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Mixing a short film in a single pass...
Old 15th September 2011
  #1
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S.Moore's Avatar
 

Mixing a short film in a single pass...

I'm coming up to the point where I have to make decisions regarding the final mix of a short film I've produced. As a production mixer I love the tactility of analog mixing, so I've been seriously considering mixing the film on an analog console rather than with pro tools. I'd like to find a small studio with a 'proper' analog console and a multi-channel pro tools output for playback. Is this a crazy idea? I've read other threads here about single pass mixing, so I think I have a clear Idea of how to organize everything.
Old 15th September 2011
  #2
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Jfriah's Avatar
 

Wow, there's something you don't hear everyday.

Good luck with your search. But (all comments very tongue-in-cheek) you do know they created a thing called 'punch-in recording' right? And, also, electronic consoles that have faders and everything stays in the digital realm. Also, how many hands do you have?




I guess I'd have to ask 'why' you'd want to mix it 'single-pass' as you say. That's certainly a stylistic choice; how many tracks are you thinking of working with?

Jeff
Old 15th September 2011
  #3
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pethenis's Avatar
 

Yes, it's a crazy idea. There's only one good excuse for mixing a film through an analog board and that's if you like the sound. There's only one good excuse to want to do it in one pass: mental illness.

I can understand the "warm feeling" that people have for analogue sound, I'm one of them. But if I absolutely wanted that for a film, I'd rent a nice room/dubstage with an automated SSL or NEVE. Out of Pro Tools, quality eq and summing from the board and straight back into PT.
Old 15th September 2011
  #4
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S.Moore's Avatar
 

Hehe, yes I know about punch ins, control surfaces and digital mixers . Its a fairly standard dramatic piece so not a crazy amount of stems and I think 2 people could handle the job. The film is separated by inter-titles and black spaces so it could be mixed in multiple segments. I can't afford a ssl/neve level studio, but I have some contacts and I'm going to track down a modest facility. Stylistically I love the way films (especially British drama) from the 80's is mixed. I guess I was thinking that this would be a good way to achieve that except with digital playback.
Old 15th September 2011
  #5
Gear Maniac
 

For who's benefit are you choosing this workflow; yours, your audience, or your budget? If it's just an exercise to see if it can be done then I think you should step back and look at the big picture-- what's best for the film? If you think you can come up with a better mix this way, then have at it, but I'm pretty skeptical. If you are doing this because your back is against a wall and you don't have the time to have more than one pass then do what you have to do, and good luck.

-Richard
Old 15th September 2011
  #6
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taturana's Avatar
It's my experience that mixes for film require quite complicated edits and level/eq changes, and that's the sort of thing you can do a lot better in a DAW .... but you did get my attention... hehe

p.s. i am in the middle of recalling a mix for a short movie i did, and, thanks god, this is quick and easy or all my previous work in this movie would have been lost...
Old 15th September 2011
  #7
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If you want to do it all in one non-automated pass on an analog console, you could always start by writing the more drastic level moves in Pro Tools, just to get things in the ballpark and eliminating jarring jumps that are hard to manage in real time. Send those partially-automated tracks out to an analog console and you can then just do the macro-level stuff there.
Old 15th September 2011
  #8
Gear Head
Would you try and boom operate with one arm? Like to drive without synchromesh? Shoot a musket with no rifling?

Why why why? This is flat earth mixing and will lead to a highly compromised product.
Old 16th September 2011
  #9
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Airon's Avatar
 

The only time I ever mixed that quickly was for a production gag reel that had to be "ready in 40 minutes and it's 30 minutes long mate - chop, chop!".

