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Old February 16th, 2016, 07:27 AM   #1
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Ducking music or not??

I read mixed messaged about ducking music. Some oppose this technique and some think it's a great thing to do and it adds interest to the video. What do you guys think?
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Old February 16th, 2016, 07:51 AM   #2
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Re: Ducking music or not??

It depends.. client's time/$$ budget? I prefer to draw manual envelopes for volume/EQ/compression of music
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Old February 16th, 2016, 08:40 AM   #3
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Re: Ducking music or not??

... or you could use Izotope Final Mix.

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Old February 16th, 2016, 09:10 AM   #4
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Re: Ducking music or not??

It is a stylistic decision as well. It is quite appropriate for some situations, but sounds cheap and shoddy in other contexts. Unanswerable as an isolated, generic question.
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Old February 16th, 2016, 10:10 AM   #5
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Re: Ducking music or not??

If it sounds good, it is good!
Duke Ellington (I'd earlier misattributed it to Count Basie)

Generally, I duck. Generally, I like to do so in a transparent fashion, that is, with a light hand, such that a listener doesn't perceive increases and decreases in music volume. I'd only do so during significant gaps in the dialog, where music will help drive story.

This is an area to pay a lot of attention to your ears, not meters, and *must* be mixed on speakers, not headphones. My ears tell me that full volume on a prerecorded music track, like library music, is down -12db or more from the original. That would be the *max* music volume between dialog sections, during dialog it will be lower.

I was just reviewing my source materials for a post-sound class tonight - we'll cover:

* Thinning the dialog, removing some bass frequencies so dialog can peak higher.

* Compressing the dynamic range, improving intelligibility against music and SFX.

* Scooping the music, removing some of the mid range and high mid freqs to lessen competition with dialog, allowing music to be mixed hotter. (for some music)
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Last edited by Seth Bloombaum; February 16th, 2016 at 01:47 PM. Reason: Correction of attribution
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Old February 16th, 2016, 11:02 AM   #6
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Re: Ducking music or not??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seth Bloombaum View Post
If it sounds good, it is good!
(Count Basie)
I usually see that quote attributed to Duke Ellington. Usually as "If it sounds good and feels good, then it IS good!" But attribution is sketchy -- seems lots of people like to claim this one.
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Old February 16th, 2016, 12:08 PM   #7
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Re: Ducking music or not??

One thing that really helps is complimentary EQ for voice and music. If the two don't compete, there's less need to duck. Here's what I do by band:

20-100 Hz - Here, you can boost the music (as appropriate) and reduce dialog.

200 - 300 Hz - This is the voice fundamental, which is critical to getting a balanced voice. Reduce the music here.

Around 600 Hz - You can reduce voice and boost music here.

Around 1200 Hz - These are your consonants. Boost voice, reduce music.

Around 2400 Hz - This is the nasal/dull control for voice. Get the balance right. It helps differentiate similar sounding people. You might be able to reduce this for music, but it depends. Cut too much and an oboe sounds just like a flute.

4800+ - This is the "air". You can boost a bit for a magical feel, but boost too much and you get noise. This doesn't really affect dialog clarity, so both music and voice can live together here.

Also, for music, consider multi-band compression. That lets you make the music louder without clipping. When the music gets too loud, only the offending frequency band gets cut (typically, the bass), so you don't get that sucking sound on loud passages.

You might still duck the music as a stylistic thing. This tells the audience, "the music was important but now the dialog is important." But you'll be able to duck less and continue to have understandable dialog.
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Old February 16th, 2016, 01:46 PM   #8
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Re: Ducking music or not??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
I usually see that quote attributed to Duke Ellington. Usually as "If it sounds good and feels good, then it IS good!" But attribution is sketchy -- seems lots of people like to claim this one.
Ack, you're right Bruce! Thanks for the correction. They both have so many well deserved accolades...
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Old February 18th, 2016, 08:54 AM   #9
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Re: Ducking music or not??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seth Bloombaum View Post
* Scooping the music, removing some of the mid range and high mid freqs to lessen competition with dialog, allowing music to be mixed hotter. (for some music)
+ 1 on Scooping. One of my favorite processes for sound. Run a frequency analyzer over the voice and work out the dominant frequencies and then as Seth says "Scoop out." Lowering the levels on most of those frequencies in the music so they don't compete with a nicely sweetened voice so much works really well in many cases.

Chris Young
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Old February 26th, 2016, 10:05 AM   #10
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Re: Ducking music or not??

Thanks everyone for you opinions. I scoop too but was wondering if you still ducked music even with scooping (I call it creating a pocket :)).
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Old February 26th, 2016, 01:16 PM   #11
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Re: Ducking music or not??

As I wrote earlier, it depends on the artistic intent. If I want to transparently say, "these words are important", I duck to a noticeable level. If the music and dialog are part of an integrated experience, I don't, though when composing, I typically reduce the musical intensity during dialog, but that's not the same as ducking, say, a steady rock and roll track.

Typically, if it's a documentary, noticeable ducking can be appropriate. For a narrative film, you might duck to make the dialog more clear, but you don't want it to be noticeable. Of course, there are exceptions as you might have an intense, dramatic section of a documentary, or duck music as a comic element in a film. Yep. artistic intent.

Shorthand:
* Ducking - the audience is aware of the hand of the filmmaker.
* No ducking - the audience remains engrossed in the story.
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