The ‘Revolution’ Will Be Televised

Apr 1, 2013 9:00 AM, Mix, By Matt Hurwitz


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While many sounds are added, some modern sounds have to be removed from the production track in order to maintain the “no power” illusion. “They’re shooting in the real world,” Reese says. “If dialog’s got a car in it or some kind of buzz or hum, you can’t have that.” Reese will either attempt surgical repair using a Spectral Repair plug-in or, worst case, the line can be re-recorded in ADR. Conversely, if Reese receives a production track from dialog editor Jay Levine that contains a good sound effect from the set, he says, “I’ll pull that and pipe it over to Bill to use as a proper sound effect.”

Yuri Reese

Yuri Reese

Smith’s style of mixing sound effects typically involves a lot less EQ adjustments than most mixers. “I’m not a mixer that relies on EQ first, unless of course the sounds are happening behind a door or in the next room,” he explains. “Mark, for instance, cuts really great sounds, built out of a lot of elements. I’ve got beef and top end and clarity if I need it. I prefer to layer the elements he provides to get the desired effect, rather than turning an EQ knob.”

Music is sent to music editor Brian Bulman in two parts. Composer Christopher Lennertz will deliver eight sets of quad stems, while four sets of quad stems of other live instruments will arrive from the Warner Bros. scoring stage. “It’s left, right, and left-surround, right-surround,” Smith explains. “The music stays out of the center for the dialog, guns and action stuff, so it sounds nice and wide.”

Editorial source material is uploaded from Atomic to the Todd-AO server via Aspera high-speed file transfer software, then downloaded to local computers, from which Smith and Reese will build their sessions.

Bill Smith

Bill Smith

The duo mix on an Avid D-Control, with a two-way JBL array and Bag End subs behind the screen. Reese will mix dialog, music and ADR/group, first concentrating on dialog. “It can’t be too low or too high,” he states. “In television, you hear a line once, and it’s important that you hear every line. You’re not in a theater; everybody’s house is different. Even if the TV is low, you need to hear the dialog and not miss a thing. So that needs to be set before I add music and before Bill does his sound effects magic.”

The two engineers—who have mixed together for 13 years, since the second season of CSI—have to carefully balance the action with the drama. “It’s a delicate weave between Bill and me,” Reese says. “There’ll be rip-roaring sounds on an episode with a train, and then suddenly a character will come in and deliver a line, really quietly. So we have to dip everything out so we can understand the line.”

“But we don’t want you to know we did that,” Smith adds.

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