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Mixing Audio for Movie Trailer (Played in a Movie Theater) questions!

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Matthew Mintun
Mixing Audio for Movie Trailer (Played in a Movie Theater) questions!
on Sep 26, 2011 at 9:21:13 pm

Hey! I am filming a movie trailer that will be played at my local movie theater for a select audience. I want the best sound possible so I'm wondering, what type of surround do I mix this in?: 5.1, 7.1, 9.1, something.1 that I don't even know about?!

I've never mixed surround, but since my production is mainly a documentary, the surround would be mostly filled with ambient sounds and atmosphere, as well as music. If I am wrong in this account PLEASE LET ME KNOW!

My productions are typically mixed in stereo and I'm editing in Premiere Pro CS5 but will more than likely edit the audio on my Mac using Soundtrack Pro or Logic (I like it a lot better than Audition).

So that's my main question: what type of surround? I'm hoping 5.1 will be fine since I've never mixed surround before.

I have a good surround system at my house and I'm going to test it on there first to make sure it all sounds good. I'm going off of the sound of movies that I watch on my surround to ask my next question which is this: Where do I put what sound???

This is what I think -
Center Channel: dialogue and directional sound (say if a car is driving from left to right, it'll go from left to center to right)

L/R Channels: music, ambiance, directional sound (car driving by)

Surround L/R channels: music, ambiance, atmosphere

and for the .1: do I mix an LFE channel?

If I mix the music in to L/R and Surround L/R would it sound weird? I want the theater to be full of sound and not just sound like it's all coming from up front (stereo).

Thanks so much for any help, I'm truly lost with this!


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Peter Groom
Re: Mixing Audio for Movie Trailer (Played in a Movie Theater) questions!
on Sep 27, 2011 at 8:35:06 am

Ive added my comments below your paras.
Hopefully JC will come along and add his comments as hes very experienced in this area too. I dont mean to be negative, but I dont really think youve understood the task.

Hey! I am filming a movie trailer that will be played at my local movie theater for a select audience. I want the best sound possible so I'm wondering, what type of surround do I mix this in?: 5.1, 7.1, 9.1, something.1 that I don't even know about?!

A.What does the theatre need as a deliverable????

I've never mixed surround, but since my production is mainly a documentary, the surround would be mostly filled with ambient sounds and atmosphere, as well as music. If I am wrong in this account PLEASE LET ME KNOW!

A If youve never mixed surround, id advise taking it to a post house that is experienced, and learn from the mixer there. is totally different to any other type of mixing.

My productions are typically mixed in stereo and I'm editing in Premiere Pro CS5 but will more than likely edit the audio on my Mac using Soundtrack Pro or Logic (I like it a lot better than Audition).

Does this audio app support surround mixing?

So that's my main question: what type of surround? I'm hoping 5.1 will be fine since I've never mixed surround before.

A Again this is down to the requirements of the theatre. What is it being played off. DVD? Optical ? ????The choices are almost endless.

I have a good surround system at my house and I'm going to test it on there first to make sure it all sounds good. I'm going off of the sound of movies that I watch on my surround to ask my next question which is this: Where do I put what sound???

This is what I think -
Center Channel: dialogue and directional sound (say if a car is driving from left to right, it'll go from left to center to right)

A Wrong. Only dialogue goes front center.

L/R Channels: music, ambiance, directional sound (car driving by)

Surround L/R channels: music, ambiance, atmosphere

and for the .1: do I mix an LFE channel?

LFE is low frequence effects. ie ONLY sounds specifically added for the theatre experience where LF material is used. NOT a way of making the music sound bassier or the voices deeper. The LR and C speakers are full range.

If I mix the music in to L/R and Surround L/R would it sound weird? I want the theater to be full of sound and not just sound like it's all coming from up front (stereo).

Id delay the music going to the rears by a few milliseconds, and Id send it through a reve4rb before hand so this more disperse sound comes behind not the direct music.

Thanks so much for any help, I'm truly lost with this!
Go to a post house. This is NOT something youll learn at home in an hour. great fun to try, learn, and make mistakes on, but do that without an audience or client. No one will praise you for biting off more than you can chew.

