First Dolby 5.1 Mix

I´m editing the sound of a short documentary. I´m a little bit nervous because it´s my first time joying a 5.1 Mix. I´m not doing the mix, it´s a technician from the studio but I will be following his work. I would like to ask you if someone has some tipps or advices for me to make good use of the 5.1 and of our sound design, and how should the session go to the mix also.

I have just finished a 5.1 mix
for a short that goes to Cannes. The short was not intended to be finished in 35mm, even if it was shooted in film.

So my session was build around a stereo mix.

Before to go to the final mix, i have prepared more tracks, and what the french called : ambiance raccord, for the central track.

One common thing is to find the central track empty times to times if you have built your proyect arround a stereo proyect and monitoring. You need to have your "central bed" covered, as your stereo one.

If you are monitoring in stereo in your editing studio, you are going to feel that you have not "enough" sounds when you "open" your mix to 5.1.

My advice is that you chech all your proyect, thinking that main actions, voices, foleys, and their "bed ambiences" will be in the central speacker, then stereo ambiences, some FX, and music are going to be in your stereo front. You are going to be able to send to the center if you feel a "hole" on it, and of course you decide to send or not to the surrounds.

If you want an xtra protection, bring with you a HD with extra ambiences, sound librarys etc. I know the mix is not the wright moment to add material to the proyect, but......

I built the sessions in this order:

Dialogues ( production+ADR+voice over)
Ambiances raccord ( the room tones, or ambiences recorded on set)
Ambiences ( ST and mono)

The order can be as you like, but, you should be clean by no crossing informations.

Anyway the rerecording mixer are going to build the proyect as he likes, starting up to your session.

This is what comes to my mind right now. Million af advices can be said, and all are going to be usefull. Mix is a nice moment.
Enjoy it!
- Fabian

The main point for me
is to avoid getting carried away. Just because it's a 5.1 mix, it doesn't mean you have to use all the speakers, all the time. Otherwise you'll find that before you know it, you panned everything to all the speakers, defying the point.

Approach your mix with the view that it's based on the front left and front right speakers (just as in a stereo mix). These will carry the vast majority of the content.

From here, you can then add in the specifics such as dialogue to the center hannel. I wouldn't place much more than this and perhaps some foley.

Same goes for the LFE (sub) channel. Only route specific elements to this and keep it for special moments - this way it will have a far greater impact.

As for the rear left and right speakers - the main point of these is to wrap the audio around the listener. Therefore, mostly ambient elements should go in here. For example, room tones or environment stuff. Basically anything that will give the listener the impression that they are in the same room, or location as the characters on screen.

Also, in some cases, you can pan environment reflects (e.g. reverb and echo) to these.

Perhaps music too.

I really want to thank you all for the tips and talkings. As I finish the editing, probably this week, I will review my session taking care of the points you alll said. But I can already say that I feel much more confortable with the mix after theses mails. thank you.


Thread from Sound Design List May 2008