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How long do you take to mix a TV Show
Old 17th October 2013
  #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brandoncross View Post
You realize the networks budget in more money then that for the mix, right?
Wow. No, I had no idea. Next time the studio owner calls me for a quick mix of a lifetime show I'm going to tell him I'm not going to do it in the time he tells me to. Instead I'm going to tell him to tell the producer to tell the production company to tell the network to get more money to trickle down to us. I'm sure they'll all see it our way, particularly as huge brands start using frickin' video editors as audio engineers. That has got to be the perfect time to tell them all we need more time to do the job.

Genius.

Follow the food chain:

Network - Production company - Studio - Engineer

In a smaller production company those $30k goes to the sole owner (or two) and he (they) can buy something cool with it. Or they can spend it on making the mix 15% better, which nobody on the Network gives a crap about, and nobody in the audience gives a crap about (that'd be the audience that generate profit to the network).

I've actually seen the per episode studio pay go down on some shows that have run successfully for years. Because the Network cut the pay. You think the production company owner is going to cut back on his lifestyle to make room for audio? No, the lower costs trickle down to the studio. And the studio mandate to me is clear; work quickly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brandoncross View Post
How do you feel about the mix after 6 hours?
After 6 hrs of mixing a lifestyle cooking show that's been decently edited and recorded I generally feel that it sounds completely passable and doesn't stand out on the network. Any and everything a person needs to hear in the show is there, and all problematic stuff has been taken out (which, again, is obvious since it passes QC). Sometimes a mix on one of these shows is faster, sometimes it's slower. It depends. But never ever ever ever have I spent 8 hours on just leveling a 20 minute show of this kind.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brandoncross View Post
Is it the best mix it can be?
Of course not. In my experience no mix is ever "the best it can be". In my experience mixes get abandoned when the cost/benefit ratio is no longer good. There's a point of diminishing returns and that's when people who are realistic start thinking about when to stop.

Again, I just can't imagine spending extra hours on making sure the sizzle is actually from a boiling egg and not boiling pasta, or that the blip from the microwave oven is a real one as opposed to coming from a cell phone, or whatever it is that makes it "the best mix it can be". Neither can the producer or studio owner. We're not making Apocalypse Now type sound design here, we're massaging crap for the masses to zone out to. The line of reasoning you're going down right now is akin to asking whether a Big Mac is really the best burger possible. Who cares? It's a darn fast-food burger, not a burger at a wanna-have-five-stars restaurant. "Sorry, I can't conform to this Mr McDonald's Manager, this simply isn't the best burger possible. I need more time."

Quote:
Originally Posted by brandoncross View Post
Undercutting like that really just undercuts yourself.
Really? Video editors have been doing mixes for some time now on "low-budget" shows, and that's a trend likely to continue. I never negotiate time, that's up to the studio owners who pay me. They are the ones that you need to talk to. They are the ones who make promises about what is possible to achieve for X dollars in Y hours. I just deliver the best I can in the time they're paying me to work.
Old 17th October 2013
  #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeMilner View Post
If the budget and/or schedule do not allow you to do a job that you'd put your name on, what's the point of doing it?
Because other lines of work suck more?
Old 17th October 2013
  #33
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Well, that's certainly true.
A bad day on a mixing stage is way better than a bad day in a coal mine.
Old 17th October 2013
  #34
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I think you are just making my point. You are only as good as the last thing you mixed. I worked on some lower budget stuff this summer because my clients also have really good shows. I still asked for the appropriate amount of time to make the show sound like I mixed it, and I am proud to put me name on them. If they said they don't have the money and need outdone cheaper, I would respectfully decline the job because I would never take a lower rate or do a job I'm not proud of. Simple as that. My clients know I only put out extreme quality work.
Old 17th October 2013
  #35
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Well then good for you then Brandon. Good for you.
Old 17th October 2013
  #36
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Henchman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by brandoncross View Post
How do you feel about the mix after 6 hours? Is it the best mix it can be?
If I am given 6 hours to mix, then it's the best mix that can be done in 6 hours.
Old 17th October 2013
  #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc View Post
Because other lines of work suck more?
Yep.
It beats working for a living.
Old 17th October 2013
  #38
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Henchman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeMilner View Post
Well, that's certainly true.
A bad day on a mixing stage is way better than a bad day in a coal mine.
Or, as I like to say "The worst day on the dubstage is better than the best day at any other job I've ever had".
Old 17th October 2013
  #39
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Wow this thread has exploded

In Asia, we still call it SOTs. And yes it is Sound On Tape.

