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post #11 of 30 Old 10-25-08, 04:14 PM
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Re: 5.1 mixing

That's very exciting. Do let us know when the movie is released!
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post #12 of 30 Old 10-25-08, 04:20 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 5.1 mixing

Well of course. I'm hoping everyone here will check it out
out of curiosity if nothing else. However, the film reflects
everything I've been discussing in my posts...
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post #13 of 30 Old 11-02-08, 04:32 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 5.1 mixing

Finished the mix. I think it sounds very good in 5.1 It sound good in Dolby
too. You can see what you think when it's released.
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post #14 of 30 Old 11-02-08, 08:17 AM
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Re: 5.1 mixing

Awesome! I really need to check this out!
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post #15 of 30 Old 11-02-08, 01:07 PM
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Re: 5.1 mixing


So I'm curious about how you went about this. When you went in last monday, did you already have all of the sounds and recordings you needed or were you looping and recording foley at the studio this week as well?
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post #16 of 30 Old 11-02-08, 01:40 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 5.1 mixing


I will post where the movie is playing once I've gotten some festivals,
theatrical and DVD release.


The mixer was astonished how well organized and prepared I was. The
way most pictures are made is the director works with the editor and after
it's cut, the sound editor comes in and does all of the folleys, sound effects,
cue sheet and so forth. The director usually hears all the tracks for the first
time at the mix and a great deal of the mixing time is just listening to them
and deciding how to lay out the sound. Of course someone like Lucas would
be involved with the elaborate sound effects in the post-production stage.

In my case I not only write, produce and direct the movie but also edit
it and do the sound editing. I actually started as a sound editor ("Mother's
Day" back in 1980), then moved up to editing ("The Toxic Avenger") and
finally made my own features. So I did all of the folleys and layed in all
of the sound effects on each track. Here's something
that will amuse you. I did all of the male screams in the film along with the monster
roars. My teenage niece did all of the female screams. In both cases we adopted
different tones to our voices then had the music composers process it in their
synthesizer to alter it so it sounds like different people. The monster roars are
just me roaring. They slow them down and add echo and reverb along with a subwoofer
kick to make it sound like an enormous creature. I did these on a number of
other pictures in the past ("Class of Nuke Em High", "Space Avenger") so I was familiar how to do it.
I recorded, edited and listened to the six channels of separate tracks many times
before the mix. I basically memorized what was there. I also
coded the track cue sheet with dark red indicating a stereo left/right sound
effect (as opposed to a generic background sound like city traffic which would
be in both L/R and not having any panning of the sound) and color coded the
stereo surround effects in blue. That way the sheet indicated exactly where
everything was supposed to go.

I like to mix in layers so we started with Tracks 1 and 2 which were the
dialogue tracks with every other person on the opposite track. Since there
are slight differences in recording it made it easier to mix them together than
way. For example, our male lead had a louder and deeper voice than the female
lead so all of his dialogue was on Track 1 and all of her dialogue on Track 2. The
mixer would try different filters to cut out extraneous noise (like light traffic or
crew member shuffles, camera noise etc.) until the dialogue was as clean as he could
make it. Then both tracks 1 and 2 would be combined into the center channel.

Tracks 3 and 4 were the folleys (footsteps, sitting down, typing, running etc.).
Some were combined into equal levels for the Left and Right channels. Others
were directional effects like a car driving by so it would start in the Left channel
then fade out there and fade into the Right channel and then fade out.

Next we added the 'room tone' onto the same Left and Right tracks. That would
give a presence in the location. The 'room tone' tracks were a separate CD.
I had four general stereo tones that ran for five minutes each. The first was heavy
traffic outside, the next was very light traffic for inside an office or room in NYC,
the third track was office tone of people typing and taling and the final track was
crickets for the climax at the Gothic Castle. So the mixer added these stereo
room tone tracks to the already mixed Left and Right effects tracks.

So now we had the center channel dialogue mixed, the Left and Right stereo
sound effects & room tone tracks mixed. The next thing we did was add the
stereo surround channels (LR, RR) from Tracks 5 & 6. Those are the tracks that
had some monster roars and echoed screams. The monster roars were set at a level
that would give a subwoofer effect (the .1 in the 5.1 format).

The final thing we added was the music which was on a separate CD in stereo
synched up to each scene it was required in or 'cue'. That would go into the
Left and Right channel and in some cases at 25 % volume in the surround channels
(LR, RR).