You wouldn't actually want to do that. Even the people who were really good at it in the 70s wouldn't want to do that any more. Not when you can use a Harrison, or an Icon/PT rig. It's just too much fun to mix with that instead.
Old 16th September 2011
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by S.Moore View Post
Stylistically I love the way films (especially British drama) from the 80's is mixed. I guess I was thinking that this would be a good way to achieve that except with digital playback.
But these weren't mixed in a single pass. They were mixed by rocking n' rolling and dropping in on film mag. Slowly moving through a dialogue mix, 3 or 4 seconds at a time, forward, drop-in, back, forward, back, forward, back etc. Then that dial. mix got put up as a track and you would start your atmos mix. forward, back, forward, back dropping in a thousand times. Then that was put up as a track and you would start your sfx mix .. etc etc .. etc. I was a sound camera op. then (could you guess).

It took a long time and their was a team of very experienced people doing it. It was an art that took a long time to learn and perfect.

Of course you can do it but it will take you so much longer to get a good result.

But why don't you use that time to make the sound better on a DAW.
Old 16th September 2011
  #11
I think you are seriously mixing two things up: the nostalgia for analog gear, and the nostalgia for old workflows where chinagraph pencils were your automation. That and as many assistants as you could get your hands on for rough scenes.
The guys who mixed in one pass were from the time were the sound was shot straight to optical on the mix stage. A couple of rehearsals and the crew would shoot the 10 min reel in one go because there was no alternative. At the end of the recording, they could reverse the optical negative to have another go.
But it happened often that pieces of optical neg were spliced together, and the cut smoothed out with blooping ink (a handscripted crossfade if you like).

Mix with analog gear if that tickles your fancy or, more importantly, if your director has that fantasy.
Just dont f**k his film up because you feel like having fun doing it that way. Best way to make an unhappy client. Ever.

Recently I mixed a movie where the production sound mixer "fantasized" about using an "old" mic (a m-160 ribbon mic to be precise). I cursed him to the ninth generation because the track was so hissy and noisy. He really put the sound of the film in jeopardy because of some silly idea of going "retro" with his gear.
Old 16th September 2011
  #12
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minister's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven1145 View Post
Recently I mixed a movie where the production sound mixer "fantasized" about using an "old" mic (a m-160 ribbon mic to be precise). I cursed him to the ninth generation because the track was so hissy and noisy. He really put the sound of the film in jeopardy because of some silly idea of going "retro" with his gear.
Beyer M-160's are not THAT noisy inherently. Something must have happened. It is hypercardioid. Great for upright piano, Rock 'n Roll overheads, reed instruments, electric guitar. Suited, though, to louder sources. But I think a Tonader Power Schoeps might have been better....

I will ALSO tell you that the Wes Dooley AEA A440 (phantom powered 44 style ribbon) is a quiet as ANYTHING! and has as hot an output as an LD condenser. I use mine for foley sometimes. Seriously.
Old 16th September 2011
  #13
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Kuba_Pietrzak's Avatar
 

If the movie needs the "vintage sound feel", you can do it with modern digital DAWs and boards. It is not the tools you would use, but mixers' abilities...


Kuba
Old 16th September 2011
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by minister View Post
Beyer M-160's are not THAT noisy inherently. Something must have happened. It is hypercardioid. Great for upright piano, Rock 'n Roll overheads, reed instruments, electric guitar. Suited, though, to louder sources. But I think a Tonader Power Schoeps might have been better....

I will ALSO tell you that the Wes Dooley AEA A440 (phantom powered 44 style ribbon) is a quiet as ANYTHING! and has as hot an output as an LD condenser. I use mine for foley sometimes. Seriously.
I agree, but it just didn't work out for that film. Too many silent moments where I should have been able to use the sound, but instead had shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh all over the place. Probably a bad mic/preamp combo.
Old 16th September 2011
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven1145 View Post
I think you are seriously mixing two things up: the nostalgia for analog gear, and the nostalgia for old workflows where chinagraph pencils were your automation. That and as many assistants as you could get your hands on for rough scenes.
The guys who mixed in one pass were from the time were the sound was shot straight to optical on the mix stage. A couple of rehearsals and the crew would shoot the 10 min reel in one go because there was no alternative. At the end of the recording, they could reverse the optical negative to have another go.
I think it's possibly the worst type of nostalgia - nostalgia for something he never knew. I know location sound guys who would rather record to 2-track than use a multitrack recorder, as they "want to get it right on set and not have to fiddle with it in Pro Tools".