Mixing for a theatre needs specific routing, metering and monitoring (not a home cinema system). The levels rules are different, the size of mix room is important. The abilities of the DAW are crucial. Once mixed in the studio you have what are called 6 "discreets" One for each channel. This then gets manipulated either into an ac3 for dvd authoring, or onto a magneto optical for film transfer. All specific territories that youll not get right on your own or without specific equipment and training.

Enjoy the learning curve, but do hire a studio to mix it and create the right deliverables. You can prep the tracks yourself at home??
Peter

Post Production Dubbing Mixer


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Matthew Mintun
Re: Mixing Audio for Movie Trailer (Played in a Movie Theater) questions!
on Sep 27, 2011 at 3:01:58 pm

Wow, thanks Peter! That put it into perspective. The theater is taking a BluRay as the deliverable. I'll contact them and see what they would like to see in the form of surround.

I'll check around here for a post house for the sound. So if I prep everything at my place for the post house that'd mean having just the raw dialogue (no effects), music (no effects), and any sound effects on the different audio tracks in stereo and then have them take care of the mixing for surround?

Or since this is just going to be a short 2 minute movie trailer (not for a client but for friends) would I just be fine mixing as you said: dialogue center, music L/R and effects, surround L/R = music delayed a few ms with added reverb to become more ambient? I'm already in over my head on production costs for this whole "event" and looking to save anywhere I can.

How much "should" a post house charge for this type of mix?
-Matt


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Jean-Christophe Boulay
Re: Mixing Audio for Movie Trailer (Played in a Movie Theater) questions!
on Sep 27, 2011 at 9:22:00 pm

I'll second Peter all the way. That's a mighty big step you're taking there and you need a good audio technical background to digest the step up from stereo to surround, never mind theatrical delivery. If it makes any economic sense at all, I'd also recommend you find a post house that can do this for you. A 2-minute program can be mixed quite quickly by experienced hands so the bill shouldn't bleed you dry but if it's for friends and you're already spending a bunch, it may not make sense to invest on this. Remember: a good stereo mix will always sound way better than a "meh" surround mix.

If you decide to go surround, Peter has pointed you in exactly the right direction as to what to put where. Use the surrounds very sparingly. The tendency is always to put way too much in there the first time you try. Put as little as you think you need, then take some more away. It's good training and fun to try it yourself and find things out by listening at home, but if there's an actual deliverable, especially theatrical, I can't recommend you hire a pro enough. On top of the actual mixing, there's just so much to cover on monitoring levels and position, metering, AC-3 dialnorm level, deliverable standards... Or stick to stereo, which will also fill a room quite well when coming from huge speakers. There are also level requirements for stereo, so check that out if you stay in LR world.

IHTH,

JC Boulay
Technical Director
Audio Z
Montreal, Canada
http://www.audioz.com


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Peter Groom
Re: Mixing Audio for Movie Trailer (Played in a Movie Theater) questions!
on Oct 3, 2011 at 8:59:04 am

Good advice from JC. Its heartening to hear that we seem to agree with eachother, without ever having spoken, although we do both work in the dubbing theatre.

If youre really keen to try surround, why dont you do both. make a good solid stereo mix which is intended for the showing.
Additionally, as there is no client, and no cost in getting it wrong, and a whole lot of fun and experience to be learned from this, you can tryout a surround mix. maybe have a private screening of this before hand so you decide which gets a more public airing.

As the playback will be on Bly ray, then audio wise you need to supply an AC3 file. this is an encoded multichannel audio file that then gets married with the pictures in the disc authoring process. How you make the ac3 will be down to what software youve got (or get)

