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Documentary film audio mix

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Frank Baumann
Documentary film audio mix
on Jan 24, 2018 at 2:39:59 pm

Recently I've seen some documentaries where the music was on the right channel only, while the dialog was in the right and left channel. Does it have to do with specific broadcast requirements? I've always thought split sound meant music/foley and dialog were on separate channels. Curious to hear your thoughts.


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Richard Crowley
Re: Documentary film audio mix
on Jan 24, 2018 at 5:34:58 pm

Was there some motivation for music from one side? Was there something in the visuals that suggested a source of music off to one side? Else it sounds like it may have simply been a mixing accident that wasn't caught before release.

I've never heard of any "broadcast requirement" other than controlling audio levels. I am not familiar with your definition of "split sound"?

During mixing it is common to put dialog, Foley*, music, sound effects, etc. on separate channels, and even mix them down to separate "stems" (sub-mixed parts of the final mix). But that should all be resolved before the release mix reaches your ears. Using stems is particularly handy when mixing the production in a different language. You can simply replace the dialog/narration and keep the rest of the mix intact.

You may be reading too much into a simple accident.

* Remember that "Foley" was named after a real person, Jack Foley. So the term is capitalized as it is his last name.

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Recording audio without metering and monitoring is exactly like framing and focusing without looking at the viewfinder.


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Frank Baumann
Re: Documentary film audio mix
on Jan 24, 2018 at 6:42:57 pm

Thank you, Richard.

I've noticed this on two occasions and doubt it was a mixing accident. The latest was "Banking on Bitcoin", a Gravitas Ventures film. All the music was hard pan right, while dialogue, VO and Foley were center. Just curious if anyone noticed something similar.


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Rob Neidig
Re: Documentary film audio mix
on Jan 24, 2018 at 7:00:23 pm

I suspect it probably was an accident. But it may have resulted from the editor setting things up for "split sound" as was referenced in the original post. If a film is going to released in different languages it used to be quite common to create a master tape that had all dialog on one channel with music and effects on the other. That way a post production facility could create new dialog or voice over in a different language and then mix it with the music and effects from the other channel. I assume it would be rare to see that kind of thing much anymore. It would more usual to send stems or a complete Pro Tools or other DAW system project file with all the associated audio.

Rob Neidig
R&R Media Productions
Eugene, Oregon


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Bob Mark
Re: Documentary film audio mix
on Jan 27, 2018 at 6:53:56 pm

It's very odd to have music on one channel, when most music is in stereo or multi-channel.

Bob


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Rob Neidig
Re: Documentary film audio mix
on Jan 29, 2018 at 6:21:52 pm

Yes, it should have been caught. But I am seeing (hearing) more and more of that kind of thing with videos. In some cases people are only putting audio in one channel with nothing in the other. In other cases they have sound bouncing back and forth between channels. I don't know how editors are monitoring the audio, but I really don't understand how they can release something that way. I normally do field audio on projects where, during the shoot, I put one actor's dialog on the left channel and the other on the right channel so that they can be treated separately in post. This is, of course, standard practice. But then I hear the final product and the editor has left the audio panned left and right, which sounds terrible in the final mix. I believe it comes from poor monitoring (laptops where you might not notice the left/right balance or some kind of mono monitoring?) and and poor understanding of audio by too many people who only concentrate on the video side of production.

Rob Neidig
R&R Media Productions
Eugene, Oregon


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Bouke Vahl
Re: Documentary film audio mix
on Jan 29, 2018 at 12:59:42 pm

[Rob Neidig] "I suspect it probably was an accident."

Totally agree, but very strange QC at the broadcasters side (or is it site?) did not rejected it.

Bouke
http://www.videotoolshed.com


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