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"Mastering" Post Production Mixes?

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Chris Conlee
"Mastering" Post Production Mixes?
on Jan 10, 2012 at 12:40:10 am

Hello All,

Full disclosure, I'm a picture editor by day, but trying to learn Pro Tools for audio post work -- primarily for festival mixes and just to spruce up presentations, etc.

In this context, is there anything analogous to mastering? Is it advisable, or not, to apply some sort of limiter and compression on the final mix, or best to leave the full dynamic range intact? What do you audio pros do with your mixes to picture? Thanks a million in advance.

Chris


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Peter Groom
Re: "Mastering" Post Production Mixes?
on Jan 10, 2012 at 10:33:42 am

That depends on the use/ audience
Cinema mixes enjoy greater levels and dynamic range to allow for more emotion etc.
TV commercials tends to be much more heavily compressed than programmes.
So with tv ads i mix tighter with less dynamic, and a limiter to ensure no really small peaks will get it rejected by broadacstm as im sailing ON the max line throughout. TV programmes I have more dynamic, but be aware that the listening environment and speakers of the tv audience are much worse than theatres to mix or check your mix on small speakers.

Cinema, I compress /limit much less so, but the listening and delivery levels are a lot higher.

any help?
peter

Post Production Dubbing Mixer


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Douglas Bischoff
Re: "Mastering" Post Production Mixes?
on Jan 10, 2012 at 1:45:59 pm

I'll echo Peter but add that there are new, very particular guidelines for broadcast, especially for commercial spots (the new US standards imposed by the "CALM Act"). A good metering plugin (I use iZotope's Ozone 5 Advanced) is essential, and having a properly calibrated listening environment is likewise vital.

There's a great article on that here:
http://www.tvtechnology.com/article/lkfs-amp-the-calm-act/208806

What you're really looking to do is to make sure you're compliant with any target "maximums" (before CALM we used to brickwall limit everything to -12 on a digital meter to avoid overloading the Beta decks) then compress to be consistent with the target audience.

Hope that helps!

Douglas Bischoff
http://www.ceridwenproductions.com


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Peter Groom
Re: "Mastering" Post Production Mixes?
on Jan 10, 2012 at 2:04:23 pm

Yes. In the UK broadcasters are very tight on levels. PPM meters are the standard, but now there is a move towards perceived loudness metering in conjunction with PPms . Loudness is all ablut how loud something "appears " to be rather than what it actually is.
I prefer external hardware metering units as historically they are more reliable, but software devices have improved in recent years, and are of course a fraction of the price.

Peter

Post Production Dubbing Mixer


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Chris Conlee
Re: "Mastering" Post Production Mixes?
on Jan 10, 2012 at 3:02:41 pm

[Peter Groom] "TV programmes I have more dynamic, but be aware that the listening environment and speakers of the tv audience are much worse than theatres to mix or check your mix on small speakers."

Yes, very helpful.

This all amounts to a pretty expensive hobby for me right now, but I'm finding it quite fascinating. I've actually started listening to the mixes on TV shows and movies more than watching the pictures. On big pictures, do they do two mixes? One for theatrical and one for DVD/TV? I've noticed my own work sounds fine in the cutting room, but my DVDs often sound quieter than the commercial DVDs I play at home. That's what made me wonder if the mixes were being squashed somewhat.

In my own work, I've started putting a very mild compression on my dialog tracks: perhaps a 2.5:1 ratio at -18dB with a dB or 2 of gain compensation and I mix my peaks to about -10dB or so. Right away the dialog seems punchier.

Then at the end of the mix, once everything is leveled out, eq'd and sounding pretty good, I've started putting a Waves L2 limiter/maximizer on the output with the peaks limited to -3dB and a very slight lowering of the threshold to boost the loudness just a tad without taking all the life out of it.

My DVDs are sounding closer, at least in terms of loudness, to commercial tv and DVDs. But I wasn't sure if that was cheating or not? And if something akin would be highly frowned upon by the professional guys.

Chris


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Ty Ford
Re: "Mastering" Post Production Mixes?
on Jan 11, 2012 at 4:01:03 pm

Hello Chris and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

Great advice from Peter and Doug and, like you, I also use a little gain reduction here and there.

A caution for anyone reading this who has spent time in US Broadcasting where almost everything gets mashed. If you're used to that sound, anything else sounds wimpy. It's sort of like getting addicted to salt or caffeine. It took me about a year to empty my hearing brain from that highly processed preference. After working for myself a while, I backed off the dynamic range compression and was much happier with the results.

Regards,

Ty Ford


Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide


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Peter Groom
Re: "Mastering" Post Production Mixes?
on Jan 11, 2012 at 5:19:11 pm

Yep.
Commercials in the Uk at least are squashed largely as the ad before and after will be. Ill be guaranteed a call from the clients agency wanting to know why their ad seemed a little quiter than a b and c.
The new loudness moves are aimed at allowing dynamic range back into commercials mixes, but as of at this moment there really isnt any enforced policy on this topic in the UK, still just PPM levels.

I certainally have done tv and theatre separate mixes with different dynamic and eq, but I cant comment on the Hollywood feature film boys. Not made it there yet myself!

Peter

Post Production Dubbing Mixer


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John Fishback
Re: "Mastering" Post Production Mixes?
on Jan 12, 2012 at 4:40:56 pm

Waves just introduced a new Pro Tools plug-in the WLM Loudness Meter. Looks like an interesting tool for monitoring loudness.

John

MacPro 8-core 2.8GHz 8 GB RAM OS 10.5.8 QT7.6.4 Kona 3 Dual Cinema 23 ATI Radeon HD 3870, 24" TV-Logic Monitor, ATTO ExpressSAS R380 RAID Adapter, PDE enclosure with 8-drive 6TB RAID 5
FCS 3 (FCP 7.0.3, Motion 4.0.3, Comp 3.5.3, DVDSP 4.2.2, Color 1.5.3)

Pro Tools HD w SYNC IO & 192 Digital I/O, Yamaha DM1000, Millennia Media HV-3C, Neumann U87, Schoeps Mk41 mics, Genelec Monitors, PrimaLT ISDN


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Chris Conlee
Re: "Mastering" Post Production Mixes?
on Jan 12, 2012 at 9:45:05 pm

Yeah, I was looking a that. Kinda spendy for what amounts to a hobby at this point. But it would be interesting to play with, so I could see what my own mixes are doing.

Chris


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John Fishback
Re: "Mastering" Post Production Mixes?
on Jan 12, 2012 at 9:47:12 pm

I think I saw a trial version.

John

MacPro 8-core 2.8GHz 8 GB RAM OS 10.5.8 QT7.6.4 Kona 3 Dual Cinema 23 ATI Radeon HD 3870, 24" TV-Logic Monitor, ATTO ExpressSAS R380 RAID Adapter, PDE enclosure with 8-drive 6TB RAID 5
FCS 3 (FCP 7.0.3, Motion 4.0.3, Comp 3.5.3, DVDSP 4.2.2, Color 1.5.3)

Pro Tools HD w SYNC IO & 192 Digital I/O, Yamaha DM1000, Millennia Media HV-3C, Neumann U87, Schoeps Mk41 mics, Genelec Monitors, PrimaLT ISDN


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