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Old 28th June 2019
Originally Posted by Anadrolic View Post
Will the dub-mixer will master everything? It seems that in some instances especially when working with small films there is an expectation from some people that I need to help with the whole process. Where can I read about the SMPTE guidelines for scoring?
This is a misconception most people new to this industry have. Bill did a good job of explaining print mastering.

I will just add that the print mastering is based on the delivery format being used. Dolby SR, Dolby E, Dolby Pro Logic, DTS, and so on. For a lot of print mastering on Indie films, the film producer has to hire engineers from dolby to come down to the dub stage and they spend an entire day (or two) "print mastering" with the dolby engineers and the re-recording mixers AFTER the mixers have finished mixing the film and AFTER the producer and director have signed off on the film.

During the print mastering, the re-recording mixers will have to sometimes tweak the stems they made (just FYI... films are usually never just mixed to a Stereo LoRo [Left Only Right Only]. Films are usually mixed to 5.1 stems for dialogue labeled "DX", Music labeled "MX", and Effects labeled "FX", those three 5.1 stems are fed into the dolby or DTS encoder) to make the decode sound correct. The output of the encoded Dolby or DTS audio is usually referred to as the "LtRt" (Left Total Right Total), "Print Master", or sometimes I've heard people say the "LtRt Print Master". And sometimes there are multiple print masters for the different delivery formats. there might be a Dolby SR LtRt and a Sony DTS LtRt. And so on...

that Print master is "laid back" onto the final color corrected picture and synced up and the finished master reel of the film is then complete.

One other thing to interject that I notice most composers have a hard time with in the beginning... anything and everything you do with your music and your mix is NEVER the final. The mixes of your score you turn into the dub stage are technically called "pre dubs". They will get tweaked, adjusted, etc during the mixing process of the sound for the film. A spot where you might be intending to feature the brass/horns, in the final dub, might have the brass/horns stem ducked down... and so on. Sometimes your mixes and your intentions can be completely flipped upside down after the re-recording mixers are done with it.

And as a re-recording mixer myself in addition to being a composer, music producer and score mixer, I can tell you that if the re-recording mixers do that it's because it needed to be done. So you just have to suck it up and let it go. Dialogue is king, always. Maybe your brass/horn melody was fighting and distracting from dialogue and you never noticed because you were so focused on writing the music in and of itself that even with the dialogue playing you still couldn't hear how distracting it was... or maybe your guitars were too midrangy and sat right in the frequency band of dialogue (happens a lot with distorted guitars) or whatever...

When dealing with small indie films you are right, they sometimes do look towards the composer to help with ALL sound because up until this point, you are the only person out of the group working on the film that has extensive experience with sound... but it's an issue that can and will come back to bite you in the ass... because if they are looking at you as the resident expert and you don't really know this audio post process... every **** up that happens and every extra dollar of money spent redoing things the correct way later on will be forever pinned on you.

It's better to just refer them to an audio post house, maybe one that has a lot of experience dealing with smaller indie films and first timers and can walk the producers and director through all the steps that need to happen and why.

I can't tell you how many indie films I've worked on that have had to go back and undo, then redo everything they did (having to shell out double the money) after they have a distributor interested but can't accept the film deliverables as they were. Everything from removing door slams, foot steps and glass clinks from the dialogue tracks and moving them to the SFX tracks, to recording foley, to having to go back and do ADR, to making an M&E, to remixing the entire film to match broadcast standards for TV... most people who go through film school never understand how important the post production process is.

the Blair Witch movie was famous for only costing $15,000 to make and release... but what nobody talks about is how the film studio that bought it at Festival had to go back and pay $250,000~$300,000 to redo ALL of the sound in the film because it was completely unusable for commercial theatrical and worldwide release. But a lot of the smaller and mid sides distributors that small indie films get sold to will not put that kind of money into the film, and so it's on the producers to get the deliverables correct with their own money. And it sucks to have to go back and fix the audio of the film 2 years later after the film festival circuit is done and a foreign distributor wants to pick up the film but can't because the audio isn't correct.