As for reversing the optical sound neg to re-record, how is that possible? That would result in a double (or tripple, or quadruple etc etc) exposure. Might sound interesting!

Perhaps this thread is an argument for production sound mixers sticking to production sound mixing.
Old 16th September 2011
  #16
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Jesse Peterson's Avatar
 

I'll also echo that it's a bad idea... but

who cares, do it anyway!


I would use a controller like mackie control or equivalent and mix the whole thing in the box writing automation the whole time.

I'd run my outs through my favorite analog junk to get that sound I want and record it all in real time back into your Daw.

Then you can listen back to the whole thing and if you do want to tweak something you can.. and just punch in that fix into the recording.

consolidate, done


But you really shouldn't do this. Suspension of disbelief in soundtrack comes from finesse. And keep in mind that down the line your potential future clients will listen to it and assume that this was the very best you could do.. which I'm sure it's not.
Old 16th September 2011
  #17
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven1145 View Post
Recently I mixed a movie where the production sound mixer "fantasized" about using an "old" mic (a m-160 ribbon mic to be precise).
Maybe he was an admirer of Antoine Bonfanti? He was a promoter of the M160 for production sound if I recall correctly....
But anyway, a M160 needs so much preamp gain for dialog recordings on set, I do not doubt hiss and rumble on the recording...
Old 16th September 2011
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by tom_lowe View Post
As for reversing the optical sound neg to re-record, how is that possible? That would result in a double (or tripple, or quadruple etc etc) exposure. Might sound interesting!
You can reverse it only once. SVA (or other, like variable density) is written close to the edge of the 35mm film, so in one pass only a small portion is exposed. When the reel reaches its end, you just flip it and record the "other side".
Old 16th September 2011
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by matt-o- View Post
Maybe he was an admirer of Antoine Bonfanti? He was a promoter of the M160 for production sound if I recall correctly....
But anyway, a M160 needs so much preamp gain for dialog recordings on set, I do not doubt hiss and rumble on the recording...
I had the pleasure to work with his location sound once... Unforgettable...
Old 16th September 2011
  #20
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tom_lowe View Post

As for reversing the optical sound neg to re-record, how is that possible? That would result in a double (or tripple, or quadruple etc etc) exposure. Might sound interesting!
AFAIK in the first pass you would record the optical track for example on the right hand perforation, for the second pass you would turn the reel around and use the previous left part of the film. If you need a third pass you had to throw this reel of optical to the garbage and load new stock, and at those times it was not cheap!

my 2c
Old 16th September 2011
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by S.Moore View Post
I'm coming up to the point where I have to make decisions regarding the final mix of a short film I've produced. As a production mixer I love the tactility of analog mixing, so I've been seriously considering mixing the film on an analog console rather than with pro tools. I'd like to find a small studio with a 'proper' analog console and a multi-channel pro tools output for playback. Is this a crazy idea? I've read other threads here about single pass mixing, so I think I have a clear Idea of how to organize everything.
not a bad idea
back in the day everything got mixed on the way to tape
anyway. later they invented all the multichannel nonsense and mixing later. more work same result or at least close enough for govt work.

you need more skill to do it all at once
but you can save a lot of time
Old 16th September 2011
  #22
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minister's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by oldeanalogueguy View Post
not a bad idea
back in the day everything got mixed on the way to tape
anyway. later they invented all the multichannel nonsense and mixing later. more work same result or at least close enough for govt work.

you need more skill to do it all at once
but you can save a lot of time
Please share with the class the movies you have mixed like this.
Old 17th September 2011
  #23
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Henchman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by oldeanalogueguy View Post
not a bad idea
back in the day everything got mixed on the way to tape
anyway. later they invented all the multichannel nonsense and mixing later. more work same result or at least close enough for govt work.

you need more skill to do it all at once
but you can save a lot of time
Nonsense.
The quality of even TV mixes is far beyond what it was even 20 years ago.
Our clients expect feature quality mixes in 2 days for a 42 minute show.

