Im in the middle of a big feature film mixing in surround and 2.0.
I just wondered what people think about separation betwen centre and LR stems. Im finding, and have been leaning this way for a little time now, that mixing dialogue to centre only is a little restrictive, both in terms of tracklaying demands, but also acheiving level.
Its ok if youve a deliverable of an m&e tracks that forces the tracklay into a complete LR non dial stem, but where theres no me requirement Im quite liking a divergence from Centre to LR of 30%. This tends to promote placing more centre than just dial ie inc key sync shot fx too, but the divergence lessens image shift im finding.
I have heard off-center dialogue in several cases, but used mainly as an effect, i.e. far left/right or surrounds, for off stage lines... I also find that many of the younger mixers have a desire to use more screen real estate for dialogue, but are unsure how to really make it work. The prod fx scenario seems a little harder, if married to this dialogue and not able to be split off. If dialogue is cut really tight and all prod fx split off, those fx could be panned, although some filling might be necessary to maintain panoramic balance. Getting around the M&E problem could be done by using a second dialogue predub for the panned material, without any reverb spill, yeah?
Or are you talking about just widening the image to include a certain percentage of L/R? I have heard that a few times, as well, and the only thing for me is seating placement. If I'm sitting on the left and hear dialogue from center and left, it's a little disconcerting. I always expect it from the center, no matter where I am in the theater.
I'm all for anything that enhances the sound experience, and this could be one of those things, if we can do it without making it noticeable.
There is one case I can think of where the PFX were widened in the same fashion, and it did sound weird to me in the M&E. The PFX seemed way too wide, almost like a 3x mono across the front. But it wasn't my show, so I refrained from comment.