for M/S? For example, I have a scene with three channels of audio. What is the fastest way to determine what is what?

Second: I my session, I'm creating different tracks for each type of recording: a stereo group, a M/S group, or a combination etc. For different scenes I need different reverbs, EQ, noise cancelling, etc. I started automating these, but it's very time consuming. It's much faster to copy the tracks and tweak the effects. But then I end up with a lot of tracks. Also, if I would like to have a basic setting changed to the dialogue tracks for instance, like the amount of compression or lo cut frequency, I would have to go through all those tracks.

Any help much appreciated!
Old 1 week ago
  #2
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It sounds like you are doing what you have to do. Unless you were involved in the production sound recording or picture edit you of course start off not knowing what any sound in the film is, where it came from, how it was recorded and what the editor's intention was. You have to listen to all the clips, and while doing so sort them into the various channels of your project template, probably while modifying that template to suit the project at hand. This can be a long process if the editor did not organize their tracks before export, but it is very necessary as a way of getting to know the movie. How logically and suited to your own working methods you can get the tracks organized will directly affect your efficiency when you get to really mixing. This process is the reason that most of us have templates saved for various kinds of productions, that are all ready to go.
Old 1 week ago
  #3
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+1 PhilPer

Don't be afraid to generate lots of tracks... or pairs of tracks, or mirror tracks without processing in case the director doesn't like things. Tracks are free.
While you're working on dx, you can organize them in folders and with submixes or VCAs. After you've done the predub, you can hide the production and edit tracks and just leave the dialog mix(es) visible.

I just finished a 135 minute docy, with a mix of historic and new footage, shot by different crews in different situations. It started out as reels from the editor, with me making a separate track for each kind of processing necessary. But partway through, the producer said we had to move to a single full-length version. So characters that appeared in only one or two reels now had their tracks appearing across the full film... even if that person was only in one small section of the entire movie. Total of 145+ dialog tracks before the predub.

I kept all the tracks, hidden, through the fx and music build and the final mix. Saved a lot of time when the producer said "could I hear an alternative?"

The only time I deleted the tracks was for a temporary "rendering" version of the final master. My DAW renders automated, effected mixdowns much faster than realtime, even faster with a limited track count, and outputting the final master and stems took about 45 minutes for the full package.
Old 1 week ago
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speakerfood View Post
Also, if I would like to have a basic setting changed to the dialogue tracks for instance, like the amount of compression or lo cut frequency, I would have to go through all those tracks.

Any help much appreciated!
Either feed these all to an aux input where you can adjust these settings or use groups for linking insert settings.
Old 1 week ago
  #5
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nixt's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by speakerfood View Post
I get different audio channels, in different format. Like stereo for scene A and B, M/S for another. Sometimes, I don't even now sometimes how it was recorded, as there is no sound report.
If you're lucky, the sound engineer will have named the channels correctly. If you work with Pro Tools, go to "View">"Clip">"Channel Name"... That might save you a LOT of time trying to figure out what's what...
Old 1 week ago
  #6
Thanks for all the good advice, seems I was doing something right without knowing it.

I had the habbit of cleaning my session throwing away unused audio, but now I move these to a muted folder.

And for the M/S check, is there any way to find out? I did a google search but couldn't find anything. Can you 'hear' the characteristics of a figure 8 in a M/S setting?
Old 1 week ago
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speakerfood View Post
Thanks for all the good advice, seems I was doing something right without knowing it.

I had the habbit of cleaning my session throwing away unused audio, but now I move these to a muted folder.

And for the M/S check, is there any way to find out? I did a google search but couldn't find anything. Can you 'hear' the characteristics of a figure 8 in a M/S setting?
Hold up there--no "throwing away"! Just park those extra tracks somewhere in the outfield, still in their orig (sync) positions. Often in the course of a cut editors end up with inconsistent track assignments, and you will find yourself searching for a clip you thought you already had!

Last edited by philper; 1 week ago at 06:05 PM..
Old 1 week ago
  #8
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Two of the glories of digital are that we don't have generation loss, and that storage is incredibly cheap (you can buy a terabyte external for <$50, which means each production can have its own). So there's no excuse to ever throw anything away, or to not have backups.

Re m/s: solo just one channel. Then switch to a mono sum of both channels. If the sound doesn't change*, it's m/s. If it does change, solo the other channel and then listen to the sum... if it doesn't change now, it's still m/s. And whichever channel successfully didn't change when switched to sum, that's your "m".

(*You might have to adjust your solo volume so it matches the summed volume.)
Old 1 week ago
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speakerfood View Post

And for the M/S check, is there any way to find out? I did a google search but couldn't find anything. Can you 'hear' the characteristics of a figure 8 in a M/S setting?
On M/S sources one channel is often lower in level than the other.
Another quick one is to have an "M/S check" stereo track with an M/S decoder enabled in the session.
If you suspect something could be M/S, throw it on that channel to see if what you hear is stereo.
Old 1 week ago
  #10
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Andrew Mottl's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Rose View Post
Two of the glories of digital are that we don't have generation loss, and that storage is incredibly cheap (you can buy a terabyte external for <$50, which means each production can have its own). So there's no excuse to ever throw anything away, or to not have backups.

Re m/s: solo just one channel. Then switch to a mono sum of both channels. If the sound doesn't change*, it's m/s. If it does change, solo the other channel and then listen to the sum... if it doesn't change now, it's still m/s. And whichever channel successfully didn't change when switched to sum, that's your "m".

(*You might have to adjust your solo volume so it matches the summed volume.)
Just back from lecturing on... M/S
Wouldn‘t that need to be: the mono sum of the stereo decoded (alleged) MS signal sounds like one of the channels.
M plus S channel summed to mono would give left field of the mic, would it not? That would sound different from the pure M signal.
L plus R summed would be M+S summed with M-S resulting in 2M (hence your hint on volume difference)


In addition::
You can check to see if hard peaks look to be time aligned when zoomed in. Clapper, doors, steps. Being a coincidental mic array, there is no time difference like you would find on boom vs lav for example.
Old 1 week ago
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Rose View Post
Two of the glories of digital are that we don't have generation loss, and that storage is incredibly cheap (you can buy a terabyte external for <$50, which means each production can have its own). So there's no excuse to ever throw anything away, or to not have backups.
Sorry, you are absolutely right. By throwing away I didn't mean deleting the clips from disc, but rather remove them from the timeline. I could always retreive them by opening up my first session, but still it's better to have them somewhere ready in the session, I agree :-)

Quote:
If you suspect something could be M/S, throw it on that channel to see if what you hear is stereo.
That's what I tried in the first place, but sometimes I can not tell exactly if the M/S decoding is generating a random stereo field from non M/S recordings.

Quote:
In addition::
You can check to see if hard peaks look to be time aligned when zoomed in. Clapper, doors, steps. Being a coincidental mic array, there is no time difference like you would find on boom vs lav for example.
That's clever, hadn't thought about that one.

All very helpful. Now I wish I asked these questions before I started, and not now I'm halfway..
Old 1 week ago
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Mottl View Post
Wouldn‘t that need to be: the mono sum of the stereo decoded (alleged) MS signal sounds like one of the channels.
You’re absolutely right. Sorry... sloppy writing on my part.
Old 1 week ago
  #13
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Andrew Mottl's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Rose View Post
You’re absolutely right. Sorry... sloppy writing on my part.
And I wasn‘t doubting the knowledge behind your post, but as you said the way it was phrased/misphrased.
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