I decided on a specific sound design before mixing. My film runs 80 minutes. For
all of the scenes that take place in 'reality' (which were NYC offices, bookstores,
rooms etc.) I would only use the front three channels. For the horror scenes (which
are hallucinations) the rear channels would kick in. We also did a lighting change for
the horror scenes. We had blue gels over the key lights on dimmers and as the
character started to hallucinate the blue lights would dim on turning the image from
normal 'warm' color to a cold neon blue. So the audience will get both a visual and
audio cue that something gory is going to happen when the lights change and the
rear channels kick in. I thought it was quite effective and better than just having
the rear channels use room tone and music for the whole feature which is the
conventional way to mix a 5.1 movie.

I still have one more simple mix which is the commentary track. I've recorded the
actors. I'm still waiting to see if the DP and F/X artist is available for their comments.
I'll have to record the rest. I'm not sure whether to just discuss the production itself
or give a little history of sound and horror movies since I'm a film historian too. I
guess I'll see how much running time is left after I edit the actors and my production
trivia. For this mix I'm just arriving at the studio with the commentary on a CD that
runs 80 minutes. We'll play the two channel Dolby mix low at 25% volume and add
the commentary to Left and Right. For the commentary track the center channel
and two rear channels will be silent since they'll just confuse people if they interfere
with the narration.

I also have some production stills showing how the latex creatures and other effects
were created in stages along with the trailer which will be contained on the DVD.

For "Delivery" to a distributor, here's what a producer has to give them. A HD Video
master 1080p with the Dolby stereo mix on tracks 1 and 2 and M & E mix (left right
music and effects but no dialogue) on tracks 3 and 4. I also give them the 5.1 mix
on a .wav file DVD and a commentary 2 channel mix on a .wav file DVD. Then they
'author it' which means laying out all these materials (with the distributor logo and
suppliments like trailer, stills, other distributor product, FBI warning etc.) onto the
DVD master for both blu ray and standard definition copies. Some producers have
the distributors make all of these materials but I prefer to do it myself and supply
them so the color timing is the way I want it. Otherwise they make accidently alter some aspect of the movie (mistime the color, change the contrast, desaturate the
fleshtones etc.). There are so many variables in the mastering process that I prefer
to maintain creative control over every aspect of the movie. Most distributors prefer
that too since it saves them the cost of making the master. It's extremelly expensive
but I incorporate that into the budget as a general post-production expense.

Last edited by Richard W. Haines; 11-02-08 at 01:47 PM.
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post #17 of 30 Old 11-02-08, 02:00 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 5.1 mixing

Mixing digitally is certainly better than the old fashioned way on reels.
Here's how everyone mixed through the late eighties.

You'd have the 'workprint' of the cut film which meant there was a splice
on every shot which would pop a bit in the projector. For the sound you
would purchase 'sound fill' which was old 35mm prints of feature films that
were faded or too scratchy to use in a theater. Then each sound effect
would be recorded on 35mm magnetic film which looked like a clear piece
of film with no image but had a thin mag stripe on it (similar to reel to reel
tape except on a piece of 35mm film). On that magnetic 35mm film you
would record the separate dialogue, sound effects and music. You would
physically cut each piece of 35mm magnetic sound film into the old release
prints. The workprint picture and each reel of sound film would have a 'start
mark' which was a hole punch on the leader. On the number '2' in the countdown
leader you would splice in a 'beep' on magnetic film on each of the 35mm reels.
Then when there was a sound effect you would splice in the 35mm magnetic
film into the old release prints. When there wasn't a sound it would just be
the old film. The old film wouldn't make any sound as it went across the
magnetic sound head which is why they were used.

So you'd end up bringing about 32 reels of picture and sound film
to the mix. All of it had to be threaded up which would take at least a half
hour of your mix time for each reel. Then the mixer would mix onto a 35mm
'fullcoat' which was a 35mm magnetic film with four tracks on it. There was
also 35mm magnetic film with six tracks for 70mm movies. It was very cumbersome
and time consuming and you had the problem with magnetic hiss on the heads which
is where Dolby came in to compress the sound to remove it but you also compressed
some of your high end and low end sounds. Most mixing studios were only set up
to do 10 minute reels. You'd have to assemble each 10 minute reel into a 20 minute
reel for printing.

You would make a 35mm Dolby Optical track negative from the 35mm fullcoat four
track magnetic film. For 70mm films, they would use the six track 35mm magnetic
film and record it directly onto the 70mm release print. 70mm prints were astronomically
expensive. First you would make the print (without any sound track). Then you would
send it to another company that would apply the magnetic stripes inside and outside
the sprockets. Then another company would record the six tracks of sound onto
the blank magnetic tracks. A 35mm release print would average about $1000.
A 70mm release print would cost $10,000 at least.

