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Old April 16th, 2008, 07:50 PM   #1
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Sound Leveling in Post-Music, Dialogue, Sound Effects and Ambient Sound

I am wondering if you guys have any tips about leveling sound in post. Are there any rules from a sound engineer perspective to have the music, dialogue, sound effects, and ambient sound in a film to flow all together in harmony? If you have some specifics that would be great in terms of db etc...

Please advise.
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Old April 16th, 2008, 11:19 PM   #2
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I'll start...what NLE do you have?

Well you can lay up your tracks on headphones and even do a trial mix, but you need reliable speakers for the final. If they're new, play some music on 'em to learn how they sound, if they're too bassy or toppy either eq them or get some others, but they must be good enough not to lead you astray in the mix.

The dialogue track is most important if that gets lost all is lost, hopefully the original is great so you don't have to eq or compress it to fix it.

For a good sounding original male narration I maybe put some light 4:1 mid range compression and a narrow 2db boost about 4KH. Keep it in the centre of the soundstage.

Watch out for low talkers in an interview, if you raise their level to zero then they may sound louder than the narrator, balance it by listening not watching the meter. Another reason for good audio speakers.

Watch out for the bass in everything, a sound effect sounding good by itself with the bass turned up, will probably get lost when mixed in with similar bassy fx. Once you've got them mixed, just play the fx tracks together to check.

Following the mix run a test DVD on every player you can and write out notes on what you may remix. Notes are important, after a few plays you'll get lost.

If your audio sounds lower level than a Hollywood Arnie Schwartz movie don't worry too much, those guys have gear worth zillions and years of experience, and your audience will turn your show up to hear it. You'll get better as you go along.

Another trick, if you have a sound effect you want to impress folk with about 2 mins in, start the mix about 2db down and have that fx 2db up. Folk will adjust their player to suit (turn it up a tad) then comes your fx. which should be 4db up and impress 'em.

If your show is ever broadcast, expect a written complaint from the station manager :)

Cheers.
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Old April 17th, 2008, 08:00 PM   #3
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Thanks Allan for your reply. Do you recommend any books?

By the way, I am using Final Cut Pro and Sound Pro.
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Old April 18th, 2008, 10:14 PM   #4
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Gil, Jay Roses book gets the nod, but the one you write yourself as you go along is best.

Every time you try something in a mix you're moving ahead, might appear backwards but it's actually ahead.

IMO don't do any longer than 2-3hours at the desk, it's not worth it. In the early stages you're bound to screw something up through tiredness, impatience or just plain what the h*ll.
Cheers.
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Old April 19th, 2008, 02:09 AM   #5
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Another vote for Jay's books - great!
http://www.dplay.com/book/index.html
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Old April 23rd, 2008, 10:35 AM   #6
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"Sound for Digital Video" by Tomlinson Holman. Really covers all aspects and comes with a neat CD to listen to examples.
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