A properly mixed audio track keeps your viewer focused on the audio you want them to hear. The job of the mix is to clear the mud and clutter to achieve balance.
Just like with shallow depth of field, mixing helps the viewer focus on what the director wants them to. A mix will focus the attention of the viewer to the sounds that the director deems most important. In essence the job of the mix is to clear the mud and clutter to gain balance to control the ear’s focus. Imagine you're watching a film and at the beginning the narrator appears on screen, setting up what you are about to see. He is in the middle of the street, and he is speaking... (Example) can’t barely hear him, can you? But now, if we mix the scene, his narration stands out and becomes an asset to the video. The first part of a mix, is understanding signal flow. The signal flow is how sound comes in and how it comes out- along with everything in between. Signal flow is simply the steps that your audio has to go through from sound-source to speaker. Starting out with either being an input or a microphone and ending with the speaker you are listening to it on. Each input in your signal flow will come into the mixer. This could be through a physical mixer or a digital one. Each input will need to labeled so they can be easily identified as the sounds you want to manipulate. Clear communication on what each channel represents will be key. Just a few words will do- too many and it may become hard to identify what you are controlling. Step one in any mixing job is organization. Start organized and stay organized and you will save time. Let me show you an example of labeling Once you begin to work on your mix, you will have many different sources playing at the same time. To ensure that your mix isn't distorted, you need to keep headroom. What is headroom? The short answer is: the range between loudest peaks and clipping or distortion. So.. Why is headroom needed? Headroom gives you sonic clarity. You don’t want the mix to sound squished and flat. Create as much headroom as you can and the mix will gain life and room to breathe. Headroom can be achieved by just turning all of your tracks down. You'll be sending less signal to master fader and tada! Headroom and clarity! To manage headroom from the start, begin to mix with every input turned all the way down. Start with the most important aspect of the scene, then begin to raise up secondary inputs. Along the way, make sure you’re keeping headroom. Depending on what your end delivery is, you might want to keep 6-12 db of headroom. Sometimes, just trying to balance using volume alone won't work. When that happens, you might need to create what is called a frequency gap. It will allow for each element in the mix to have space in which to exist. A frequency gap can be used to create a separation between the dialogue and the underlying music track or sound effect. Using a high pass filter or a low pass filter, remove unneeded and unwanted frequencies for individual tracks. This will create the gap, allowing you to increase the volume of a mixing element without making the other things in your mix more difficult to hear, you're simply eliminating the competing frequencies. Occasionally you may be working with a bit of audio that was recorded too low and you wish to boost the gain of one or more clips. One method for doing this is called normalizing audio. Normalization is the automatic application of a constant amount of gain in order to bring the peak signal up to a predetermined, or target, level. Sound design on a video project is an art form itself and is one of the most important aspects to consider in post-production. It’s something which can elevate your project to another level and cause more people to take notice. Many filmmakers, when they’re starting out, handle nearly all of their post-production within the one editing program (doing both video and sound). Moving your sound design into a separate multi-track mixing program, however, can make life much easier. Post-production can be an intense and overwhelming experience at times. When you’re cutting hours of shot footage into a smaller runtime, it can be daunting; not to mention throwing in transitions, motion graphics and special effects. That’s just on the video side of things! Your final soundtrack breaks down into four parts: dialog, including any adr; sound effects; music and ambient background noise. Couple these with all your video elements and it’s easy to see why some editors pull their hair out over projects. Multi-track mixing allows you to focus solely on the sound design part of the project; narrowing your focus to keep you from being overwhelmed. Breaking down your audio in to basic groups is called bussing or sub mixing. The idea is that, before putting a group together, you mix them relative to each other. Then when you group them together, you can raise or lower their volume with just one fader instead of many. This will simplify the most complex mixes to something much more manageable. Now lets see a bussing in action! Sub mixing in general is a great way to organize and break up the various elements of your soundtrack to make working on them easier. Stem mixing is similar, but takes things a little further. In stem mixing, you’re taking all of the audio tracks as they relate to one area: music, sound effects.. Etc. And grouping them together, similar to nesting your video tracks. This way, any changes made to the stem work across all of the audio in those tracks. When you’re working on bigger projects, and editing as you go, this is a great tool for swapping out elements as needed. You may be using a temporary musical score with your rough cuts and don’t want to integrate the rest of your sound elements too much into it. Using a stem to group them together would make it easy to swap out the score quickly and with far less hassle. Stem mixing isn’t ideal for every project, however. Using it as an organizational tool to keep you focused is great on big projects with a lot of elements, but for a short video, it might be more trouble than helpful. As with all things related to your video, make sure that you’re using the best techniques to accomplish your goals. Let’s take a look at how to export stems using adobe audition cc 2015 When mixing your soundtrack, the guiding principle you need to keep in mind is balance. It sounds simple, but it’s an important aspect of crafting an effective soundtrack for your project. Oftentimes, editors try to “fix” problems they perceive with certain elements, but that’s getting ahead of the game. Balance is the key and should be thought of first and foremost when you’re mixing. From there you can adjust and fix as needed. Mixing software offers many tools for you to play around with, but don’t lose the forest for the trees. Balancing is a basic job. Simply by listening to your tracks, you can tell quickly when things sound out of whack: for example - a sound effect being too loud, dialog too soft, etc. The fader tool is enough to get the balance you want and from there you can focus on the other things within your sound design. Let’s take a look at how to achieve balance Regardless of the program you choose, the key things we’ve discussed about multi-track mixing remain the same. Post-production can be a daunting to begin with, but don’t let that be an excuse to keep you from crafting the best soundtrack possible. While the focus of your filmmaking may be on the visuals, solid sound design can elevate your project from amateur to professional levels.