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Production Mixing

Contributed By Fred Ginsburg

Mixing Panel
Always use a mixing panel, even for one mic. Employ high quality RF condenser mics, such as Sennheiser, Schoeps, Audio Technica. Electret shotgun systems have less reach and sensitivity than real condensers. Always have Rycote or LightWave blimp windscreens for outdoors and foam for indoors.

The mixing panel provides control over the input level during the take!

  • Allows use of multiple mics

  • Ability to equalize

  • Tone oscillator for setting levels

  • Slate mic

  • Talk-back or PL

  • Boom monitor

  • Audio taper vs. linear pots

  • ENG mini-mixers/production panels/post-prodroductionboards.

    Examples of mini-mixers
    FP3 1, FP32, Audio Technica.

    Examples of production panels
    PSC/Sela, Sonosax, Interface Electronics, Mackie, Cooper, Sony PX-21 & 61, EQE/Tascam, Panasonic etc.

    Setting levels:
    VU meters are averaging. Peak meters are peak reading.
    In film, set 0 VU on panel to -8 db on Nagra. In video, record bars & tone at 0 VU on VTR. Then readjust input of VTR so that 0 VU (panel) corresponds to -5 VU(VTR). This allows for extra headroom on dialogue. Line level (600 ohms) is much louder/stronger than mic level (250 ohms). To convert MIC to LINE level requires small amplifier. Use line level outputs from mixer to recorder for less interference. If line level signal must be reduced for use with mic level input, use 50 dB worth of pads/attentuators. OK to use pads in series and add the totals.

    Example: 2OdB + 15dB + 15dB = 5OdB

    Headphone Monitoring

    Monitor from the recorder when possible, so no surprises. Direct vs. Tape/Peak. Confidence head is off of tape, but slight delay.

    Be attentive to buzz, AC hum, SMPTE bleed, ground loops, RF and radio/TV. Impedance of headphones should be approx. 50 ohm. Adapters for stereo/mono, 1/4' to mini.

    Use of ear wigs. Open ear vs. closed ear. Sony MDR-V6 (7506) is industry norm.

    Safety considerations for Mixer and Boom. Protect your hearing! Mixer can monitor off of tape for protection. Warn Boom operator and others listening. Keeps pots closed except when mixing. Protect the 'privacy' of talent on lavs & radio mics.

    Recording the Signal
    Allow plenty of headroom, never exceed 0 dB. On Nagras, dialogue around -8 to -6 PPM. In video, -10 to -5 VU is max.

    Equalization should be minimal, except to roll off unwanted low end (wind noise, rumble); slight mid-range boost to enhance dialogue. Only do active EQ when there is no alternative -- once it is done, it cannot be undone. Better to leave it for post. Be cognizant of continuity.

    Always allow 5 to 10 seconds for 'speed" after transport has stabilized. Provides 'Pre-roll" for post-production lock-up time. Talk through the "waiting period" between 'roll" and 'speed".

    Multiple mics
    Think one mic at a time. Keep other pots ducked down to avoid phasing problems.

    Be aware of background ambiance level - consistency! Establish relative levels for talent, and maintain consistency even on close-ups. Voice quality is different than volume.

    Recording Priorities
      Sync effects
      Wild tracks

    Location Sound
    An introduction to location sound, microphone selection and the job of the sound mixer.
    Post Sound Workflow
    Steps in the post production audio process and the roles involved with each step.
    Introduction to the Sound Track
    An introduction to the elements of the sound track and the composition of each.
    Lavalier Microphones
    lavalier microphones; history, transparent and proximity lavaliers, specific lavaliers and uses. mics include: Sony ECM-50, Electrovoice CO-90, Sennheiser MKE-2.
    Sound for Video
    finishing sound for video; splitting the production track into separate elements, "sweetening", "off off-line" first edit. also covered loading camera original and audio, syncing, first picture edit, multi-track and checkerboarding.