The problem with all magnetic materials (tapes, 35mm fullcoats, 70mm prints) is that
they would degrade over time whether they were used or not. The oxide would start
shedding making the track very hissy or losing your sound altogether. Magnetic
was analog so every time you copied it you lost some qualiy and picked up additional
hiss. You had to be very diligent cleaning off the magnetic heads (which accumulated oxide which could damage them) and also degause them so they didn't record
'thumps' onto your magnetic tracks. When editing magnetic film, you had to degauge
the splicer too. In short...they were a major pain in the neck and were not archival.

Digital mixing gives you multiple elements for the long run. You can mix in full 20
minute reels in stead of 10 minute reels. You keep the final mix
on a small hard drive. Plus two copies on DVD masters. Plus the 35mm optical
and digital track negative. And you don't lose any quality when you copy it from
format to format or over and over. And it's much simpler to handle. You go to
the mix with a stack of CDs rather than boxes and boxes of 35mm workprint and
35mm magnetic film. The CDs get loaded into the computer in the Pro Tools
program in a few minutes. I also save the separate mixing elements.

Last edited by Richard W. Haines; 11-03-08 at 04:24 AM.
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post #18 of 30 Old 11-02-08, 06:19 PM
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Re: 5.1 mixing


Maybe I've said it before, but I'm always fascinated reading your posts. Such a great window onto a world I know exists, but otherwise have no clue what goes on in it.

I'm sure the mixer was appreciative of your preparations. I know it's always annoying to me when someone comes to do whatever, and is unprepared.

My opinion, FWIW, is that you should definitely do some history in your commentary, if you can spare the space/time on the DVD.

Is the trailer available anywhere online, or will it be, before release? I'd be interested to see it, and the final product, too.
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post #19 of 30 Old 11-02-08, 06:51 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 5.1 mixing


Many thanks. Maybe I will adapt these posts into a general history
of stereo sound. As far as I know, it hasn't been done elsewhere on a
DVD. My problem is I talk so fast some people have a hard time understanding

I literally just finished the movie. The trailer isn't on line yet. I have to get
all that together over the next few months. I just created the press book.
If there was a way of posting the trailer here I would...

Everyone should note here that I am not part of Hollywood or that
world of filmmaking. I'm part of the completely separate East Coast
industry. Or what's left of it I should say with so many companies
folding like dominoes over the past few years. However, I have on
occasion worked with some Hollywood actors like Adam West, Christopher
Stone and Viveca Lindfors. These days I prefer to find my own talent and
develop them from scratch. At least for the horror genre, you don't necessarily
need a 'star' to get it distributed, it just has to be scary and have good
technical specs.
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post #20 of 30 Old 11-03-08, 04:43 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 5.1 mixing

For those unfamiliar with the term 'folley's...here's what they are.

The term was originated with an editor named Folley during the transition
to sound in the early thirties. Directors originally thought they had to record
the random sound effects like a person walking or a door opening and closing
on set with the dialogue. Folley suggested just recording the dialogue on
location and adding all of these extraneous effects later which was easier to
mix since you could alter the level after the fact rather than trying to get
both footsteps and an actor speaking simultaneously. So live effects recorded
in a sound booth while looking at the picture being projected (or on video today)
are called 'folleys'. In your sound booth or room deadened of all sound other
than a directional mike recording the effect you watch the picture while making
the specific noise. For example, if you want the sound of someone walking on
grass or leaves you take an audio cassette tape and pull out all of the tape and
put it on the booth floor. When you walk on that in synch with the person walking
on screen it sounds like they are walking on leaves. You always record them at
a very loud level then reduce them to the appropriate level at the mix. As common
sense dictates, it's easier to lower the volume of a sound effect than raise it and
increase background noise. Since I edit my films and have seen the images hundreds
of times it's not hard for me to walk or run in synch with the picture. But there's a
simple technique for a 'folley artist' who hasn't seen the movie before the recording.
Just walk one beat after the actor on screen does it. Then move the track a couple
of frames backwards and it falls in synch. Movies actually have a two or three frame
leeway in terms of synch. More than that and you will notice something out of synch
but you can be a frame or two off and not notice it since the film is playing at 24
frames per second. The way the 35mm optical/digital track is synched to the picture
negative is by putting an audio 'beep' on the number 2 on the countdown leader.
So when you get the 35mm track negative back from the lab, you put it into a synchronizer with a sound reader and roll it down until you hear the "beep". You
mark off that frame. Then you put the picture negative in the same synchronizer
and roll it down to the number 2 on the leader. Now the picture and track are in
synch on the number 2. Then you roll both back past the leader and mark off the
clear protection leader with an X and that's what gets threaded up into the printer.
Some people put an X end mark on the leader at the end of the reel too to be safe.
You might have seen a film in some film festival where the projectionist screws up
and you actually see the countdown leader projected on screen before the film starts and heard the beep at the number 2.
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