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seanmccoy 22nd May 2019 07:00 PM

Surround Music Deliverables
 
Hey all. Doing post for a documentary that I'll mix in 5.1, and while I've frequently upmixed stereo music in this situation, for the first time in my experience I'm working with a composer who has offered to deliver the score in both stereo and surround. So a couple of newbie questions. I monitor in SMPTE order, but it's my understanding that Pro Tools deals with surround internally in Film Order. So does that mean I should instruct him to send me interleaved files in film order? Also, given that it's impossible to make accurate LFE decisions until the final mix, and given the limitations of working with 5.1 interleaved files, should I tell him to leave the LFE channel blank?

Any advice from you seasoned veterans appreciated!

pentagon 22nd May 2019 07:27 PM

Pro Tools can deal with interleaved files no matter the order as long as the order metadata is in the file header. So it's not something to worry about. Have them send you a test file to check because it will depend on the originator of the file (for instance, Cubase puts the metadata in correctly for pro tools).

Split the LFE or put a master fader on the LFE subpath so you can manage it. You can always discard it if you want later. Hopefully the composer (or the composer's mixer) knows what an LFE is for. Better to have a "proper" LFE than generating one but you still have the option to ignore it.
But make sure the score is delivered in stems (5.1 wide).

Leverson 22nd May 2019 07:52 PM

Agreed with what Pentagon said above. As long as the files have metadata Pro Tools will import them in the proper channel order. Otherwise it should be fairly easy to tell if something is weird by looking at their waveforms/listening.

If you are worried then have the composer prep and deliver the score to you in a separate Pro Tools session. This is the easiest to import. I've worked with many composers that compose in a variety of different non-PT setups but still can deliver to me music sessions in Pro Tools as a turnover.

If the composer knows what they are doing, let them mix how they feel the music should be mixed and you can always adjust things later on the stage if needed. I agree with Pentagon its better to have a proper LFE than an artificially generated one. If they are inexperienced then it might be worthwhile to caution them about being aware of keeping score out of the center channel (or at least out of the way of the dialogue), or going too heavy LFE, etc, but if they know what they are doing then let them create their vision. Sometimes I get surround score deliverables in quad, sometimes in 5.1, it doesn't really matter to me as long as it sounds good and it works with the film.

Splits are always important, just be aware in your session that splits for 5.1 files can eat up a lot of voices (especially if you are checkerboarding) so make sure you can power everything in your setup, and it would be a good idea to chat about how many stems to deal with ahead of time to find the right balance between control vs unreasonable amount of tracks.

But getting 5.1 scores from composers that can compose in surround and know what they are doing is wonderful.

seanmccoy 22nd May 2019 09:57 PM

All good info, guys, thanks much.

pentagon 22nd May 2019 10:25 PM

As a score mixer, I usually have a conversation with my re-recording mixer a month out if possible. And then send what I expect my delivery template is going to be (even if a music editor is going to be on the stage or running a separate underscore Pro Tools system.) Goes back to when we used to reserve channels on the desk and DIA and SFX get started on the stage way before music is ready. But it also gets the re-recording mixer prepared for what they are going to get.

Something like:

6MIX (5.1)
Orch (5.1)
Gtrs (LCR)
Vox (5.1)
Pads (Quad)
Booms (5.1)

1+5 Tracks, 25 channels needed


(6MIX as the full mix can be deactivated to save voices but is there for reference)
Sometime we have a quick conversation and it's just "I'll have 40 channels held for you"

seanmccoy 22nd May 2019 11:06 PM

This is a low budget documentary bound for smaller film festivals, so the mix won't be anywhere near as complex as that. But thanks for the insight.

By 'booms' are you talking about low percussion, or some other type of musical or synth effects? I would think anything that LFE-specific would always need to be treated on its own by the re-recording mixer and not too heavily integrated with the regular musical elements. Not so?

pentagon 22nd May 2019 11:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by seanmccoy (Post 13997398)
By 'booms' are you talking about low percussion, or some other type of musical or synth effects? I would think anything that LFE-specific would always need to be treated on its own by the re-recording mixer and not too heavily integrated with the regular musical elements. Not so?