Anyways back on topic...

Straight OMF, editor does quite a ****ty job of laying out the tracks though. Music regions on dialogue tracks and vice versa.

Its a lifestyle show which investigates our food sources, so lots of factory and outdoor scenes (still on PT9, iZotope RX2, but thank god for that!), but mostly its denoising dialogue, mixing music in, minimal SFX and getting it to fit specs.

I'd definitely try and create a template for this show, just finished 2, have 12 more coming.

The general consensus here seems to be if I'm given a short period of time to mix something, do your best, and pray it doesn't stick out like a sore thumb on the network?

Slightly off topic, how long do you guys mix before taking a break? I went at it for 6 hours straight, was pretty knackered at the end of it and was relying more on Insight than my ears...
Old 17th October 2013
  #40
Quote:
Originally Posted by brandoncross View Post
How do you feel about the mix after 6 hours? Is it the best mix it can be?
At the risk of sounding cheap and nasty... does it have to be?

My car isn't the best car that a car can be - it's a Toyota Corolla for heaven's sake. But it gets me from place to place comfortably and safely, carries the dogs on the back seat, and has a nice stereo.

Similarly, our (apparently archetypal) cooking-show half hour has to be technically competent, blandly entertaining, show the viewer how to cook something, and... uhh... yeah, that's it.

If you can convince your clients to pay Rolls Royce when they only really need Toyota, then more power to you. I like to provide my clients value for money. That might range from meticulous detail and creativity down to basic and competent, depending on the budget and the audience.

Back to our half-hour cooking show: What are you going to do in a 12 hour mix that you wouldn't be able to do in 4?
Old 17th October 2013
  #41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brianwonglh View Post
Straight OMF, editor does quite a ****ty job of laying out the tracks though. Music regions on dialogue tracks and vice versa.
Arrrrg. That stuff really annoys me... Are you in a position to communicate with the editor about your requirements? When you're under the pump already, it's really painful to have to be doing corrective work right from the get-go.
Old 17th October 2013
  #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc View Post
Well then good for you then Brandon. Good for you.
lol
Old 17th October 2013
  #43
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BIGBANGBUZZ's Avatar
 

Become Mates with the editor and get him to lay out the audio in a manner which can easily be dragged In to your template,

Sent from my Nexus 4
Old 17th October 2013
  #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brianwonglh View Post
Straight OMF, editor does quite a ****ty job of laying out the tracks though. Music regions on dialogue tracks and vice versa.
If you're not getting paid by the hour then see if you can get him to NOT do that. Of course there's "politics" involved but see if you can get that message across nicely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brianwonglh View Post
Its a lifestyle show which investigates our food sources, so lots of factory and outdoor scenes (still on PT9, iZotope RX2, but thank god for that!), but mostly its denoising dialogue, mixing music in, minimal SFX and getting it to fit specs.

I'd definitely try and create a template for this show, just finished 2, have 12 more coming.
Crappy audio is generally a good and acceptable reason for shows taking longer to mix. If the factory and outdoor stuff needs a lot of work then just explain that to them. Hopefully they'll agree.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brianwonglh View Post
The general consensus here seems to be if I'm given a short period of time to mix something, do your best, and pray it doesn't stick out like a sore thumb on the network?
Well, look at it this way; what else are you going to do? They gave you a job offer, you accepted, now you're stuck with a short time period to mix so it is what it is. If they approve your work then clearly you've done a sufficient job. Leaving the gig because your food show doesn't sound like a motion picture only ensures that they won't hire you again, and won't ensure that you get film gigs in the future.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brianwonglh View Post
Slightly off topic, how long do you guys mix before taking a break? I went at it for 6 hours straight, was pretty knackered at the end of it and was relying more on Insight than my ears...
I try to just take 5 minutes every 90 or so. Then I generally need to eat every 4 maybe, so that's another break of maybe 15-30 minutes. It all depends but that's usually the case. 6 hrs straight is a long stretch for me and it tires me. Only way to get through that is to mix at low levels. Whenever I've done 'marathon' sessions I've felt very sensitive to sounds for a couple of days afterwards. So I try to take breaks. I can still be productive without listening to stuff and the end product becomes better.
Old 17th October 2013
  #45
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[QUOTE=Brianwonglh;9512240]

Straight OMF, editor does quite a ****ty job of laying out the tracks though. Music regions on dialogue tracks and vice versa.
....
The general consensus here seems to be if I'm given a short period of time to mix something, do your best, and pray it doesn't stick out like a sore thumb on the network?
/QUOTE]

I'll just toss in my 2cents.