When i listen to old movies and tv shows, a lot of them sound like crap.
Midrangy and honky, and no depth.
Especially tv.
Hell, i see oscar winning movies from back then, that sound like crap by todays standards.

So please, spare me the nostalgia trip.
Old 17th September 2011
  #24
Gear Maniac
 

Sounds interesting... go for it!!!!

Let us know how it turns out.

I am a big fan of single pass mixing for sound design.
Old 17th September 2011
  #25
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An M160 (still available new, BTW) is an interesting choice for production sound if there was plenty of sound in your production, ie lots of level and you could work close. Far away, wide shot, relatively quiet dialog=trouble. They don't make a lot of level even compared to dynamic mics, so up you would have to crank them. Some very clean pres would be a good idea. Your bass response would fall off dramatically as you move away from the source as well. My Beyer ribbons aren't particularly forgiving re: handling noise, I can't really see them working out well on a boom. And then there is the issue of wind protection...

Re: a "one pass" mix--whatever floats your boat. Just make sure you have a way to make fixes and tweaks and address 2nd thoughts or you will have some unhappy clients.

phil p
Old 17th September 2011
  #26
Gear Head
 

"The quality of even TV mixes is far beyond what it was even 20 years ago....
When i listen to old movies and tv shows, a lot of them sound like crap.....
Especially tv.
Hell, i see oscar winning movies from back then, that sound like crap by todays standards."


True........

"For who's benefit are you choosing this workflow; yours, your audience, or your budget? If it's just an exercise to see if it can be done then I think you should step back and look at the big picture-- what's best for the film?"

Very True.........


However, no-one but the OP has actually seen this film - depending on its content it's possible it might be a perfectly appropriate way of dealing with the soundtrack. It's hardly a groundbreaking idea -

Theatrical constraints - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



OK, now back to cutting Transformers 4, which we're doing on Victor Victrolas using only fx on shellac based media
Old 17th September 2011
  #27
Gear Guru
 
UnderTow's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by oldeanalogueguy View Post
not a bad idea
back in the day everything got mixed on the way to tape
anyway. later they invented all the multichannel nonsense and mixing later. more work same result or at least close enough for govt work.

you need more skill to do it all at once
but you can save a lot of time
LOL! Are you trying to make a point of being wrong in every single post you make on gearslutz?

Alistair
Old 17th September 2011
  #28
Gear Head
 

It's an interesting question if this:

Stanley Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon" [Opening Scene] - YouTube

Or this:

Bande à part dance - YouTube

would be "better" with a modern soundtrack?
Old 17th September 2011
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by S.Moore View Post
I'm coming up to the point where I have to make decisions regarding the final mix of a short film I've produced. As a production mixer I love the tactility of analog mixing, so I've been seriously considering mixing the film on an analog console rather than with pro tools. I'd like to find a small studio with a 'proper' analog console and a multi-channel pro tools output for playback. Is this a crazy idea? I've read other threads here about single pass mixing, so I think I have a clear Idea of how to organize everything.
That's just crazy talk. Take it from one who knows.

If you decide to do it, I hope it provides a good learning experience. And limit yourself to 10 tracks, total.
Old 17th September 2011
  #30
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No way!!! I thought about this thread yesterday when I was asked to mix a 10 min short in an afternoon. I would not have stood a chance, considering EQ, panning and levels, not to mention any other element love verb and delay etc. I would however have been up for a one pass just switching to trim mode on the stems and vca faders after all the main things are done. That would have been fun!
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