Booms in this sense are part of the musical score (not sfx). They could be loud, low percussion, synthetic elements, heavy metal thrashes/clangs, etc. They are not necessarily in the LFE (depends on the score mixer) but most likely these are the elements that would be if any. A score mixer should keep them separate on delivery in the splits for delivery to the re-recording mixer.

Keep in mind, these are music cues that are approved by the director and are within their vision and the booms have a balance to the rest of the score. [however minds change on a dub stage]. So they are part of the score as also a musical punctuation. And they may not be in the LFE at all but, by being separate, it gives the re-recording mixer the option to send some of that to the LFE if that's what's desired at the stage. Pick any of the (last of) Tony Scott's films and you will hear the score's booms tracks trading off/on with the sound designers sfx booms, etc. Each creates a hole for the other depending on priority/continuity.

seanmccoy 23rd May 2019 12:09 AM

That all makes good sense. So to 'keep them separate on delivery' the score mixer would break those out into an independent 5.1 stem, right? I ask that because, in the context of music in the LFE, I can also see delivering the music as 5.0 with an independent LFE track if the score mixer did happen to send musical elements there.

pentagon 23rd May 2019 01:02 AM

The template for a score mix is much like the template in re-recording in that food groups are kept completely separate until the end. So a 5.1 for booms is being fed audio of boom elements and mixed as a 5.1 all the way through and printed down in an audio track before being bussed to a 5.1 audio track that results in the reference 5.1 mix (6MIX) where it is combined with everything else (say a 5.0 of Orchestra and a 5.0 of Piano.)

I would not send a separated LFE track (a 5.0 + LFE). The LFE belongs to the 5.0 that is the "Boom" 5.1 audio track. That sound might have its main elements in the L and R, a reverb wash to the Ls/Rs, and a send to the LFE for emphasis. A boom/hit/clang has lots of elements to its composition and it's a 5.1 that belongs together.

If the re-recording mixer finds the LFE out-of-control, they have the option of reducing that part of the overall track. Re-recording mixer's prerogative.
Hopefully the score mixer is consistent enough that the re-recording mixer can do a global fix on the whole underscore stem buss if there's a balance issue like that and then only has to adjust for story-telling elements.
The point is definitely not to have the re-recording mixer remix the score. They've got enough to do and the music score has already went through a lot of approvals.

seanmccoy 23rd May 2019 01:50 AM

Great, thanks. I guess I've never really known how much leeway the score and sfx mixers had regarding LFE content in the pre-dubs, and assumed that all decisions about what went to the LFE were reserved for the re-recording mixer at the final dub stage. But I can see how working with competent pre-mixers could ultimately make the re-recording mixer's job easier by helping them understand the vision of the music and fx people, even if they're not involved in the final mix.

philper 23rd May 2019 04:39 AM

A side note: if you are indeed mixing a "budget" doc it is very likely that most of the "the life of the film" will be in situations where it is shown with a stereo mix. The 5.1 will get used at festivals and hopefully in situations where the film is showing off a DCP in actual theatres. But otherwise, including on TV, online and probably on DVD etc...stereo. So make sure that mix works just as well as your 5.1, especially if the stereo is a downmix of that 5.1 mix.

seanmccoy 23rd May 2019 08:51 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by philper (Post 13997753)
A side note: if you are indeed mixing a "budget" doc it is very likely that most of the "the life of the film" will be in situations where it is shown with a stereo mix. The 5.1 will get used at festivals and hopefully in situations where the film is showing off a DCP in actual theatres. But otherwise, including on TV, online and probably on DVD etc...stereo. So make sure that mix works just as well as your 5.1, especially if the stereo is a downmix of that 5.1 mix.

Very true, and the stereo mix will indeed be a downmix from the 5.1. Fortunately I should have just enough budget to do a touchup session for the LoRo version so I won't have to make any major compromises while working in surround.