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Help With Audio Post Production

The audio post production is broadly divided into two major halves:

Sound Mixing:

Mixing (also called Dubbing) - The Mixers have the responsibility of balancing the various elements, i.e., the Dialogue & ADR, Music, Sound Effects, and Foley Effects, in the final mix. The Dialogue Mixer, (also called the Lead Mixer or Gaffing Mixer) commands the mixing stage; his/her partners in the mix traditionally were the Effects Mixer and the Music Mixer. As of now, the Lead Mixer commonly does the Music mixing as well, reducing the traditional mixing team by a third. On huge pictures with tight deadlines, it is possible that several teams of mixers are working simultaneously on numerous stages in order to complete the mix by the release date.

Sound Editing:

The sound editor assembles and organizes the audio recordings and tracks, not in the way the editor did it, but in the way that is most beneficial for the rest of the audio workflow.

If you study the chart closely you will see the sound editing phase divides audio samples (recordings, tracks) into four major categories:

  • Dialogue
  • Foley
  • Effects
  • Music

Dialogue can come from recordings on set, wild recordings, ADR, and so on. All of these sounds are:

  • Chosen: find the best possible recordings for the final mix.
  • Cleaned: for noise, artifacts, reverb, etc.
  • Filtered: various effects added to enhance or manipulate the recording to deliver a specific feel.
  • Layered on the timeline, in sync with the visuals.

This is the stage where the sound editor also decides if any audio needs to be re-recorded. This is the stage where every sound is decided on, assembled and made ready for the final mix.

Premixing:

Once all the different groups of audio are ready to be passed on to the mixers, they are premixed. Dialogue is premixed, foley is premixed, music is premixed and other effects are premixed. The premix preserves the intentions of the filmmakers, and also creates what are known as Stems. You have a dialogue stem, foley stem, music stem and effects stem. You might also have several dialogue stems (one for each language) and so on.

Why should you use premixing? The guiding principle behind this is to ensure the sounds have been correctly positioned and treated, and are ready for the final mix. It also allows for an additional layer of grouping (organizing data). We started with recordings, then synced them with video, then assembled them into tracks, then chose the best ones and edited them, and finally we group them into different branches or categories so they can be found easily.

The premixes, which might include the tracks unmixed as well (in case someone feels like changing anything), is sent to the sound mixers, along with the Cue Sheet. The cue sheet is just a document that explains, in timeline form, where each sound is located (written in time notation) and what effect or manipulation has been applied to it. This document preserves the intentions of the filmmakers, the editor, and the sound editor.

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