A Crash Course For Mixing Sound – Part II

MixerMeters1There’s a reason why your Grandma’s apple pie tastes so much better than the pie you purchase at the grocery store. The reality is that both the store and Grandma have the same ingredients: sugar, flour, apples, etc. Nevertheless, Grandma’s apple pie seems to melt in your mouth, while the store-bought pie seems stale.

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Crash Course for Mixing Sound-Part 1

MixerMeters1Recently, a sound design forum that I belong to debated on what the audio levels should be in a film. I, of course, chimed in. I was surprised that there were so many different opinions. The group is a good cross section of the sound design community being made up of amateur, prosumer and professional participants. However, despite this eclectic group, there was no definitive answer. There were some guidelines and a general understanding, but still no definitive answer. So, how do you go about mixing sound to picture? I'm glad you asked!

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Sync Tanks - Part Three

SyncTankImageWith soundtracks much more dense than in the past, the present generation of moviemakers has seen an exponential growth in the number of people who work on the sound after the film has been shot. Last month in the second installment of Elisabeth Weis' articles we explored ADR and beyond.  In this, the final installment we pick up scratch mixes and temp tracks.

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Sync Tanks

SyncTankImageThe credits for John Ford's My Darling Clementine (1946) include Wyatt Earp as technical consultant but only one person responsible for all of postproduction sound (the composer). The credits for Lawrence Kasdan's Wyatt Earp (1994) list the names of thirty-nine people who worked on postproduction sound. The difference is not simply a matter of expanding egos or credits.

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Sync Tanks - Part Two

SyncTankImageWith soundtracks much more dense than in the past, the present generation of moviemakers has seen an exponential growth in the number of people who work on the sound after the film has been shot. In this, the second installment of Elisabeth Weis' articles we explore ADR and beyond.  Next month in the final installment we pick up scratch mixes and temp tracks.

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Our Camcorder Classroom - Part Five - Sound

Let’s put the bad news right up front:

Sound seems simple, but it’s actually one of the most difficult parts of typical video production to understand and get right. This is partly because we so often underestimate its importance in the overall scheme of things.

To underscore this reality I have a simple demonstration I do in every seminar I teach on sound-related topics.
First, I instruct the class to look around and get comfortable that they are in a safe and secure environment. Then I ask them all to close their eyes for a moment.

When all eyes are closed, I loudly announce. “My name is Bill Davis. I live in Scottsdale, Arizona and I’ve been making videos professionally for more than 20 years.”

Next, I ask them to open their eyes, and I SILENTLY mouth the words “I’ve been married to my wife Linda for more than twenty-five years and I have one son named Mike.”

Confronting their puzzled glances I quickly say, “OK, you’ve just experienced the SOUND without the PICTURE—followed by the PICTURE without the SOUND. Which gave YOU more useful information?”

The point of the exercise is to acknowledge that quite often sound is MORE important than the picture.
Sound information might be in the form of dialog, narration, or even the scene-setting background of the location, but make no mistake, SOUND is often doing the communications “heavy lifting” in movies and on TV.

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