The actual mixing is as JC and I have discussed. Your audio DAW hopefully will support surround mixing. Go for 5.1. Thats 5 full bandwith channels and a .1 for LFE. (also already discussed)
Surround is really pointless unless you have a reason to surround the audience. Its not just "because i can" it should be "because this adds to the listener experience, so look at the pictures.
Put people in the park, rather than looking at it. People will feel like theyre AT the fairground, if the roller coaster swoops from behind their head, but the visuals must make sense. Just 2 examples to get you thinking about WHY something might be behind you.
Your DAW hopefully will allow the output of 6 discreet stems. L C R Ls Rs .1. These files are just normal audio .wavs with varying levels in them that when played back together, re reate the soundfield for the listener. These all run the ENTIRE prog length even though some will have very little in them.
Calibrating your mixing space is REALY important, otherwise how will you have even the faintest idea how loud something shoudl be, so id suggest this as a basic work around at home.
1) Position your 6 speakers so that, using a piece of string form your seat to each speaker cone around you is the same distance. Position the sub speaker on the floor between the C and L speakers.
The front 3 should be facing you angled slightly.
The rear 2 shoudl be angled slightly more to the area behind your seat.
2) Your mixer desk may have a rotating pink noise calibration mode. Or use a piece of pink noise from your daw. Play it to each speaker independantly. Youll need a spl meter. If youve an i phone or other app phone, download a cheap spl meter. PUT it on your seat where youre sitting in the centre position.
Set the volume of each speaker so they are giving the SAME value on your spl meter in the correct listening position.

Now youre better placed to actually mix some audio. Id strongly suggest you take a look at PPMulator. This has surround metering and is a downloadable prog. Not free but pretty affordable. Then you can see better what levels youre creating.
You can mix to full scale but dont go too hot as distortion is never nice!

Good luck. Enjoy. Learn.
Do come back and tell us what you did and how you found things.

Peter

Post Production Dubbing Mixer


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Matthew Mintun
Re: Mixing Audio for Movie Trailer (Played in a Movie Theater) questions!
on Oct 3, 2011 at 11:10:10 pm

Hey thanks for the response everyone. I went to a few post houses and got quotes for upwards of $1400 to mix 5.1 for my 2 minute trailer. Quite a bit out of my range and can't fathom spending $1400 for this.

So with that said I will be attacking this myself. I'm thinking I'll mix it in 5 channels (no LFE cuz I would have no idea where to start with that channel). Though I'm assuming I still apply an LFE channel to the mix just with no actual "sound" in it.

Dialogue in center channel and music in L/R mainly. Then I'll do as was said earlier and put slight reverb and a few ms delay on the surround channel for the music at a much lower volume to fill the room a little bit more. Plus some more ambient sounds of say a park etc so they feel like they are in it.

Again this is a documentary with a lot of dialogue and b-roll so I'm thinking that the surround channels will have hardly anything in them.

Unfortunately I do not have 6 speakers to edit on but am thinking of editing (I'm gonna get flamed for this) on my theater system...connecting my comp to my surround receiver and editing. I know it's not ideal but it's really the best I can do. I'll create multiple mixes (including a stereo mix with my main monitors) to bring to the theater.

Thanks for all the help everyone, I'll need it!!


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Matthew Mintun
Re: Mixing Audio for Movie Trailer (Played in a Movie Theater) questions!
on Oct 25, 2011 at 3:55:39 pm

(Posted elsewhere too but I thought it'd help people grazing this thread)

So I bought the interface and attempted the connection between my Macbook Pro running STP and my Onkyo Receiver (TX NR709) into the BD/DVD multichannel inputs. I used 1/4" to RCA mono cables for every connection. Unfortunately it didn't work. It only picked up the stereo connection which made it impossible to edit.

What was cool (and as an unrelated side note) is how smart this receiver is. When put into it's 2channel>5.1 surround mode (where it does all the conversion) it sounded like I had mixed it perfectly! All dialogue was through the center, music through the L/R and a perfect mix into the surrounds. But I digress.

So what I did was mix it by meter and not by sound (YIKES!) Made it so my dialogue peaked at about -.5db and music at around -6 to -8db and ambient effects around -13 to -15db. I then exported as AC3 out of STP and brought it over to my PC running Adobe Encore and exported as 5.1 surround (making sure it didn't transcode my audio or else it'd be transcoded to stereo!!!)

Played on my home theater sounded great! Tested it in the theater last night and it sounded AWESOME!!! Dialogue was super clear, music could be a little louder but overall a good (and blind) mix.

My only issue right now, is my music doesn't have enough low end. You listen to regular movie trailers and movies and their soundtrack is beefy and large. I'm using high quality songs too. Should I EQ the music to bring in more low end? Any ideas??


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