As far as the OMF thing goes, editors (esp. the ones that end up on lifestyle shows) are notorious for that. I've done a few shows that end up in this realm... 4-6 hours for a 23 min mix, and one that's actually 1 hour for a 23 min. fishing show(no edit, just mix). One thing I've learned is that BEFORE I take these on, I sit down with the producer and go over my OMF tracklay requirements, IN WRITING. I point out that to do the job they want in the time and money they want they have to abide by this. If not then I either bounce it back or charge to fix it. The first time the editor cocks it up, I go to the producer and tell them and ask if they want to have me fix it at cost or have the editor redo it. Seldom happens a second time (and once even resulted in the firing of the editor). Might not help now, but good to know for future gigs.

As far as the mix, yes you do the absolute best you can, in the time you've got, and as you go on, you'll get better still. In most cases lifestyle networks have NONE of their shows with heavy post... the license fees don't make it worth it, so often ANY audio post is an improvement. Does is sound great? NO. Does is sound better? Yes. And while it may not be what I would have liked, I take solace in that fact that if the Producer is happy, then it's all good.
Old 17th October 2013
  #46
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I thought the title of the thread is "How long does it take you time mix a TV show", not what's the fastest, cheapest, worst show you've ever worked on. What are we talking about again?
Old 18th October 2013
  #47
Quote:
Originally Posted by brandoncross View Post
I thought the title of the thread is "How long does it take you time mix a TV show", not what's the fastest, cheapest, worst show you've ever worked on. What are we talking about again?
Well I think there was a perception that you were attacking peoples professionalism for taking on lower budget/short timeframe jobs, and some people felt compelled to challenge the assertion.

But back on topic, I'll respond to the OP with the typical per-episode timing on my current project. It's probably a bit unorthodox, so I'm not sure how applicable it'll be…

So I'm doing animated 12-minute episodes - 52 of them. The show is a wacky pre-teen kids show about a bunch of anthropomorphic bugs who live in a cardboard box theatre and put on stage shows every night. There are singers, stunt acts, comedians, so a fair bit of action & music. I'm doing sound effects design, mix… AND all the music.

So I get an OMF and an MP4, the latter of which I transcode to a ProRes Proxy file to work with.

First order of business is to put all the dialogue tracks into my template. The series all takes place in the theatre, and the director was very keen for each part of the building to have a sound, and that the characters not sound too dry and "voice-overy". So I have tracks set up with three different ambiences for the three major locations - the main theatre, the wings, and the backstage area/dressing rooms etc. and I just place each scene's dialogue into the appropriate tracks. I don't need to spend much time levelling out the dialogue, because they've cut the animatic from an assembly track that I provided to them some months back, and I made sure to get everything consistent back then (knowing that time would be tight now). So I can pretty much place those in real-time as I watch the episode. 12-15 minutes. The editor is pretty well trained, so dialogue is on the first three tracks of the OMF (with the odd stray, but nothing too arduous)

Then I go through and strip in some room-tone for each space. This is pretty subtle, but it just sort of "glues" the characters into each space a little bit. As with the ambience spaces, I have three stock tones, one for each section of the set, and they're rendered to the final level I require, so they can just go in the timeline and they are for all intents and purposes "mixed".

THEN it's into the guts of the work - placing the sound effects. The OMF does have some SFX in place, but they're really only audio cues for the animators to work to, and generally I'll re-lay everything from my own library. Timeframe on this can vary considerably from episode to episode, or from scene to scene. One scene might just be two characters talking in a dressing room, in which case it's just a bit of foley or hand swishing, then the next scene might be part of the live show, and we'll have rings of fire, motorbikes, cannons, and of course crowd interactions etc. The first few were quite time-consuming as we established the sound of the show, I can get the broad strokes of the sound effects done in around half a day now, because we're a few episodes in and we planned for a lot of re-use of assets. Every time the cannon fires, every time someone gets hit in the face and their teeth fall on the ground, etc. etc. we can drop the same sound in, the level is around where it needs to be, so the show is sort of being "mixed" as I go.

