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Topic: Mixing for Movie Theaters?

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  1. #1

    Mixing for Movie Theaters?

    I've got a quick question. I'm doing the music to a film, and the director is trying to get it shown at a local movie theater. The question I have is this - how do you mix for a movie theater? Do I do it the same way as for anything else? I just know that theaters have some intense systems, so I figured that there would be a theater-mix and a home-mix for when it comes out on video.
    -Keith Fuller

    http://keithfullermusic.com
    ---
    iMac Quad i7 * MacBook Pro * Logic Studio 9 * WD 320GB & 1TB Externals@7,200RPM * Presonus Firebox * M-Audio Axiom 25 & Keystation 61 * Rode NT1-A * Epiphone Hollowbody * Fender Amp * KRK Rokit 8's

  2. #2

    Re: Mixing for Movie Theaters?

    that is a super good question. I am anxiously awaiting an answer

  3. #3
    Senior Member playz123's Avatar
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    Re: Mixing for Movie Theaters?

    Surround Sound or 'Stereo' playback system in the theater? Definitely use a sub when mixing to get a better idea of what's happening in the low end, and since L/R separation in a theater is usually much wider than in the average listening area, pay special attention to panning/placing various instruments. You can even get very creative with some panning effects if the situation warrants it, and a pan across the field can be more much impressive than in the average listening room. Like all mixes, create what you think works well then, if possible, test it in the theater before the performance. Your ears should immediately tell you then if the mix needs further tweaking for that particular listening environment. Theaters, like other listening areas can vary widely from one location to another. Even the playback equipment is inconsistent.
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  4. #4

    Re: Mixing for Movie Theaters?

    i was thinking that i would need a sub. unfortunately, i don't have one. i think i might make a couple of mixes, and test them on a big stereo system somewhere (i'm sure one of my friends has one) to see which mix gives the best sound.
    -Keith Fuller

    http://keithfullermusic.com
    ---
    iMac Quad i7 * MacBook Pro * Logic Studio 9 * WD 320GB & 1TB Externals@7,200RPM * Presonus Firebox * M-Audio Axiom 25 & Keystation 61 * Rode NT1-A * Epiphone Hollowbody * Fender Amp * KRK Rokit 8's

  5. #5

    Re: Mixing for Movie Theaters?

    Once I worked like crazy for 1 month on a project, then came the day of the representation in a theatre. The music was all on tape and there was live narration to go along. We started doing a sound check and the nervous diva lady narrator said to the sound engineer, "There's too much bass, what is this??? So the engineer brought the bass down, and again she said, there's still too much bass, so he brought it down more, but she still wasn't happy, so the engineer said, I'll just take the bass away completely. She was happy then, but I said, hold on there, and I asked the engineer if this was going to affect the sound of the sound track, he said: "Yes!". I begged the narrator to not remove the bass completely but she didn't give a damn, so imagine yourself a 40 min sound track with no bass at all! I was sweating bullets during the representation.

    I know this isn't quite the same situation, but you certainly want to avoid surprises.

  6. #6

    Re: Mixing for Movie Theaters?

    Like said above too, it's good to hear it in a theatre. In theatre you have a MUUUCH bigger dynamic range so you don't have to compress so much, if at all (depends on your music). Think about a bunch of people sitting in a room, volume turned up and no one talking.

    This also means much will be heard so you have to be careful not to leave quiet mistakes, since they will probably be heard - especially if you mix in low volume otherwise.
    Film Composer - www.juhanalehtiniemi.com
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  7. #7

    Re: Mixing for Movie Theaters?

    Quote Originally Posted by guyB View Post
    Once I worked like crazy for 1 month on a project, then came the day of the representation in a theatre. The music was all on tape and there was live narration to go along. We started doing a sound check and the nervous diva lady narrator said to the sound engineer, "There's too much bass, what is this??? So the engineer brought the bass down, and again she said, there's still too much bass, so he brought it down more, but she still wasn't happy, so the engineer said, I'll just take the bass away completely. She was happy then, but I said, hold on there, and I asked the engineer if this was going to affect the sound of the sound track, he said: "Yes!". I begged the narrator to not remove the bass completely but she didn't give a damn, so imagine yourself a 40 min sound track with no bass at all! I was sweating bullets during the representation.

    I know this isn't quite the same situation, but you certainly want to avoid surprises.
    The nice thing about cinema trailers is that VO has gone out of style. Most are now dialogue snips, music and SX. But TV promos have gone the other way -- wall to wall VO and dialogue. Music has to be written as if the announcer is the lead instrument as all of the nuances and layers of arrangement are lost underneath. The only way I can do TV promos anymore, and keep my sanity, is to write "under" the announcer VO, at least a scratch track. Otherwise it's way too easy to spin my wheels writing parts that are lost, and can actually muddy up the final product.

  8. #8

    Re: Mixing for Movie Theaters?

    Keith - the first and most important question is "who is mixing the audio for the film?"

    Usually, the music mixer delivers either a 5.1 mix or, more often, stems to the person mixing the film itself.

    Or, are you mixing the entire film yourself?

  9. #9

    Re: Mixing for Movie Theaters?

    I think that I'm basically going to mix the music. The track on the film will be what I give them with volume adjustments.

    This isn't going to be a big movie with high production. That's why I'm asking (because I think I'm the one who will have to figure it out).
    -Keith Fuller

    http://keithfullermusic.com
    ---
    iMac Quad i7 * MacBook Pro * Logic Studio 9 * WD 320GB & 1TB Externals@7,200RPM * Presonus Firebox * M-Audio Axiom 25 & Keystation 61 * Rode NT1-A * Epiphone Hollowbody * Fender Amp * KRK Rokit 8's

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