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Mix Compression and Loudness Specs
Old 5th January 2015
  #1
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Mix Compression and Loudness Specs

Hey all. For the same reasons we like it for music mixes, I like to use mix bus processing on many of my broadcast mixes. Sometimes it's very subtle, other times very aggressive, but in any event it responds to and affects the entire mix, adding cohesion ("glue") to the whole. This is all well and good until I'm asked for stems when mixing to broadcast specs. Moving the bus processing to the stems retains many of the same properties—but not all. And it certainly can't guarantee the full mix specs will be maintained when re-combined.

What do most of you post folks do? Avoid mix bus processing all together? Or do you have a slick workaround I haven't thought of?
Old 5th January 2015
  #2
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narcoman's Avatar
 

I avoid compression on the buss unless i am willing to compromise and have to side chained to the mix bus so replicate complete mix compression on stems. Sometimes works well, other times very ugly
Old 5th January 2015
  #3
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Henchman's Avatar
I never ever ever ever do any processing whatsoever on just the final mix.
The stems, when combined should always reflect the final mix.
Old 5th January 2015
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Henchman View Post
I never ever ever ever do any processing whatsoever on just the final mix.
The stems, when combined should always reflect the final mix.
In these discussions it's important to keep in mind why the stems are being used - Foreign Language, Clean, shortened for TV, etc. Point being - If the stems are being brought up then a change is being made, so the need for the Stems, when combined, to equal the final mix becomes unclear. If for some reason you need to have the exact Final Mix without any changes, why would you go to the stems? Simply put up the original Final Mix and hit record.

That being said, I agree with the sentiment that combined stems should "reflect" the "final mix" and would never do any Compression or EQ (or Fader Riding-something I've seen other Mixers do believe it or not) to "it". Although I doubt it was Mark's intention I like that he chose the word, "reflect" as opposed to "equal," because I believe it allows for some wiggle-room here.

As a Fail-Safe, I typically have a Limiter (No Gain Allowed / Strict "Same" In / "Same" Out setting) on my Main to avoid any QC issues.

If I get stems from someone that when combined hit -1.6 I know from experience that a Limiter on my Main set to -2 is what's missing.
Old 5th January 2015
  #5
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The stems have to work together pretty well for cut-downs or segmentation etc to work without much effort. In those cases they want everything that's in the full mix but need to get at the food groups to make the edits less ugly, but all the stems are going to play. For foreign etc etc I take the point, they will remix it all anyhow with new elements, and in truth all the cutdowns etc I've done from stems were remixed as well to reflect the new cut and further thoughts from the director etc.. In any case relying very much on a limiter on the whole full mix is going to make the stems not work very well in a remix--I find it better to do the dynamics control way farther back in the process--on individual clips and channels, a little on buses and hardly anything at all on the full stereo mix. I understand that this is maybe a different notion of dynamics control vs. how popular music is mixed, but I feel I have a different agenda (and different deliverables) than a music mixer.

philp
Old 5th January 2015
  #6
Gear Maniac
I generally do the same as Nathan, and I think we're both mainly "spot" mixers. I'll have the limiters on my buss masters and then a limiter on my master buss set at say -2 in and -2 out. They do almost nothing but knock down any "over" peaks especially with your mixing to loudness specs where your not really slamming any limiters.
The splits for spots are usually for an editor making either cutdowns at a later date or so a spot can later be tagged at any studio in my experience.
Old 6th January 2015
  #7
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Thanks for all the good thoughts and advice, guys! It would seem wise to avoid mix bus processing (other than a safety limiter) on any project that has any chance of requiring stems. I'll restrict the slammin' versions to projects I know for sure will stay under my control.
Old 6th January 2015
  #8
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Theoretically you could accomplish this with the sidechain controls of the compressors.

Set up your three busses (Dialog, FX, Music) each with a compressor on them and the sidechain input of the compressor assigned to another mono buss. Then assign all your individual channesl to their respective busses (Dialog, FX, Music) plus the mono buss. This mono buss now controls all three compressors as if they were on the final mix bus.

I did try something like this once on a music mix and it seemed to work pretty well.

I probably wouldn't use this setup for a post production mix, but if someone were so inclined, it would probably work.

Sean, let me know if you try it!
Old 6th January 2015
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chef Mixer View Post
Theoretically you could accomplish this with the sidechain controls of the compressors.

Set up your three busses (Dialog, FX, Music) each with a compressor on them and the sidechain input of the compressor assigned to another mono buss. Then assign all your individual channesl to their respective busses (Dialog, FX, Music) plus the mono buss. This mono buss now controls all three compressors as if they were on the final mix bus.

I did try something like this once on a music mix and it seemed to work pretty well.

I probably wouldn't use this setup for a post production mix, but if someone were so inclined, it would probably work.

Sean, let me know if you try it!
Interesting idea! A bit different from placing a single compressor on the mix bus, triggered by signals from each of the three stem buses. Or is it? If nothing else, though, your scenario preserves the option of printing all three buses simultaneously. I generally don't do that, anyway, because I'm too lazy to give each stem its own FX.
Old 6th January 2015
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chef Mixer View Post
Theoretically you could accomplish this with the sidechain controls of the compressors.

Set up your three busses (Dialog, FX, Music) each with a compressor on them and the sidechain input of the compressor assigned to another mono buss. Then assign all your individual channesl to their respective busses (Dialog, FX, Music) plus the mono buss. This mono buss now controls all three compressors as if they were on the final mix bus.

I did try something like this once on a music mix and it seemed to work pretty well.

I probably wouldn't use this setup for a post production mix, but if someone were so inclined, it would probably work.

Sean, let me know if you try it!
It's not really the same thing though since the actual compression works on three individual signals that are different from each other, compared to working on the sum of them all, regardless of when and how much compression is triggered.

Some of this ends up being an exercise in splitting hairs from an audio "quality" perspective, but from a QC perspective it is different. Not that I think anyone will sit down and run stems against a full mix to ensure complete accuracy, but it is different, and so NOT making it different at all (save for a brickwall that catches the odd slightly over peak) is just an insurance against getting stuff kicked back. That's how I see it anyway.
Old 7th January 2015
  #11
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narcoman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Henchman View Post
I never ever ever ever do any processing whatsoever on just the final mix.
The stems, when combined should always reflect the final mix.
they do if you side chain
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