Once the SFX are in to a pretty good standard, I start striping it with music. Once again, re-use of assets is a key here - I'm doing a bit of a hybrid of needle-drops (of my own pre-composed & recorded themes & stings) and then some bespoke underscore which I'll add right in the post project where I have a multi-timbral Kontakt instance set up with a whole lot of my standard instruments. I believe this is a pretty unorthodox way to do it, but I'm finding it to be very flexible - I can play in accents over the needle-drops to emphasise certain moments or characters, so the whole thing sounds a lot more episode-specific than it actually is. If I think any of those custom cues might be useful for a later episode, I'll render them out and add them to my library for later reuse.

So we have Dialogue in place with ambience, SFX in place, and music in place. At that point I render out a draft mix to send back for the director to comment on. He'll usually come back with a few small tweaks, which I'll then go ahead and act on, then do another couple of passes to smooth out any level inconsistencies and double/triple/quadruple check for any other problems. That's about it!

Soooo depending on the complexity of a given episode, I'm going from raw OMF to finished episode with about 12 hours of work. Although that doesn't really budget in all the prep work on the music cues and stock sounds.

Don't know if that's helpful at all
Old 18th October 2013
  #48
Quote:
Originally Posted by vocalnick View Post
Back in the mid-late 90s I would regularly do "Final Mix" live to tape on a daily half-hour magazine style show (interviews, cooking segments, pre-taped segments). We'd record three of those on Tuesdays, and another two on Wednesdays. I'd have to live-mix all sources from the studio floor, and it would go straight to 1" tape along with the live-cut video. If I screwed anything up and had to stop and go back, the whole show stopped and went back with me.

So yeah, the fastest I've worked is half an hour to mix a half-hour show. Sounded fine, no QC issues, everyone happy. And that's frankly the type of thing that comes to mind when I think "cooking show." Mostly the presenter's lav mic, some bumpers or underscores... done.

I honestly can't fathom how that type of work could take somebody even close to full day to complete. But I guess "cooking show" is pretty vague descriptor - perhaps your cooking shows are more complicated than the ones I've seen
The cooking show, or baking show rather, I'm doing has 12 competitors, 1host and 2 judges, all lavs. 45 minutes, back to back music.
We still brickwall to -12, so it's basically: mute regions-crossfade/fade-write automation pass-repeat-reach end-record and write music automation real time.
Takes about 4-6 hours.
Omf is perfectly sorted and template great.
Old 18th October 2013
  #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeMilner View Post
As long as there's someone who will take the gig (and there always is), no matter what the budget/schedule etc., this trend will go on, and in an ever-downward direction.
If the budget and/or schedule do not allow you to do a job that you'd put your name on, what's the point of doing it?
Yes and not only that but the ONLY way to protect yourself from low ballers/ undercutters is great work. You reap what you sow. I'm sorry but 4 or 6 hours for any hour long post mix can't be pro.
Old 18th October 2013
  #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Willeyh View Post
The cooking show, or baking show rather, I'm doing has 12 competitors, 1host and 2 judges, all lavs. 45 minutes, back to back music.
We still brickwall to -12, so it's basically: mute regions-crossfade/fade-write automation pass-repeat-reach end-record and write music automation real time.
Takes about 4-6 hours.
Omf is perfectly sorted and template great.
Using iso lavs?
Is it one of those UK reality shows?
I'm not sure if what is done on some of those reality shows is called mixing. They don't sound good at all.

Sent from my Nexus 4
Old 18th October 2013
  #51
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You can't blame lowballing for the collapse of budgets. I've been in the motion picture sound business since the mid-seventies and I guarantee you that there have always been plenty of lowballers to compete against, but when financing and profits were more abundant, more producers were willing to pay for high end subcontractors.

There's no point in bitching about it, just learn your craft well enough to know how to squeeze every last bit of important quality out of the time you are allotted. I say important, because you can spend a lot of time perfecting minutiae that won't make the drama any more compelling. If I'm allowed to, I can lose myself for weeks buffing every little sound until it is perfect, but that is just my own OCD and it doesn't necessarily mean that the movie is going to play better. You can finesse the life out of a soundtrack.

Not that you would choose to, but you definitely can create a killer mix while flying by the seat of your pants. It's like a live Rock 'n Roll performance, you hit it once with all your skill and heart because you can't go back and fix your mistakes. It won't be perfect, but it can be magic. I've spent too many multi-week final mixes struggling to duplicate the heart and soul of a great 2 or 3 day temp mix not to believe that .
Old 18th October 2013
  #52
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Well said Gary!
Old 18th October 2013
  #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ggegan View Post
You can't blame lowballing for the collapse of budgets. I've been in the motion picture sound business since the mid-seventies and I guarantee you that there have always been plenty of lowballers to compete against, but when financing and profits were more abundant, more producers were willing to pay for high end subcontractors.

There's no point in bitching about it, just learn your craft well enough to know how to squeeze every last bit of important quality out of the time you are allotted. I say important, because you can spend a lot of time perfecting minutiae that won't make the drama any more compelling. If I'm allowed to, I can lose myself for weeks buffing every little sound until it is perfect, but that is just my own OCD and it doesn't necessarily mean that the movie is going to play better. You can finesse the life out of a soundtrack.

Not that you would choose to, but you definitely can create a killer mix while flying by the seat of your pants. It's like a live Rock 'n Roll performance, you hit it once with all your skill and heart because you can't go back and fix your mistakes. It won't be perfect, but it can be magic. I've spent too many multi-week final mixes struggling to duplicate the heart and soul of a great 2 or 3 day temp mix not to believe that .
No bitching here.no 4 hour mixes either.
Old 18th October 2013
  #54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brandoncross View Post
No bitching here.no 4 hour mixes either.
Yes, there are also some timelines that are just plain impossible.
Old 18th October 2013
  #55
Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGBANGBUZZ View Post
Using iso lavs?
Is it one of those UK reality shows?
I'm not sure if what is done on some of those reality shows is called mixing. They don't sound good at all.

Sent from my Nexus 4
ISO lavs. It's a UK concept on Norwegian television. I wouldn't excactly call it mixing either. Just making it sound 'better'.

Pays my bills though!
Old 18th October 2013
  #56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Willeyh View Post
ISO lavs. It's a UK concept on Norwegian television. I wouldn't excactly call it mixing either. Just making it sound 'better'.

Pays my bills though!
Explain this to me. A production company spends 4 weeks editing a show, 3 days onlining it and 4 hours mixing it.
Old 18th October 2013
  #57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brandoncross View Post
Explain this to me. A production company spends 4 weeks editing a show, 3 days onlining it and 4 hours mixing it.
These days thats just called "normal".

Sometimes, depending on the project, it just is what it is.
Old 18th October 2013
  #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brandoncross View Post
Explain this to me. A production company spends 4 weeks editing a show, 3 days onlining it and 4 hours mixing it.

There's no explaining it, beyond the fact that TV is first and foremost a visual medium, and that's where the producers' focus will always be. All we can do is try to explain to the producers why the effort and money spent on the sound, in production and/or post, is worth it. That can be a long-term educational process. And if they finally get it and give the soundtrack more attention going forward, that's great...but if they don't, it still their show and you can take the job or leave it on the terms they set.
Old 18th October 2013
  #59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brandoncross View Post
Explain this to me. A production company spends 4 weeks editing a show, 3 days onlining it and 4 hours mixing it.
The don't spend that amount of time on low budget reality shows
They churn them out. Definitely not 3 days onlining.

Dramas spend a bit more time, for. 2 day mix.
Ie Sons of anarchy spend roughly 3 weeks on the edit, because there's the editors cut, director cut, producer cut. Then network notes.
A day in online. Color correction for 2 days. 2 day mix.
Old 19th October 2013
  #60
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Willeyh View Post
ISO lavs. It's a UK concept on Norwegian television. I wouldn't excactly call it mixing either. Just making it sound 'better'.

Pays my bills though!
Unfortunately I have to admit I've been forced to do the same, I worked on the highest rating show for the year down under it was a popular reality TV series final 2 hours of TV posted in ten hours.


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